On Being a Director

by Eric Sherman on February 12, 2012

“Director” comes from a Latin word in the “rex,” or “king” family. So, a director is the king (or queen) of a movie set – no kiddin’, for real.

Benevolent kings tend to be loved by their people. Bad kings do not.

Directors manipulate space, time, energy and matter to create universes. Kind of like Gods!

In fact, when I worked with Orson Welles in 1970, he’d walk by and we’d say, “There, but for the grace of God, goes God!”

Now for many people, they think they want to be directors, but when they find out the amount of responsibility heaped on their shoulders, they can back off. The aggressive types dive right in, and, if they make good decisions, they are applauded and supported by their producers. If they make bad ones (i.e., costly , inefficient), they can be fired – over “creative differences.”

I coached many a first-time director – one went on to win an Oscar; some have made a number of films, and some have decided it just wasn’t for them. Either way, they benefited from knowing what was expected of them.

One actress has directed a short and a pilot episode for a comedy series. She wanted to assure she’d have a career in addition to acting! She’s doing very well.

One actor tried it out, and said, “Uh-oh. . .I didn’t realize I’d have to do ALL THAT!” So he’s back to being an actor only.

Another actor (star of a tv series) prepared himself with me, and was told by the producer that he was the “best-prepared first-time director I’ve ever seen.”

One amusing (perhaps) statistic: common denominator for directors – they are asked 1000 questions per day (based on a 10-hour day, that’s 100 questions per hour) that they don’t originate. They have to answer those, as well as get their own questions answered!

So, being a director includes the capability of tolerating a TREMENDOUS amount of random motion.

Best training ground, other than a good film study program and some coaching, is: work six months in an insane asylum; six months in a prison; and six months in a home for “troubled kids.” If you’re still on your feet, you’ll probably make it as a director!

It’s not physical toughness that makes a director (though it helps to be in good shape – sleep, vitamins, nutrition, exercise); but mental awareness.

And it really helps to pre-think all your images and prepare shot lists and/or sketches, for yourself as well as for your principal crew members.

The techniques for doing this are simple to teach, and I love doing it.

Let me know when you create your first opportunity to direct!

Best,
Eric Sherman

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Augusto Ortiz May 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I am a Creative Director for an adertising agency and I direct all my TV commercials. Looking forwatd to direct my first film soon.

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Mohamad Dannawi June 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hello
My dream is to be a director. Its my pleasure if u help me. And im very talented and i hold many certificates as well :-)
Hope to catch up with you soon.
Thanks
Regards

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