I’ve always had a love affair with Directors,especially Writer/Directors even if it wasn’t reciprocal. I have much respect for editors too.They never get the glory but with their detailed eye they too get to tell the story, as i’ve been learning as of late,on some editing projects.
Shit, while I’m at it. RESPECT to Writers but of course and DOP’s too..probably because of my days of doing stand-in work for the likes of Anne Heche and Drew Barrymore.One DOP I fondly remember is Dick Pope on Man of The Year with Robin Williams,Lewis Black and Laura Linney ( I was her stand-in) which btw was also a Writer/Director project by Barry Levinson. Dick had a very soft,calm and centered demeanor about him.as much as he was boss and of course knew what he wanted ,he was also open to ideas….and that English accent was charming too:) Yes,Dick whatever you want me to do.Where would you like me to look? where would you like to stand..Here? there? Ok. Anyways..I digress;)
The following is one of two pieces I wrote and got paid for!.. for a website/SM hub that I was to come on board for as Assignment Editor/Writer back in the fall of 2013 but it seems 5 months later they are now M.I.A so I thought I’d share it here.
Notice the pen name at the end.( keeping my grandmother’s maiden name alive🙂
You think you know me? I’m no tomato head.
The Great Directors
Whether they be a hardcore movie lover/go’er,a film critic or someone who works professionally in the film industry ask anyone what makes a great Director ‘Great’ and you’ll get a slew of varied opinions and a list of names: Martin Scorcese, Clint Eastwood, Sophia Coppola, John Singleton, Francis Ford Coppola, Jane Campion, Katherine Bigelow, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Norman Jewison, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cameron, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Stone and the list goes on and on.
Some say a ‘great’ director can make a terrible script into a good movie, a mediocre script into a visual and emotional masterpiece that will keep audiences at the edge of their seat. Some say eye for detail, diplomacy, patience, out of the box thinking, persistence, communicating and listening, or as it has been heard, if you are a ‘great’ director you can make a tomato look interesting.
The business of filmmaking is no longer an exclusive or elusive club. Not so long ago movie making was for those who had money or at the very least knew the right people and/or how to get the money needed. Nowadays, technology has made necessary film equipment affordable and capable of professional results so all one truly needs is talent, knowledge and of course, a story. With the landscape of technology and user friendly programs available at our fingertips and more than ever, the plethora of avenues and platforms for distribution whether it be online or niche film festivals, if you have a great story, chutzpah and know how to rally people for your cause you could consider going the route of online crowdsourcing with sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Here, you can raise funds, give perks and get your movie loving fans involved that could have you very well on your way to being a filmmaker and a ‘great’ director too.
Being a ‘great’ director is not about being a certain age or being a male or female. The youngest nominee for Best Director was John Singleton at the age of 24 for “Boys In the Hood”(1991). To date, the youngest winner of Best Director goes to Lewis Milestone, age 33, a Russian born American director, for “Two Arabian Knights”(1927/28). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the oldest nominee for Best Director, to date, is John Huston –Prizzi’s Honor (1985). He was 74yrs old. America’s favorite cultural icon of a certain masculinity, Clint Eastwood, won Best Director at the age of 74 in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby” and today at the age of 83 he is still going full throttle as a film actor, director, producer, composer, pianist, and politician.
Although you may have never heard of her, Alice Guy-Blaché was a woman of firsts.She owned and managed her movie production company (The Solax Company) and did so at a time when women were not allowed to vote. She accomplished things no one was doing at the time– special effects, super imposition, synchronized sound, colorization, cut mattes on film and developing fiction films as a narrative at a time when it did not exist.Directing over 400 films, 22 of them features, she was the first female director in cinematic history with her first narrative, La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) -1896.
Watch the Documentary(The Lost Garden:The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blaché)
“My youth, my lack of experience, my sex all conspired against me“-Alice Guy-Blaché
“I put signs all around my studio that said BE NATURAL—that is all I wanted from my actors.”– Alice Guy-Blaché
You are never too young to start making movies. At the age of 15, Kelvin Redvers, an Aboriginal filmmaker born and raised in the small town of Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada, started a video production company called Crosscurrent Productions. In high school, he made short films with his classmates that went on to win national and international awards at film festivals around the world.
Inspired by Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” to become a filmmaker, Emily Hagins, nicknamed “Movie Girl” from Austin, Texas had by the age of 11 yrs produced several shorts as well as written her first feature-length script for the zombie movie “Pathogen” which won a Texas Filmmakers Production Fund grant from the Austin Film Society, making her the youngest recipient in the history of the grant.
On the other side of the World there are teen filmmakers like Phan Huyen My from Vietnam who made a documentary called “Mother and Child” about the daily life in the family of Huyen My and the different conceptions of life between the two generations living in the same house. It was selected by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to screen at the Vietnamese film week in the U.S. in 2010.
Now let’s discuss Indie Filmmaking and Directors. It’s probably safe to say that if the budget is under 4 million and not attached to a major film studio system and is distinguishable by content, style and the film-makers artistic vision then it is “Indie”, short for Independent. It tends to occupy a middle space, a territory that lies in between commercial or mainstream and the more radical end of the film spectrum such as exploitation films from Roger Corman and low, low budget horror films. Directors like Jim Jarmusch, the Coen brothers, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino are considered to be Indie Directors. Independent cinema has come to prominence in the last 10 years and there is no shortage or signs of slowing down for film festivals around the world. When you make a film you WILL find a place to show it. You could even start your own film festival. Hollywood is getting in on it too. In the late 90’s Hollywood increased its involvement, “particularly through the creation by the studios of their own ‘speciality’ divisions, usually semi-autonomous from the parent studio and designed to handle indie-type films. The result is what is often known as Indiewood, a territory in which the indie/Hollywood distinction is blurred” (quote: http://www.gkindiefilm.com)
(for more on this read the book, Indiewood, USA: Where Hollywood Meets Independent Cinema by Geoff King)
Just this past July 2013 Paramount launched a division for acquiring and distributing independent films from the festival circuit in which they will explore distribution possibilities in the VOD (Video on Demand) market.
Movie making has never been so exciting and the world wide web is now the wild, wild web awaiting and ready for intrepid pioneers to push boundaries and expand imaginations.
In conclusion, to be a ‘Great’ director you just have to get out there and do it. And keep doing it.
Go to school.(or not) Read books. Watch movies with a conscious eye. Write that script. Pick up a camera. Surround yourself with others who are passionate about filmmaking.
You have a vision, you have a story, you have something to say to share with the World.
You are, at heart, a filmmaker, a visual story-teller.
~D.M.von de Nottbeck