Directing – My Approach

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As Director of our project one must have certain characteristics and attributes to be able to be successful at it. In previous projects such as my other short film Bystander I feel I have a prospered due to my approach to the task at hand. During the Bystander shoot I had to deal with two main actors, ten extras, two other crew members and a car a total of fourteen people and we were also located in the centre of a busy town with both our main actors covered in fake blood. To handle all of the stresses of this project considering the amount I had to remember and do I divided the job as Director into three main areas:

  • Keeping everyone happy (including on lookers)
  • Making sure everyone knew what they had to do, and had something to do!
  • Getting the film shot!

The first – keeping everyone happy was very important to the success of the shoot as everyone wasn’t getting paid to be there it was crucial that I made sure that they were kept satisfied in other ways, such as having a good time or just enjoying the experience of filming. I did this through being very open with my vision of the film and inviting people to ask me questions, including passerby who took an interest in the filming to stop us seeming too much of a nuisance to them. By having a detailed and set storyboard and script I was also able to accurately say how much longer we would be this was inspiring when enthusiasm for the shoot started to dwindle in the final few shots just knowing that once we had the shot we were finished pushed us all on. Additionally just a positive attitude and constantly talking and pushing people on with a smile did wonders for the cast & crews moral it just shows simple things like not showing your stress can really make a difference to the atmosphere of a set.

The crew & me on the set of Bystander

The crew & me on the set of Bystander

The second point – making sure everyone knew what they had to do, and had something to do was vital to achieving the first area to as well as making the shoot a successful one. This was particularly true of extras who were only in one or two shots at the most therefore before and after their shots had nothing to do. I realized this beforehand and made sure that if an extra was not doing anything I roped them into helping move equipment or blocking a scene which kept them busy and feeling involved as we were filming shots which didn’t contain them. Another important thing and this was again to do with the solid script and storyboard was being able to let extras go home when their part was done and knowing for sure we didn’t require them anymore in the shoot, this meant no one had to hang around and get bored which as we all know can quickly fall into messing about!

The third and final was getting the film shot, obviously this was the most important. As we only had a certain amount of timing making sure everyone was motivated and as quick as possible without losing quality of the takes was essential. We were in a public place so people would only let us continue for so long until we were just getting in the way so I allotted us two hours to get the film shot. By setting a time limit I could easily plan how long we spent on each take by dividing Two hours by the number of different shots we had to get, this worked well and helped us stay on track with the shoot. Again another essential element to achieving this was planning if I had not planned so thoroughly I would not have been able to accurately estimate how long the shoot would take or be efficient in only getting the shots we needed rather than dump truck directing and trying to get coverage from every angle which takes way too long and is unnecessary.

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Learning from filming Bystander is important for my A2 project ‘The French Leaves’ as taking from my successes and replicating them in filming the short will be important to achieving what I want. Therefore I feel that if I just do the same as I did last time and expand upon that I cannot go far wrong – also within our script the maximum amount of actors in a scene in three therefore, without tempting fate, organizing and remaining in control on set should be easier.


In terms of expanding my philosophy of being a Director I’ve researched how other famous directors handle their jobs, what techniques they use on set to complete the film and keep everyone happy and their overall film making style which makes them stand out.

The first Director I looked at was Oliver Stone


Oliver Stone films have been very influential on my shooting style, the experimental nature of Natural Born Killers made me realize that with film, anything is possible and that it is only by taking chances that one can distinguish themselves as not just a Director but an Artist. Stone has pushed boundaries with his often controversial films by highlighting a whole range of American issues  from social to political. This inspired me to also speak upon these issues in my films even if it was just a background theme or at the forefront as can be seen in Bystander.

Stone has been said to direct his films in a ‘pummeling style’  his films can only be described as having a boxing match with the audience and hitting them left and right with what he wants them to see through various cross cutting, tight angles and bending of the narrative order.

His films have taught me a lot about having a vision and just trying to acquire that vision only getting what is necessary to the plot and stripping back all of the excess.

The second Director I looked at was Alfonso Cuarón 


Alfonso Cuaron is a highly praised Mexican Director known for his boundary pushing Children of Men and more recently his up and coming sci-fi thriller Gravity. Famed for his long takes and unique directing he is definitely a role model to all aspiring to be in the film industry.

Cuaron tends to derive his style from capturing the whole scene in one or two takes therefore often taking a handheld approach to the camerawork in his films. This puts his audience right in with the action and doesn’t break the reality as much for them. However these long takes take a lot of planning a choreographing for them to work therefore this shows how Alfonso is meticulous with making sure every eventuality is covered for so the takes to run smoothly.

You can see this in the behind the scenes of Children of Men where he uses the most advanced technology available to him to make sure his long takes are done to the highest standard and remain cinematic but efficient.

The third and final Director I looked at was Martin Scorsese 


Martin Scorsese is  hailed as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinema history. Scorsese has directed landmark films such as  Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and more recently has been listed as director of the controversial up and coming film The Wolf of Wall Street.

Scorsese’s films have had pathetically influence on me the character development and physiologically of the performance from Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver is something I really want to emulate with my project, The French Leaves as they are both stories of a man who has been let down by society.

I found these clips of the behind the scenes of The Wolf of Wall Street on Youtube and found out a lot about Scorsese’s directing style

Here are a list of things I learnt from the video about how he directs his film:

  • He is friendly – Scorsese seems to build a real rapport with his actors and crew by befriending them, this can be seen with the amount of one on one conversations he has with them.
  • He appears in control – Scorsese does not once look stressed or nervous during the entire video, he handles every situation with a smile on his face and I can only imagine this confidence must of been projected onto everyone involved in the film.
  • He is personable – he does not act as if he is above everyone else or as a dictator he merely blends in with the rest of the cast and crew but still makes sure everyone knows what they are doing.

Evolution of Our Storyboard

In order for our storyboard to become the 3D picture it must go through a number of evolutions as you can see below:


And then number 4, the film itself.

1) Is the script where we initially have the idea

2) Is the terrible drawn storyboard that Courtney and I made to get a rough idea of how our film was going to be shot

3) Is a 3D and clearer version of what we drew using a program called FrameForge. Watch how I do it here.

4) And for is of course what we filmed on the day using the storyboard/script to guide us.

Its very nice to have a clear image of how we want the film to look as it allows us to be focused and efficient on the day of the shoot so we don’t waste our actors time trying out shots that we don’t know are going to work.

– Jay


Colour Correction/Grading

Courtney and I have found a fantastic way to make colour correction and grading much easier within Final Cut Pro, we found it on this tutorial here.

We decided to give it a go and it worked really effectively in copying the still from The Machinist which was the look we were going for as you can see from this post.



The State I am In

No not the Belle & Sebastian song but feel free to listen to it as you read this blog!

Courtney and I have been editing away on our first couple of scenes and have got them to a point where we are happy with them. All that is left to do is colour correction and grading however I already have what we are going to do planned out as you can see from this blog.

All we have left to film is the final Memorial scene and the house scenes which will fit in between the scenes we have already shot. We are planning on filming the Memorial scene this weekend on Sunday 15th December then filming the house scenes after school in the following week.

I’m pleased with our progress as we’ve also started to draft up ideas for our film poster so that is coming along nicely. All thats left to thinking about is the magazine review.

– Jay