Directing with Structure, Passion and Lots of Food

by Peter D. Marshall

by Meghan Bush.

movie director
Directing an indie film presents the problems of a low budget, which takes the number one motivator, money, out of the motivational pool. Without cash to offer, directors must use their natural managerial skills, thoughtfulness, and a little bit of charisma to keep the film rolling on schedule.

Structure Each Day

The first day of work starts with a group meeting where the schedules and other workplace rules go up for discussion. This first meeting brings cast and crew together as a team, and the director sets the tone for the filming to come. The areas of discussion should include:

  • The Weekly Work Schedule

Filming starts at 5:00 A.M. every workday. The director then chooses to work 5 10-hour days or 6 8-hour days.

  • The Daily Breakdown

A complete schedule for the lighting, blocking and filming of each scene helps the crew stay focused on a daily routine, even if the events of the day stray from the schedule. A film that stays on schedule and under budget will shock and awe the movie’s backers.

  • Legalities

When filming out of the country, share any regulations that may pose problems for the crew. Laws concerning women showing skin in public, for example, need sharing to avoid legal problems for women crewmembers. Point-out labor law posters hanging around the set and remind minors of their schooling schedules. Show evacuation maps and set up a place for everyone to meet for a head count in case of an emergency.

  • Meal Breaks

Food never fails to motivate a film crew. Schedule lunch at the same time every day and splurge on the menu. Power fruits and vegetables should dominate the lunch tables so actors and crew do not become drowsy after the big meal. Supply plenty of water and everyone will stay full, hydrated and happy.

  • Benchmarks

An outline of the film’s intended progression gives the crew deadlines to work toward and benchmarks by which they can measure the movie’s progress.

Share With the Crew

Everyone likes to see the progress made toward a goal. Show some scenes taped together and pat them on the back for the good work they have done so far. Even if the shooting schedule falls a little behind, assure the crew they have done great jobs.

Because of the disjointed nature of filming, actors and crew become insecure about their performances. Showing a few scenes and telling them the filming will end soon gives them a reward. Promising an end gives them something to look forward to, and a sense of nearing accomplishment.

Overworked, bored or unmotivated crews bring the quality of films down, and slow the production schedule. Directors need to allow for days off and give hours off as bonuses for jobs completed ahead of schedule.

Believe in the Project

Belief in the project and genuine enthusiasm for the process by the director motivates more than any other factor. The love of the project becomes contagious when the director shows passion for every lighting effect and each prop chosen in a scene. Keep the cast and crew focused on the results using firm direction, and a willingness to listen when an idea presents an angle not thought of before.

The power of belief and a lot of good food will lead a cast and crew through the longest film project without losing one ounce of their enthusiasm.

Do you need a Film Directing Coach? If actors, singers and athletes have private coaches, why not Film Directors? If you would like help to achieve your dreams of being a creative and successful independent film director, please check out my Film Directing Coach services via Skype.

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