Thoughts on Directing After Directing

Sep 1, 2008

Pensive Directing
Pensive Directing

I’ve only briefly mentioned the production of my thesis (the fictional one), and after having about a month to think it over, and finally seeing the dailies four weeks after filming (monthlies?), I have an idea of where I stand with the outcome.

Mainly, as directing goes, I had a blast. I know, it’s a cliche, film school was supposed to make me realize I truly love cinematography or editing, but sorry, directing still does it for me.

This film spent months in my head, whether actively thinking about it or just letting it sit in the back. So when it finally came to shoot it it brought a strange high seeing something that had been in my head so long transfer to reality.

Of all the films I’ve done, I knew what I wanted the end result to be the most with this film, which I think is very important.

My impression with directing is you have this vision of what you want the film to be – edited, scored, and all – and the challenge is to dissect it and figure out what you need, frame by frame.

Quick cuts? It’s not going to be quick on set. Suspenseful scene? It’ll probably feel so weird the actors will laugh.

In the midst of all the chaos on set, and an AD telling you you’re behind schedule and need to go, you have to keep referring back to that vision and checking. “Am I getting what I need? Will this work?” I think I got 90% there.

Of course it wasn’t all euphoric play time. There were a few hiccups. Minor things, you know, such as numerous locations falling through and having to rewrite a third of the script.

Or breaking one of the cardinal rules (no kids or animals) and getting a chihuahua for the gold-digging mom. Somehow we managed to find the chihuahua from hell. Little re-write to dog-less, gold-digging mom – problem solved.

After spending an entire day shooting the rewritten third and watching it, it now seems like the final scene was always supposed to take place in the school, where we shot, instead of the original living room.

The night before, when the suburban community banded together to keep me out of their living rooms, I said when the film is done and screening, we’ll say, “remember when the end was supposed to be in a living room.” And we’d all erupt into laughter. At least in my mind.

I think it’ll still happen. It’ll just be me who says the line.

Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary producer. When not filming he likes to climb mountains and brew coffee.

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