Tag Archives: film directing techniques

Film Directing: Make Your Audience Emotionally Engaged

How to  Make Your Film Audience Emotionally Engaged?

Many film school students make the mistake of thinking that film directing is simply telling a story. That is not true.When you get a script, you want the audience to be emotionally engaged in the film and to do that you need their watching experience to have different layers of fun.

I’m going to talk about something that not many film schools are talking about – Film directing is not just about telling “the facts”. In fact, the facts are just the cover to tell a deeper story with deeper meaning.

Don’t sell yourself

Before we start talking about how to make a film that will thrill your audience, it’s important for me to explain, that I’m not talking about selling  yourself to the audience. Don’t do something just because the audience seems to like it right now. If you don’t believe in your film, your audience will feel it. If you want to make a film that will truly be remembered, You must think about your way of telling the story.

Find a good story

Your first step is to find a good story. Notice that I didn’t write “a good script”. First of all pay attention to the story itself. Does the story work without the stylish dialogues and scenes?
It’s hard to define a good story, but generally speaking, it’s a story that will challenge the audience, but more important a story that interests you. You are about to do a lot of story analyzing, so you better like it. Also, make sure the story’s world has to be reliable and also the characters. It also needs to have the dramatic structure.

Have a good main character

The audience has to connect with your character. I’ve talked about how to do that in the Developing Characters post, but generally, you need to have a character that the audience will care about and that will be strong enough to lead us in throughout the story. The audience should really want her to survive and succeed.

Understand your story

The director needs to be able to make complicated interpretations of the script. To do that he needs first to completely understand the story. The process starts with understanding your story’s structure and the dramatic conflict that is developing throughout the film. Back To The Future is a film that you can see the director knew every little detail about the plot, the characters, and their town.

Your director’s vision

Director’s vision is the director main tool to translate the script into a movie. If you’ll find and completely understand your film director’s vision, you’ll make great films. Your director’s vision will guide you through all the important decisions on set.
Your director’s vision is an outcome of the message you are trying to portray in your film – the film’s premise. Only after understanding your vision, you can start directing actors and camera.

Working within a genre

The genres job is to organize some parts of our life and you can find genres not only in films. If your movie is connected to a genre, make sure the script is following the basic genre rules of its genre. Gener films are great to play with because the audience is ready to see a movie with strict rules. You can take these rules and play with them so you’ll have your own twist on them.
First, see the story within the genre rules and then start playing with them, see what rules can you break or stretch without upsetting your audience.
Playing with a genre rule is fun, but it must be connected somehow to the theme of your film. It has to deliver a message. Breaking the rules just to break the rules is worse than simply following them.

Use production design to make

Production design is a film element that many low budget films tend to forget about, but if you’ll handle it right, it can be one of the most important element of your film. After you developed your characters, you can understand the movie’s atmosphere and theme and you can start working on it.  The production design will create your film’s look and should reflect the characters emotions and the movie’s theme. You can also use a storyboard to make things clearer. If you’ll put your mind (and some cash) to it, it will take your film to the next level.  

Know your audience

What kind of emotion do you want your audience to feel towards the film? Is it love? Is it respect? Do you want to impress the audience with big budget production? There are many ways you can turn the film’s watching experience into something worth remembering, but you need to know who is your audience and what you are trying to get out of him.
Every film director needs to find his own way to touch the audience.
In Blood Simple, the Cohen Brothers are making the audience laugh while feeling revolted. Kubrick makes us feel uncomfortable as he built the violent scenes in A Clockwork Orange so we’ll be shocked on one side, but wouldn’t be able to keep our eyes off.
Every director has his own style and you should find yours. This is why it’s important to shoot shorts as much as you can. That way you can test different things and see what works and what doesn’t.

Make your audience participate

A cool trick to make the watching experience more fun for the audience is to make them
a part of the film. One way of doing that by letting your audience know something that the hero doesn’t know. In the movie Hot Fuzz, the main character suspect there is a murder in the town. Everybody laughs at him, but we know he is right because we’ve seen the killer. Horror movies use that trick a lot. We know something bad is going to happen and that’s what gets us excited -the waiting for it.

Filmmaking is all about emotions

Personally, I like films that make you think, but if that’s all they do and they don’t have any emotion attached to it, then the movie was a waste of time. Find the emotion you want the audience to feel in each scene. Every scene should have an emotion attached to it and that emotion should dictate all your directing decisions. For example, a close up is a much more emotional shot then medium shot.

Film Directing – The Triple Take Method


Shooting With The Triple Take Method

A few weeks ago we’ve talked about the Master scene method. Now I want to teach you another film directing technique called “The Triple Take method” and sometimes also called “The Overlapping Method”. It’s a very easy method and the purpose of this directing method is to cut in action while maintaining continuity.

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The triple take method is a great method especially when working without a script and for documentaries, but also great for scripted scenes.

How does the film directing technique works?

The main idea here is to start each shot with the last action of the shot before it, so those two actions are now overlapping. Let’s say you have a scene where the actor is opening his house door, entering his home, walking to the TV, opening it and sits on his couch. You will shoot him opening the door and getting inside the house in one angle, then you want to shoot him walking to the TV in a different angle, so you tell the actor to stop, change the angle and now you will shoot him walking towards the TV, but the actor will to go a few steps backwards and start the shot from the part of stepping inside the house, so you will have that action in both angles. Now he is walking to the TV and you want to shoot the part where he turns it on in a different angle, so again, he will take a few steps back and play the action including turning the TV on. Now we want the part of him sitting on the couch in a different angle, so we’ll tell the actor to stop, we’ll change the angle and tell him to start from the part of turning the TV on (which we already filmed in the angle before).
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As I said it’s a very simple method, but I would shoot also a master scene to make sure the editor will have somewhere to turn to if something went wrong and we didn’t notice. Also, remember it’s a very technically scene that might be hard for the actor to work with, so don’t use it on emotional scenes.

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Film directing – Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Film Director?

The Film Director Requirements

Learning how to direct a film is kind of fun stuff, but there are a lot of responsibilities that are coming with it. Eventually, you are going to be in charge on a lot of money, so let see first if you have what it takes to become a film director.

Know the filmmaking craft

Before you start directing a film, make sure you know the film directing fundamentals and film directing techniques. It’s been known that the job of the film directing is to tell a story with pictures and sounds, but the truth is that In film directing the story is being told also through actors, art design, clothes design, dialog styles and more. You are in charge on all of that. That’s why the director must have knowledge in all the filmmaking departments like script writing, camera and lightning techniques, sound design, video editing etc. If you’ll look at the most respectable directors, you’ll see that many of them have a gift at least in one of these departments. Find yours and develop it.

Visualizing abilities

In the article The film director’s vision I talk about how to translate the script into visual shots and concept that it unique to you. On the next articles I am planning to talk about the tools that will help you do that like storyboard and shooting script,
but the bottom line is:
While you are visualizing your movie (which is the main job of the director in In film directing), you’ll need to do it through the departments mentioned above. You will learn how to develop your visualization skills with practice.

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Film as many short films as you can

Like everything else in life, film directing is all about practice. Shoot as much as you can and offer yourself to participate in as many productions as you can. Shooting a lot of shorts will also help you to get your deepest artistic voices, out of the system until you’ll find the one that works best for you. You have to be ready to deal with the fact that most of your first shorts will be bad ones and that you can only learn In film directing by making mistakes.

Find your own true voice

As a film director and an artist, you will have to find your inner voice- the one that separates you from all the others. You’ll have to be real honest with yourself and listen to it very good. I recommend reading my article, Find your inner voice, to learn better how to do that. Understanding your true voice is not enough. you will also have to keep it as your guide through all the trip. That means to watch out from what other people say, but also to watch out for yourself. Don’t try to show out how smart and artistic you are and focus completely on what the movie really needs.

Become a leader

The different betweena In film directing and other arts like a poetry or a painter is that the film directors have to lead a big crew after him. You’ll have to be good with people and also know how to push them to their limits, so you can take out the best from each one of them. You’ll need to be able to guide them, inspire them and supervised them all at once.You’ll have to make decisions that sometimes will be against the view of your crew. You will also have to lead with confidence. There is nothing worse for actors and crew member than to follow a director that is unsure of his actions. If you don’t know what to do in certain situations, don’t be afraid to console with the right crew members and then make a confident decision. Sometimes the producers will try to change things in your script to lower the expenses. Unless you really agree with their changes, it will be your job to defend the script. With all of that, you’ll have to remember that you are working with artists, and an open mind is needed too.

Recommended books on film directing

Film Directing- The Master Scene Method

Using The Master Scene Technique

The Master scene method is the first tool you’ll use when you approach a scene. No matter how much you’ve worked on your shooting script, there is always something that can go wrong on set and you’ll miss it . The master shot technique method comes to the rescue in such cases.

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The master scene method is one of the films directing fundamentals techniques that began during the silent movies in the 20’s. It was a time when video editing wasn’t as easy as it is now.

The Master shot method means to shoot the whole scene in one long take in a wide angle ( See types of shots article) with all its important elements and then you can move on to shoot the coverage shots like the over the shoulder, medium shots, close-ups etc.

Now,

In the editing room, if you find you missed a shot, you can go to this cover shot to the rescue.

Master shot method tip
When shooting a scene in a room, the master shot will usually be in the opposite corner. If you are shooting outside, just look for the farthest spot that will cover everything in the shot.

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A few tips about working with master scene method

Before I’ll tell you how to do this the right way, here are some tips you need to know:

  • Start the shooting with the master shot before the coverage shots to prevent problems in the continuity of the scene.

  • When a scene is too long or has a complex movement, it is recommended to break the Master shots into 2 masters.

  • Watch for the 180-degree rule (see rules of the camera) while you shoot the master and the coverage.

  • When you plan the shooting script breakdown, think about the time it will take to change the lightning from the master shot to the coverage shots.

  • Make sure you start the shot from the beginning of the scene until the ending of it.

  • Master shot method can also be used to add a certain atmosphere.

When this method is done properly, the audience will barely feel it was made to cover faults.

Shooting in one take is not as hard as it sounds

Don’t waste too much time on it. It’s not a big deal if the actors make mistakes. It all If an actor gets confused in the middle of the scene, you can take the second take from that point.

So this is a very basic but useful film technique that is used a lot in Film directing.

I recommend to read also about The Triple- Take Technique.

Recommended books on film directing

The Film Director’s Vision

Finding Your Director’s Vision

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In this post, I’ll teach you how to understand and develop your director’s vision. You will  see that it’s not that hard to take any script you want and make it unique and original.

There is an old saying that if you can’t explain something to others, you probably don’t really understand it yourself. If you can’t you explain your vision in words, you don’t understand your director’s vision statement. Since The director is actually a form of a movie creative supervisor, the director’s vision statement is his leading tool of every production. The film director is in charge of all creative departments and they need to understand the way he has interpreted the script.

When the director knows his film director’s vision statement completely, he can translate the script into visual shots inside the shooting script. Off course, the director’s vision doesn’t stop here. The vision has to be in the director’s thoughts during the whole process.

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2 steps before working on your director vision statement

  1. The first time you read the script, you should notice what kind of images are appearing in your head while reading. Pay attention to sounds, locations, and emotions that are popping in your head.
  2. Watch different movies, paintings, read some books, listen to music, everything you think that will inspire you about this story. Do it with artists and arts you really connect to and not just the respected ones. Try to see what is it about them that connect you.

How to develop your director’s vision

The director’s vision will be expressed through the style of the film, the visual look, the editing and the sound design and music. The director is usually the one that is calling the shots for that kind of decisions. He does not have to be a specialist in all the filmmaking areas, but he needs to know the language of cinema to be able to express his point of view. Learn all the camera angles and movements  and all the types of camera shots and learn their emotional strength. Every aspect of filmmaking can be a tool you’ll use to express your vision.

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Find your film director’s vision through movie’s theme

The film director has to be an expert on portraying a message. The first step should be to understand your theme or the premise of the

The theme of the movie is, what this movie really all about in one or two sentences. It is the premise of the film.  For example the movie Back to the Future is dealing with changing your future, but it is not the main theme of the film. It is not the subtext of the film. The subtext theme is “true love is stronger than love out of mercy”. In Little Shop of horror, the story is the about a deranged and murderous plant, but the subtext of the story (The theme) is about capitalism in the modern world.

When you understand the film’s premise, you’ll understand the scenes. If you’ll know what’s the emotion behind the scene, you will know how to set the light for it. Even aspect ratio can deliver the director’s vision.

“The reason it’s important to have this (the theme) is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme always helps you. “
Francis Ford Coppola

 

So this is what you’re probably asking now:

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How to understand your theme and vision?

The director’s vision should not be a political argument or a philosophical idea that you can copy. It should be a personal point of view of the director. Your point of view is something no one can copy and you also cannot be copied from elsewhere.

So how do you find your vision?

I’m going to explain it now:

  1. When you read the script for the first time you should write the thoughts that pop into your head while reading. You can write them on the script. Write everything you feel about each scene.

  2. Your next job is to understand why you were drawn to the script.
    It is usually the main character that attracts directors. As a director, you must decide what is you want to focus on the plot or the characters.

  3. Think about the values in the script. Are their ant values you identify with? Go through the film’s script and check the values you most identify with. There are directors that write the biography of each character. It helps them to understand the character motive and its nature and basically what it represents in the film.

  4. Go through each scene and see what is the subtext of each one of them. Write them down next to the scene title
  5. Eventually, understand what you want to achieve from the viewer. Do you want his love (like comedies usually), or you rather impress the audience with a complex story.

Quick tip
The important things to pay attention to when you work on your theme throughout the film are the moral of the story, the smaller themes in the script and the subtext throughout the script

 

Sticking up to your vision

It is very important that once you find your vision, you’ll stick to it.
Sometimes you might find a lot of pressure to change things in a way that’s against your vision (usually from the production company),
you have to make the decision of how much you want to sell from yourself, in order to make that film.
Here is  to sum it up:

“Trust yourself so that the mistakes you make are the ones you’ve made and not something you’ve made because you were afraid to do what you wanted to do. Own your mistakes, then you can own your successes.
Try to be as good a listener as you are a speaker.
Don’t just put the emphasis on saying things. Listen!”
Jennifer Lynch

Learn more about director’s vision

To learn more about this subject. I really recommend reading the book The Director’s Vision: A Concise Guide to the Art of 250 Great Filmmakers. This book is about all the classic Holywood big directors and their visual styles. It is an excellent tool for insparatioin and to understand how to develop your uniqe director’s vision.