What is The Director's Vision?

Director's vision

Every psychology or self-help book says that the first step of changing your life starts with building your vision – The same is for filmmaking. Having a vision is a basic tool for every director in any type of film. It’s basically mean to see the movie in your head. If you can’t explain something to others, you probably don’t understand yourself. Does it make sense? The director’s vision statement is where the director clarifies his vision in words. A director is a form of a movie creative supervisor, the director’s vision statement is his leading tool of every production. 

Why Do You Need a Director’s Vision?

In my opinion, this is the most important lesson in all of this free film direction course. Why? Well, The first thing you need to understand about your director’s vision statement is that it’s going to help you get funded. When you pitch your passion, funders will be attracted to you. That’s why the director’s vision is always on the movie’s business plan. This is your chance to explain your inspiration to the film and the story of how it became what it is now. The director’s vision statement will also help you in film festivals as it will help the judges to understand the film better and not to guess what is it about. I have a friend that works in a bog film festival and he always tells me he is amazed as to how many directors leave out the director’s vision statement in the film package, so this is your chance to stand out!

But even more important is that once the director knows his director’s vision statement thoroughly, he can translate the script into visual shots inside the shooting script, the art, the costumes, and more. The director’s view has to be in the director’s thoughts during the whole process. The director’s vision will be expressed through the style of the film, the visual look, the editing, and the sound design and music.

How to Write a Director’s Statement?

There are 2 steps to take before working on your director vision statement:

  • The first time the director reads 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.
  • Watch different movies, paintings, read some books, listen to music, everything you think will inspire you about this story. Do it with artists and arts you really connect to and not just the important ones. Try to see what it is about them that connects you.

When you write your vision you need to explain why you chose to do that film and what is it you want the viewer to feel while watching your movie. It will also have an impact if you’ll write the story behind the creation of this film including your inspiration for it.  Anyway, before you write your vision I recommend hacking some director’s vision statement examples. There are millions on the net.

A good director’s vision statement will contain:

  • The director’s passion for the film
  • The feeling the director wants the audience to feel when they watch the movie
  • The style he wants for the film
  •  The style of the acting, of the editing, the music….

Find your film director’s vision through the 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 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 central theme of the film. It is not the subtext of the film. The subtext in the movie is “true love is stronger than love out of mercy.” In Little Shop of horror, the story is 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 emotion behind the scenes. Even aspect ratio can deliver the director’s vision. You can also use the director’s vision examples here, to understand how it should look. 

“The reason it’s important to have this (the theme) is that 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:

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?

  1. When the director reads the script for the first time, he should write the thoughts that pop into your head while reading. The director can write them on the script. Write everything you feel about each scene.
  2. The director’s next job is to understand why he loves 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 there any values you identify with? Go through the film’s script and check the values you most define with. Some directors 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 the subtext of each one of them is. 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.

If you want to deepen your knowledge on the subject I recommend reading the book, Master Shots Vol 3: The Director’s Vision: 100 Setups, Scenes and Moves for Your Breakthrough Movie. This book reveals the secrets and techniques behind each one of the best shots, moves, and set-ups in the filmmaking industry. I really believe every film school needs to teach it – Simply go out and practice each shot you read about. This book will also help you later on when you’ll need a creative boost.

Pro tip: The important elements 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

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Learn more about the 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 inspiration and to understand how to develop your unique director’s vision