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The Director’s Chair Issue #109 – July 26, 2010 (The Role of Director in Pre-Production)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

July 26, 2010                Scene 11 – Take 6

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Website: http://actioncutprint.com
Blog: http://filmdirectingtips.com


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1. Introduction
2. Two Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. Facebook – The Director’s Chair Fan Page
4. FEATURE ARTICLE: Role of Director in Pre-Production
5. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
6. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
7. Filmmaking Workshops
8. Suggestions and Comments
9. Share this Ezine
10. Reprint this Ezine
11. Copyright Information

1. Introduction

Welcome to Issue #109 of The Director’s Chair July 26, 2010

1. 4539 Filmmakers in 103 Countries Subscribe to this Ezine:

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
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Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
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States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia,

2. Feature Article – The feature article this month is a
called “The Role of the Director During Pre-Production.
“Pre-production is the most important time for any director
because it is the where we go through a “process of
discovery.“ Here is an overview of what is expected of a
director during pre-production.” (Read article below.)

3. Film Directing Tips – Please take a look at the many
articles on my blog, http://FilmDirectingTips.com and make
some comments on the posts. Your feedback is important to me
because they will help me decide on the content of this blog.

4. Product Promotion And Film Workshops – From time to time, I
will contact you to inform you of film workshops, filmmaking
products or Online courses that I feel are beneficial to
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BONUS #1 – Here is the link to download the first 28 pages of
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The Director’s Chair has it’s own page on Facebook. If you
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Here’s the Facebook home page: http://www.facebook.com Once
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4. FEATURE ARTICLE: The Role of the Director During Pre-Production

“The Role of the Director During Pre-Production”
by Peter D. Marshall

Pre-production is the most important time for any director
because it is the where we go through a “process of
discovery.“ Here is an overview of what is expected of a
director during pre-production. Please keep in mind that all
these pre-production activities will vary in time and
importance depending on whether you are shooting a film or TV.

(1) Location Scouting

Location scouting is one of the first activities you will be
doing in the pre-production stage of filmmaking. Once you have
decided on what kind of look you require for the film, a
search is then begun for suitable locations.

Who goes on location scouts: Director, Location Manager, 1st
Assistant Director, Producer, Production Manager or Unit
Production Manager, Production Designer or Art Director,
Transportation Captain or a Driver

(2) The Budget

During script development, filmmakers produce a rough budget
to convince film producers and film studios to give them a
green light for production. During pre-production, a more
detailed film budget is produced. This document is used to
secure financing.

A budget is typically divided into four sections: Above the
Line (creative talent), Below the Line (direct production
costs), Post-Production (editing, visual effects, etc), and
Other (insurance, completion bond, etc).

The Director should also understand the budget. You should
know where you can make suggestions on what elements to take
out – and on what to add in.

(3) Casting

When a director first starts prep, you read the script through
several times to get a feel for what the story is about and
who the characters are. You then have a meeting with the
Producer(s) and the Casting Director to discuss their ideas of
the characters.

This is an important meeting for the Director, because it’s
where you find out what the Producer(s) are thinking and if
they are on the right track.

After the meeting, the Casting Director puts together a list
of actors that fit the character traits and specific looks
discussed in the meeting with the Producer(s).

The Casting Director then has her/his own casting session
where they record a “short list” of actors for the director
and the Producer(s) to view.

A Director never has enough time to work with the actors in a
casting session, so here are the 3 most important qualities
you look for when auditioning actors:

1. Do they look the part?
2. Do they have range?
3. Can they take direction?

(4) Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings

The Director will have many meetings during pre-production.
These meetings are scheduled by the AD Department and range
from script meetings and concept meetings with the producers
to individual department head meetings. The director should
have the following meetings:

– concept meeting with producers/location manager/art director
– script meeting with producers and writer
– casting meeting with producers and casting director
– Director and 1st Assistant Director meetings
– costumes
– props
– set dec
– special FX
– stunts
– extra casting
– transportation
– animals
– visual FX
– Production meeting

(5) Script and Scene Analysis

Because a director is a storyteller, you need to understand
every detail about the story you are telling. Understanding
the story requires a lot of work on the director’s part
because you need to take the script apart scene by scene to
find out what it is about, what works and what doesn’t.

A Director’s first impressions are vital when you begin the
script read through process. You need to keep in mind your
emotional reaction to the story and what images the story
stimulates in you. What you “feel” is really what counts,
because it is your emotional response to something that
defines it as a “Truth.”

To understand the script, a Director needs to operate in the
sub-world of the characters. Therefore, one of the main
purposes of script analysis for a Director is to find out who
the characters are, and what happens to them.

(6) Character Analysis

After reading the script and making notes about script
structure and scene analysis, the Director needs to figure out
the objectives of the characters. You do this by understanding
the characters background, objectives and dialogue.

You want to find out the answers to these questions:

– who is the MAIN CHARACTER (involved with the question)
– what is the CHARACTER SPINE (motivation / goal / action)
– what is the SUPER-OBJECTIVE (the main needs of the character)
– what is the OBJECTIVE (what the character wants / active choices)
– what is the CONFLICT (inner/relational/societal/situational/cosmic)
– what are the THREE DIMENSIONS (thinking / doing / feeling)

(7) Creating the Visual Concept of the Show

A Director’s visual concept is how you create the image
structure and style of the film – it’s the “visual stamp” or
look you put on the picture.

Some examples of visual style are:

1. Deciding on what the audience is going to see (and not see)
by deciding where to place the camera.

2. What is the pacing and mood of the story? (Fast or slow,
dark and moody or light and fun?)

3. What is the rhythm of the story – a scene – an act? (Every
scene should have highs and lows.)

4. What is the color of the story? Colors can be used to
express feelings and emotions and represent certain qualities
of a character that can affect the sets and the costumes.

5. What is the main image to take the audience into this new

(8) Mise-en-scene and Subworld

The French term mise-en-scène comes from the stage and
literally means, “putting on stage.” When applied to the
cinema, mise-en-scène refers to everything that appears before
the camera: sets, props, actors, costumes and lighting.
Mise-en-scène also includes the positioning and movement of
actors on the set, which is called blocking.

The subworld of a film is all the feelings and sensations a
Director creates to arouse certain emotions from the audience.
To do this, the director directs the story “beneath” the main
story by developing actions, events and incidents that portray
the deeper meaning of the story and the subtext of characters.

– research any source that will help (immerse yourself)
– what do you want the audience to know or to experience
– what is the story beneath the story
– what generates the action for a character

(9) Shot Lists and Storyboards

A shot list is a description of all the camera angles for a
scene and can include shot size, camera movement, character
movement, coverage and cutaways.

In the film business, there is no standard format to follow
when preparing a shot list. It varies from director to
director. Many Directors do not make shot lists unlike many TV
Commercial directors who need to work with shot lists and

Shot lists are very useful because they can help guide you
through the blocking process. But the thing to remember is
this – a shot list is like a road map: it gives you a path to
your destination, but you don’t always have to follow it.

Storyboards are a series of images that are displayed in a
sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing certain scenes in
a movie. Some directors will want to storyboard the entire
movie, but most storyboards are used for complicated action
scenes and visual effects sequences.

(10) Script Read Through and Cast Rehearsals

For any director, spending time with your actors before
shooting is an absolute must. The script read-through is when
the director and cast discuss the script and their characters.
This usually happens in a hotel room where the available cast,
director, writers and the producers sit around a table and
read the script.

This read-through is the first opportunity that everyone can
get together to start the process of working on the script. If
the whole cast cannot be present, two other actors (one male
and one female) can be brought in to read the other parts. Or,
depending on your budget, the producers will also read the
other parts.

After the read-through, the director will want to rehearse
certain scenes based on the specific needs of the director and
actors. This is so they can sort out character and story
issues privately before standing on a set with 100 crew
members watching.

Most of these cast rehearsals take place in hotel meeting
rooms, but many times they can take place on the actual sets
or real locations that are going to be used in the film.

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7. Filmmaking Workshops – Peter D. Marshall

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
35 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
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15 years.

To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
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11. Copyright Information

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Peter D. Marshall
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