The Director's Chair Issue #12 – March 19, 2001 (The Commercial Director – Part 2)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors
March 19, 2001 Scene 2 – Take 3
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1. Introduction – The One Year Anniversary Edition!
2. Looking for Volunteers
4. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
5. Quote of the Month
6. Special Feature Article – The Commercial Director (Part 2)
7. Film Directing Workshops
8. Special Article – Advice for Very Young Filmmakers
9. Directing Tip – Film Festival Tips and Techniques
10. Film Links of Interest – Commercials
11. Question & Answers – 7 Day Prep on a TV Series
12. And now a word from our sponsors…
13. Out Takes – Special High Intensity Training
14. Share This Ezine
15. Suggestions & Comments
16. Copyright Information
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1. INTRODUCTION – THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY EDITION!
Welcome to Issue #12 of The Director’s Chair (March 19, 2001).
a) The Feature Article this month is the second of a three-part
series on “The Commercial Director.” These informative articles
were written exclusively for The Director’s Chair by Tony Johns,
an award winning international television commercial Director
from New Zealand. Tony’s next article will appear in the April
issue of The Director’s Chair.
b) The Directing Tip this month comes from Elizabeth English who
is the Founder and Executive Director of the Moondance
International Film Festival. Elizabeth’s article is about
Adventures in Judging Film Entries in a Film Festival (or 27 Ways
to Better Your Chances of Winning.) If you are an independent film
maker, this article is a MUST!
c) A special article this month comes from a James Skinner, a
young filmmaker (age 14) from Washington who tells other young
filmmakers how he gets his story ideas.
d) “WZ-ard of Directing”
Be sure and check out “The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing”.
I am the resident “WZ-ard of Directing” and my web page is
WZ.com was started to give busy people like you access to the
very best Internet resources on what you love to do, and my job
is to review Favorite Film and Television Directing Websites.
(Someone’s got to do it!)
Please check out the Directing web page (and the rest of WZ.com)
and let me know what you think. I will change the website reviews
every few weeks and if you know of any good film and TV websites
that others would like to know about, please email me at
Also, please subscribe to my weekly “Directing 45-Second
Newsletter” where I will review other filmmaking websites, plus
give links to film and TV directing articles and a weekly
“The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing” just went live on Friday
March 3, so the ezine may not come out for a week or two as they
wait to get subscribers.
Looking forward to hearing your comments.
e) I am always looking for comments about this ezine and my web
site, Action-Cut-Print! So if you have any comments, suggestions,
or advice, please email me at: mailto:email@example.com
f) I am also placing subscriber comments (testimonials) on the home
page of Action-Cut-Print! You can check them out at:
g) If you want to write reviews of your favorite movies, TV
shows, books, magazines and Websites, I will create a new section
called REVIEWS where you can have your articles published!
h) If you’ve been to Action-Cut-Print! recently you will notice a
wonderfully designed graphic of The Director’s Chair created by
Vaughan Davidson of KillerCover.com. Check out Vaughan’s site at:
Peter D. Marshall
2. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Calling all Volunteers! If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair, please contact
me at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
3. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! – A Web Site for Filmmakers
If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who would like to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know
more about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for
Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com/home.html
where you will find over 1200 Online Resources for Filmmakers,
a Film and TV Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.
4. BACK ISSUES OF “THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR”
To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:
5. QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Going to work for a large company is like getting on a train.
Are you going 60 miles an hour or is the train going 60 miles
an hour and you’re just sitting still?” – J. Paul Getty
6. FEATURE ARTICLE – “The Commercial Director – Part 2”
To read “The Commercial Director – Part 1” and Tony Johns full
biography, visit: http://www.actioncutprint.com/ezine-11.html
“The Commercial Process: A Director’s Point of View”
By Tony Johns, Commercial Director
Copyright © Tony Johns, 2001
There are various ways you can break into the world of commercial
directing but the first step for all aspiring directors is to put
together a Showreel. Think of it as your Curriculum Vitae with
moving pictures. Without one to show your abilities, you won’t be
offered a script.
A number of directors start out directing music clips and short
films to build their reel. Another approach is to write and
direct your own spec (speculative) commercials – i.e. commercials
that have not been commissioned. In other words any cost involved
is the director’s burden. A number of established directors,
myself included, still write and direct spec commercials. It is
one way to try out new ideas or to add variety to one’s Showreel.
Luckily for me, I have built up a rapport with crew and
post-production houses over the years and can usually get time
and facilities donated for nothing. After all, if the spec
commercial is good enough, they can put it on their Showreels as
well. For those of you, who are starting out, don’t despair;
there are plenty of DOP’s (Director of Photography), grips,
editors, etc. out there who are starting out also.
Quite a few commercial directors have broken into the ‘moving
picture’ commercial world through their photographic work
(stills). DOP’s sometimes make the move to directing. There is an
increasing trend on lower budget commercials to use a
DOP/director simply to save on the cost of employing both. There
are DOP/Directors out there who handle the duel roles superbly
but some efforts leave a lot to be desired, especially where
direction of talent is involved. Recently there has also been a
trend for agency creatives, writers, etc to take the plunge into
the world of commercial directing.
There are several ways directors can be offered a script (board).
The producer or the director will receive a phone call either
from the agency producer or the creative team to set up a meeting
to view a script. A creative team will be after a particular
director from a particular production company. If the preferred
director is unavailable the production company’s producer will
try and sell another one of their directors. Right time right
place. After setting up a meeting to show your reel and,
following its viewing, the creative team might give you a script
to look at there and then. On occasions the agency will simply
phone to say that a script is on its way via fax, email, etc.
A word of advice, never write a director’s treatment unless you
have spoken to the creative team first – even if it is over the
phone. Rule of thumb, listen to how the creative teams visualise
the script e.g. characters, pace, look, style, etc. All agency
creative teams place a different value on a director’s role. I
have often been given a script and have been allowed total
creative control. The only guidelines given are to stay true to
the idea. In some cases I have been directly involved with the
creative conception of the idea. I have just as often been given
no creative control whatsoever. The creative team want only what
is in the script, nothing more, nothing less. On this type of
shoot it is easy to feel frustrated and creatively stifled but,
at the end of the day, if the creatives believe you have given
them everything they ask for and if the clients are happy, then
you have done a good job. If nothing else you have built
relationships and, hopefully, guaranteed your next job.
Some directors don’t mind them, some love them, and most loathe
them. The Directors Treatment! A producer once said to me “what
do they want – a writer or a director?” The fact is that if you
want the job you have to write a treatment. Once a job would be
offered merely on the strength of a director’s Showreel. Not
anymore! There are the exceptions – a few of the top directors
refuse to write them – they are going to get the work anyway.
Director’s treatments should include some of the following: a
script summary, filming techniques, talent, locations, lighting &
grading (the look), scene break down, storyboard, etc. A good
idea is also to include photo references with the treatment. This
could include anything from the type of wardrobe to the location
and props, look, etc. The more information you can give the
It’s not uncommon for directors to shoot a rough version of the
commercial (script) on a Handy cam and present that a long with
the treatment. You can spend days working on a treatment but that
does not guarantee you the job. The sad truth is you might have
been asked to submit a treatment simply to make up the numbers.
Agencies can sometimes ask up to four or five production
companies to submit a treatment and budget already knowing full
well who they intend using. Don’t look at this in a negative way.
If the agencies are impressed with your treatment they may
seriously consider you for their next campaign. Remember there
are no set rules in the commercial world. No two agencies or
creative teams are the same nor are production companies and
In my next article – the production company and the production
Tony Johns Biography.
Tony has directed commercials in New Zealand, Australia,
Singapore and Indonesia. Tony has recently come under the
umbrella of WeDoFilms in the USA. Samples of Tony’s work can be
viewed at http://www.wedofilms.com and he can be contacted at
To read “The Commercial Director – Part 1” and Tony Johns full
biography, visit: http://www.actioncutprint.com/ezine-11.html
7. FILM DIRECTING WORKSHOPS
I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over 28
years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First Assistant
Director, Series Creative Consultant and a Commercial Production
I’ve been asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several workshops
that I have successfully presented over the past 15 years. To
find out more about these workshops, just click here:
If you are interested in any of these four workshops for yourself
or your organization, please contact me to discuss how we can
bring these workshops to you. mailto:email@example.com
8. DIRECTING TIP – Film Festival Tips and Techniques
“LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! or Adventures in Judging Film Entries
in a Film Festival – 27 Ways to Better Your Chances of Winning”
by: ELIZABETH ENGLISH
Founder & Executive Director
Moondance International Film Festival
I have put Elizabeth’s information packed article on my website.
To read the entire article, please visit http://www.actioncutprint.com/festivals/html
9. SPECIAL ARTICLE – Advice for Very Young Filmmakers
Welcome! My name is James Skinner, I am a young filmmaker (14)
from the state of Washington. You may be reading my articles
for quite sometime so I just wanted to introduce myself.
I am writing these articles for young filmmakers like myself, and
who knows, maybe some older filmmakers will find something
interesting and of use and pass it on to their younger ones?
Anyway, I was asked to answer these questions for you…
1. Where do you get your ideas from? I get my ideas from myself.
Sometimes I will just be asleep one night, and in my sleep think
of something, and then the next morning jot it down and go to
school, then when I get home, I do my homework, and then try to
develop a script. All I can say is: THINK! THINK! THINK! A good
Idea will come to you sooner or later!
2. How do you write them? Well, like I said in the last
paragraph, I jot them down, then later I will develop them into a
script. When you write, go some place quiet.
3. Where do you get your experience from? I get my experience
from myself. I have taught myself everything I know about
filmmaking. I started having an interest in filmmaking a year or so
ago with my friend. He also taught me some things, but I have pretty
much taught myself! That is what I recommend.
Well that will be all for this month. I hope you guys will
produce something between now and the next time I write, or
at least start an idea. If you have any questions, PLEASE send
them to me! You may e-mail me at: mailto:SinaskapeEnt@aol.com
10. FILM LINKS OF INTEREST – Commercials
1) Adcritic http://www.adcritic.com/
2) Adland http://www.adcritic.com
3) Classic Commercials http://www.hunekut.com/comm.html
4) Television Commercials http://televisioncommercials.com/
5) Vintage Commercials http://www.shokusvideo.com/comm.html
11. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
QUESTION – What is the typical 7-day prep week schedule on an
episodic Television show?
ANSWER – Every show works a little differently, but here is a
guide to follow. Hopefully, you have had the script for a few
days before you start prep and you have seen some completed
Day 1 – find out where the closest Starbucks is! – meeting with
producers about the script (first tone meeting) – meeting with
the First AD – tour of standing sets (stage) – work on your
script – meet the production designer and the location manager –
Day 2 – work on your script – location scouts – meeting with
Day 3 – work on your script/shot lists – location scouts –
casting tapes – meetings with Stunts, Costumes, Props etc. during
next few days
Day 4 – work on your script/shot lists – location scouts – by Day
4, you want to have your locations and casting done. (This, of
course, does not always happen)
Day 5 – work on your script/shot lists – lock in casting and
locations – visit the set and talk to DOP and actors
Day 6 – work on your script/shot lists – key location survey with
department heads – production meeting with key departments heads
– finalize all casting, locations and script elements
Day 7 – last day to put out fires – cast read through at lunch –
wait for script revisions – work on your script/shot lists –
meeting with producers on the script (final tone meeting)
12. AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS…
“STORY: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of
Screenwriting� – Robert McKee�
Writing for the screen is quirky business. A writer must labor
meticulously over his or her prose, yet very little of that prose
is ever heard by filmgoers. The few words that do reach the
audience, in the form of the characters’ dialogue, are, according
to Robert McKee, best left to last in the writing process. (“As
Alfred Hitchcock once remarked, ‘When the screenplay has been
written and the dialogue has been added, we’re ready to shoot.’
“) In Story, McKee puts into book form what he has been teaching
screenwriters for years in his seminar on story structure, which
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13. OUT TAKES – Special High Intensity Training
SUBJECT: SPECIAL HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING
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employees well trained through our program of SPECIAL HIGH
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If you feel that you do not receive your share of S.H.I.T. on the
job, please see your manager. You will be immediately placed at
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Employees who don’t take their S.H.I.T. will be placed in
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If you are full of S.H.I.T., you may be interested in a job
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LECTURE LIST (B.U.L.L. S.H.I.T.). Those who are full of B.U.L.L.
S.H.I.T. will get the S.H.I.T. jobs, and can apply for promotion
to DIRECTOR OF INTENSITY PROGRAMMING (D.I.P. S.H.I.T.).
If you have further questions, please direct them to our HEAD OF
TRAINING, SPECIAL HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING (H.O.T. S.H.I.T.).
BOSS IN GENERAL
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