≡ Menu

The Director’s Chair Issue #147 – November 5, 2013 (Film Industry Jobs: Insight from the Inside)

Free Monthly Ezine for Independent Filmmakers

November 5, 2013                Scene 14 – Take 10

Published once a month.

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


Dear Filmmaker,

You are receiving “The Director’s Chair” because you (or someone
using your email address) requested a subscription.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing list
and will not be made available to other companies or individuals.
I value every Subscriber and respect your privacy.


1. Introduction
2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
4. Two “Directing Actors” film workshops (Vancouver & Toronto)
5. FEATURE ARTICLE: Film Industry Jobs: Insight from the Inside
6. Film Directing Coach Services
7. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
8. Filmmaking Links of Interest
9. Subscribe and Unsubscribe Information
10. Copyright Information

1. Introduction

Welcome to Issue #147 of The Director’s Chair, Nov. 5, 2013

1. The Feature Article this month is called: Film Industry Jobs:
Insight from the Inside an interview with Michael Bruce Adams.
“Nobody ever learned anything by not doing it. If you want to
direct, direct, if you want to write, write, if you want to
produce, produce. Don’t let resources stand in your way, don’t
let not having the best gear or experienced actors or the right
sets be excuses for not doing what you love. Don’t let the fear
of making shit stop you from making‚Ķ something!” (Read full
article below.)

2. Please send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice to:

2. Two Bonuses For Subscribing To The Director’s Chair

Thank you very much for subscribing to this ezine.

BONUS #1 – Here is the link to download Day One (41 pages) of
“The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.”

BONUS #2 – Here is the link to download the first 30 pages of the
“Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Online Course.”

IMPORTANT: Once the pdf file has opened on your browser, go to
File, “Save Page As” and save the file to your desktop. All links
will now work in the pdf file.

3. 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 filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are under
no obligation to purchase anything – I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.

4. Two “Directing Actors” film workshops (Vancouver & Toronto)

Working with actors can be one of the most rewarding experiences
for a film director – or one of the most traumatic! And the
difference between a good experience and a bad experience usually
comes down to one word: TRUST!

So how do you get actors to trust you?

Actors need a director to act as a sounding board. That’s because
actors are focused on one thing – the role they are playing.

Actors rarely have an overview of how their character fits into
the whole narrative story and it’s the director’s job to know the
destination of the story and the objectives of each character in
that story.

A director’s primary concern on the set is to provide approval
and reassurance to your actors. With actors, subjectivity is ever
present and actors need to work with someone who understands them
and their vulnerability.

Remember, to find a character they are playing, actors must
surrender completely to feelings and impulses. A good director
understands an actor’s vulnerability and creates a safe place for
them to perform.

To help you learn how to better work with actors during prep
(casting/rehearsals) and on set, I will be teaching two, 2 day
workshops for Raindance Canada called “Directing Actors.”

NOTE: The content of each workshop is exactly the same – just
different cities and different dates for your convenience. 🙂

First: Vancouver on November 30 & December 1, 2013:
Contact: Karen Margolese

Second: Toronto on January 25 & 26, 2014:
Contact : Jaimy Warner

The main objective of this “Directing Actors” workshop is to
demonstrate how directors and actors can work effectively
together to build trust; to maximize performance on set; and
understand how to work together cooperatively in a tense,
time-sensitive and often challenging creative environment.

Day One will focus on the Director’s script preparation, as well
as live demonstrations of the audition process, the script
read-through and the cast rehearsal.

On Day Two, the class will be divided into groups and have the
opportunity to participate in directing a scene with professional
actors. Each scene will be recorded and played back for
discussion and review.

LIMITED SEATS: Because this 2 day workshop will be hands-on for
participants, there are only 20 seats available for each class.

(As of November 5, 10 filmmakers have already registered
for the Vancouver workshop.)

(As of November 5, 3 filmmakers have already registered
for the Toronto workshop.)

So if you are interested in attending one of these workshops,
please check out the links below.

Are you coming from outside North America?

If you are travelling from outside North America, I have included
the contact person’s name and email from both the Vancouver and
Toronto Raindance offices.

Both Karen and Jaimy will be able to help you arrange for the
proper entrance visas as well as recommendations for
accommodation in each city.

The Vancouver workshop is on November 30 & December 1, 2013:
Contact: Karen Margolese

The Toronto workshop is on January 25 & 26, 2014:
Contact : Jaimy Warner

Hope to see you either in Vancouver or Toronto 🙂

All the best,


P.S. Each 2 day workshop will be hands-on for participants, so
there are only 20 seats available for each class.

P.P.S. As of November 5, 10 filmmakers have already registered
for the Vancouver workshop and 3 filmmakers have registered
for the Toronto workshop.

5. Feature Article: Film Industry Jobs: Insight from the Inside

Film Industry Jobs: Insight from the Inside – an interview with
screenwriter Michael Bruce Adams (mbadams@me.com) by Brian Clapp.

After conducting interviews my normal process is to go over the
responses three to four times, write an initial introduction that
answers some integral question and then structure the answers
into a logical format.

I can’t do that with this interview from screenwriter Michael
Bruce Adams.

I’ve read it four to five times now, gleaning some new piece of
information about film industry jobs with each paragraph read and
all I keep coming back to is his final response. I can proudly
admit, there is no intelligence I can add to it.

It sticks in my head like some gleeful song poisoning, repeating
endlessly with an end in sight that I don’t actually want to
arrive. My question was five words long ‚Äì ‘any final words of
encouragement?’ ‚Äì his answer was enduring.

“Nobody ever learned anything by not doing it. If you want to
direct, direct, if you want to write, write, if you want to
produce, produce. Don’t let resources stand in your way, don’t
let not having the best gear or experienced actors or the right
sets be excuses for not doing what you love. Don’t let the fear
of making shit stop you from making… something! You know why?
Because not a decade ago a bunch of kids with smartphones started
flooding YouTube with some of the worst films imaginable. But
they were fearless, they kept at it and they learned. Those kids
are now directing features.

A thirty-second film shot on your phone is still a film… that you
made. Go make something.”

Here’s more with Michael Bruce Adams, the writer of ‘BOMBSHELL’ a
short film set to debut September 23rd at the Landmark Cinema in
Los Angeles:

Clapp: If someone knew they wanted to work in the film industry –
but really didn’t know in what role or form – what would you
suggest they do to figure out more about what life on set is like
and the various film industry jobs available?

Adams: Become a Production Assistant (PA). I know it doesn’t
sound sexy, PA’s are the lowest of the low on a film set, but if
you know you love film and you just don’t know what you want to
do, there is no easier way to break in, or better way to see what
each department does, than becoming a PA.

I started off sweeping up cigarette butts but within a few weeks
I was helping the Special Effects folks on set, helping the grips
pick up gear at the end of the day, helping the electricians lay
cable first thing in the morning‚Ķ okay, that doesn’t really sound
sexy either but all these things are responsibilities that you
have to earn.

The job of a Production Assistant can be as limiting or as broad
as you make it. If you believe the job is about cigarette butts
and car lots then it is, but if you believe the job is about
creating a safe, clean environment for your crew to work in and
creating a positive impact on the communities you shoot in… your
world will change very quickly. It’s all about perspective and

Work hard, learn quietly, be dependable and you will earn
people’s trust‚Ķ and trust is the only commodity that matters on a
film crew.

By then end of my time as a PA, I had friends in every department
willing to stand up for me… because I had earned their trust.

Clapp: When did you decide you wanted to work in the film
industry and how did you learn the business?

Adams: It wasn’t an immediate thing for me.

I loved writing stories in school, I loved movies growing up, but
I never really made the connection of a career in film until I
was out of university. I was working in a used bookstore for food
money, after escaping the completely soulless advertising
industry, and experimenting with really awful poetry and
exceptionally crappy short stories. A friend of mine who didn’t
know any better and who was trying to make a name for himself as
a stunt person came to me with a story idea and asked if I could
write a screenplay.

Like many great things in life, it all started with a terrified
leap… I told him of course I could.

I went to the library and took out the only two screenplays they
had in the stacks; RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC by Lawrence Kasdan and
JACOB’S LADDER by Bruce Joel Rubin. Could have been much, much
worse; could have been BATTLEFIELD EARTH. Actually it couldn’t
have, this was 1993, BATTLEFIELD EARTH was 2000. No screenplay
books being hawked on line (actually, almost nothing being hawked
on line… nice!), no film school on every corner either.

So I write this epic screenplay using my library copy examples as
format guides. Of course it’s crap, but I connect with the format
immediately. Something about the lean structure, the impact of
the language, the speed of it, speaks to me. I absolutely love

I learned the business by working in it. I knew if I wanted to
learn to write better and had to work in production.

Clapp: How did you get your first real opportunity on a film

Adams: Pure nepotism… the girl I was dating at the time was on
the University gymnastics team. She got recruited to do stunts
for a film that was shooting in town. She ended up breaking into
that field very quickly so I coerced her into getting me a job on
set. She stepped into a six figure a year stunt career while I
swept up cigarette butts in the studio parking lot for 80 bucks a
day. The relationship didn’t last.

But our friendship did! I’ll always be grateful to her for
helping me get my foot in the door.

Clapp: You have an incredibly impressive resume, a great deal of
your work coming as assistant camera on major film productions –
how would you define the role of assistant camera?

Adams: I had the privilege of working with some amazing camera
teams. We created a philosophical approach to any project we
worked on. We would break down the script and come up with plans.
The technical aspects included tactics, logistics and mechanics,
but the part that had to come first was the philosophical side.

Essentially it’s a big picture to details thing. If we look at
our camera team’s main goal as helping the Director achieve his
or her vision, then we do that by doing everything we can so that
all the Director has to worry about is the actors’ performance,
and we do that by making sure that all the Director of
Photography (DOP) has to worry about is lighting, and we do that
by making sure all the Camera Operator has to worry about is
framing, and we do that by making sure all the Focus Puller (or
First Assistant Camera Person) has to worry about is distance,
and we do that by doing everything else. The everything else part
falls to the Second Assistant Camera Person (or Clapper/Loader).

On the technical side, tactics are how we approach physical and
psychological challenges inherent in the project. For example,
what would we need to safely shoot on helicopters or at sea, or
if there are dramatically heavy aspects of the story that require
great concentration from the actors, how can we do our work as
stealthily as possible.

Logistics is about planning; it’s breaking down the script to see
what special gear we need, studying the schedule to see when we
need it, and keeping up with call sheet changes so that, as much
as possible, we’re flexible and ready for anything.

Mechanics is about knowing the gear we work with; getting new
gear early in prep so we can test it, preparing the gear to work
in whatever environmental conditions we will be in, and
understanding how the special mechanics of each piece of gear can
be used to achieve certain effects that the DOP is looking for.

Put all that together and you get something like this: the job of
a Camera Assistant is to ensure that the correct gear has been
prepared to work in whatever conditions required to capture the
images that the director needs to tell their story, and to manage
and operate that gear on set.

Clapp: And how did you gain the camera skills necessary?

Adams: Curiosity, research and perseverance.

Skill for me is about identifying need and understanding how best
to fill that need. Much of the job is learning what the people
above you are doing so that you can predict and anticipate what
you might have to accomplish. As a camera person you’re dealing
with gear that has to work or nothing else can work… the
production grinds to a halt. There is a huge ‘what‚Äôs at stake’
factor involved and what’s at stake is time and time equals

Acquiring skills to do specifically with gear is about practice.
If you’re working with film, you load hundreds of film magazines
each prep… you get so that your ritual is automatic, and any
deviance (mistake) from that ritual… which can cost hundreds of
thousands of dollars on set… fires off alarm bells in your head.
If you’re learning to thread a camera you haven’t worked with
before, you take an exposed film end or ‘dummy’ role and thread
that camera hundreds of times… imagine threading that camera in
the rain or during a desert windstorm, prepare for the
possibilities. Practice is an alternation of goals; faster then
better, faster then better, faster then better‚Ķ it doesn’t end.
But a lot of people forget the better part!

The Second Assistant Camera Person’s job is all about time; how
much time does it take to load and unload the gear, how much time
to set up a second camera, how long is each take, how much time
is left in the film mag or on the tape, how much time is left if
we shoot at 120 frames per second.

As a Focus Puller or First Assistant, our job is all about
distance and space. We need to be able to move the plane or range
of focus in space accurately for distance in order to keep the
actor’s eyes in focus as they move about the set, or trade off
between several actors moving at varying distances from the

We try to become as accurate as possible and as intuitive as
possible with how we move that focus around.

We study film stocks, how forgiving they are, and compare them to
the resolution fall-off of digital formats. Rather than use depth
of field calculators, we memorize the depth of field mathematical
equations and how light, distance and focal length affects the
depth of field for any given format. We study how different
capture formats affect how precise we have to be, but also how
different display formats affect it. We understand that as image
capture evolves so does display. If you are working in TV and
you’re watching TV screens get bigger and resolution get better,
we know that this is becoming more like shooting for the big
screen; we have to be that precise.

Above all, as in most film jobs, you learn on the fly.

I joined the camera department before film schools were popular,
I don’t think we had any practical film programs in Vancouver at
the time, so you are dependent on the crews you work with to show
you the ropes. From that point on you have to really dig in to
your vault of common sense, identify needs, learn what you need
to learn to fill those needs.

Knowledge is a weapon, and in camera if you don’t know a bit
about lens theory, how different format cameras actually capture
image, battery technology, and how to manipulate camera mechanics
to create certain effects… you are unarmed.

With film, we would break what was happening down into its base
components… film cameras in North America run at 24 frames per
second. That means a motion picture film camera takes 24
individual still frames per second. Because half of that time is
spent moving the film into position and half the time is spent
exposing that piece of film to the light, each motion picture
frame is equivalent to taking a picture with your still camera at
1/48 of a second exposure speed. It’s theoretically that simple‚Ķ
24 still pictures per second… so shooting with a still camera is
essential for understanding the basics of working with motion
picture cameras.

We can adjust different things on the camera and lens to create
different effects. For example if we run the camera at a higher
frame rate such as 48 frames per second, so the camera motor is
working twice as fast, we can take 48 still frames per second. If
we then run that film through a projector at 24 frames per
second, the photographed action will seem to run twice as long…
or what we perceive as slow motion.

All those principles are almost exactly the same with digital
formats, you’re still dealing with time and light and how you
manipulate the capture of light.

Every change we make to the mechanics of the camera has an effect
visually in what we capture, and that in turn has an emotional
effect on the audience. Developing skills is about identifying
what we want to achieve emotionally and reverse engineering to
discover what causes that effect mechanically… and then
practicing until something bleeds.

This article was written by Brian Clapp from Work in Entertainment.

6. Film Directing Coach – Peter D. Marshall

Actors, Singers and Athletes Have Private Coaches. So Why Not
Film and TV Directors? http://actioncutprint.com/filmdirectingcoach/

Hilary Swank used an acting coach to prepare for her role in Boys
Don’t Cry. She won her first Academy Award.

Singer Renee Fleming has always used a vocal coach. She has won
several Grammy Awards.

Rafael Nadal’s coach urged him on from the sidelines during his
Wimbledon tennis tournament win in 2010.

Arnold Palmer improved his game with the help of a coach. Even
Tiger Woods has had several coaches.

As a matter of fact, winners in nearly every profession
(athletes, actors, singers, business executives) know that
without the right coach, they won’t perform at their peak.

They know that without the support of an experienced and
qualified coach, they would constantly struggle to achieve

So if these top professionals in their respective fields use
coaches, why not film directors?

So why hire me as your film directing coach?

Along with my international teaching experiences and my 39 years
of professional filmmaking experience (as a TV Director and
Feature 1st AD), I feel I have the necessary qualifications to
help you achieve your dreams of being a creative and successful
independent film director.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to my Film
Directing Coaching services via Skype:

7. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion (Free Advertising)

The Director’s Chair gives you an incredible opportunity to get
Free Advertising for your services and your films.

Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this section.

So if you want over 6000 filmmakers around the world to know
about you and your films, please send me your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to 300 words. I reserve the right to
edit the promotion for length, spelling and formatting.


1.What’s The Big Idea? A Guide To Creative Marketing
Communication by Jerry Bader

New e-Book For Developing High Concept Ideas

“What’s The Big Idea?” is more than just another business e-book
touting the latest techno-gimmick or fad-app; it’s an organized
approach to creative marketing strategy, concept development.

The e-book contains a beautiful mind map chart for entrepreneurs
to use as a guide in developing their own innovative marketing
campaigns, as well as written, video, and full page photo
illustrations of each of the 28 concepts that use hard-wired
mental triggers to communicate well-thought-out marketing
communication strategies.

Jerry Bader

8. Filmmaking Links of Interest

1. Diablo Cody brings complex women to life onscreen

2. 6 Filmmaking Tips from Steve McQueen

3. Independent Filmmaking: To Webisode, or not to Webisode

4. 10 Zero-Budget Filmmaking Tips

5. Why are Canadian shows missing from TV’s new golden age?

9. Subscribe and Unsubscribe Information

1. To Subscribe to this Ezine, send an email to
mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com with SUB as the Subject

2. To Unsubscribe to this Ezine, reply to this email with UNSUB
in the Subject line

3. To Change Your Email Address, send an email with your old and
new email address to mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

4. To Read Back Issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:

5. Share This Ezine: Remember to share this ezine by email.
Forward it to your friends and associates.

6. Reprint This Ezine: This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

10. Copyright Information

Copyright (c) 2000-2013
ActionCutPrint.com Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved