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The Director’s Chair Issue #21 – Jan. 14, 2002 (Directing as a Helping Profession)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

January 14, 2002          Scene 3 – Take 1

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing
3.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
4.  Action-Cut-Print!
5.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
6.  Quote of the Month
7.  Feature Article – “Directing as a Helping Profession”
8.  Film and TV Domain Names
9.  Directing Tip – Actors should “do” rather than “say”
10. Tips for Young Filmmakers
11. Out Takes
12. Share This Ezine
13. Suggestions & Comments
14. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
15. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #21 of The Director’s Chair (January 14, 2002).

1) THE FEATURE ARTICLE – “Directing as a Helping Profession”
by Lindell Singleton

Lindell Singleton is an in-house Director/Producer for Flagship
University (a division of Fort Worth, Texas-based American
Airlines.) His feature article is actually a brilliant essay on
why the corporate world is a fertile training ground for the
independent filmmaker.

2) THE DIRECTING TIP – Actors should “do” rather than “say”

“Hollywood VS. Non-Hollywood Film Schools”

4) COMMENTS – 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:

5) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – 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 email:



Peter D. Marshall


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4. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

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“Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-one. That’s good. Hate keeps a
man alive. It gives him strength.”

Jack Hawkins to Charles Heston in ‘Ben Hur,’ 1959

7. FEATURE ARTICLE – “Directing as a Helping Profession”

“Directing as a Helping Profession”
by Lindell Singleton

Being a self-proclaimed cinema purist, I never envisioned myself
directing and producing corporate video projects. I studied the
works of filmmakers from Fritz Lang to Oscar Michaeux to Michael
Curtiz to David Lean. Corporate video projects, by and large,
were painful-to-watch, poorly scripted works that viewers endured
simply because they had no choice. The “talking head” was the
predominant creative thrust.

Although I worked for American Airlines in another capacity, I
was regularly directing and producing videos and PSAs for small
agencies with limited budgets and R&B and Rap group producers
with big ideas and no money.  Still, it was filmmaking. I was
doing what I loved and what I was trained to do. Creatively, I
was somewhere between Hollywood and Bollywood.

I won an award from WORLDFEST: The Houston International Film
Festival for directing a music video for an R&B artist named
Pierre Starhrre. I kept the statute on my desk at work. A
colleague, working on a training project, came up with the idea
of producing a music video to raise awareness about a major issue
facing the airline: (The proper disposal of spent service items
when working around aircraft engines.) So, I drafted this
elaborate treatment blending country music, rock, and rap.  We
shot the project over three days. It was a resounding hit
throughout the company…most probably because it represented
something outside the norm of most training videos. I look back
at that video and cringe… “What was I thinking?”

From there, I began to consult on scripts for other internal
training and marketing videos. I was hooked. I’m reminded of a
story about 20th century salesmen who both went to China. One
sent a cable to the home office and said, “Why’d you send me
here. Everyone is barefoot.” The other cabled the home office and
said, “Send every pair of shoes you’ve got in the factory. We can
make a million bucks over here.” I was like the second guy. All I
saw was an opportunity to bring a different kind of creative
approach to the corporate video world.

My initial arrogance was rooted in this neo-elitism that’s
infected many of my colleagues in the independent film community.
I looked askance on the work that corporate producers were
completing because it didn’t meet some edgy creative standard
that I thought everyone should aspire to. If the simple essence
of the medium is to both communicate and enlighten, corporate
video production is a most appropriate conduit.

Take, for example, our company: Over 80,000 people will see a
corporate marketing or training film. This far exceeds the number
of folk that view the average independent film sans distribution.
I had to face a piercing question. Was I directing and producing
to communicate, enlighten, and entertain, or was I so engrossed
in what “I” wanted to achieve — or telling my stories — that I
lost focus about the greater responsibility that I had as a
director. In the answer, I learned something essential about the
nature of my work.

I longed for the cappuccino and herbal tea zeitgeist of film
festivals and the indie-world—all black jackets, tiny earrings,
with a smattering of Y2K cool. What I instead found for myself
was a world that needed visionary storytellers to help people do
simple things like, be more sensitive to customers with
disabilities, or how to think differently about their personal
responsibility to protect the environment. It’s easy to see these
topics as mundane and uninteresting. The challenge is to ask
questions like: “How can we do this differently?” or “How can we
represent this idea visually? Or how can we use the medium to
simplify the message so it’s clear and uncomplicated?”

If directing and producing is what you’re interested in, be
vigilant in finding ways to do it. Many large Fortune 500
corporations have internal video production teams — but here’s
the unpublished truth. Most of the departments are small
operations with more work than time.   Learn the two-column
script format and write something on ‘spec.’ Call them and offer
your services as a writer. Why? Because it’s much easier to
“break-in” as a writer, then make the transition to directing and
producing. And here’s a hint of irony — the work I’ve done in the
corporate world — particularly as a producer — has made me or
more disciplined writer and a more inventive director.

Most corporate projects have a short turnaround time and limited
budget. In August of 2001, I directed a project in support of
environmental awareness. The request came from senior management
on a Thursday and we were shooting late the following week.
Typically, we seek to allocate three weeks for a project — but it
often doesn’t happen. We’ve got to be creative and fast. Think
about the chaos at most airports — well, we’re often shooting in
this environment. There’s no opportunity to place the airline
operation on ‘pause’ for us to get a shot — we’ve got to find
ways to work around obstacles. That’s why the corporate world is
fertile training ground for the independent filmmaker. After
facing the slings and arrows of some corporate work, shooting an
independent film on nights and weekends with non-actors is a
welcome interruption. Stakes are high in the freelance-directing
world. There aren’t many opportunities to rise from failure.
Given that, I believe the corporate world can be a great place to
develop mastery of the skill.

What I love about directing are its inherent contradictions.
You’re an artist, but also a technician. You’re a counselor, with
quiet active listening skills, but you’re also “Tony Robbins.”
You’re an unyielding despot, but also a servant-leader asking
questions and drawing ideas out of others. Sadly, however, you’ll
probably fail if you haven’t mastered at least one technical
skill associated with filmmaking. I helped to fund my education
through work as a freelance photographer. And, although most of
my work is now in video—digital or high definition — the
discipline of seeing the world the way a photographer sees the
world — framing shots, moving people and objects from the
foreground through to the background — has helped me

Lastly, remember that you’re a storyteller. Master what’s at your
disposal — the script, the talent, and the technical elements —
then, go serve an apprenticeship in a corporate video training
department. What you will learn is an individual style and
approach that’s galvanized through preparation, a quick
disciplined pace on the set, and the desire to tell great

Lindell Singleton is an in-house Director/Producer for Flagship
University (a division of Fort Worth, Texas-based American
Airlines.)  His work is regularly translated into several
languages and seen in over thirty-five countries around the
world. He attended Los Angeles City College and UCLA. He has a
degree in Art. His documentary film on JFK– “Voices From
Dealey–People Remember a President” — will be released this
spring. His next project for AA is a series of :60 spots that
will air on video walls and kiosks at New York LaGuardia airport.


“If you want to be on the Web, you need your own Domain Name!”

The Internet is now where the action is for the film and
television industry. Internet success stories like “The Blair
Witch Project” are becoming more and more common. The major
studios, TV networks and film production companies are creating
their own web presence. Independent film makers have their own
websites promoting their projects. Writers, directors, editors,
and actors can now showcase their demo reels to the world with the
use of streaming media.

If you’re serious about developing your own website, you will
also need to have your OWN domain name! And here’s why. Your
domain name is how people will find you on the Internet – and
it’s also how they will remember you. So having an original,
creative and easy-to-remember domain name, made up of film and TV
keywords, is one of the most crucial factors in creating a
successful Online presence.

To help you search for the perfect film and TV name for your
Website, I’ve created a special webpage for Film and Television
domain names – including resource articles on how to find your
perfect domain name and a list of over 20 high quality, top level
film and TV domain names for sale, such as:

=>  allfilmandtv.com
=>  canadianfilmtv.com
=>  cyberfilmstudios.com
=>  hollywoodfilmtv.com
=>  tvmoviesfilms.com

Remember, your domain name is YOUR IDENTITY on the Internet, and
you need to choose it wisely. And even if you already have a
website, you can help to advertise and market it by buying
multiple domains (filled with specific film and TV keywords) and
“pointing” those domains to your main website.

To find out more about getting your own Film and TV domain name,
click here: http://www.actioncutprint.com/filmdomains.html

9.  DIRECTING TIP – Actors should “do” rather than “say”

When working on your script, and when shooting on the set, make
sure you have the actors “do things” rather than “say things.”


“Hollywood VS. Non-Hollywood Film Schools”

Some of you out there who are considering making the move to a
larger or more well-known film school have already noticed that
there are generally two kinds of schools: Hollywood and
non-Hollywood.  By definition, Hollywood schools are usually
located in or around Hollywood itself, and usually train you for
working in the Industry.  Non-Hollywood schools are usually
scattered across the US, with the best ones’ in New York.  These
schools usually teach you film as an art form, and are considered
a medium for art rather than purely entertainment.

I’ve found many differences when it comes to these different
kinds of schools, both in thought and in practice.  A
non-Hollywood school is usually cheaper and is stationed in a
state university.  They often don’t have the equipment resources
at hand that a Hollywood school would, mostly because you’re not
paying them enough.  I’ve also found that these schools are very
“clicky”, (people very “stuck on” themselves), and are just a
pain to deal with.  But there are also a lot of smart people who
are willing to help you too.

Then there are the Hollywood films schools.  These schools get
you battle-hardened and ready for a life in the Industry. More
often than not, these schools will cost a lot to attend. But with
this cost, you’ll often get A+ equipment and A+ instructors.
However, most schools only offer a two year program, but the
better ones’ will offer a 4+ year degree. They teach you in much
the same way that a non-Hollywood school would, but the course
load is usually more rigorous and hard.  These schools can be
very “clicky” as well, but more often than not, people as a whole
will be easier to deal with.

Keep those cameras rolling!

Cody is a young filmmaker from Northern Wisconsin who is
presently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
To contact Cody, email: cody.agenten@gmail.com

11.  OUT TAKES – Church Bulletin Bloopers

** The Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items
to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

** Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All
ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the BS
is done.

** The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the
congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the church
breakfast next Sunday morning.

** Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM.
Please use the back door.

** The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the
choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

** A songfest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.

** Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and

** The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in
the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The Congregation is invited
to attend this tragedy.

** Thursday night Potluck Supper. Prayer and medication to

** The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth
of David, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Adams.

** Tuesday at 4 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies
giving milk will please come early.

** A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church
hall. Music will follow.

** At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What
Is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

** Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian
Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

** Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are
preparing for the girth of their first child.

** The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed
potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a
nominal feel.

** The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing
campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

** Don’t let worry kill you, let the church help.

** For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have
a nursery downstairs.

** This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come
forward and lay an egg on the altar.

** The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the
ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will
join in.

** Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the
addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some
older ones.

** The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who
enjoys sinning to join the choir.


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