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The Director's Chair Issue #96 – March 25, 2009 (The Ten Commandments of Filmmaking)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

March 25, 2009                  Scene 10 – Take 3

Published once a month.

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


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1. Free Bonus for Subscribing to “The Director’s Chair”
2. Introduction
3. BLOG – Film Directing Tips
4. Is Your Passion to Direct Movies?
5. Are you on Twitter?
6. FEATURE ARTICLE – My Ten Commandments of Filmmaking
7. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
8. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
9. Subscriber Links of Interest
10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events
11. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum
12. Filmmaking Workshops
13. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
14. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
15. Copyright Information


Thank you very much for subscribing to this ezine. Here is
the link to download the first 28 pages of my 201 page pdf
ebook, “The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.”


Welcome to Issue #96 of The Director’s Chair (Mar. 25/09)


Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Botswana, Brazil, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China,
Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican
Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland,
France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland,
India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico,
Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal,
Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi
Arabia, Sierra Leone, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore,
South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland,
Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago,
Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United
Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam,
Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

2) FEATURE ARTICLE – the feature article this month is
called “How to Work (and Survive) in the Film and Television
Industry: The Ten Commandments of Filmmaking” by Peter D.
Marshall. “During my 35 years in the film and television
business, I have worked as a PA, grip, electrician,
assistant cameraman, commercial production manager, first
assistant director, TV series creative consultant,
television producer and director.

I have learned many things during my career in the film
industry, and with that in mind, I created this list of “My
Ten Commandments of Filmmaking” which is my way of showing
you how to work and survive in this business – without
getting OR giving ulcers!” (See below to read entire

3) FACEBOOK – The Director’s Chair has it’s own page on
Facebook. If you haven’t signed up to Facebook yet, I
sincerely recommend you think about doing it. Facebook is a
fabulous place to meet people who share your passions and it
is one of the top Social Networking sites on the Internet.
Here’s the Facebook home page: http://www.facebook.com

Once you are signed up, type in “The Directors Chair” and
the page should come up. Sign up as a fan and then start to
join the discussion forums, post photos, videos and write on
the Walls. If you are already a member of Facebook, here is
the direct link to the page: http://snipurl.com/923qh

From time to time I will contact you by email to inform you
of certain filmmaking workshops or film products 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

5) SHARE THIS EZINE – Share this Ezine by email and forward
it to your friends and associates.

6) SUGGESTIONS & COMMENTS – Send any comments, suggestions,
questions or advice to: mailto:comments@actioncutprint.com

7) REPRINT THIS EZINE – This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall

3. BLOG – Film Directing Tips

Thanks to subscribers like yourself, my filmmaking blog,
http://filmdirectingtips.com has been on the first page of
Google for several months using the keywords, “film

Please take some time to look through the many blog postings
on the site and make some comments on the posts – your
feedback is important to me because they will help me decide
on the content I will add to this blog.

RSS – http://filmdirectingtips.com/wp-rss.php
FEEDBURNER – http://feeds.feedburner.com/FilmDirectingTipsAndResources

Here are some of the latest blog entries I have made:

– Cell phones help filmmakers reveal unseen Africa

– VIDEO: How the the economic crisis will color what
moviegoers see on the big screen.

– To All Filmmakers: this is a Must Read Article! – “In
Hollywood, Reshaping a Business Model That Emerged With the

– SnagFilms Finds Online Works for Distributing Documentary

– OpenSourceCinema.org Chooses Kaltura’s Video Platform to
Power Interactive Video Functionality on Its New Online


“I’m really enjoying the audio seminar. I think its great and
will be a valuable resource for years to come. I have all
the audio clips on my phone and can’t stop listening. Thanks
again for sharing your wealth of knowledge.”
Tasha W. Ottawa, Canada

Do You Want to Become a Successful, Working Film and
Television Director?

“The Art and Craft of the Director” is a 201 page
multi-media Online course created by Peter D. Marshall that
demystifies the process of directing and fast tracks your
way to becoming a working film and TV  director. (Instant
Download – No DVD’s – No CD’s – No Shipping)

This 10-Day audio course will help demystify the filmmaking
process and increase your confidence to be a successful,
working film and television director.

I am very proud of this film directing course and I
guarantee that anyone who listens to the audio files and
reads all the support material will discover many of the
tools a working film director needs to survive today.

All the information about the 10 Day “The Art and Craft of
the Director Audio Seminar,” including the content list,
audio files, support materials, free bonuses and how to
order, is available now. Just click on the link below.

“I bought your amazing course this week and am working
through Day 1. The course is AMAZING and extremely useful
and I’ve recommended it to a friend and all over the
internet!” Daniel Avery, Johnstown, Colorado, USA.


Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging
service that allows users to send and read other users’
updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based
posts of up to 140 characters in length.

Twitter is one of the best and quickest ways for friends,
family or people with common interests to stay in touch.

It’s also becoming one of the best ways to promote yourself
and your films on the Internet!

My partner, Trilby Jeeves, wrote an article called “What the
Tweet?!?? A Rookie’s Guide to Twitter” for The Art of the
Business blog that gives you some insight on how to use
Twitter from a creative person’s point of view. You can
check out her article at: http://snipurl.com/6tege

If you have a Twitter account, let’s follow each other. You
can follow me at http://twitter.com/bcfilmmaker. You can
also follow Trilby at http://twitter.com/tjbuffoonery

6. FEATURE ARTICLE – My Ten Commandments of Filmmaking

“How to Work (and Survive) in the Film and Television
Industry: The Ten Commandments of Filmmaking” by Peter D.

During my 35 years in the film and television business, I
have worked as a PA, grip, electrician, assistant cameraman,
commercial production manager, first assistant director, TV
series creative consultant, television producer and

I have also had the opportunity to work on all kinds of
productions, from industrial films to documentaries;
television commercials to music videos; TV series to
Hollywood feature films.

I have learned many things during my career in the film
industry, but one of the most valuable lessons I have
learned was to remain human at all costs. And by this I mean
to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

Making a film is a stressful job. You have to remember that
there is a lot of money and many careers on the line every
time the camera rolls.

When you enter this business, you are stepping into the
world of “entertainment.” TV and movies are just one part of
this “make-believe” environment – dance, theatre and music
are some other examples.

This is a business of artistic expression, massive egos and
huge amounts of cash – a recipe for disaster if I ever saw
one! It is also a business where you can lose your soul if
you’re not careful.

Remember the often cited (and industry changeable) quote of
Hunter S. Thompson: “The (television) business is a cruel
and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where
thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.
There’s also a negative side.”

With that in mind, I created this list of “My Ten
Commandments of Filmmaking” which is my way of showing you
how to work and survive in this business – without getting
OR giving ulcers! NOTE: This list was written primarily for
First AD’s and Directors.

C1) It’s only a movie – no one gets hurt.

This one should be obvious. Making any kind of film or TV
production can be risky because there are many natural
hazards on a film set. Crew members can trip over cables,
fall off platforms, have equipment tumble on them, burn and
cut themselves, slip on stairs and slippery surfaces etc.

Then there are the added hazards that are specific to our
industry: breathing atmosphere smoke for long periods,
accidents involving insert cars or process trailers,
accidents from stunts and special effects and noise hazards
such as loud explosions and gunfire.

All crew members should be aware of the safety issues
working on any set. If you have any concerns, you should
talk to your shop steward, union rep or the 1st AD who is
the set Safety Supervisor.

C2) Ask lots of questions – never assume anything.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Like the expression says,
“The only dumb question is the one that was never asked.” If
something doesn’t feel right, or it doesn’t ring true, or it
doesn’t make sense, ask questions. Solve it now.

Assuming it will all work out “on the day” is wrong. If
something in the script doesn’t make sense, or you feel
something is not working, deal with it right away.

Fix it, change it, eliminate it, solve it, get rid of it.
Whatever IT is, do something about it before you go to

C3) There are no rules in filmmaking – only sins!

This is probably my best piece of advice. It’s not original
– it’s a partial quote from the legendary director, Frank

“There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins! And the
cardinal sin is dullness.

I want you to always remember this quote, and as you get up
each morning and walk onto that set, refer to it often!

C4) Listen to the people who know more than you do.

When was a Second AD on the TV Series “Hitchhiker” in 1985,
I had to run the set for the First AD while he did some
scheduling. Well, after a bit I got a little flustered, as
this was my first time running the entire set.

Suddenly I heard my name. When I turned around, the dolly
grip was waving me over to him. As I came closer, he smiled
and said, “Peter, it’s block, light, rehearse, tweak,
shoot!”  Words I will always remember.

The crew work on the set – all the time! That’s what they
do. They see directors and First AD’s come and go. They know
more than you do. Always will. Listen to them and you will
become a better AD.

C5) You have to EARN respect – not demand it

The hierarchy of a movie is very much like the hierarchy of
an Army: General’s at the top and Privates at the bottom.
And just like the Army, there are certain people in the
higher positions that you are unable to get along with.

Directors, 1st AD’s and DOP’s form the “Triumvirate” of any
movie set. They are the people in charge. And many times you
will be faced with the difficult task of working for months
with one (or more) of these people who are egotistical,
abusive, or sometimes not even very good at their job.

This will happen – and sometimes it happen’s a lot. How I
deal with this, and suggest you do the same, is to remember
this military expression, “You need to respect the Rank –
but you don’t have to respect the person.”

C6)  Don’t abuse your power – use “Power Through” not “Power

As a First AD, you have a very powerful position in the film
industry. The Director hires you for your organizational
skills and your command of the set; the Producers look to
you to make sure the movie comes in on time and on budget;
the crew look to you for leadership.

The “rank” of 1st AD means you get to carry “a big stick”.
But a lot of AD’s will abuse this power and yell and scream
and make everyone’s life miserable. In other words, they
will take advantage of their position and use their power
over people.

My philosophy is to take the other route. In other words,
use “power through.” What this means is to work with your
crew and bring them all together as a team and work it out
together. The crew know you are in charge. You don’t have to
flaunt it.

C7) Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

I read a self-help book once that also had a set of ten
commandments and one of them was “It’s okay to change your

This makes a lot of sense. Especially when you are a
Director or First AD because you are making decisions all
the time and some of them may not be the right ones after
you get more information or listen to other people. The
problem happens if let your ego get in the way.

I did that once. I thought I had the right answer and I
didn’t want to change the schedule even though the director
and the PM thought we couldn’t make it.

Well, they were right and I cost the production money. Not
just because I didn’t want to do the extra work, but also
because I was afraid the crew would feel I didn’t know what
I was doing (which turned out to be correct in this instance
anyway.) Lesson learned!

C8) A healthy Ego is necessary – self importance is

There is an important distinction between Ego and

Ego can be defined as “your consciousness of your own
identity.” You need an ego in this business because Ego is
important for your survival. Ego helps you to believe in
yourself, it helps you to get up in the morning knowing that
you still have things to learn but you are good at your job
and you will get through your day by being fair and
respecting others.

On the other hand, self-importance (or what I call misplaced
ego) is “an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to
others.” I believe it is this trait (more than anything
else) that makes working and surviving in the entertainment
industry harder than it has to be.

C9) Have a sense of humour – learn to laugh at yourself.

This rule should probably be #1 on this list.

In my experience, the best sets are the ones that have a
relaxed and professional atmosphere presided over by a
creative director with no insecurity issues; an experienced
1st AD with no attitude problems; and a DOP who loves the
collaboration process and realizes that “making a film is
not all about the lighting!”

Making a movie is hard work, and the occasional break from
the stress and intensity of it by a film crew having a laugh
pays for itself many times over.

I have found that my sense of humour (and my large
repertoire of bad jokes) have gotten me through some very
difficult times.

C10) Take 10 at lunch – and change your socks and shoes.

As a First AD you stand on your feet all day. Taking a
moment after lunch to change you socks and shoes is a
blissful moment – it actually re-energizes you. There is
probably some psychological or chemical reason for this that
I don’t understand, but whatever it is, try it because it
does work!

I like to take about 10 – 15 minutes on my own somewhere off
set during lunch to have a quiet time. This is where I can
“recharge by batteries.”

All day you have to be on your game and make hundreds of
decisions with the crew constantly asking you questions,
Taking time some time for yourself is really, really
important to keep your body relaxed and your mind sharp.

7. Do You Want to Write an Article for The Director’s Chair?

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 me at:


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
reserve the right to edit the promotion for length, spelling
and formatting.

1) Stev Elam – Stev Elam doesn’t direct commercials; he
directs people. Sometimes they are actors with honed skills
and talent, other times they are real people with unique
life experiences. But under Elam’s direction, the
performances are always honest, emotionally intelligent, and
above all, human.

Whether it’s a shy little girl with a hole in her heart, or
five-time Emmy nominee, Jill Eikenberry and husband, Michael
Tucker, Olympic Gold medalist Tara Lipinski, or Larry King
and Vice President Dan Quayle, Elam guides them to the heart
of the story.

Elam has brought this level of honest storytelling, strong
visuals and subtle humor to his Snickers, Gateway Computers
and Nike spots. Most recently, Elam was featured in Shoot
Magazine’s Best Work section.

Stev Elam Director Reel

2) Rick L. Winters – Hollywood, CA, March 16, 2009 – Annodam
Films will be releasing the feature film “BLANK” from writer
director Rick L. Winters on March 21, 2009 making it
available on all platforms, DVD, online streaming and for
FREE on all the bit torrent sites for everyone to enjoy.

It is our concept that if people like the movie they will go
back and make a donation at http://www.blank-movie.com thus
allowing us to make another film and release it in the same
manner. Basically the consumer pays what they think the film
was worth to them and in return they will receive a
newsletter with a web forum so they can follow us through
pre production, production and post production of our next

After the credits of the movie end they will get to see a
trailer for one of the next features we are planning to
film. All the links will be available on a variety of
websites all over the web, such as
http://www.blank-movie.com and http://www.myspace.com/blank_13
and around 30 other sites.

Several of the largest bit torrent sites including Mininova
will not only be carrying and hosting the film but they will
be advertising on their front page with over 35 million
unique visitors a month. This site combined with the other
bit torrent sites will expose the film to more that 60
million viewers alone. This is the revolution of independent
film distribution. Rick L. Winters is also writing a book
about the whole process to help guide others who wish to
distribute their films in the same way.

Rick L. Winters
cell 213.258.9913


“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:

If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
your self-promotion on this page, just send an email to:

Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.

10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events

1) 3D The Camera Systems – Tech TipsShooting 3D requires a
different set of equipment. Wrap your mind around the
platform, a piece of equipment that looks like a massive set
of binoculars. Does this mean youre stepping away from the
world of cameras? Not really. Vince Pace, owner of Pace HD,
speaks with us and explains the systems available to you.

2) 4-Show.biz – was created due to the need for a
solid entertainment infrastructure in the various areas that
are flourishing due to recent film tax incentives. Our goal
is to assist everyone in the entertainment industry by
providing a medium to facilitate business. 4-Show.biz offers
a professional way for Industry Professionals, Talent,
Service Providers, and Government Officials to communicate
and network. http://www.4-show.biz

3) Arrowhead Film Online – The Lake Arrowhead Film Festival
is proud to announce the 2009 Lake Arrowhead Film Festival
Online. This year we will be offering an outstanding lineup
of short films in various categories for your online viewing
pleasure. http://arrowheadfilm.com/

4) Media-Match – for TV and Film Production Crew and
Employers. Media-Match is an online database of over 60,000
TV and film professionals’ resumes and availabilities, and
an up to date television production jobs board and film
production jobs board for new openings in the film and TV
production business across the United States.

5) Docurama – Docurama Films is dedicated to making
critically acclaimed and cutting-edge documentaries
available digitally and on DVD. The collection unites both
classic and contemporary docs from award-winning filmmakers
whose work continues to astound and enlighten.

6) FatFreeFilm Film School – is the independent film school
for everyone. Filmmakers talk about filmmaking. Interviews
with filmmakers, actors, directors, editors, post-production
supervisors and writers. Celebrity interviews and interviews
with behind-the-scenes people that make the films we love.
Interviews are in-depth and cover experiences in the movie
business, recommendations for new filmmakers, the technology
of moviemaking and the future of media. Like an ongoing film
school for up-and-coming filmmakers and professionals in the
moviemaking business. Hosted by Joel Marshall and Kamala
Lopez. http://www.fatfreefilm.com

7) Film Production And Service On The World – This page is
about producing films and making them famous. Tips & tricks
and many examples of good and bad films.

8) Unusuals – is a business utility for a worldwide
commercial film industry, connecting its people & their
reels. http://www.unusuals.net

9) Moovy.ca – is an online interactive and collaborative
community space for emerging and professional filmmakers.

10) Obsessed With Film – Are we a blog? Are we a website?
We’ve spent so long going backwards and forwards between the
two – and the answer was staring us in the face all along.
We are both. You’ll find all the latest developments in the
movie world on the right, and your favorite authors blog.

11. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum

The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum.

Ask film directing questions, submit your website for
review, post film and television directing links, share film
making tips and special events or just keep in touch with
other filmmakers from “The Director’s Chair.”

This forum is for subscribers of “The Director’s Chair”
only, so you will have to register in order to post
questions, give answers or add links. All you can do without
registering is read the posts.

Please visit this new forum now, sign up and take a look
around. http://snipurl.com/6xw2f

12. 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
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 on the
link below. 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.


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Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved


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