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Filmmaking Articles (From "The Director’s Chair")

This page contains links to a series of filmmaking articles that were written for the monthly ezine, The Director’s Chair.

If you are a Film or Television professional and would like to contribute your expertise with filmmaking articles, tips or special reports, please email me at: pdm@actioncutprint.com

1 –Working with Actors: Part 1 (Personality Traits)Peter D. Marshall
One of the first things I do before a casting session is to make a note of each character’s personality traits – the inner patterns and workings of their psyche. Because all individuals have personality traits, knowing what type of person you are dealing with is an important first step to understanding the inner world of a character – and the actor!

2 – Working with Actors: Part 2 (The Casting Session)Peter D. Marshall
When a director first gets a script, you read it through several times to get a feel for what the story is about and who the characters are. As you read the script, you will get an impression of the characters. You then have a meeting with the Producer(s) and the Casting Director to share your ideas of the characters.

3 – Script Breakdown – Script and Scene AnalysisPeter D. Marshall
There are many facets of a Director’s prep on any film or TV show – from location scouts and creative meetings to casting and scheduling. But the first, and most important part of your job, is to understand the script – what the story is about; the themes; the story points; the characters.

4 – Script Breakdown – Character AnalysisPeter D. Marshall
After reading the script and working through the script structure and scene analysis, it’s time to figure out the development and objectives of the characters.

5 – Blocking a ScenePeter D. Marshall
When you first start directing, blocking a scene can be one of the hardest – and most embarrassing – parts of your job. Get it wrong here, and you could waste valuable shooting time trying to get out of the mess you created!

6 – Rehearsing on the SetPeter D. Marshall
When the DOP has finished lighting, the 1st AD calls the actors back to the set for the rehearsal. This is when all the elements of the scene are rehearsed together – actors, camera, sound, stunts, effects etc.

7 – Quick Reference Directing List: Visual Concept and ColoursPeter D. Marshall
The following list contains just a few of the “rules and guidelines” that I have accumulated over the years.These tips are about film visual concepts and colour and their meanings.

8 – Staging and Shooting a Fight ScenePeter D. Marshall
Almost every film today has some sort of obligatory fight scene between the good guy and the bad guy. In this issue, I will share some tips on how to stage and shoot a simple fight scene between two actors.

9 – Quick Reference Directing List: Staging and ChoreographyPeter D. Marshall
Staging and Choreography – dramatic use of the camera and cinematic techniques to illuminate the truth.

10 – “Convergence: The New Media Reality” – Peter D. Marshall
Convergence was the main topic at the Lights! Camera! Convergence! Symposium in Vancouver BC on January 27-28, 2001. The panel consisted of representatives from companies on the cutting edge of the digital evolution: interactive media, HDTV, visual effects, streaming media and post-production services for the film and television industry.

11 – The Commercial Process: A Director’s Point of View – Part 1Tony Johns
What is a Commercial Director? Unlike a feature film director, who has at least 90 minutes to tell a story, a commercial director has, usually, only 30 seconds. Like a feature film director, however, the onus is on the commercial director to tell a story and to entertain.

12 – The Commercial Process: A Director’s Point of View – Part 2Tony Johns
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.

13 – The Commercial Process: A Director’s Point of View – Part 3Tony Johns
Ok, so you’ve been to film school. Maybe you’ve shot a few spec commercials and music clips and slowly you’ve built up a show reel. You now you feel you are experienced enough to earn a living from your directing skills. However, before anybody will take you seriously (and give you heaps of money to make TV commercials and music promos, etc) it helps to have a production company behind you.

14 – An Open Letter From Your Sound Department – Part 1 Various
This letter is being written by audio professionals to help directors and producers understand how good sound can be recorded on the set. We want to help you make the best film possible. For this piece, we will not discuss the topic of mixing itself, as this is the “hocus pocus” part that you trust us to do so well.

15 – An Open Letter From Your Sound Department – Part 2 Various
It is important to understand the gravity and consequences caused when the words “We’ll loop it” are used. You are obviously aware that extra ADR adds a financial burden to your budget, but the consequences are much greater than that. Looping is only an answer for situations where all else fails!

16 – An Open Letter From Your Sound Department – Part 3Various
Budget in a third sound person and the proper amount of audio equipment. A third person is invaluable in getting sound problems fixed in the crucial moments between the takes and scenes. Don’t say “no” to any additional sound related costs without considering the entire post budget too.

17 – Shooting a Feature in 65 Hours! – Mike Cecotka
Producer/Director Mike Slawomir Cecotka’s perfect formula for first time filmmakers with an ultra low budget has proven successful. It took 5 months of pre-production and almost six days to shoot the Hollywood Sunrise Studio feature “Schizophrenia”.

18 – Hard Truths –Brian Dannelly
Clean your mess up. Get high too much? Hate your parents? Irresponsible? Can’t let go of your last relationship? Get a handle on these things. They will not serve you or your career well and you need every ounce of your being to do your best work.

19 – Directing Direct Response TelevisionRandal K. West
Telling someone you are a Director of Direct Response Television is somewhat like telling someone you are an International Chef who cooks with Spam. Many people assume infomercials direct themselves, and anyone who can get a pitchperson and demonstration to stick to tape can produce a successful one. Not true.

20 – The Director’s Prep – Episodic TelevisionPeter D. Marshall
Several people have asked me about the order of a Director’s Prep in episodic TV. The following is a basic breakdown of what to expect when you are directing an episode of a TV show. 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 shows.

Copyright (c) 2000-2012 Peter D. Marshall / All Rights Reserved