Film Workshop – 5 Day Film Directing Masterclass

by Peter D Marshall

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“Making a (good) movie is the art of visually telling a compelling story with believable characters who make us feel something.” Peter D. Marshall

Filmmaking is about story telling – where all the creative and technical elements that go into the making of a film work together to support and enhance the audience’s understanding of the story.

Filmmaking is also a collaborative art form – where the film gets written and edited many times over before you end up with a finished product.

Filmmaking is also a universal language – because we all have our own stories to tell no matter where we live in the world.

So if your story has universal themes, and if your characters are believable, you can tell your story, in your own language, and audiences around the world will watch it!

But the technical and logistical elements needed to make a film are often complex and overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential you always remember that the primary concept of making a film has always been very simple: it is ALL about the story!

And it is the director’s job to translate this written story (the script) as told through the story’s characters (the actors) into a visually entertaining journey (the mise-en-scene) by using the film director’s “paintbrush” (the camera.)

Directing a film is one of the most intensely solitary and intensely collaborative experience you may ever have. It is not only about visually interpreting the screenplay and creatively handling actors, it also includes the ability to complete a day’s work on time and on schedule.

As Mark Travis says in his book, Directing Feature Films, “The prospect of directing a film is overwhelming. Not only is it not very clear or even agreed upon as to what a director does, but there are very few guidelines or programs for the learning director. There is no particular structure or manual that comes along with the job.”

To be a film director today, you need to know: what is expected of you during pre-production; when you step on the set; and when you are in the editing room.

And to do this successfully, you must:

1. Have complete confidence in yourself and faith in your talent and ability
2. Have the courage and tenacity to stick it out “no matter what”
3. Have relentless focus on what is possible rather than what is not possible
4. Never stop searching for your unique voice, style and expression
5. Stay true to yourself: it will guide you to the right people and the right choices

The main objective of this 5 Day Film Directing Masterclass is to demystify the filmmaking process by focusing on the director’s 3 primary tasks on any film: 1) understanding the story 2) guiding actor performances to tell that story 3) using cinematics (camera, lighting, editing, etc) to create a visually compelling story an audience will remember.

In this workshop, participants will also have the opportunity to participate in blocking a scene with professional actors. The scene will be recorded to play back for discussion and review.

Day 1 – introduces participants to the essential roles of the film and TV director by looking at the director as storyteller; the business and politics of film; pre-production activities; and the director’s visual concept.

Day 2 – introduces participants to the complex, in-depth world of the film director and covers script and scene analysis, character objectives and analysis and the actor/director relationship.

Day 3 – introduces participants to the main role of the director: directing and blocking actors and will focus on the casting process and basic blocking and staging techniques.

Day 4 & 5 – 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.

By the end of this 5-day workshop, you should be able to:

– Understand the role and responsibilities of the director
– Know how to survive the business and politics of film
– Effectively breakdown and analyze your script
– Recognize the importance of the actor/director relationship
– Properly interpret the actor’s language
– Manage a proper casting session that gets results
– Use the proper tools for getting believable performances from actors
– Improve your blocking skills on set

Day One Course Outline

1. Introduction
2. 7 Step Film Directing Process
3. Power of Montage (Film Editing)
4. The Kuleshov Effect
5. How to Make a Movie 101
6. What is a Director?
7. Directing a Film – What is Expected?
8. The Three Types of Director
9. The Business and Politics of Film
10. How to Work and Survive in “The Business”
11. Differences Between TV and Feature Films
12. The Director’s Pre-Production Activities
13. The Director’s Top-Three Creative Team
14. Mise-en-Scene / Subworld
15. The Director’s Visual Concept
16. Understanding the Language of Film
17. The Psychology Behind the Shot
18. Storyboards and Shot Lists

Day Two Course Outline

1. The Reductionism Breakdown Theory
2. Practical Breakdown of Scripts and Scenes
3. The Classic Three-Act Structure
4. The Director and the Script
5. Script Analysis Overview
6. Text, Subtext and Context
7. General Script & Scene Analysis
8. Character Analysis and Development
9. Character Objectives
10. Observing Human Behavior and Emotions
11. The Director’s Acting & Blocking Mantra
12. The #1 Secret of the Actor/Director Relationship
13. The 8 Step Actor/Director Working Relationship
14. Tools of the Director
15. Tools of the Actor
16. The Actor’s Language

Day Three Course Outline

1. The Director’s Audition Process
2. Director Guidelines – Casting
3. Director Guidelines – Working with Actors on the Set
4. DEMO: How to Conduct a Proper Casting Session
5. DEMO: The Script Read-Through
6. DEMO: The Cast Rehearsal
7. 5 Stages of Shooting a Scene
8. The 3 R’s (Reveal – Reveal – Reveal)
9. The 180 Degree Rule
10. What is Blocking?
11. Basic Blocking and Staging Techniques
12. 15 Questions Directors Must Ask Before Blocking
13. The 10 Step Actor/Director Blocking Process
14. The 8 Part Scene Breakdown Process
15. Hand out Scenes for Day 4 & 5 Presentations

Day Four Course Outline

1. DEMO: Blocking a Scene
2. Watch Final Scene from TV Episode
3. CLASS WORK: Prepare Scenes for Day 4 & 5 Presentations
4. CLASS EXERCISE: Begin Scene Presentations with Actors
– Participants collaborate to direct a scene with professional actors

Day Five Course Outline

1. CLASS EXERCISE: Continue Scene Presentations with Actors
– Participants collaborate to direct a scene with professional actors
2. Playback Scene Presentations for Class Review
– Scenes will be recorded for playback and class discussion
– Actors will also participate with creative and constructive feedback
3. That’s a Wrap

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ANDREWS H H MALM October 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I am in Ghana west Africa.I am interested in your program so I want know if you a long distance courses the we can pacitipate.thank you.

Mike November 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

When is the next Master Class scheduled for Vancouver?

Thanks!

Mike

Melissa July 25, 2014 at 12:21 am

Hello,

How can we sign up to a film directing/production 2 day workshop? What are the dates and locations?

Thanks,
Melissa

Peter D Marshall July 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

Melissa, my next 2 day workshop is in Toronto on August 9 & 10 and is called “Advanced Blocking with Actors.” You can find all the info here: http://www.raindance.org/toronto/course/essentials-of-directing-advanced-blocking/

Chia Kisuh August 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

Hi, I am in South Africa, I have read a lot from and about your teaching and methods. When is your next 5days masters class as i will like to attend. Thanks

Peter D Marshall August 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Chia, I have no 5 day Masterclasses scheduled at this time. My next 2 day workshop is in Toronto on August 9 & 10 – Advanced Blocking 🙂
http://www.raindance.org/toronto/course/essentials-of-directing-advanced-blocking/

polina June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

Hello, I’m interested in a 5 day program, when is it and where?

Peter D Marshall June 29, 2015 at 6:31 am

Hi Polina, thank you for your interest in my film workshops. At this time I do not have any 5 day workshops scheduled for this year yet. I will be scheduling some 2 day workshops in the fall in Vancouver. Where are you from?

Peter

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