Bri Castellini: Directors, What Do You Do Again? – @brisworld

Some film director doing something the unions don’t allow

by Bri Castellini

Hello, and welcome to “What Do You Do Again?” a series of posts profiling different film production roles because many in the web series community don’t come from film school and don’t really know who all makes up a bustling film set. I certainly didn’t; in fact, for the longest time I thought a producer and a director were the same. And to be honest, I still don’t really know what the heck a gaffer is. Apparently it’s not Samwise Gamgee, which comes as a bit of a disappointment.

Every week, I’ll pick one production role to profile, so without further ado:

What does a director do? Lightning round:

  1. Works with and is in charge of all cast and crew to tell the story.
  2. Is ultimately responsible for getting the different shots and scenes needed to complete the project.
  3. Gets to say “action” and “cut.”

Misconceptions:

The director is solely in charge of the shot list, or every angle the camera needs to film the scenes from. In fact, as with most parts of a director’s job, the shot list is a collaboration between the director and the director of photography (DP). While having an idea of what you want a scene to look like is important, the DP will be able to guide the director towards particular shots to make the best version of the project possible.

The director tells the actors how to say their lines. While some directors will have their own process, in general, it is not the director’s job to tell an actor the exact cadence and performance of the scene, or giving them a “line reading.” An actor is not a puppet, and a director is not putting an Imperius Curse on them. Actors are there to perform, to breathe life into a scene and a story, and their interpretation of a scene and a character is a vital part of the process, just as a DP is a vital part of building a shot list.

Jamie McKeller @redshirtjamie , creator of the show I Am Tim Helsing1, has a lot of feelings about this particular directing style. “From the point of view of a director, if I’m not happy with a performance from one of the cast it’s my job to collaborate and discuss until everything clicks. If a director gets to a point where they’re acting it out, they’ve failed. Also, the actor likely can’t emulate what the director so the performance is no longer their own, but a replica of somebody else’s interpretation.”

Actress Gilda Sue Rosenstern agrees, adding “Filmmaking and [theater] are collaborative, they are not dictatorships like novel-writing.”

We actually have a whole article about line readings, with alternative directing tricks to try instead, so check that out here.

The director runs the set. This is a half misconception, because they’re only really in charge once the cameras start rolling. It’s generally not the director’s job to corral actors, to make sure the lights are being set up, to keep time, or to make sure that craft services have arrived. The non-creative logistics of a set are left to a production manager and the assistant director, both roles of which we’ll cover in another article.

Common mistakes:

Having all the answers. This might seem counter-intuitive, but let me explain. As we’ve already established, while a director is absolutely the captain of the ship during filming, their job is made possible through effective communication and collaboration. One of the best ways to win the good faith of the cast and crew is to ask for input and give them the space they need to make their own choices, especially in areas where you’re less confident, and. If a choice isn’t what you’re looking for, a director can step in and make adjustments, but in general, if the director has all the answers, they aren’t leaving enough up to the rest of their cast and crew, and they’re also a liar, because no one has all the answers. “Don’t let insecurity or ego prevent you from taking good ideas and growing as an artist,” adds Andrew Williams, director of Brains and nearly a decade of other film and theater projects.

Openly getting frustrated. Alternatively: spreading gossip, complaining to cast and crew about other cast and crew, or letting on that something has gone wrong. Essentially, the director’s mood is the mood of the set, and if the mood of the set is anything other than “productive and excited,” you have trouble. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a bunch of people stuck in a small room with lots of expensive equipment and a hostile scent in the air. “People will do better work for you faster if they feel safe and energized about the project.” Andrew agrees.

Making it about you. Remember why you’re there. “I think a lot of young directors feel the need to cover every inch of a finished product with their fingerprints,” says Andrew Williams. “If the visual metaphors, artsy camera angles, and 38 minute tracking shots help tell the story to its fullest, then go for it. If you’re doing it to show off how good of a director you are, then you’re not making art, you’re making a reel.”

Showing up unprepared. Sometimes, this mistake manifests in not being involved enough in pre-production. While a lot of the logistical planning isn’t exactly a director’s purview (finding locations, for example), they should still be involved. Additionally, a director should have an idea of what they want, from a performance perspective, before arriving on set, and should be able to communicate effectively.

How can I learn to be a director?

When I was planning my directorial debut, after being just an actor, writer, and producer, Andrew Williams loaned me his copy of Notes On Directing by Frank Hauser and Russell Reich, which proved vital. Though the book is written with theater in mind, most of the concepts, all of which are numbered and concise, are applicable to film, and all of them are applicable to getting used to the idea of calling yourself a director.

You are the obstetrician.

You are not the parent of this child we call the play. You are present at its birth for clinical reasons, like a doctor or a midwife. Your job most of the time is simply to do no harm. When something does go wrong, however, your awareness that something is awry —and your clinical intervention to correct it —can determine whether the child will thrive or suffer, live or die.”

-Notes on Directing

Another way to learn directing is to simply watch other directors, and watch a variety of them if possible, with a variety of different backgrounds and trainings. Some of the best tricks I learned for my own directing came from observing other directors. If you can’t find any sets to shadow, watch behind-the-scenes footage or interviews.

Final Thoughts

The director is ultimately responsible for what gets filmed and making creative decisions on set, but they are, at their core, just another member of the team. Who are some of your favorite directors? Let us know in the comments, and if you’ve been on a set with a particularly amazing (or particularly bad) director, we’d love to hear the story!


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on the Stareable Community Forum. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE!

Web Series: ‘The Vamps Next Door’

NOTE FROM LB: Want to see what a web series episode with a million and a half views looks like? Click “play” on the video below.

by Larry Brody

There I was, on the back deck of the Brody home that isn’t Cloud Creek Ranch, having a fine old end of summer convo with my wife, Gwen the Beautiful, and two old friends, and suddenly the Missus of the friends, Laura Conway, casually mentions, “I’ve been making a couple of web series. They’re a lot of fun.”

And without missing a beat, the Mistah of the couple, Gerry Conway (yes, this Gerry Conway), equally casually says, “Laura’s shows have over three million views.”

“Three million views?” was all I could say.

“Yep,” Gerry said.

“And you never told me before?”

“I haven’t told very many people at all about the shows,” Laura said.

“Why not?” I said.

“She’s shy,” Gerry said.

Laura nodded. “I am. I’m shy.”

So, because I’m not so shy, let me repeat the most cogent fact here, because, well, because how can I not?

Three million views.

Fucking three fucking million fucking views!

And not only had I never known that Laura was doing this, I’d neither heard about nor seen any of her shows anywhere before.

Those of you who know me know where this is going. I have now watched Laura Conway’s absolutely mind-blowingly professional top scoring in every aspect series, The Vamps Next Door, and I’m absolutely blown away.

The episode above, “Hurt So Good,” is the most popular in the series, but the others are all just as good. Scripts, direction, acting, production values, we’re talking stuff that puts the original Dark Shadows to shame. Oh, and in case you haven’t watched the embed yet, I gotta tell you: The Vamps Next Door is funny.

To me, one of the most interesting thing about The Vamps Next Door is that Laura was a total noob when she started it, seven years ago. If you watch the earlier episodes, they’re rough, unpolished, fraught with the errors all new filmmakers make.  But she learned, and is still learning, the way a true creator does.

You can find out more about the show HERE, and you definitely should.

Thank you, Laura, for finally coming out of the closet!

Oh hell, here’s an episode of Laura’s other show, Ageless. It left me speechless when I first saw it, but I’m sure we’ll talk more about this later:

Indie Video: Who Says a Public Service Announcement Can’t Pull Your Heartstrings?

Even one made specifically for the web.

In a language spoken almost exclusively by the people of the Philippines?

Intentions count!

Or to put it another way, what did we ever do before YouTube?

 

Bri Castellini: How To GET FIT While Making Your Indie Film – @brisworld

by Bri Castellini

Hey you. Yeah, you. The sleep-deprived indie filmmaker who just tried to film 25 script pages in a single day. Things seem bleak, but there’s a silver lining to this whole mess of a process- you could be making your passion project AND getting fit at the same time!

Here’s how!

  1. Don’t eat on set. You don’t have time to stop working anyways!
  2. Insist on setting up all the equipment alone. It’s your project, after all, and people will judge you if you aren’t doing enough to help out.
  3. Take public transportation to and from every shoot. Nothing says “FITNESS” like carrying a 50 pound lighting kit up and down subway stairs while balancing a costume bag on your head.
  4. Only write walk and talk scenes. Not only will this filming style keep the energy up in a scene, but you’ll get to 10,000 steps on your FitBit NO PROBLEM!
  5. Stare into the void. The void doesn’t care that you’re hungry or tired and will offer no sympathy, so you may as well get over it.
  6. Offer actors piggy-back rides to and from holding. Your cast will appreciate the break, plus you’ll really tone those glutes.
  7. Have all of your equipment with you all the time. Sure, it’s inconvenient to drag your lighting kit to the park when there’s nowhere to plug in, but you never know, and your biceps have never looked better!
  8. If you MUST eat on set, only eat fruit snacks. Fruit is good for you.
  9. Buy costumes one size too small for yourself. Nothing says “thinspiration” like constant discomfort and self-loathing!
  10. Always be working. Done with one project? Start another! If you’re a workaholic, you can’t ALSO be a chocoholic! #Logic #Paleo

What are YOUR Get Fit Tips for indie filmmakers? Tell me in the comments!


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on her blog! Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE!

Web Series: ‘The Show About The Show’

This video is from BRIC TV— the first 24/7 television channel created by, for, and about Brooklyn. It is the borough’s source for local news, Brooklyn culture, civic affairs, music, arts, sports, and technology. BRIC TV features programming produced and curated by BRIC, an arts and media nonprofit located in Downtown Brooklyn, NYC

BK Live: http://BRIC.me/u/youtube/bklive Straight Up: http://BRIC.me/u/youtube/straightup #BHeard: http://BRIC.me/u/youtube/bheard B-Side: http://BRIC.me/u/youtube/bside Check out more from BRIC: https://www.youtube.com/c/BRICartsmedia Connect with us: https://www.facebook.com/BRICTV/ http://Twitter.com/BRICTV http://Instagram.com/BRICTV http://BRICartsmedia.org/BRICTV

We’re going to go with LB here:

“I love Caveh Zehadi. I love this show he does and how meta it gets. If you sons of bitches guys don’t feature it on the site you’re all fired!

So here’s the most beloved web series of the moment here at TVWriter™. And, truth to tell, even if The Show About The Show wasn’t our Beloved Leader’s fave, we’d love it too. This thing is real.

Oh look, another episode. Wow!

And HERE is where you can watch them all. Which is our way of saying you really should. In fact, if you don’t, we – well, this particular TVWriter™ minion for sure – will totally stop respecting or even liking you.

So there ya go.

Web Series: ‘Fighting Isis’

Don’t let the title of this Australian web series scare you away. It’s good. Really good.

Luke Buckmaster of The Guardian.Com – a majorly smart and literary and all the neat stuff UK news site ranking right up there with (ulp) the BBC – has to say about the show:

It’s King of the Hill meets Down Under meets Team America: World Police in this sassy, yappy, yobbo-lampooning animation from creators Sebastian Peart, Mark Nicholson and Pete Corrigan. Four stubbie-wielding Aussie blokes meet in a garage and resolve to wipe out Isis terrorists once and for all; an alternative title could have been “Straya, Fuck Yeah!”

Our reaction is equally positive. Unlike far too many animated series on the web, Fighting Isis whips along at a pace fast enough for even the most demented Rick & Morty fan. The jokes fly right atcha, over and over again.

Credits:

Created By Sebastian Peart……? https://twitter.com/sebpeart Mark Nicholson……?https://www.instagram.com/themarknich… Pete Corrgian……….? http://www.peterjcorriganmusic.com Stepmates, 2017. contact@stepmates.com.au http://www.stepmates.com.au

TWITTER ? http://twitter.com/stepmates

INSTAGRAM ? https://www.instagram.com/stepmates

Enjoy the madness at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzgtrerHnlLSeb6-lAN-fFg

Found via Stareable.Com

 

Web Series: ‘Jackson & Lewis’

How’s this logline sound to you?

Jackson & Lewis, 2 contract killers, bring their newly hired camera man on a mission that doesn’t go over too well.

Why do two hitmen have a camera man? Because what they really want to do is…that’s right, you got it – make it in showbiz.

TVWriter™ loves this series. Even munchman, our resident young curmudgeon admits has said, “It’s more than a well done web series. It’s a vehicle for some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. Anywhere.”

We definitely recommend that you sit back and give yourself to Jackson & Lewis. That way, when the team behind it takes over the entertainment world, as it deserves to, you’ll be able to smile smugly and say, “I knew them when….”

Credits:

Created by Pierre M. Coleman (@pierremcoleman) Written by Brian A. Beckwith (@b_skillz) Starring: Omar Scroggins, Dee Martin, Safiya Grimsley Subscribe Like: www.facebook.com/JacksonandLewis Follow: @JacksonandLewis Website: http://www.jacksonandlewistv.com

Oh, and guess what? We found this series via Stareable.Com