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THE FILM DIRECTOR

Page 3

As the process of researching material comes close to completion, it may sometimes become apparent that parts of a script need to be reworked before production can begin. Reworking the script may consist of minor changes such as different locations, seasons or character situations. On the other hand, major changes may also be necessary, such as changing the entire scope of a character. For example, in the script for the movie Alien, the character eventually played by Sigourney Weaver was initially a man.

The Film Director / Film Producer relationship

The relationship between the producer and the director is an extremely important one in the making of successful picture. Ideally, the producer is the first person on the project. He/She is the one whom finds what they feel is a bankable idea or script and presents it to the studio or director. Although the producer appears to be a crucial role in getting a picture made, the studio does not necessarily believe so. As a matter of fact, the producer is paid far less than the director of the film, and is not a big consideration when deciding whether a film receives the "green light" (the go-ahead for a film to be made) or not. Due to this, one of the greatest tasks of the producer is to find a director that is affordable and acceptable to the studio.

There are a handful of directors that are considered "bankable," meaning that many studios are more than happy to have them on a project because of the almost guaranteed success the film will have with their name attached. Among these are such names as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Oliver Stone, and James Cameron. However, not every director can direct every type of film, no matter how talented or accredited they are. The producer must take into high consideration how the director relates to the particular project in mind. A great deal of persistence and enthusiasm in the project are once again key roles the producer must play in trying to bring a director to the project.

As the preproduction process begins, the director and the producer should work closely together and collaborate about how the production process and the entire scope of the film should take place. From the start, the director and the producer should have a shared vision of the picture. If the director goes into the project with the agenda of making a film that will promote or benefit his status then the film is bound for disaster.
The producer and the director must share a common goal; to make a picture that they both believe in. It is inevitable that there will be an overlap of interests and responsibilities between both players, and they should discuss these areas and try to figure out the most effective way to deal with them. The producer and director should work closely together while deciding the cast and crew, as well as location scouting and a lot of groundwork in preproduction.

It should be considered helpful to the director for the producer to look at the dailies and be objective as to what they see...

During the production process, the producer is very helpful because they can be present in areas that the director is not. While the director is busy with their specific duties such as filming, the producer can be dealing with the studio, supervising crewmembers and their work, handling the press, etc. The producer is also extremely helpful to the director in providing an objective point of view on the film as the process moves along.

It should be considered helpful to the director for the producer to look at the dailies and be objective as to what they see. As the picture begins to take shape, the producer's objective point of view will help to siphon out minor discrepancies that may plague the film in the future if not corrected. Often the discrepancies are missed by the director and others, who spend countless hours daily with eyes glued to the camera lens. The point of view of the producer may pertain to both the performance and the technical aspects of the film.

The Film Budget and Film Studio Involvement in Production

Packaging means the combining of two or more elements, such as a writer, actor, or director into a single project, which is then presented to prospective financiers. When a package is brought in front of a prospective financier, it has a better chance of approval. This is because when a buyer is offered a script along with an actor and a director they can more easily make an intelligent decision on the creative and financial aspects of the film. A package deal can relieve some of the stress that stems from unknown aspects of the project.

One of the many obstacles a director has to overcome if he is bringing a script to a producer or studio is convincing others that he can make a profitable picture. Sometimes the script may be very good, although studios will still have questions before giving their ok on a project. A perfect example of this is given in Martin Scorsese's book Scorsese on Scorsese. Michael Powell (of Michael Powell Productions) wrote to Scorsese, "Dear Marty, RE: the script of Wise Guys (working title of Goodfellas). It is one of the best-constructed scripts that I have ever read. At the same time it is not academic, it is not a script just on paper. It is very much alive. The first question I would ask you, is what is the tone of the director? It is a take-it-or-leave-it tone? It is a dispassionate tone? .." These, amongst other questions, are necessary elements that a director must deal with on day-to-day bases to survive in the industry.

It is important for the producer to keep the studio informed of the progress of the film, and to keep them off the directors' back.

Motion picture studios are the principal source today for obtaining the funds needed by a producer to produce and distribute their films.

Some of the major studios today are Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Fox, MGM and Paramount.

Once the studio has settled on a project, the production process can begin.

Paul Mazursky has found that "Once the director gets to work on the picture, he is always aware of the budget somewhere in his head. But once you start the actual work, I don't think you begin the morning by saying 'I'm making an eleven million dollar picture. What am I going to do?' You say 'what am I going to do about this scene between this guy and that guy?' and 'How am I going to photograph it?'

 
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