FEATURES - THE FILM DIRECTOR

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THE FILM DIRECTOR Part I

          A good director makes sure that all parts of a film are creatively produced and brought together in a single totality. A director interprets the script, coaches the performers, works together with the montagist, etc., interrelating them all to create a work of art. According to Film Scholar Eric Sherman, the director begins with a vague idea of the entire film and uses this to help him determine what is to be done. He gains most when others are given their freedom to show what they know.

The position of the director in the traditional filmmaking process varies greatly and is extremely complex. The film director is seen as a leader of others, as providing a kind of guiding force. According to this view, the final outcome is more or less predetermined by requirements of the script, camerawork, acting, and editing; the director providing certain organizational context to the picture.

Judging from the comments of most professional directors, there is very little agreement as to what exactly their function is. There are some directors who say that they must concentrate primarily on the structures of the script. If their films are to be works of art, it will be because of the inherent beauty in the narrative and dialogue patterns in the script. Other directors are occupied primarily with the performance of actors. To them, the beauty of the film will be correlative with the quality of acting. These directors attend not only to the performance as a whole, but to endless minor nuances and gestures throughout.

Some directors attend primarily to the camerawork, their chief concern being for a pictorial beauty and smoothness of execution. There are still other directors who say that the art of film resides in the editing process. For them, all steps prior to editing yield crude material, which will be finally shaped and lent an artistic worth through their imaginative juxtaposition. The point is that there have evolved nearly as many theories of film directing as there are directors.

Only the director stands apart from any one particular contributory element but lends to all of them a sense of the pictures entirety
We cannot, while watching a film for the first time, point out particular shots or lines of dialogue and fully appreciate their ultimate relationship to the entirety of the picture. Similarly, the actor concentrating on every gesture, the writer concerned with logical narrative and captivating dialogue, the cameraman dealing with isolated images, and the editor concerned with the rhythmic flow are not in the position that the director is to grasp the film as a whole. 

Only the director stands apart from any one particular contributory element but lends to all of them a sense of the pictures entirety. Many of the strongest directors have refrained from virtually any function besides that of an overseer of the film.

The director, whether he explicitly controls all the subordinate work in a film or merely creates a certain context through his very presence, is the only participant in a film's creation whose moment of self-expression is wide enough and, thus, whose artistic vision may come to characterize the film as a whole. The director's very role in the filmmaking process forces him to attend-explicitly or implicitly-to the entire film.

The director approaches a film with more or less a well-defined sense of its meaning. For him, this limits and determines what the basic drive should be of all the other contributing elements. As previously stated, the director's concern is always conditioned by a sense of the whole. He selects and guides all work and shapes it along the necessary route to achieve (as close as possible) what he has in mind.

When it is said that the director approaches a film with a sense of the whole in mind, obviously it is not meant that he has a complete knowledge of the finished product in all its parts. In fact, a director learns, as the production of the film progresses, exactly what it was that he had envisioned. There is no "beautiful shot" or "great cut" that has not been conditioned by the overriding vision of the whole that only the director provides.

What and Who Is a Director?
By definition, the director creatively translates the written word or script into specific sounds and images. He or she visualizes the script by giving abstract concepts concrete form. The director establishes a point of view on the action that helps to determine the selection of shots, camera placements and movements, and the staging of the action. 

The director is responsible for the dramatic structure, pace, and directional flow of the sounds and visual images. He or she must maintain viewer interest. The director works with the talent and crew, staging and plotting action, refining the master shooting script, supervising setups and rehearsals, as well as giving commands and suggestions throughout the recording and editing.

Could a director be compared to an architect? A bricklayer laying brick upon brick? A conductor of a great orchestra? These descriptions fall short of the mark because what is being build is more volatile than stable, more fluid than secure. Director Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields) stated, "being a director is like playing on a multilayered, multidimensional chessboard, except that the chess pieces decide to move themselves." Every director has his own vision of what they feel directing entails.

Roman Polanski finds that "First of all, directing is an idea that you have of a total flow of images that are going on, which are incidentally actors, words, and objects in space. It's an idea you have of yourself, like the idea you have of your own personality, which finds its best representation in the world in terms of specific flows of imaginary images. That's what directing is." 

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