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Directing Talent

Lesson 21 from: The Cinematic Filmmaking Workshop

RJ Bruni

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Lesson Info

21. Directing Talent

Lesson Info

Directing Talent

(dramatic suspenseful music) Let's talk about directing. With directing, there's really no right or wrong way to do it. Some of the best directors in the world all have different styles of how they direct. Essentially, it's just communicating our vision with people and, you know, for some of us, it works differently than others. It's important as directors that we're constantly honing in our craft, constantly getting better at communicating with people, constantly analyzing, hmm, that worked or that didn't work. So essentially, directing is all about communication. When I come to a scene and we're directing talent, make sure that they understand the vision, the emotion behind the scene, and this all was decided in the pre-production. That was what made the pre-production so important is now it gives us the confidence to come into the scene. We already know exactly what we want and we can communicate that vision with our talent and with our crew. So when it comes to our talent, make s...

ure we're communicating everything that they need to know to do the scene of the best of their ability. So what does their face need to be looking like? What's the energy of the scene? Do they need to be walking slow or fast? Are they in a rush or are they in a peaceful moment? If they know all these things, that is gonna make their life way easier rather than just guessing, and the same thing goes for all the creative decisions. Keep them informed about how many takes it's gonna be, where the camera's gonna be. Are we gonna be switching angles and switching lenses? Keep them informed for all the creative decisions. It's gonna allow them to be more invested and it might allow them to do their job even better. When we're directing, we don't just wanna be a boss. We want to collaborate. So that means asking our talent what they think. They've been briefed. If you've done a good job about briefing them, then they should know the feel and the energy and the goal of the scene. So ask them, how do you think you should be moving or acting or performing in this scene specifically? It gives them more ownership of their role. It shows that you trust them and their opinion and it just makes for a more collaborative film. When we're on set, let's make sure we're clear in our communication, you know, to be easy let's just use the universal terms of action, and cut, and rolling camera. This makes it clear to everyone what's going on. Let's not be wishy-washy with our terms. Let's just use the universal terms. It'll make everything a lot easier, but there are times where we don't have to say action, and especially when we're directing and DP-ing, you know there's gonna be times where we just roll the camera and we capture a very authentic, slow moment that the talent didn't even know that we were capturing, and sometimes when we put so much pressure on a scene, the cameras are rolling and we yell action, there can be a lot of pressure built up on that moment, and sometimes it doesn't make the most natural moment. So when we hit the field, you're gonna see me use three different techniques. One, you know, we do typical. We set the scene up, we've done a good job of directing, and we yell action and we get our shot and we execute it well, awesome. Second way is I'm just gonna tell Kathy that cameras are rolling and you do your thing as you naturally would, and then third, if I see a moment where she's naturally just doing something, maybe behind the scenes that I like, and I think I should capture, I won't even tell her and I'll just capture it. So in documentary filmmaking, you can use all three of these techniques. Another tip is when we have to run a take again, let's really communicate what the issue was. If it's an issue on our end, maybe we could get our movements better or it was too shaky or we missed focus, make sure we communicate that to them, so they know that they're doing a good job. Just tell them, "Do the exact same thing. I'm just gonna be a little bit better on my end." Just make sure we over-communicate that, so everyone's on the same page, and if we do need something from them, let's just be clear hey, let's just do this a little bit differently or let's just walk a little bit faster or slower or maybe our expression on our face wasn't exactly what we want. So let's just communicate that in between takes to the best of our ability. As filmmakers and directors, it's important that we do not compromise our initial vision. Let's work as hard as we can to make sure that the shots, the feeling, the story that we planned out on paper comes to life. It's okay if it intentionally involves in a better way, but let's not compromise. Let's not be okay with a shot that's, "Oh, that's okay. Not exactly the way I was envisioning it. Let's do it again, let's run it back." Everyone's here to make the best film possible. So let's not compromise on our plan as directors and filmmakers, and in the end, when we've executed all of our plans and we've done it the best that we can, let's throw all of it away. All of our plans, let's throw it away, and let's just feel the magic of the moment. Let's sit back for a minute. Sometimes, I'll take a camera out and I'll just take a few stills and get a few different angles that I might have not been planning, and it starts to open my mind up of, "Oh, what else could I capture in this scene? How can I make it even better? How can I get creative?" Let's film some stuff that might not even be used in the final film. Let's shoot some 16-mil stuff. You know, we don't have plans for it, but let's see if we can just get creative and it'll give us options in the edit. It's important that we leave everything on the field. Let's leave it all out there. Everything we have planned, let's make sure we execute it plus more. It'll only make our lives more easier and more creative when we get into the part of post-production.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Live Lesson: Feedback and Q&A Session with RJ
RJ's Final Film | SHARED EARTH
Email Questionnaire
Project Breakdown
Scene Breakdown
Creative Deck

Ratings and Reviews


I LOVE this workshop - I have been wanting to film my own 'home life' movies as I am a photographer but I wanted to add even more memories. This workshop has added so much value to how, why, when, and what the process is of film-making for film-making. Thanks to RJ for sharing all his amazing information while being clear, precise, and informative. I am excited to film my next 'home life' film!

Alex Bocajj

Great insights into Rj's process. Really enjoyed it all. Rj is smooth and easy to learn from. Loved the "in-field" BTS and going thru the motions live. Looking forward to more material.

Patti Sohn

Really informative and inspiring. One of the best video tutorials I have watched.

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