Directing

Figure 3-1  “Irish” Micky Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) boxing opponents are nothing compared to the battles his family puts him through.

Defining Conflict

by Michael Rabiger

Conflict is essential to drama, but can be defined in different ways and take many different forms. Conflict can come from external factors, from within a character, or arise from a combination of forces. Person versus person (external conflict) Person versus environment or social institution (external conflict) Person versus a task they are compelled to…

Shooting Tactics

Guerilla filmmaking – What to do when you don’t have a permit

by Anthony Q Artis

It’s always less hassle to do things by the book, but as many broke documentary filmmakers will tell you… it ain’t always possible. At the end of the day, there’s only one golden rule when making a Down and Dirty documentary—get the shot. Here are some of my stealth strategies for overcoming common shooting obstacles….

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The Director’s Point of View: From Concerned Observer to Storyteller

by Michael Rabiger

The kindly angels in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987, below) keep Berliners under empathic observation. Cinema itself is like one of these angels, following and observing characters as it does while they live their lives. Let’s call this perspective that of the Concerned Observer because he is involved, invisible, and weightless like a spirit….

Safety Takes

Your B-Roll is Your A-Roll

by Anthony Q Artis

The term “B-roll” comes from the world of film where editors used to use an “A” and a “B” roll of identical footage, before the digital age changed everything. B-roll shots are similar to cutaways in that they help break up the static interview shots, but B-roll plays a more major role in telling a…

Actor Dave Annable (“Justin Walker”) with director Bethany Rooney on the set of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. (Brothers & Sisters trademarks and copyrighted material have been used with the permission of ABC Studios.)

Directing and Shaping a Performance on Set

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

The practical part of directing actors happens on set during rehearsal. This time is when you shape an actor’s performance. It should be a closed rehearsal, that is, no crew members other than the script supervisor, the director of photography, and your 1st AD invited. Your actors will have done their homework, hopefully, and they…

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What’s So Good About Being a Script Supervisor?

by Mary Cybulski

I am a script supervisor, outside, on location. It’s 4:30 in the morning. I’ve been up for 20 hours. The sun will rise before we can finish the scene, which is making everybody grumpy. It’s so cold that my hands hurt. I’ve needed to pee for the last three hours. It starts to rain. I…

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Directing the Documentary – Keys to Directing People

by Michael Rabiger

The word “directing” suggests ordering people around, and is particularly misleading for documentary since you guide or lead the process, rather than command it. Your job is to know what motivates people, what psychological blocs you must remove, and what subtle pressures you can exert to catalyze behavior, or uncover hidden narratives. As leadership, this…

“Hitchcock’s rule” in Wright’s Atonement . The size of the letter in the frame reflects its importance in the scene.

Directing – Shot Size and Selection

by Michael Rabiger

COMMON SHOT SIZES A creative variable crucial to the director’s visual vocabulary and storytelling toolbox is shot size, which refers to the size of the subject in your frame. You can alter it in two ways: by changing the proximity of the camera to your subject (moving closer or farther) or through optics (changing the…

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Making the Day

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

In an average 12-hour single-camera production day (7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.), most television shows average about 25 setups (individual shots) per day. It takes that long because each scene must be rehearsed, blocked, and shot. There is also time allotted for things like hair and makeup touch-ups. Uncomplicated shots take a minimum of 30…

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Interviewing Celebrities for Your Documentary

by Anthony Q Artis

I freely admit that as long as I’ve been in this business I still get excited when I interview certain celebrities. However, for the celebrities themselves, the excitement just isn’t there. Most of them have been interviewed a thousand times (some literally), especially if they’re promoting a new project. And it’s generally a tedious and…

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MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Focal Press authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.