The Four Qualities Great Directors Share


Photo by Roblisameehan

We direct narrative (nonreality) primetime network episode and television movies. That is, we direct dramas and single-camera comedies using the same process that Steven Spielberg (or any other movie director) uses. We are filmmakers. We tell stories. We just have less time and less money than a feature director. We direct shows seen by perhaps ten million people at one time.

When either of us directs a network television show, we are the fulcrum upon which balances the efforts of roughly 200 people and a budget that can be as much as $3 million to $5 million dollars. It’s a powerful, creative, and complicated job. We want to examine the requirements of this job and tell you how to do it well. We don’t want you to be just a good director; we want you to be a great one!

So what makes one director better than another? Being a director can absolutely be done with no experience and no training, but like anything else, the more knowledge and practice you have, the better you’ll be at it.

But it’s more than that. There is an esoteric quality, an almost indescribable way of being that often distinguishes the excellent director from the merely good one. And what is even more astonishing about this “x” factor is that the job of the director is a multitasking one that requires many different skill sets, from knowing how to communicate with actors, to understanding the physical requirements for accomplishing a shot, to editing the final product perfectly.

So what is this “something” a true director has? It is an ability to both have a vision and lead others to help you create it. That is, a director is first and foremost a leader—a Moses, if you will, that leads a motley group toward the promised land of a successful project: one that creatively expresses the ideas of the script in the fullest way possible. It’s a big job, challenging and exciting, different every day, requiring someone who deals easily with stress and pressure, someone who is physically robust and healthy, and most important, someone who can see how the written word can be interpreted on film.

So there it is. The short list of what a great director is:

1. A leader

2. With creative vision

3. Who understands and can execute the craft, and

4. Who can physically and mentally handle the demands of the job.

Most of Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing deals with creative vision and executing the craft to fulfill that vision. What first separates the good director from the great director is the creative vision, because without that, you’re just a technician. Before you can direct, you must have a story that you want to tell. In our case, as TV directors, we are given a script—a written story that we translate into the visual medium. The artistry of the director begins with interpreting the script. We are storytellers, inheritors of the tradition of telling tales around a campfire. We have to figure out what each scene really means, how each scene contributes to telling the whole story, and then design how to communicate that visually.

Excerpted from Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli © 2011 Elsevier, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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1 Comment
   OFLA GUDMAN said on May 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I really thank you peaple for putting this page,because it helps me to add more on what i have got,than you so much,Gudman

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