DIRECTING A FILM. Tips to Film Directing from some top Movie Directors

Ideas to be a great Film Director!

Directing a film is the most intensely solitary and intensely collaborative experience you may ever have. On a psychological level, it’s about keeping your ego in perfect balance with your need for input, and your vision moving forward with your changing circumstances.

Whether you’re running your first independent-film casting call or into your millionth day of shooting, you may find some useful ideas here.

A great movie is about catching the audience on every level.

All the great film directors always say: Direct the stories that you know right now. Express yourself in the films. Put your personal vision in the films.

The main questions a Film Director must answer are:
1. Where do I put the camera?
2. What do I tell the actors?
3. What is the scene about?

David Mamet says that directing a film is about shooting a variety of unaffected shots and then cutting them together to effect a mood and feel.

True creativity is allowing your unconscious to be free.

The audience gets the idea – a house looks like a house.

KISS – Keep it simple, stupid

People look at the most overriding thing in the frame. Human perception goes to the most important thing.

Just be honest in making a movie. Then you’ll find that it’s fighting back against you and telling you how to write and shoot it.


“The shots are all you have.”

Directing a film is like climbing a mountain. It’s frightening sometimes and it’s usually lonely but you don’t have to climb the whole mountain all at once.

Pick up people along the way who will be a part of your creative team, and you will be a part of theirs as well. That is 50% of Directing a Film

There are no minor decisions in movie making.

Always prepare the groundwork. See that it allows for the lucky accidents to happen. That’s what makes a first-rate movie.

The director is in charge of keeping the wheels turning. Handling the moods and egos, the politics and personalities, the insecurities of everyone on set.

It’s VALUABLE to have people who challenge you – search for the TRUTH

Tension never helps anything.

Does the scene contribute to the overall theme?
Does it contribute to the storyline?
Is the storyline moving in an ever-increasing arc of tension and drama?

As as Director, it’s important to understand each and every line that’s in the script.

Good style is UNSEEN style. It is style that is FELT.

    * * * * *

“I know the first film I ever saw it must have been some time in 1924, when I was six or so… was Black Beauty. About a stallion. I still recall a sequence with fire. It was burning, I remember that vividly. And I remember too how it excited me, and how afterwards we bought the book of Black Beauty and how I learned the chapter on the fire by heart at that time I still hadn’t learned to read.”
– Ingmar Bergman

    * * * * *

What you do with the camera:
-Can make up for a deficient performance
-Can make a good performance better
-Can create mood
-Can create ugliness
-Can create beauty
-Can provide excitement
-Can capture the essence of the moment
-Can stop time
-Can define character
-Can provide exposition
-Can make a joke
-Can make a miracle
-Can tell a story


-Be prepared, organized and disciplined. Get body in mental shape.
-Relax in the morning. Do something different to get mind moving.

If your concentration breaks, you know something has gone wrong. Do another take.

A good day is a day the actors don’t get bored.

-Did you get what you wanted?
-Do you need additional coverage?
-Is there anything you want to reshoot?

All good work is self-revelation.

Making a movie is going through a series of battles. If you think you’ve won, you will only have to fight them over again.

    * * * * *

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”
– Martin Scorsese

    * * * * *


To care about and be responsible for every frame of every movie you make. To make the best possible movie you can make.

There’s a sensual satisfaction in working in close unions with strong, independent and creative people: actors, assistants, electrics, production staff, props, make-up, costume designers – all those personalities who populate the day and make it possible to get through.

You gradually build up the psychological situation piece by piece, using the camera to emphasize first one detail, then another. The point is to draw the audience right inside the situation, instead of leaving them to watch it from outside. And you can do this only by breaking the action up into details and cutting from one to the other, so that each detail is forced, in turn, on the attention of the audience, and reveals its psychological meaning.

If the camera is always in one position and you don’t cut, you will lose your power over the audience. They will watch the scene without really being involved in it. They won’t understand what the characters are feeling.

If the take is good, move on. Try to improve on something later, not something that doesn’t need it, or isn’t going to be any better.

Look for something that has style and visual energy.

Given time and freedom, the actors will fall naturally into their places, discovering when and where to move, and you will have your shot.


Think about the music and sound effects the moment you begin directing a film.

Directing a Film is not only creatively handling actors and interpreting the screenplay. It also includes the ability to complete a day’s work on time and on schedule. A director who is properly prepared allows for creativity, while planning for the inevitable problems.

A director who is able to think creatively while making instantaneous decisions based upon the pressures of production is a successful director.

“A movie is never finished, only abandoned.”
George Lucas


-If you want professional reliability from your crew, you must first be a model of professionalism yourself.
-Trust your crew reasonably and they will rise to crisis selflessly

-Have meals and coffee breaks built predictably into the schedule
-Always maintain communication
-Keep abreast of developments
-During breaks, encourage discussion of the production
-Above all, encourage involvement
-Shooting should take place in as calm an atmosphere as possible
-A calm, respectful atmosphere is a necessity
-Choose colleagues carefully
-If you are sympathetic towards the crew’s problems, they will be generous when you want their help solving one of yours

-Scheduling and communication is a necessity before the shoot
-Make sure everyone knows and keeps to their area of responsibility
-Encourage moment-to-moment communication during the shoot
-Encourage the crew to act supportively towards the TALENT
-Encourage solidarity and maintain professionalism when there are internal disagreements

* * * * *
Deadline: FEEDBACK Toronto Film Festival:

– FULL FEEDBACK on your film from the audience. Garner an audience feedback video on your film.

By WILDsound Festival

Submitters reactions to their feedback on their stories. New testimonials coming each month! Watch this month's winning readings. At least 15 performances a month: Submit your script, story, poem, or film to the festival today:


  1. I liked a few of the requirements you posted for working with a film crew when directing a movie. Encouraging discussion of the production during breaks seems like a great idea. It seems that actors and other people involved in the film would be likely to add some ideas and solve problems when the cameras aren’t rolling. Everyone that’s involved with making a movie has something to contribute to how it’s made, so listening to everyone’s ideas can be a great way to know how to improve it.


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