Directors are multi-talented visionaries who have an eye for the big picture and the smallest details. Even when lost in the technicalities of putting together a film frame by frame, they keep sight of what the overall effect of their work will be, not just in tone but theme. They must be able to keep hold of their vision even when circumstances conspire against them. Difficulties with actors, overreaching producers, and overextended budgets are some of the challenges they have to face with enough equanimity to be reassuring to armies of cast and crew.
And like a driver racing for the finish line and a linebacker running for the touchdown, they have to keep sight of the goal or lose the game. “I would travel down to hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary,” said Visionary director Werner Herzog.
Whether working in film or another field, the archetypal Director manages to be both a creative Visionary and a collaborator. The ones who enjoy their calling most, such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino (who ushered in the edgy independent film that finds a kind of poetry in vigilante violence), Kathryn Bigelow (who tackles big political topics in far flung places), Judd Apatow (who mines the man-child culture of permanent adolescence), and J. J. Abrams (whose brilliance breathes new life into old franchises like Star Trek and The Avengers), know that the only film, play or creative endeavor worth directing is the one that maintains a spirit of adventure and surprise. The great stage and screen director Mike Nichols puts it this way: “The only safe thing is to take a chance.”
Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanksi, Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott, James Cameron
They don’t call directing “helming” for nothing. Directors, like sea captains, have to keep everything going at once while maintaining an almost supernatural cool.
Directors who are too forceful and sure of themselves, while talented and successful, can be autocratic and at times, sadistic.
Art, music, theater, acting, design, and storytelling
- A Cinema of Loneliness by Robert Kolker
- The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968 by Andrew Sarris
- Notes of a Film Director by Sergei Eisenstein
- The Player by Michael Tolkien
- Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut
“A director must be a policeman, a midwife a psychologist, a sycophant, and a bastard.” -Billy Wilder
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