Here’s a commercial I directed recently. It can be hard to get permission to put these on the web so I feel lucky to have been allowed to put this one up, as it’s especially fun.
Agency: Daniels-Brown Communications / Victory Studios
Producer: George Riddell
Director: Douglas Horn
DP: Geoff Dunlap
Cast: Rick Turner, Jessica Von, Annette Tutonghi, Don Brady
Here’s something I directed in Beijing. It was initially planned to be a simple shoot in the office of Strong Union Technology, but we got that done quickly and decided to tell a little more of a story. The crew and I headed out and did a little guerilla filmmaking in Tiananmen Square. Then I wrote a script to help pull it all together.
This was produced by Von Piglet Productions, Susan LaSalle, producer; Sue Corcoran, creative director. Edited by Michael Cross; DP Andrew Clark; and directed and written by Douglas Horn.
Location, location, location.
A gaffer once told me he’d rather have one bare bulb to light a gorgeous location than a whole truck full of fixtures to try to make an ugly location look good. Since we’re talking about a guy who’s profession is to use a bunch of cool lights to make things look beautiful, that’s a powerful statement.
For a director, a location can make all the difference in your shoot. After all, if you and the actors don’t bring the magic, at least the audience can enjoy the pretty backdrop! Beyond that, a great location can create the opportunity for shots you might not have otherwise had, through framing objects, creating zones of color, tone, or texture, or giving new context to a scene.
It’s a shame, then, that independent productions often come up lacking in the locations department. I run into this problem often. Great locations usually cost money, and on independent films where too few people are doing too much without enough, locations have a habit of getting the short shrift—until a day or two before it’s time to start shooting. It’s not uncommon to find yourself walking onto a location you didn’t even know about the day before, let alone get to scout.
So if you find yourself shooting in a location you’ve never seen before, here are five ways to look like a pro and remind the producers why they hired you in the first place. (continue reading…)
The other day I wrote about doing your prep for each shoot. The most important thing you’ll create from that prep is your shot list. It will reflect most of the choices you make about how to handle the production—sort of like your cheat sheet for the day’s shoot.
Each shot listed on your shot list is something you “owe.” I’m not sure who you owe it to—the production, the editor, yourself—but by the end of the day, you better have them on tape or film. (Often I’ll list shots that I’d like to have, time-permitting, but can live without if the going gets rough. Knowing the difference is another important function of prepping your shoot.)
But all of that comes out of prep done at your desk or the kitchen table before you step onto the set. When you’re there, “on the day” a lot of other ideas will occur to you—maybe an actor brings in a nice piece of business you’d like to work in, or there’s a great background for a certain moment, or perhaps you just see a new way to pull things together. It’s likely that you’re going to owe some new shots. (continue reading…)
I’m prepping for two video shoots in this week. (These days, that’s pretty noteworthy in and of itself…but that’s not what I’m writing about.) One of the shoots I’m prepping has a paid “prep day” one doesn’t. But the reality is that I’ll probably put similar amounts of prep time into each project. That’s the deal with directing a film or video production: Sometimes you get paid to prep, sometimes you don’t, but either way you have to do it. You can’t show up on set without a plan. That just ain’t gonna go well. “I didn’t have a paid prep day,” isn’t much of an excuse if everyone’s waiting around while you’re floundering on set. (continue reading…)