The way I’ve always seen the job of film director is someone whose talents must encompass all of the primary men and women around him or her: the screenwriter, the cinematographer, the producer, and so on.
We all know the stereotype of the director who holds his fingers up in opposing L-shapes to signify the film frame and demonstrate to an audience what should be in a shot.
But before becoming the project’s adjunct cameraman, the director must be part screenwriter, able to read and envision ways to best translate the words and stage directions in a raw script, either by rewriting it or telling the original writer what is missing.
MICK HURBIS-CHERRIER audio excerpt: “I spoke to Courtney Hunt, who directed Frozen River with Melissa Leo. It was a very difficult film to shoot. She said, ‘A smart director will relieve themselves of the burden of having to make the whole, entire film on their own. And tap into the resources they have.’”
You can LISTEN to this interview with Hunter College film professor MICK HURBIS-CHERRIER, co-author of DIRECTING: FILM TECHNIQUES AND AESTHETICS, by clicking the audio player above!
And in today’s world, more and more directors must wear part of the producer’s hat as well, understanding budget constraints in ways that previous generations may not have.
Perhaps all of that contributes to why most cultures revere and respect “director” above most any other credit in a movie. Who can’t name a handful of directors on request? Spielberg, Tarantino, Lee – Spike or Ang – Bigelow and Cameron are modern masters. And what about classics such as Hitchcock, Kirosawa or Ford? Now try naming a producer not named Weinstein.
See? Directors rule.
All of which is why I thought it would be fun to invite Hunter College (CUNY) film professor Mick Hurbis-Cherrier to the show today. The masterful textbook that he and Michael Rabiger authored, Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics, has been freshly updated for its fifth edition. And as the father of a filmmaker-in-the makings, I need to keep up on this stuff.