A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. Generally, a film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. It is the director's sense of drama, along with the creative visualization of the script that transforms a screenplay into a well-made motion picture.
However, the director doesn't always have absolute artistic control. The director is usually selected by the producer, whose job it is to make the decisions that are in the best interests of the Production Company or studio or network. As such, the producers have veto power over everything from the script itself to the final cut of the film, often in anywhere from slight to extreme opposition to the director's vision.
The role of a film director in the creation of a movie is a large one, and typically includes completion of the following tasks:
- Realize the overall artistic vision of the film.
- Control the content and flow of the film's plot.
- Direct the performances of actors, both by putting them in certain positions and by eliciting the required range of emotions.
- Organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot.
- Manage technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film's soundtrack.
Often directors choose to delegate many of these responsibilities to other members of their film crews. For example, the director may describe the mood he wants from a scene, then leave it to other members of the film crew to find a suitable location and/or to set up the appropriate lighting.
Methods of film directing
How much control a director exerts over a film varies greatly. Many directors are under the control of the studio and producer. This was true from the 1930s through the 1950s, when studios had many directors, actors and writers under contract.
Meanwhile, other directors have far more control and bring their artistic vision to the pictures they make. Their methods range from those who:
- Outline a general plot line and let the actors improvise dialogue.
- Control every aspect, and demand that the actors and crew follow instructions precisely.
- Write their own scripts. (Such as Quentin Tarantino, Hayao Miyazaki or Jason Norman)
- Collaborate on screenplays with long-standing writing partners.
- Act as their own cinematographers and editors.
- Star (often in leading roles) in their films, such as Orson Wells, Woody Allen or even Ed Wood, Jr.
Directors work closely with film producers, who are usually responsible for the non-artistic elements of the film, such as financing, contract negotiation and marketing. Some directors will often take on some of the responsibilities of the producer for their films. Steven Spielberg is known for doing precisely that, and the early silent film director Alice Guy Blaché not only produced her own pictures but actually created her own highly successful studio.