Traditionally, the medium you’ve chosen for your project defines the director’s role. For a film, you may want an auteur with a distinctive style. A television series may have a more hands on director for a pilot episode to set the general look and tone. After that, a TV director is usually someone who can manage the actors and crew. And in the brave new world of web media, directors often have more than one role on the production, ranging from star to grip to sound person…or maybe all of the above.
If you’re not planning to direct yourself, a director would the next logical addition to your team in the development process. Your director’s level of involvement varies depending on your project. Do you want a director with real creative input, or simply someone who makes sure the actors read their lines and hit their marks? As with the writer, your decision may entail a trade-off between talent, experience and creative control.
Understanding the Medium
Vision and Control
So how do you know if your director has a unique creative vision? You could look at the director’s reel, if he or she has filmed other material. You could also ask for storyboards or lookbooks. You may also just get a sense from the works the director references in relation to your project, though it’s not a bad idea to have something tangible to back up the professed visual style. Even a feasible plan for how to carry out certain shots or scenes could be enough. It’s also important for your director to work well with your performers. If your project is a comedy series, for example, your director needs to understand comedic timing. Has your director worked with comic actors, perhaps in a sketch or improv group?
Commanding Without Ego
*Listen, stop monkeying around…we’re already over budget and your entire production is a zoo.*
Along with the producer, the director is the other leader on a production. The cast and crew need to take your director seriously. General competence can go a long way in this area. Still, it’s also a good idea to have someone who can keep people in check without pissing them off. Despite the popular image of directors as dictators of the set, you probably don’t want someone who is a total asshole – this is especially true if you’re paying your crew in free coffee and thank you cards. At the same time, if the cast and crew don’t listen to your director, you better hope they are so good at their jobs that even a monkey with a megaphone could get the results you want.