Two friends of mine and I are trying something new and different. Just for fun.
One thing we all have in common (other than how awesome we are) is that we combine roles on our films.
This is a side effect of low/no budget filmmaking. Because you generally can’t book in a crew of twenty to thirty odd people, roles are combined so that you can still make something great with seven or eight people. Jamie and I write, direct and edit. Leilani writes, directs and acts. This isn’t always a bad thing; however, I don’t like to write, direct AND edit because I feel as though it brings me too close to the project and I often find that other people can see things I miss because I’m locked onto one way of thinking. Jamie sees it differently – but what’s life without a little conflict?
At a scriptchat session many moons ago when the three of us were chipping in our opinions on working with directors as editors and working with editors as writers etc etc, we decided that we would challenge ourselves to fall away from the habits we’d gotten into – writing and directing; writing, directing and editing; in other words, combining our roles. One of us would write, one of us would direct and one of us would edit whatever film it ended up being.
Jamie chose to edit, I chose to direct and Leilani chose to write.
At the moment, Leilani and I are moulding the script into shape. To be honest, it doesn’t need a lot of work. What does need a bit of work is my temptation to stick my nose in to Leilani’s re-writing process way too much. I’m trying to give feedback as a combination of script editor and director (although, I’m of half a mind to keep my director-y-ness out of it entirely for the moment as I feel as though that should come in to play a little later down the line). I’m trying to make it constructive to push it toward where I think the story is strongest without totally smothering Leilani’s voice and vision for the piece herself.
It’s an interesting exercise to test how well I communicate as a director with a writer. I’ve always directed my own scripts, so it’s strange to try to articulate my ideas to someone else to have them go away and work them onto the page instead of simply doing it myself. It’s also a new experience to work with someone I don’t know particularly well but whose vision and talent I trust. I imagine it will be the same working with Jamie in the edit – but I’ll let you know when I get there. I think it’s very useful to have an understanding of what the other departments on a film have to go through because it gives you a wider view of reality. Don’t expect fifteen minutes in make-up to be enough for a zombie western film set in the middle of World War Two. Don’t expect the edit of a twenty minute film to be turned around in a day. Don’t expect a lighting set-up to take three minutes if you’re shooting in a cave using generators to power the lights.
I’d recommend trying it. At this stage anyway. Leilani might totally disagree with me! But I think this will work because we all respect each other as creatives and filmmakers to make it work – which is very definitely at the core of filmmaking and having a cohesive crew environment.
What do you reckon? Do you share your heads of department roles around or do you prefer to do the bulk of the work yourself? I’m interested to know what you think!