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Directing

General notes:  We recommend applying to two or three directing courses. The lectures are 12 x 3 hours long. We can separate the course to a theoretical and a practical part if needed, so a greater number of students can participate on the lectures.

During our four directing courses, we teach the students from three different aspects:

  • The director finalizes and breaks down the script, mise-en-scene, crates the storyboard
  • Director technical preparation, choosing actors, co-workers, locations, etc…
  • The director works with actors and gets the best performance from them.

During the four director courses which are based on each other, we show these three aspects to the students, with rising details and expectations. We also invite prestigious guest speakers, actors, directors, and key crew members to our courses.

Summarizing the three aspects:

The director prepares – A director makes many of his or her most important decisions during pre-production; these choices will affect the outcome of the movie in a major way. Accordingly, we prepare our directors to make informed decisions before the start of the shooting. This also encompasses script alterations and rewrites (both for general improvement and to fit available cast and locations.)

During the directing courses students will learn how to analyze a screenplay or a scene from the director’s point of view.

The technical preparation of the director: – We will examine the director’s toolkit and leading role in a film production, with special emphasis on pre-production and planning. In detail, we will deal with the most important pre-production decision a director can make: the choosing of the lead cast.

Beyond the selection of the cast, during the practical training, director students will learn how to work with the cinematographer, how to storyboard scenes, and communicate with other crew members. At the preparation stages, we include the preliminary discussion with the editor and the production designer. We teach the director students what the various possibilities are during the post-production and how do they have to prepare for this.

Leading the actors – How to communicate with them? The overall aim of this course segment is to introduce the directors to the skills necessary to successfully direct and work with actors.

By the end of the 4 semesters the director students should be well practiced in these skills, and they are better equipped to help the actor to create the best character. Students will know how to deal with the different levels of tension, find the best emotional truth, and encourage actors to find their concrete objectives. Director students will be able to work in the moment with the actors and explore scene dynamics, create the right dramatic tension and finally they will be able to use the skills to properly rehearse and prepare the actors for the shooting.

 

FIRST SEMESTER

The director prepares

  • Directing practices from the view of the director. These contain text analyzing exercises as well. (Overwriting, underwriting, subtext, motivation etc.) We also teach students how to break down a script. (Finding the beats; preparing and increasing conflicts, etc.)
  • We will discuss the director’s input from the birth of an idea through production. We will also touch upon the importance of screenplays as the foundation of any film, the cooperative nature of the relationship between director and screenwriter.
  • We will teach our director students how to put together effective storyboards. They will learn the most efficient method of visual storytelling for their projects. We will discuss the shot choice, the composition, the action of the picture plane, and the movement of camera from the point of view of the director. We put great emphasis on the camera’s narrative role. During this practice, director students learn the fundamental rules of filmmaking, and the different elements of visual storytelling.
  • We will practice “mise-en-scene” staging and camera work, meaning a complete scene which is in one, single shot. Director students will learn the ways of staging a scene, the role and use of the different elements of mise-en-scene.

The technical preparation for the director:

  • The connections between the director and closer co-workers.
  • Discussing decision making and the casting process. We will cover improvisation during a casting session. Students will get experience in directing actors and practicing casting.
  • The students learn how can they use their given time and financial possibilities the best way, for telling their stories (guerilla filmmaking.)

Directing the actor

  • Being in the actors’ shoes. The aim of the first semester is to give the potential directors the chance to experience the filming process from the actors’ perspective. What direction will provide confidence and security for an actor, what will create confusion and insecurity, and how to build trust with them?
  • Over the period of 4 to 6 classes, the director students are given the chance to work as actors on different scenes. These include scenes from films and also improvisations. Each class, a different acting technique is explored so that director students can experience firsthand how well the technique works for them as actors, and what kind of results it can produce from a directorial point of view.
  • During some of the lectures, internationally experienced actor guests will talk about filmmaking from the perspective of actors. We will cover the process of casting, the road to the development of a character and related practices, and an actor’s immersion into character and scenes.
  • We will compare and contrast performance director techniques required for theatre and film; introduce students to the art of building dramatic conflict; analyze a character’s needs, motivations, and relationships; and break down a filmed scene to its core elements.

 

SECOND SEMESTER

The director prepares:

  • The director’s preparation with examples.
  • During the lectures we will also cover the directing of commercials, with special emphasis on the director’s bidding process and the writing of the director’s concept.
  • A commercial is more visual oriented than any other forms of motion picture, so we take explaining the possibilities of it seriously. We discuss the choice of shots and the composition as tools to make a product or service appear in the most positive light possible.
  • The director students will learn that in this special kind of work, all their artistic and creative ideas are just tools of production, and the customers need to agree with them.
  • Mood boards and other directorial presentations.
  • The director’s interview. How can you get a job to make a movie or a commercial; what to show to the producers, publishers, financers, commercial agencies? Different kinds of director pitches, how to sell your director ideas to different people sitting in front of you.

Technical preparation of the director:

  • We examine the director’s “toolkit” in a complex way with several examples and exercises. All this can help the young director to decide, which genre suits the upcoming project the most.
  • In the director’s technical preparation list, we can find the job of the different cast members and the answers to their questions.
  • We will introduce various preparation methods for actors and approaches to direct them, as developed by Stanislavski, Meisner, Strasberg and Stella Adler. We will talk about improvisation, preparations for auditions, and the breakdown of a scene on an advanced level. Together with the director students, we will look into the differences between singing a song and an artistic performance thereof.
  • Filming with editing, budget, artistic and technical limits in mind.

Directing the actor

  • Learning to direct the actor. This director semester is about giving more tools to the young filmmakers, so they can use acting techniques to lead the actors better. They can see actor techniques in action, and then we discuss how to use them in films. So later the director students can use them in the aspect of a director. The aim of this session is to give the potential directors a skill set. So that they can use the acting techniques as a language to direct the actors. Here in each session they get the chance to look at the different acting techniques and understand how they have been used in different films and then to try out the techniques from a directors point of view.
  • Here they have a chance to realize how they can literally use these techniques like different paint brushes to create different effects on scenes, and to get different reactions out of their actors and be able to speak to them in a language they understand.
  • The director course also focuses on developing the director’s on-set skills and improving his or her understanding of how to get the strongest performances out of the actors. In these director sessions we will work on “Power Scenes,” in which we demonstrate how to use status as a directing tool to create changes in power between the characters.

 

THIRD SEMESTER

The director prepares

  • The relationship of the director and the producer. How can their cooperation affect the director’s job, the shooting and how can they synchronize work?
  • During the semester, after a short film is shot the footage will be screened and critiqued by the instructor and fellow director This feedback becomes a valuable tool for making decisions about what will make it into the young filmmakers’ final cut.
  • When selecting actors for different roles, keeping believability in mind. The importance of charisma. Conjuring feelings to the screen. Noticing and enlightening the character changes and showing them on the actor’s face.

Technical preparation.

  • The director’s role in the meeting with main cast members. Technical meeting before every scene.
  • The director’s work with the first directing assistant together. What can the assistant help and what jobs shall we give him or her? Examining and going through the paperwork did by the assistant, maybe correcting the filming schedule.
  • Presentation and technical demonstration about the importance of the scripting process. Rules of scripting, technical notes, communication with the editor. Technical examples about how the director provides continuous material to the editor.
  • We introduce the basics of visual effects, including chroma key (blue, green), digital composition, matte painting. These techniques can be done relatively on a low budget.

Directing the actor

  • Learning to direct the scene. In this third semester the aim of the sessions is to give the directors the chance to work continually with actors. Here, the main focus is how to exploit the actor to obtain the best dynamics, visual and emotional narrative and tension in the scenes they have chosen to work on. The aim is not so much purely based on directing the actor, but on understanding how these directing techniques can help the director to explore the scenes in different ways, and through rehearsal, discover the truth of the story and the best way to tell that story cinematically.
  • The director class emphasizes character building. Our teachers will talk about the development of movie heroes and villains, their dimensions; and we will also work on building scenes with them. These scenes can be inspired by theatre plays, films, or a personal idea.
  • In the first part of the semester, we will learn about the director techniques of the mise-en-scene, and, in addition, how to co-operate and work with actors.
  • In the second part, director students will collaborate with members of the screenwriting class developing their scenes and also bring in materials suggested by our director Those students, who attend both the directing and screenwriting classes, can choose to direct their own story. In this class, it is mandatory to direct at least one scene, but we also recommend and encourage our director students to make a short film.

 

FOURTH SEMESTER

The director prepares

  • Filmmaking is a collective genre and it’s the director’s job to take care about the project. How should a director make a scene, what kind of feeling are important? Using and controlling the creativity of the cast members with remaining open minded.
  • Creating a director’s concept: What does the director want to tell the viewers? What’s the point, the message? What carries the story forward? Which dramatic moments would we want to enlightens? What is the main character’s nature, and what makes the conflicts? The characters’ physical condition. What makes the film different than the others in this genre? What is the personal opinion of the director? And what is the viewer’s? etc.
  • Talking through the concept of the exam films in detail.

Technical preparation

  • The director course provides theoretical and practical knowledge to the students.
  • The second unit’s role.
  • Using the two cameras as a director.
  • Shooting action and visual effects. Using stuntmen.
  • The high-level preparation of the director: How the director creates the shots and what do they tell to the audience? How they connect? Is it important to enlighten something? What does it tell and what remains ambivalent? Which picture will stuck in people’s head?
  • What does the viewer see in light or in shadow, and what will the director leave out of frame? What do we get with it? Where’s the light coming from? Does the director show the character from far or close? etc.
  • Detailed discussion about the technical characteristics of the exam films.

Directing the actor

  • Directing the final films, and refining the acts. Under the guidance of the director tutor, the young filmmakers can start to work on their final films, choosing the appropriate techniques to get the appropriate results for the film. The aim is to see how intuitively the director can incorporate the learnt skills into his/her process and ultimately get the best out of the actors to help the film.
  • During the director course, we will look at how to direct the actor to help them develop and create characters beyond the words on the page. We will work to deepen this understanding through practical work. The practice will take place in a studio theatre, where a number of student directors will be given the chance to film scenes they have rehearsed with actors.
  • Students will become familiarized with the craft and vocabulary of the actor through exercise and scene study. They will learn how to collaborate and communicate with actors to achieve performances consistent with the director’s storytelling goals.
  • With the help of acting practices and increasingly complex tasks of improvisation, director students will learn how to build up a character and how to improve a scene or a dialogue.
  • The role and importance of believable but still surprising decisions of actors (and directors).