Jessica Gallant

Director of Photography

Advice for First Time Directors

I posted this recently on a Facebook group for a first time director asking for advice. 

- watch the performances, don't hide in a corner with the monitor; this will prevent actors from from feeling insecure
- don't let random people on set huddle around the monitors; they'll end up giving random advice and slow shooting
- rehearse & block the scene before shooting and give your actors marks; your editor and 1st AC will thank you
- wear comfortable shoes
- watch a film with your DP before shooting and discuss with him or her what you like and don't like in the film; a good DP is going to know what you want before you have a chance to ask for it
- you are the "big cheese" on set; crew members aren't suppose to stop and chat with you or offer random advice, they're suppose to go to their dept. heads and discuss whatever their concerns are with them and the dept. heads in turn are suppose to discuss any issues of importance with you
- your 1st AD is your best friend and the bad cop on set
- your DP is your other best friend on set and translates your artistic vision into technical tasks for camera, lighting, and grip to perform
- the Script Supervisor is the unsung hero on set; unless they're not very good in which case your editor will hate you
- it's usually quicker to shoot it both ways than it is to get the DP, Scripty, 1st AD, etc. into a protracted discussion on what side of the line you should be shooting from or what hand the actor was holding some prop in
- Sound Mixers who freely and constantly hand out non-sound related advice slow down productions and don't deliver great sound
- Never raise your voice and shout; if you talk softly and everyone on set immediately gets really quiet so they can hear you, you're doing something right
- if someone successfully accomplishes something difficult on set or one of your actors turns in an extraordinary take (long, complicated monolog, crying on cue, tricky stunt, etc.), thank them in front of everyone but don't dwell on it
- actors want your approval; crew wants to get home on time and get 8 hrs. of sleep
- most problems on set can be solved by getting more coverage, esp. reaction shots and inserts