Directing Philosophy

The director is the eyes and ears of the audience to come and must serve as a catalytic agent, seeking to channel the energies of many people into one unified action. I aim to inspire those I work with to realize a vision and tell great stories that move the audience. My job as a director is interpretive, creative and collaborative. I work with producers to establish the boundaries of our collective game, engage writers and designers to interpret the text, translating it into the visual medium, and I foster a safe and playful space in which actors can breathe truth and presence into their roles.

My energy as a director is, at all times, concentrated on finding deeper meanings, insights and perspectives for the actors and crew which will further enrich the films communication. Essential to this collaboration is the theme, which is a moving thread that weaves itself into every frame of film. Theme intertwines and shows itself within the simplest gesture of the actor and in the last bit of trimming on his costume. The theme evolves out of the world of the story and is essential to a clear vision; it has the power to bind the most disparate aspects of production together.

Directors are storytellers and I often find it helpful to begin by telling the story of a scene in my own words: Romeo enters the tomb. It’s cold and gray. His eyes take a moment to adjust to the dark. He walks to the center of the tomb and sees Juliet dead.

In the telling of the story is the beginning of a shot list: Shot of Romeo squinting as he enters from outdoors. Shot of the gray, stone walls. Shot of Romeo walking. Shot of dead Juliet. Shot of Romeo’s reaction. A good film works on our mind’s eye like a good story told around a campfire: it is propelled by the juxtaposition of imagery.

The ideal atmosphere on set is playful like a Lakers game. Simultaneously impassioned and relaxed, I encourage the team to solve problems through playing. Any game worth playing has a problem to solve and high skill mixed with the spirit of play allows for truly creative solutions. The play spirit injects joyous energy in the heat of the struggle precisely when it’s needed most. This kind of focus works for actors and crew alike, reconnecting all with our common purpose.

Every actor has a different process and I take the time to learn and adjust to the way my actors work. As a long time actor, I speak the many languages of performance from classical techniques to the Method and of course improvisation. The skeleton of a good performance is action, objective, obstacle, stakes, character and relationship. I believe that all good acting is simple, direct, active, humanly recognizable, and that what happens between actors is as important to a scene as what an individual actor is doing. For this, play is essential. I want to help actors do their best work, seeking new heights.

Finally, in post-production, the pieces come together and the story is told. Through the editing process the collaboration carries on in service of the story and I continue to dip into and extract from everyone, including myself, the last drop of juice before we invite our final collaborator to participate. The audience is the last spoke that completes the wheel.

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