Hello Film Doctor friends,
This is a very peculiar craft, requiring one to wear several hats at once, juggling creative storytelling, technical innovation and excellent people management skills – and, frankly, not everyone is meant for it.
It is perfectly fine to start your film career in one department and switch to another, if/when you realise that you might be better suited to x,y,z. And it’s perfectly fine to figure this out for yourself, using trial-and-error and hands-on experience.
However, it is not fine to waste your skills in a wrongly occupied capacity just because your ego likes the idea of it!!
So here is a friendly “check-list” of some “traits” worth examining in yourself:
1. You can sift through footage, assemble the most engaging sequences, catch the eye of the viewer, but your projects lack …
You can do miracles with existing footage – crossovers, transitions, colour corrections, you name it, but how do you actually choose your shots? Are you more focused on the sequence that you build or the story that it’s meant to convey? In addition, consider the type of work you usually put together – maybe you have more music video type visuals in your portfolio. Another point to consider is whether your projects originated from your own ideas for stories or you prefer to get involved with already delivered material.
Maybe you’re better suited to being… an Editor? They say a film is shot the second time in an editing suite. So, if making great cut is your forte, why not have your shining moment in post-production? Or…a commercials/music video director? Long form isn’t for everyone. Perhaps not you.
2. You can create strong, memorable visuals, but you cannot get the performance you want…
You follow the latest camera equipment advances, you love and know your tech gadgets, and visualise stunning shot compositions, but when it comes to actors, getting the right performance is simply not your strong point. As you probably have noticed, best films are well told stories with skilled, convincing cast, and memorable visuals, not just memorable visuals. So?
Maybe you’re better suited to being… a Cinematographer / Photographer? – Similar to the above, if you find that your work is more focused on stunning shot compositions and framings, rather than stunning actor performances, AND you want to work with features, then it is worth considering DP as a role.
3. Your stories are fantastic on paper, but you cannot orchestrate a film production
You’ve got ideas and you are great at expressing them on paper, creating engaging stories for quality screenplays. But enticing a crew, working with actors, translating your words into screen shots all makes you feel rather uncomfortable? If you cannot face and coordinate a whole group of people, delegate tasks and really build a team that will work towards the same vision, directing might not be the job for you.
Maybe you’re better suited to being… a Writer? Maybe production is not your strong side. But why not make a living out of writing compelling stories?
NB/ Film Doctor are a ‘can do’ team. None of the above is meant to dissuade anybody from trying anything or sticking to their dreams. If you feel some of the points above ring true to you and you still want to carry on then DO!! Just make sure you address recurring issues and don’t become renowned for wooden performances or end up being the ‘style over substance’ director.