Filmmaking / Directing : The Most Important Directing Tips by Liam Lacy

Liam Lacy

The Most Important Directing Tips

If you could only give one tip to a first time director, what would it be?

Shaun O'Banion

Stay open. You got into film to collaborate and conspire to craft that perfect 1/24th of a second. If you don't want to collaborate, become a painter.

Hilton Moore

Learn to delegate duties, while wearing comfortable shoes....

David Trotti

My biggest tip: take pity on your editor when you shoot. Here are three ways to do that: 1) Don't say cut as soon as you think the shot is over. Hold a beat so you have a clean out. 2) Get inserts and cutaways. Not only can they punctuate information, they can help you stitch performances together from different takes. 3) Watch out for actors stepping on each others' lines. You can always overlap in post, but you can't separate them without ADR.

JD Hartman

Think about how the shots will cut together before you shoot one single frame. Don't waste a lot of time of wides and reverses that may never be used. "One more take for insurance...", wastes a lot of time and wears everybody down.

Regina Lee

If something is flawed in the script, it will not get fixed magically on the set.

Liam Lacy

Thanks all! Regina, I find a lot comes back to the quote 'You can make a bad film with a good script, but you can't make a good film with a bad script'. Very apt.

Regina Lee

Nice! A really good one. I will start to use that quote more often!

Stacey Bradford Schaller

Liam, I've said that any times as well. Learned it in film school (the quote), but it becomes clear as we watch poorly written films. My advice? 1. Be humble and teachable. Get advice from others who have been there. Find a great team and listen to them. Get input on your story and be willing to face hard criticism about it. 2. Be flexible. Roll with the punches. Things will go South. Just happens. Take a deep breath, pray, and get rolling again. Hope that helps.

Liam Lacy

Thanks Stacey, well thought out advice.

Zaid Mu'min

These are all really good suggestions and very timely as I embark on my first short film shoot next month. Thank you all for your input here.

John Garrett

To piggy back on what Dan said: I was once told I should have already seen the movie in my mind. I should have every shot for the day scheduled and planned so that everything is where it needs to be when it is time to shoot. That includes the talent's focus and character. Then be prepared to deal with everything that doesn't happen as planned. Nothing ever goes wrong, it simply doesn't go as planned. That ties into a personal saying, "If the guy in charge panics, everyone will panic."

Chris Fosselman

Make sure you hire a DP that you Trust!

Babu Subramaniam

there are very few Directors out there today that are really good at Camera Staging/Blocking and also working with actors. The challenge for me is to do whatever it takes to get good at both. All Directors should take acting classes; direct a play. Check out "A sense of direction" by William Ball. A great read.

Ryan Shovey

Surround yourself with amazing people who are better at technically achieving your vision than you are. Your biggest job should be conveying the vision and inspiring to others, let them help you in every way possible. Collaborate as often as you can. The end product will turn out way better than if you try to do everything yourself.

Lon R. Breedlove

Show respect and appreciation for your crew!

Everette Nicolls


Everette Nicolls

Learn the dramatic and technical aesthetics in order to deepen the narrative value of the work. This, then, create a more organic and insightful thrust to the overall tale by adding visual excitement, narrative force and avoids boredom. Do not make to the equipment that you have, make it to the story and vision that you see. Do not move the camera because you have a slider or dolly. Move the camera because the movement adds meaning to the tale. DON'T BE AN INDIE IDIOT. Think through your approach and take your time but RUSH. Money in filmmaking budgets speeds toward BROKE, EXHAUSTED, OUT OF FUNDS.

JD Hartman

Accept suggestions and observations both good and bad with an open mind, before and during the shoot. Director doesn't equate to Dictator.

Walker Whited

Do paperwork before hand (and encourage your actors to as well). write all over your script. have action verbs and character goals ready in your mind or on paper to offer your actors within each scene.

Patrick Howard

Film and video editors will love you for lots of CUs and MCUs of objects in the story. - In addition to the scene (Say, two actors conversing with over-the-shoulder shots... - An editor's job can be MUCH LESS problematic with a dozen shots of the surroundings to cut into and out of. - A phone, or a picture on the wall, a blood-splatter if applicable). - Remember, story telling starts in the director's chair, but it passes through the hands of many craftsmen along the way. - While I have some experience calling the shots, most of my experience is in the cutting room. -

JD Hartman

.........Remember, story telling starts in the director's chair, but it passes through the hands of many craftsmen along the way. I always thought the Director chooses the cuts, perhaps sitting with the editor. I don't think any Director would be please to received a version of the final cut with a bunch of extraneous frames in it that weren't of his choosing.

Nicholas Jordan

learn or adapt to seeing in the field what will be seen when it is on the screen, i use squinting which always brings the visual into what it would look-like after post

Christian DeAngelis

Be calm. People want to work with a director who is calm and collected. If something comes up you have a problem with, ask for help.

Liam Lacy

Again, thanks all for the fantastic tips. I'll have to write all of these up into a little booklet and keep them on hand when directing.

Eric Bartsch

Be able to articulate your vision to others clearly or else you'll be looking into a sea of frustrated and dumbfounded faces.

Denise Jackman

wow...I didn't think about that what a great idea!

Shawn Speake, what a thread. I'll echo the people skills component. How you direct/communicate with your crew is most important. You're the best QB you can be when the team loves you/your style. They'll make u better!

Rafael Leloup

Choose your team carefully and rely on them for their respective parts.

Erik Niel

Have fun. A simple reminder when there is so much going on.

Royce Allen Dudley

Hire the best people and let them do their jobs. Study Aikido. Hydrate.

Rachel Ann Mullins

know how to talk people into things.

Patrick Howard

Many great ideas. - I don't have much experience, but my best advise would be to keep a thesaurus handy. - It helped me immeasurably when I needed to explain what I was looking for from an actor. The words from my vocabulary that I used while expressing certain actions didn't inspire the performance that I wanted, but when I used words that corresponded from a thesaurus, the light turned on in my talents understanding and I got a noticeably improved actions and reactions.

Nicholas Jordan

I have particularly efficient advice, do what Robert Rodriquez says to do in his book. We get this situation often where folks whom are not there because they really want to—whom then maybe want to run things.

Clayton Broomes Jr.

Hey Royce, I'm a Nidan in aikido. Good advice. Liam: Story: I would say you're a storyteller first and foremost. Keep it simple: See if you can execute and interesting shot with dynamic blocking with one master, then get some close-ups for coverage sake. Crew: make sure you have a good, working relationship with your DP and editor. And yes, try to avoid doing these things yourself. Maybe on your first go you can get away with it, but after a while, work with a team. Film is a collaborative effort.

Other topics in Filmmaking / Directing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In