How To Avoid First-Time Director Pitfalls
From Screencraft.org: Bigger film budgets continue to dwindle. Smaller film sets continue to appear. Camera technology and film-centric software continue to evolve.
Through all the change, one aspect of film production has remained the same: difficult directors. As a producer, I understand this. Filmmakers are passionate people by nature. Their work is the ultimate fruit of their labor, and they only want to make quality of the highest caliber they’re capable of.
Of course, there are a few directors in our industry who have a license to demand their perfected vision — David Fincher and James Cameron have proven their artistic credibility, skill set, and commercial viability through consistent quality work and perseverance.
Yet, as an independent producer, I’m often presented low-budget films helmed by first-time directors with an unrealistic approach to execute their vision on a budget — most often due to lack of experience. This serves not to lessen ambition, but to provide guidance for amateur, working or budding professional directors.
The year 2013 saw monumental worldwide numbers — $30 billion in global box office from 622 films released theatrically around the world. Half of this amount, however, stems from films listed in the top 50 releases of the year. Fewer than 160 had budgets greater than $1 million. My point being, as a universal audience we’re more likely to see films with A-listers and high production/distribution budgets, but these films are disproportionate to the majority released per year.
The reality is simple — there are more films made for shoestring budgets than made by studios for tentpole release. So why am I constantly bombarded with directors with shoestring budgets trying to make tentpoles? Or first-time directors demanding their films look like those of Martin Scorsese & Wes Anderson when those films are made by masters with years of experience and higher budgets? It’s definitely not a lack of vision; it’s a lack of a realistic approach to a working & sustainable career as a film director.