Working with a bunch of uni students who have their own schedules and lives, using prescribed equipment that we're not comfortable with and are forced to learn and writing a script based on committee and consensus.
This seems to be the challenge I've been presented with in the shooting of Office Grinch. Our whole group seems quietly frustrated at this point, and I don't want to add any fuel to the fire, so I'm going to just walk through the process that we've been instructed to follow from my point of view and write down some personal thoughts on the steps.
Firstly, the groups were randomly assigned. I was already uncomfortable with this just because it's a level of uncertainty that I find very stifling in a creative work. Not to impugn Ellie, Cassie, Steph and Ally, who have all worked very hard in their chosen disciplines, but I definitely prefer working with people who I have some level of opinion over. Meshing creatively is very important, and while small disagreements and creative clashes can occasionally curb an auteurist director's misguided ideas (look at early George Lucas vs late George Lucas!), it seems like our group comes from such different places creatively that it requires a unifying force to guide them. Ordinarily, it's the director's job to act as this unifying force, and in some parts I have been tweaking things based on my vision, but I was very paranoid about coming off like...well, an asshole, for lack of better term. Between reading through Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and hearing horror stories about Friedkin, Coppola and other 70s directors who managed to destroy friendships and themselves in pursuit of their vision, I did my best to work through this project civilly. I feel like I put a bit too much of an emphasis on being friendly and not enough on creativity, and the work and general creative ideals of the group have suffered.
The scriptwriting process was very difficult for me, primarily because I wasn't a part of it, not really. As I'm sure you can tell by my numerous previous posts on writing, I regard myself as a pretty decent writer, but a very protective one. It was extremely difficult for me not to be a large part of the scriptwriting or the choosing of ideas, even though my second preference was the one that won out after all the dust had cleared. Admittedly, I did delibrately distant myself from this because I knew that being a bit of a control freak writer-director was an issue that I would have to work on in my future career, but I also felt very restricted based on the ideas we had at our disposal, most of which left me uninspired at best. In addition, I feel like I should have had a bigger hand in the script than I did, even though Cassie did a really fantastic job. Despite trying to avoid being a control freak, I did forget that directors are allowed to make edits and control aspects of the movie at their whim. I think the biggest issue I had with this process is that I just didn't feel invested in the concept in a way that I would have given the choice to film one of my own ideas. Perhaps the best lesson I can learn from this is to try and find a happy medium between trying to control every aspect and allowing each member of the group to do their own thing. Feeling like I had the freedom to subtley guide the production would have been very helpful, and now I'll feel a little more liberal in exercising my directorial power.
We were required to put together a production portfolio as part of our assessment for the film. This is going to sound incredibly stubborn, but I don't work that way! I really, really loathe structuring and notating creative choices like we were asked to for this portfolio, and I much prefer to intuitively decide such things as blocking and acting choices in rehearsal or on the day, rather than documenting everything I do beforehand. I do realize that part of this is my inherent laziness, and my reluctance to structure creative work is, in reality, my reluctance to sit my ass down and do more than I feel is required. It's an attitude problem, and I've been working on it (look for a future blog post about structuring my latest script soon!), but I also feel like I should develop my own method of directorial structure and note-taking. Being graded on that sort of thing rubs me the wrong way, and being forced to do it in the 'correct' way doubly so. It might be worth thinking about working on my own style of pre-production notes after we see the results of the shoot.
I'll cover auditions in my next post.