“Mommy, where do films come from?”
“Well, when a Director loves a screenplay very, very much . . ..”
I once read an article many years ago titled “10 Things to Consider Before Directing Your 1st Feature Film.” I’ll never forget #1: it said, “Number One: Don’t Do It.” This is not a cynical statement but a merciful one. If you’re serious about filmmaking, it will eat you alive. You’ll love it. You’ll hate it. You’ll wish it was over. And then you’ll miss it.
All dramatics aside, being a Film Director is like opening the Ark of the Covenant; it’s as beautiful as it is terrifying and has the potential to be just as dangerous. You have to make sure you’re dedicating your time to something you really believe in, or the next several months will be agonizing, not only for you but for everybody you drag through the process with you. Make sure you’re head-over-heels in love with the screenplay or don’t do it at all.
Trust me — there are already enough bad movies in the world — and many of those lackluster films were born from spectacular screenplays. Where was the disconnect? The Director. Therefore, when it comes to choosing a screenplay, understand your decision can give a literal Caesar’s thumbs-up or thumbs-down to somebody’s own story — the Screenwriter.
Or, maybe you wrote the screenplay? Either way, it’s your duty to get that screenplay off the pages and onto the screen. It’s your job to transform the periods and commas into audible “Oohs and Ahhs.” The Director justly breathes artistic life into a screenplay — or ruins it forever.
No pressure. Just understand, you can’t do a screenplay justice if you’re going through the motions. So, have a clear decision in mind of why you want to shoot this film, what you want to communicate, and how it’s going to look.