Let me previs by showing a few of my favorite scenes of all time shot by my favorite directors of all time:
Probably my favorite scene of all time:
The scene that got an entire generation pregnant:
A scene that will put anyone back in their place. Gus van Sant’s masterpeice:
I’ve heard stories that D-Day vets had relapses of PTSD after seeing this scene due to its unparalleled realism:
Not only hilariously terrifying, the line was ad-libed by Roy and Spielberg immediately fell in love with the shot:
“Are those live rounds??”
“7-6-2 millimeter *click* full…metal…..JACKET“:
When you hear the names Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, or Alfred Hitchcock you think of brilliance, creativity, and dedication. These giant movie moguls are a select breed that not many are born into. From their attitude to their extensive knowledge about the art of film making, these geniuses know how to make a film and make it an absolute masterpiece. But how do they do it? Whats is the big secret? Well unfortunately its not that simple, but I believe the technical, social and creative skills these gentlemen posses is the base to their success.
Many of the greatest directors are surprisingly self thought. Quentin Tarantino didn’t even go to college, instead he worked at a video rental store where he spent much of his young adult life watching and studying the styles and techniques of other directors. Most of us sit there and simply take in the plot of a movie, not ever realizing the specific elements of mise-en-scene(lighting, actors, costumes, camera angels) being utilized. But when Quentin watched a film he looked at it as an educational experience. If you have the right attitude, watching any movie becomes a lesson.
No one knew how to manipulate mise-en-scene better then the master of suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock. Drawing from the styles of the film-noire genre Hitch loved to manipulate his set to invoke strong emotions from his audience. For his premiere of Psycho, he demanded to wait outside the theater and peek in at the best moments to feed off the screams of the audience. The way he uses shadows, quick cuts, and silhouettes define the Hitchcockian auteurial style.
Not only is an extensive knowledge in the technical side of film making necessary, but being a director requires a strong ability to control ones self and others in such a way that fosters creativity. You are the boss for a reason, and being the captain of a muliti-million dollar ship demands a huge amount of responsibility. You need to be able to communicate exactly what you want to hundreds of people without becoming overly frustrated. Yelling at your crew like Christian Bale is the easiest way to kill any creative vibe permeating the aura of the set. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t let emotions flare, I’ve heard of many cases where directors push their actors buttons in order to evoke a stronger performance. Examples of these types of directors include David O’Russel and Werner Herzog who, while filming Fitzcarraldo, put a gun to his leading actor Klaus Kinski’s head.
Now I love James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg for their ability to bring out such pure human emotions in their films. Their creative genius has created the most memorable scenes in cinema history. From:
Connecting to your audience is the most important thing when creating a film and the easiest way to reach the hearts of your selected victims would be choosing the right sound score for the scene. Try watching the titanic 360 pan shot again with the video muted…not as fun. Next characterization. I’m not taking about the script and dialog (even though that is an enormous factor), im talking about how you direct your actors persona in a way that best flatters the character. A way that makes their character relatable to the audience or one they can identify with. In my opinion that ability separates the boys from the men in regards to directors.