A Director’s Influence

When it comes to storytelling, a great director can influence his team to bring their best game. A director’s collaborative vision can bring out the best in their team — creating an amazing final product. A director also has the power to destroy the energy for crafting a unique and memorable story.

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Both the good and the bad get shared through the director’s ability to influence his team. Every director can ensure their influence is productive by following these three steps.

1. Inspire Your Team to Contribute to the Creative Process

Inspiration starts the moment someone joins the film. The director’s attitude and demeanor set the tone for the entire production. And it’s not by chance. The director must plan ahead so he can show his intent in the proper light.

I remember watching footage of Tom Cruise speaking to his cast and crew. The first words out of his mouth were enthusiastic, “We get to make a film today!” His team was grateful based on the tone he set for an incredible day of shooting.

When I share my first words on set, I like to motivate the team with a sense of purpose. I tend to share a brief story that reminds everyone why we’re there. The goal is to jump-start their artistic superpowers.

It’s my hope that my story is one that inspires the team to give 1% more than the day before. This empowers many to level up and extend their skills beyond what they thought was possible. The added effort always shows up on screen in a miraculous way.

2. Mine the Treasure from within Your Team

The skill of observation is the most important tool of a director. He uses it to gather real-world content and gain the intent of the screenwriter. The director also uses observation to discover the qualities of his team members.

I’m humbled when I’m told by a team member that I drew more talent out of them than they thought was possible. While some credit me for their actions, I know that all I did was see the treasures that were within them. And yes, I drew those talents to the surface to take advantage of what the story needed.

Mining someone’s talent is about empowering them to shine. But, sometimes a director must get the person out of their own way so their talents can surface. That often takes a jolt of inspiration.

I was working with a kid actor on a sci-fi set who needed to get mad in the scene. The kid was a peacemaker that rarely raised his voice at anyone. But his character had to get in an adult’s face while spewing intense dialog.

After the kid’s performance suffered through many takes, I got in his face with an intense voice. Before tears formed in his eyes, I rolled the camera. The team gave his five-star performance a standing ovation.

I had observed his internal fear of failure and I brought it to the surface. He was fast to shroud his fear in anger out of self-preservation. He produced the exact emotional moment the film required.

I sometimes wonder if what I did was necessary.

The producer shared strong words with me for going about it in the wrong way. I’ve made it my life’s goal to continue searching for better techniques ever since.

But that doesn’t mean I chose a bad technique. You see, every time I received an award for the film, the presenter mentioned the kid’s performance in that scene. He loved the accolades. He also forgave me. And his performance landed him an audition at Nickelodeon.

I’m not suggesting that the ends justify the means. I’m saying that I did the best I could at the time. That action drove the kid to do his best too. The end results were awards and more film and TV projects for the kid.

3. Shape Your Team’s Passion for the Project

The key to good storytelling is to realize that a like-minded group can do more together than apart. To that end, the director must find a way to draw the most out of every person on set. The best place to start is to learn about the passion within each person when possible.

Some think the director is only responsible for what’s on-screen. But he is also responsible for guiding the team to achieve the desired results.

The director is not a powerless figure who must work within the strict confines of the script. In reality, the director has a tremendous amount of power to shape the team and the story. The on-set tone has a lot to do with how the team works together to tell the story.

Leading the Team to Success

To succeed is to fan the flame of passion within the entire team. Strong directors remind the team about the core elements of the story. They also point out how it will impact the audience.

The director will help the cast and crew see how the project will push them to their next level of expertise.

A director’s job is not simple. But he can influence his team to succeed by inspiring them to contribute. He can also mine the treasures from within his team and put them at the forefront of their actions.

And finally, the director can shape the entire team. Turning up the passion meter will energize the cast and crew. This gives the director a front-row seat as everyone embraces their newfound power.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers


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