3 Types of Skilled Movie Directors

DirectorProfessional movie directors make most movies, but few in the audience can discern the difference between which of the three types of directors made the film they watch. The three types of skilled directors are: Technical; Performance; and, Arts & Craft.

Technical Director

Directors fascinated with the technology know how to capture images that look cool and stir the soul. They are most likely first attracted to splash videos before understanding the subtleties of story-based cinema. He or she works well with the crew, but pretty much leaves the actors alone to do their own thing. Sometimes this relaxed process flows from the director’s inexperience, or ignorance of not knowing how to communicate with the actors.

Performance Director

This type of director may have once been an actor. He or she understands the nuances of performance and the depth it can bring to a story. Instead of focusing on the technology, the director spends time with each actor and determines how to draw out the best performance possible. Regardless of the schedule, time is allotted to capture the best performances through coaching, experimentation, and augmented performance technique.

Arts & Crafts Director

This is the rare breed of director who understands the technical and the performance aspects of film production. He or she takes time to work with the actors and tweak their performances, and to help the crew understand exactly what needs to be captured. The director takes these same skills into post-production as well, where he or she represents both the technical and performance sides of the production team in the editing suite.

Most technical directors gravitate toward television where story decisions are made by the producers, head writers, and show runners. Performance directors lean more toward live stage shows. And, arts and craft directors typically thrive in the motion picture industry. Unfortunately, all too often directors are misplaced and find themselves battling to survive, rather than thriving in their ideal environments.

The best combination is for a director to figure out which type resonates within his or her soul and enter the appropriate market. The same holds true with directors that lean toward specific genres. The sports enthusiast director should think twice about making a Hallmark movie, unless he or she is prepared to stretch him or herself creatively.

I’ve directed numerous genres in my life, but I’ve only won highly competitive awards for adventure films. I’ve also won several awards for my dramas, but they came from lesser competitions. In other words, my best combination where I thrive is directing a fun adventure film that’s salted with dramatic moments and humor. That’s not to say I can’t direct other types of stories, I’ve done numerous successful shows outside of my core expertise. But in all honesty they were never on the same level as when I’m paired to an adventure film.

Do you know your favorite director’s core genre?

© 2017 by CJ Powers
Advertisements

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

© Andril Pokaz and Isaxar - Fotolia.com

Last year was filled with personal loss, crazy politics and the courting of China’s Wanda in Hollywood. It was a year that most people wanted to exit before they incurred too many losses. The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was that 2017 had to be better.

For 2017 to be better for me, at least from the perspective of the world of entertainment, I’d like to see some changes in the motion picture industry. I’ve decided to consolidate my thoughts by genre.

ROM-COMS
I’m tired of romantic comedies being too dramatic and short on comedy. This might be due to the slow pace all Rom-Coms have fallen into, which likely destroyed comedic timing. This year I’d like to see a fast paced Rom-Com that takes 10 minutes for the audience to figure out how the show ends instead of the standard three minutes.

HORROR
I’ve had enough with the screaming beauties. How about the first horrifying attack being against a buff man instead of a high-pitched screamer. I mean does every horror film have to start with a blond scream? Not in 2017.

FAITH-BASED
I beg you to stop preaching in an emotion-based demonstrative medium (show don’t tell). Learn how to show the human condition so your redemptive moment at the end makes God look majestic instead of trite. Take time to rewrite your scripts two dozen more times before shooting your ultra-low budget film and make sure at least one scene uses subtext instead of Evangelical jargon.

ACTION
Please consider shortening your action sequences enough to add a subplot into your movie that helps us to actually care about the protagonist. I’m tired of comic book stereotypes in an age when diversity makes us stronger.

ADVENTURE
Yes, thinning out your plotlines has increased your box office success, but when you thin it out too much no one wants to watch the story a second time—That’s why box office dollars started to shrink. Give us something to chew on that transcends the action plotline.

MUSICALS
Making a few more every year would put lots of smiles on the faces in the reclining theatre seats. Maybe its time for a new franchise of musicals like the old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney stories.

BUDDY COP
These films are made all too far away from the previous one. Everyone likes camaraderie intermixed with thrills and spills. Use your creativity and come up with a few scenes we haven’t seen before and we’ll let you toss in a few scenes that play like an old romantic rerun of happy days gone by.

DRAMA
This genre has turned dark and can’t seem to come back into the light without turning cheeky in the process. I challenge you to write a smart drama that carries a happy tone with sporadic nightmares that are quickly sorted by the protagonist. We want the star to step up with an amazing demonstration of unconditional love coated in self-deprecating humor and a touch of chivalry. And while you’re at it, stick it in a courtroom that is rendered with respect, instead of the bitter views of those abused by attorneys.

I suppose that’s enough dreaming to kick off this year. How about you? I’d love to see your comments on what changes you’d like to see this on the silver screen.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers

They Got It Backwards

I love the juxtaposition of talking with a horror filmmaker and a faith-based filmmaker over the same weekend. The former asked why I sometimes wrote about faith-based films. She couldn’t comprehend why I’d even broached the politically incorrect subject of religion. The later questioned me on educating horror filmmakers who bring evil into the world. He rebuked me for not separating myself from “the likes of them.” I chuckled at both perspectives.

Filmmaking is an art, which both people had forgotten. It’s also a craft that requires thousands of hours to master. Since I’ve worked several features and 300 plus television episodes, I’m willing to share my knowledge and hope to learn something new during the exchange of ideas and craft secrets. I’m a people person, what else can I say.

The conversations opened my mind to just how backwards both filmmakers got it. Let me start with the faith-based filmmaker.

There is an interesting trend in the faith-based market niche. Churches have gotten so good at entertaining that its congregations are dropping off. Millennials aren’t interested in a polished presentation in their services, but instead in an authentic person sharing how to do life. They also want to sing during worship, but the loud music and professional singers leading the congregation stops them from sharing their untrained voices in song.

Christian filmmakers are creating films with authentic stories that are real and rough around the edges, the exact thing Millennials want from their services. But, they don’t want that in their movies, instead they long for highly entertaining and professional films. The church and Christian filmmakers have it exactly backwards from what their audiences demand.

Horror filmmakers also have it backwards. The genre started out as a tool to launch great, unknown filmmakers into the mainstream movie making system. Those with good stories rose in the ranks and transitioned to thrillers and later to action films. Today, most horror filmmakers aren’t concerned about story. Instead they focus on the latest FX to make mutilation more realistic.

Without a story about characters you learn to care about, the scary aspects of horror films hold little fear in our heavy CGI based world. The lack of story makes the film appear campy, just like unprofessional faith-based films. In fact, the relationship between horror and faith-based films is so close that I’m surprised no one has done a high quality Christian horror film that causes the audience to consider their own mortality.

The bottom line is that genres only work well when done in the way the media demands. Since high quality technical equipment is now readily available to both genres, storytelling becomes critical to sort through the noise of the thousands of bad films. Even TV has hit a glut of programming and most people aren’t aware that over 400 new series were released last year. The support of an audience is still critical to the health of a series. Without the right audience the shows get cancelled or make little to no profit.

It’s time our churches give up the professional entertainment for the authentic sharing of life. Our faith-based films must also turn around by creating professional and highly entertaining universal stories. And, our horror films must get back to the core work of storytelling, as movies without stories are a waste of everyone’s time.

Let’s turn around these backwards trends.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

Why I’ll Never Make One

Les Miserables PosterI’ve watched too many faith-based films over the past two years. It was curiosity more than anything else. The sudden glut of like-minded stories peaked my insurmountable drive to understand why and how it happened.

Looking first to the past, I learned that church-supported “Christian” films had been around since the early 30’s (not to be confused with religious biblical films that started in 1908), but faith-based films launched in 2006 and was immediately embraced and sustained by millions of home schoolers.

Studios got behind the new films, after fledgling around with previous breakout Christian films. Hollywood didn’t know how to promote the films nor did they know how to build the ideal audiences; so faith-based films that arrived complete with audiences intact or with church based promotional campaigns were welcomed.

Studios finally got a handle on the faith-based market when they realized the similarities between all of the faith-based films. These were the same similarities that made genres and sub-genres what they are today. By simply labeling faith-based films a genre, the studios got control over what was once elusive.

Unfortunately that meant audiences would suddenly focus on what made faith-based films faith-based, which was mostly the story’s weaknesses. The good news is that redemptive stories were never tossed into the mix, although many Christians tried to convince others that redemptive films were also faith-based.

The biggest arguments surrounding the claims were in connection with two high profile redemptive stories: The Blind Side and Les Miserables. The faith-based market claimed The Blind Side as one of their own, even though director Tom Hooper specifically stated that it was not a faith-based film. Les Miserables was rejected by the faith-based community due to the whore, drunkards, and other low life characters, even though the story was arguably the greatest redemptive story about faith, forgiveness and love within the past two decades.

The weak, yet repetitive elements within faith-based films, the clear acceptance of non-faith-based films because of certain elements, and the rejection of overt redemptive films missing certain elements, made it clear that faith-based films were about a specific Evangelical culture, not the Bible’s theme of redemption.

What made and didn’t make a faith-based genre became obvious to all film studios. It also helped clarify why some films made a lot of money at the box office, and why others flopped in general release or barely survived in limited release.

When I read the list of elements making up the faith-based genre and saw it played out on screen over the past two years, I concluded that I’d never make a faith-based film. In fact, I’m not capable of putting into a story the things that make a film qualify as a faith-based film.

This is probably a shock to some who know my penchant for redemptive stories. But those who are shocked are simply ignorant about what key elements make up faith-based films versus redemptive films. However, this can easily be clarified with a weekend marathon.

I propose you watch three faith-based films back to back on Saturday, followed by three redemptive films on Sunday. The difference between the two genres should become obvious. For the faith-based films I recommend Facing the Giants, Left Behind (2014), and Soul Surfer. For the redemptive films I recommend The Blind Side, Les Miserables (2012), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

My personal take away from each film was high, but not in the way you’d expect. I can, however, clearly state that I learned something valuable from each of the six films. Unfortunately, I’ve since forgotten what I’ve learned from the faith-based films and I still clearly remember what I learned from the redemptive films.

After you surface from your weekend binge of films, you’ll be able to clearly understand why I’ll create redemptive and not faith-based stories. You’ll also be able to understand why I still remember the message from the redemptive stories and not the ones from the faith-based stories.

Once you clearly see the difference between the genres, you’ll no longer be shocked that I won’t ever make a faith-based film. You might even get excited enough to cheer me on with making redemptive stories.

Happy viewing!

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers