The first thing my mentor taught me was the importance of understanding the key roles required in creating a final product, which in our case was a short film or commercial. I was given a stack of reels and really studied what it meant to be a director, editor, and a director of photography (DP). Many people have misconceptions about the exact roles of each profession. But each one has its own subtle nuances. Trust me, there is a difference between a strong shot by the DP and something that is cut and colored properly by the editor. Without this knowledge there is no way to create a team capable of completing a successful project in a timely manner. The essential question is: What is required of each job to execute completion of the final product? Below is a breakdown of the duties of each role.
The boss, head honcho, or the man; a director has a long list of responsibilities. When not incepting and executing a film, he is busy controlling the artistic and dramatic aspects of a spot. He visualizes the script while ensuring that all of the client’s needs are met. He or she works closely with the technical team to make sure that all of the gears are in sync, making sure his vision is understood by all on set. A director’s duties consist of casting and working with said cast to express the required emotions. If you don’t have a good director you may want to do yourself a favor and give up while you’re ahead.
Director of Photography (DP)
Often mistaken for the director because of their central location behind the camera, the DP is in charge of the technicalities required to execute the director’s vision. The DP oversees lighting, exposure and that the shoot is equipped with all the proper gear (i.e. lenses, cameras, rigs, etc.); all while making sure the project stays under budget. Should we dim the lighting or brighten the scene? The DP works with the grip and art department to answer this question. Is the correct lens being used? If not, the shot’s composition can be off. Having a knowledgeable DP keeps production value up and, most importantly, cost down. Don’t take the decision of hiring a DP lightly.
The puzzle master in charge of putting together each piece after production is finished, the editor is an extremely crucial role. Every frame counts and it is the job of the editor to make sure the time is allotted for the cut to flow nicely. The editor has to look at the rhythm and tempo, while simultaneously working to make sure the cut is visually appealing. The common misconception is that the editor is only there to lay out what was shot in an orderly fashion. However, they are the last line of creative before the final product is delivered to the client. Between resizing clips to ensure proper composition, to using video scopes to ensure the blackest blacks and whitest whites, finding the right editor for your project is no small task.
So, take note. In this day and age anyone can put “director” on their LinkedIn profile. However, make sure you sit down with them, go through their portfolio before making a set decision. Hopefully, by doing this you can keep the headaches to a minimum.