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What Is the Film Director’s Job on the Film Set?

People ask me this question quite often and, sometimes, even I ask myself the same question.

I could go on and on about the technicalities of my job and the endless amount of skills it requires from me and how much knowledge the director needs to have to be able to effectively communicate with their various departments, just to be able to be on the same page with everyone involved.

However, this is not what I would like to talk about today. I would like to talk about something I have just discovered recently, something I decided to call “holding space”.
Just recently I was working on a short film when I realised that my job as a director was to create creative space on the set for all departments to come together and to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

The space-holding journey for me begins very early in production. Once I decide to work on the project, I do all the necessary research; I work on script analysis, so I feel comfortable and confident working with my actors. I find the visual references for my DP and art department; I make a shot list; I talk to all heads of departments, check in with my producers. I prepare as well as I can for weeks before the shooting date. I also read the script at least once a day for two weeks before going into production.
I’m as ready as I imagine I can be before I walk onto the set.

But once on set I need to let go of all the preparations, and I strongly feel that from that point onwards my job is to hold space for all those amazing people that come together using their unique talents to turn my idea into reality.
For me holding space for someone means allowing that person or a group of people to do their jobs ‘cos I know that they all have put as much work into pre-production as I did and on set I need to honour that.
Of course, I’m still answering tones of questions, making countless decisions and helping when actors feel stuck or when we have unexpected technical issues.
However, my primary objective is to hold space for all those artists and craftspeople so they can feel secure enough to do what they do best, in short, to allow them to bring to life collaborative creativity.

While you are here, you might also be interested in Creative Distribution.

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