Lessons from being a director – part 3

See the serious part 2 about delegation and also the power-mad-crazy part 1 about RULING THE WORLD.

How long do you think I can keep milking my directing career for productivity advice? I’m hoping I can carry on until the exciting day when I get my second-ever job as director.

But when you’re boring everyone about your power and artistic talent, you have to have more specific topics and now I have this one. Now I have realised this one: directing changes how you write.

Actually, it’s more than that: anything you do that is in some new way related to your writing or whatever your specific talent is, it changes.

I did rewrite the play on the fly to adjust for unforeseen problems, I did many, many times tweak to improve things based on the actors’ opinions. It’s common for writers to decry this but I would like to say right now that I am smug: I have always said that directors and actors should not make changes to a scene when it risks buggering up the rest of the script. Actors and directors are prone to concentrating on this scene right now, this scene you’re memorising, this scene you’re filming. And they should. They need to. Except when a brilliant suggestion that truly lifts that scene is an almighty bomb that ruins the entire point of the drama.

Granted, that’s a worst-case scenario.

I loved the whole process of directing but for me the whole process was in bringing that script to the stage. As short as it was, as specific as it was to this group, it had to be directed right and I had every syllable of that script in my head all the way through. Then I’d have multiple versions of the same scene in my head and I would be running them simultaneously.

None of which helps you, I just got carried away.

The action of doing something different in drama is the same, I think, as heading in to your home town from a new direction. There is one road into my home village in Birmingham that, for whatever reason, I rarely used as a kid. So now if I drive down there into the village, I come out into an entirely familiar world but it is entirely unfamiliar. The library is in the wrong spot. So is the school.

I reexamine them, I notice them again when I have become so used to them that I don’t.

So it was looking at this script from a new direction.

The short recommendation here is that you should go direct something. But the longer is that maybe you can find any way of looking at your story and your script that is different. Not better, not worse, just different. And see what it throws up at you, see what you notice.

Lessons from being a director – Part 2

Yesterday I shared perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in my long, long, day-long career as a director.

There is another. Who’d have thought there could be two life lessons from directing?

The lesson is to delegate. I am used to doing everything myself and I’ve often argued that this is good. Whenever you can take on a task yourself, it is great because you know you’ll do it. Waiting for other people so very often means it doesn’t happen.

So I’m not a control freak in that I need things be done my way, I’m a productivity freak in that I need things to be done.

Yesterday’s play needed me to work with the cast but it was in a writing session and there were a lot of people there. Normally I’d fuss over everything, I’d think myself smart for finding a way to incorporate everyone. But there was no time.

I have an assistant when I’m leading these writing groups and yesterday it was poet and writer and journalist Justina Hart. I told her she had an hour and I needed this, this and this. Never gave her another thought, I got right on with the next crisis.

And at the end of the hour I had this, this and this from her and the group. I’ve no idea how she got there but the result wasn’t just what I would’ve done, what I had wanted, it was better. Far and away better.

Let go, William. Tell good people what you want and then get out of their way.