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On Collaboration

Creative arts such as painting, photography, writing are primarily solo efforts but this does not apply to film. A group of talented individuals work together to create a film. Certain elements foster a collaborative atmosphere.These ingredients need to be kept in balance and this is the job of the diector. He sets the tone of how the production will evolve.

Collaboration is the process where two or more individuals/organisations work together to achieve a goal

It is advisable to always start with the expectation that the cast and crew will all bring something unique to the project. This will enable you to trust them to do the best job. As the production progresses, you’ll know whether to continue to trust them or take back some control.

The easiet way is to treat everyone with the same level of respect, making sure the crew knows the cast and emphasizing how important everyone is to the process. This breaks down the ‘them vs us’ divide and fosters trusting relationships. This will lead to a united front, in which everyone works together for the success of the production.

A hindrance to collaboration is when the director seeks to have complete control over his vision. However, when it comes to working with other people, control is just an illusion.

You can only control your actions and reactions in any given situation

As with any over controlling relationship, this creates a toxic environment of distrust where the director does not think anyone is good enough.

Having an understanding and influencing others through persuassion/reasoning is the closest form of control a director can use. Therefore, when selecting cast and crew, the director should choose collaborators based on mutual respect and their ability to understand each other’s process. This is a ‘Give & Take’ relationship, so the director should know when to make a compromise and go with other people’s suggestions. This keeps the collaboration alive and everyone feels their input is valued.

It’s dangerous for the director to be an absolutist

Collaboration is about communication and understanding how an individual works. This rapport can be built during pre-production and fostered afterward to create the synergy to a remarkable film.

Some directors can be difficult, but after the experience you might see that it was all worth it. This is not always the case, so it’s up to the filmmaker to decide which director is worth the trouble.

Most people are creative when they let their guard down but the director must give them the freedom to do so.

Collaboration increases the artistic integrity of a project

The director is an interpretative artist and must know the material better than anyone and then curate ideas from his cast and crew. The director can ask his cast and crew probing questions that will bring out the best interpretation of the material. The most important of all these facors is trust.

Tip for Director/Actor Collaboration

  1. Get the right person from your auditions, there is very little you can do with an actor if they are not fit for the role.

  2. During rehearsals or blocking, the director can ask the actors about their thoughts on the character’s situation and reaction. This dialogue will enable a more intentional interpretation of the material.

  3. Protect the actors especially when they have to be emotionally vulnerable on set.

Tips for Director/Crew Collaboration

  1. Listen to industry chatter about nightmare collaborators but give them a chance and have a plan to deal with any drama. Go with your gut.

  2. Leverage other people’s skills to perfect the execution of your material.

  3. Don’t employ someone if you plan to do the job yourself.

The case for starting or joining a film collective;

  1. It is a community of like minded people

  2. To keep you accountable about executing your ideas.

  3. To help review each others work… be sounding boards for ideas.

  4. Find new collaborators

  5. To get detailed feedback on a project, to gain perspective on it’s strengths and waknesses.

Got The Picture?

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