How to choose a film director

Choosing a film director is hard if you haven’t done a lot of it. When you start out you rely on agency producers who know more than you do. But slowly you develop a feel for who’s out there and as you shoot more, how a director can improve your idea.

I look for directors that have a strong flavor. That is, everything they shoot makes you feel something. That is the single most important thing. I might not necessarily like it but if they can make me feel something, i like them.

Shooting film is an art. So look for true artists. There are a lot of bullshitters and chancers pretending to be directors. Artists make you feel something. These guys don’t. They just know how to arrange a shoot. they are film users, not film makers.

Are they nice? Film is a collaborative medium. You have to get on with this person. Shooting is like going camping. You’re all in it together. So you have to get along.

Lastly, try somebody new. I’ve had great luck using directors who had never shot a commercial before i used them. they’re fresh and keen and have tons of energy. just make sure they have strong evidence that they can do it. doesn’t have to be an ad. do they make you FEEL something? You will encounter resistance from senior agency producer types here. I once wanted to use a Sopranos director who had never shot an ad for a very important Budweiser spot, set in… New Jersey! The agency exec producer seriously said to me “we don’t know this guy can tell a story in thirty seconds!”. i knew. HE DIRECTED THE BLOODY SOPRANOS! He was great. Duh!

here is that spot.

12 responses to “How to choose a film director

  1. my first impression is always based on the way director is listening.
    true guys always really listen. you get a proof for that when they start asking questions.
    BSers just wait for you to finish cause they already have s speech for you.

    oh, and I really really appreciate every director that doesnt start a converstation with “I really liked your idea.”

    btw, did you wrote “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry…”?
    this one:
    this is brilliant in every aspect. still laughing.

  2. Hey Vinny, I totally agree man.

    When I first started out three years ago our agency producer was our shining light. To us she ate Words of Wisdom for breakfast. And we were like the blind hanging on her every word.

    But then you shoot your first ad. And everything you just said comes into play; Director’s personality, vision, focus and the Simon Cowell X-factor.

    Personally, I like been nervous about a director’s potential. Good nervous. I want them to take the script to the next level. Think of something I wouldn’t. Excite me.

    But like you I’m an Irish man that’s a mad man away from home. So I’m easily excited ;)

    By the way that Hardy Bucks is ace. Finally something to replace the big dark hole that the irrverant Father Ted left behind???

  3. riki, my pet peeve is when directors tell me that “casting will be key”. really? no shit. yes i did that one too. it was originally “joey, joey, joey” until the day of the shoot. ‘joey” just wasn’t funny on the day. ‘jerry’ was. panic over. you know your idea is slender when that happens!

    marcus, you’re from cork! yes the hardy bucks is a work of genius. i would love to work with those guys. they’re a great example of what i’m talking about. you give them a coke or budweiser job fun will ensue!

  4. ‘Cork by birth, Munster by the grace of god’.

    My favourite t-shirt!!!

    Loving your work man. Great to see a fellow Irishman doing well especially away from home.

    By the way I pissed myself laughing when I heard your Irish version of Real Men of Genius.

    The Scottish, English and Welsh Creatives around me just couldn’t get their heads around ‘the Mammy’, and ‘Bacon and cabbage’.


    Here, this might crack you up ;)

  5. very funny marcus.

    glad you liked the irish RMOG radio. i’ve noticed over the years that Irish people are petrified about “what people might think about them” in advertising terms. several times i’ve sent ads to my family back home. and rather than tell me which one they liked or why, they immediately tell me what they didn’t like. not meant maliciously. that’s just the way they think. an american would tell you what they liked. funny.

  6. I’m not a Jay-Z fan he is too pop music for me. But the County Cork song remake it is incredible! Where can I get Beamish in the states?

    As for Directors I normally just grab someone off the street who is using one of those Flip Video Camcorders. Always a sign of top notch directing skillz.

    Love the Sopranos spot. Had an acquaintance in LA who was a writer on a few episodes.

  7. please tell me how did bouncer end up so hilariously great.
    I mean, can you put this in a script?
    how much impro was there?

  8. i remember we cast him and originally intended him to just stand there looking menacing. and then he randomly started doing that punching thing and we thought it was funny. he was my favorite part of that spot.

  9. riki, i also remember we shot it in a part of Brooklyn that was so mafia oriented these old Italian women had cop repellent messages in their front window. it was strange. i bought a cement statue of Saint Francis of Assisi on impulse. strange day.

  10. btw, reply on “casting will be key”…

    what about “we’ll fix that in the post”?
    don’t you just love that?

  11. or, my favorite. maximum bullshit bingo points for mentioning Eisenstein at any point.

  12. Pingback: HOW CREATE A TV SPOT | ESCAPOLOGY (the escape pod’s blog)

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