What I learnt about directors from watching THR Roundtable
In March 2021, Action On The Side ran a virtual Work Experience for Level 3 Media students. This article has been written as part of that, by Alfie L.
Alfie watched The Hollywood Reporter Full Director's Roundtable. Here is what he learned...
The Hollywood Reporter introduced the directors on the roundtable. George Clooney (‘Midnight Sky’), Spike Lee (‘Da 5 Bloods’), Regina King (‘One Night in Miami’), Paul Greengrass (‘News of the World’), Chloé Zhao (‘Nomadland’), George C. Wolfe (‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’) and Lee Isaac Chung (‘Minari’).
A Film Director is the person who visualises the script, guides actors/technical crew, and really brings film to life. In this episode of Roundtable, the first topic of discussion is about the pandemic creeping into all our lives and the effect it has had on people especially our well-known directors. We see the effect when Regina King said “I started planting a garden” and George Clooney also mentioned that he has to change his own diapers. He also mentioned the realisation of how important family and friends are especially when we are separated. So what's happened here is due to covid, the film industry has suffered a lot, restrictions were put in place and finally, most of the world went into a lockdown. For example, social distancing, masks and covid testing just couldn't coincide with filming so everything kind of got put on hold for a while. Therefore, people with even the busiest schedules would be spending a lot of time in their own homes.
The first thing I learnt about directors is that they can also have a place in the story and can act at the same time! Regina King shared her experience in directing and acting when she mentioned that it was done in an episode of Southland but she had said that she wasn't comfortable in that type of working environment and she was out under a lot of pressure. Regina felt that because she was taking on two roles that she would not have achieved her best in either. Personally, I’d feel the same like I would underachieve because as a director, you have to think of the storytelling and like how can you even act your best if you have the storytelling on your mind. It's mind-blowing to me that some pull it off and still do an amazing job!
Also, I learnt that directors may use non-actors whereas some directors can use a whole cast of professional actors. For instance, in Chloé Zhao's film ‘Nomad Land’ used non-actors who were real nomads, like Bob Wells, and three professionals, Frances McDomand, David Strathairn and Peter Spears. Or when Regina King used pretty much a whole cast of stars like Jim Brown, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom Jr, Eli Gored, Aldis Hodge and Nicolette Robinson. Factors that would affect this is the budget (money that is split between actor salaries, camera/lighting equipment, props, using certain locations etc).
Another thing I have learnt about directors is that travelling and location scouting is very important to creating the best films. For example, Spike Lee’s ‘Da Five Bloods’ was filmed in Thailand and Vietnam and that was very important because of the setting. The beauty of nature and