One of my biggest weaknesses in writing has been focusing in on how a scene actually functions. In so many ways a scene should be a microcosm of the three act structure, of an entire film. So for this analysis of Selma, I’ve tried to go through each scene, show it’s length, and detail the SETUP, REVERSAL and PAYOFF of each.Read More
I was fortunate to interview director Kieran Darcy Smith for the inaugural issue of the Australian Directors Guild magazine Screen Director, where we spoke about his career, writing and directing his first film Wish You Were Here
You’ve previously mentioned that a lot of directing is in the writing. How have you approached that and switched gears between the two? Does it stop and how do you delineate between writing and directing is there a point where that happens?
It’s funny, because at the moment I’m attached to a couple of project I didn’t write but I’ve also got one that I did write. And I also used to say that, and I particularly felt this with Wish You Were Here, that such a large element of the direction takes place in the screenplay. Because you’re sort of really seeing it through as you’re writing it. You’re sort of feeling the energy, to know exactly when to get in and out of a scene. You know exactly what the transition’s going to be. You can kind of picture camera, how it’s working, picture performance levels and so on and so forth. And I guess it’s not that different from when you come onto a script that someone else has written. Because you’ll invariably do a director’s pass on it anyway. So you tend to lay into it all of those transitions and you sort of play it out orchestrally in your head and navigate that as you’re going. So I still feel a lot of directing goes on, on the page. In terms of moving between one stage and the next, you go into a different mode I guess, once you’ve sort of seen it through on the page and you feel like it’s working. And you’ve got to really feel confident, and you’ve got to see through every sequence. And every transition and every scene, and picture the whole thing and know that it’s holding up in your head, and then you’ve got to trust that. Because no one else will if you don’t. You’ve really got to back yourself and go in there with utter confidence. And if you have that confidence, you get into preproduction and you test it. You get into conversations with all your various heads of department. And I’d occasionally do little previs setups out in the carpark and just test a couple of things to make sure they’re working, but I only did that on three or four scenes. And they were working, and I felt like I had a bit of a handle on it. I have to admit I really loved preproduction, because you’re just surrounded by all these incredible people who are just giving so much, and they do trust you, and you’ve got a lot of responsibility then, to really think about the decisions that you’re making. Cause you don’t want to let them down. You also don’t want to waste the money, you want to make the film well. You switch gears and it becomes a lot more visual and then it all becomes about communication because how do you get across what’s in your head really clearly to these people? It’s like going to get a haircut, you know, you say to the guy or the girl I want this and she says ‘yeah great, I know exactly what you want’ and you walk out and it’s completely different, and a lot of that goes on. It’s hard at first to convey exactly what you’re seeing and feeling, and I remember that with our production designer Alex Holmes; there was this massive pen drop moment - he’d been coming in with all this stuff and it wasn’t quite right and then it clicked for him one day and he went “fuck, I get it” and he came in with all this stuff and I said “man that’s it”. It took him a while to figure out what I was getting at.Read More