Directing the Short Film...
Casting Your Actors
Blocking Your Shots
From the Director's Journal
Directing the Short Film: Exercises
1. Consider Casting: Imagine that your film has been green-lighted and that you
have your choice of actors. Choose one of the characters in your film and list
three actors who might play the role. For each actor, write a short paragraph
that considers how this actor will revise your film. (Feel free to bend genders,
2. Consider Location: There are several jokes going around Hollywood with a
punch line that goes something like, "Good news! They bought my Brooklyn mafia
story. Jackie Chan wants to do it in Hong Kong. (Or Antonio Banderas wants to do
it in Columbia)." Imagine that a studio executive has asked you to change your
location to some other place: a village in the Swiss Alps, a ghetto in New
Jersey, a prep school in Connecticut, a ranch in Montana. Name the location
change and make a list of the changes you'd have to make, as well as a list of
things you'd be able to keep the same.
3. Consider Shots: Choose a paragraph or two from a novel or short story, or use
the example we provide. Then consider how you would break that scene down into
shots. Will you start with a long, establishing shot, or a close up? Draw a
storyboard, if it helps you to visualize your shot sequence.
- In the diner that had remained behind under the vault of a station and would
continue only next morning to France, the waiters were cleaning up, folding the
tablecloths. Luzhin finished, and stood in the open doorway of the car's
vestibule. The station was dark and deserted. Some distance away a lamp shone
like a humid star though a grey cloud of smoke...
Red-haired, sharp-nosed Max also came out into the vestibule. He was sweeping
the floor. He noticed a glint of gold in the corner. He bent down. It was a
ring. He hid it in his waistcoat pocket and gave a guick look around to see if
anyone had noticed. Luzin's back was motionless in the doorway. Max cautiously
took out the ring; by the dim light he distinguished a word in script and some
figures engraved on the inside... The inscription read, I - VIII - 1915. Aleksey."
Luzhin's back moved. Quietly he got off the car. He walked diagonally to the
next track, with a calm relaxed gait, as if taking a stroll.
A through train now thundered into the station. Luzhin went to the edge of the
platform and hopped down. The cinders crunched under his heel.
At that instant, the locomotive came at him in one hungry bound. Max, totally
unaware of what had happened, watched from a distance as the lighted windows flew
past in one continuous stripe.
(Vladimir Nabokov, A Matter of Chance)