Because of Mama


Directing the Short Film...

Casting Your Actors

Creating/Finding Locations

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, if appropriate.)

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)

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