directing, film, style, theater, writing

Noun Modifiers

In the course of the Convergence teleconferences, I mentioned to a friend of mine, who’s a filmmaker, that I make a distinction in my mind between directing and writing – directing is about allowing more freedom to other people in the process, being open to new possibilities, and writing is about total control over a limited sphere. They are very different. I didn’t use to feel this way, but I certainly do now, since I’ve stopped being such a controlling director.

Coming from the POV of film, however, he said that “everything is writing – directing is writing, editing is writing.” Because he does still have total control over every sphere. Because you can select the take, and you can get exactly – EXACTLY – what you want.

This is probably why film stresses me out as a medium. I can no longer imagine wanting that many things that specifically. I tried it, and it was exhausting. There’s so much freedom in being able to share those wants with others – to let them want things, and let that inform the process and the result.

And I think I’ll look to writing for control, and to directing for the absence of it. This came to my mind again as I was working on/with an actress with/on a monologue from Measure For Measure this afternoon. If I had gone into the session knowing what I wanted to see from her, I never would have been able to see what she had to bring to it.

The only way I would make a film again would be either an animated one (which is all writing) or else something like Chris Guest, with improv-based writing – where the film captures the final result of a process which is more theatrical.

Maybe writing isn’t even “writing” in that controlled way. Maybe the best writing is when you surrender control, as well, to the characters, the words, the sounds. Maybe everything is directing.

I am so unlike the artist and person I was at seventeen that I can barely recognize myself. At least I still use too many adjectives and adverbs. It’s still a problem, but at least it’s a problem that’s familiar. I can say, “Oh yeah, that’s me – I use too many adjectives.”