June 12, 2014

Community Discussion: Do Directors Get Too Much Credit in the Filmmaking Process?

The other day, I overheard someone say that Steve McQueen's cinematography in 12 Years A Slave was brilliant. As a huge fan of Sean Bobbitt (the actual cinematographer of that film), I wanted to say something, but held my tongue because avoiding the argument that would have ensued seemed like a better option. Despite my inaction, this instance got me thinking about our shared cultural view of film directors, and about whether or not that view needs to change.

On film sets, the director is often the head honcho, the creative decision-maker, the be-all end-all in the creative process. As such, the director tends to get all of, or at least a vast majority of the credit. They're almost always viewed as the sole creative force behind a film, especially by people who aren't involved in (or have knowledge of) the filmmaking process.

However, filmmaking, by its very nature, is a collaborative medium. Creating a convincing and compelling narrative feature can take hundreds of dedicated individuals working towards a common goal. Many of those individuals -- the art directors, the makeup artists, the cinematographers, the VFX artists, the editors -- are true artists in their own right, and their contributions to any given film are substantial at the very least. This raises a question that I'd love to toss out to the No Film School community for discussion: Do directors get too much credit in the filmmaking process?

Before we get to the discussion, I'd like to elaborate on some of my thoughts regarding this complex question. I certainly don't claim to have any answers, but having thought about this a lot, I can at least point out a few different facets that might swing an answer in one way or another.

First up is the notion of the auteur, or the idea that a film is the sole creative vision of the director, as if he were the "author" of the film. This is the theory that permeates not only the vast majority of the filmmaking community, but also the entirety of our society. Nobody ever says, "Hey, let's go see a collective work of art made by a group of talented creative professionals." They say, "Let's go see that new Tarantino flick," or "I just loooooooove Steven Spielberg movies!" Film directors, at least the monetarily successful ones, are celebrities.

But let's talk for a moment about what directors actually do in the filmmaking process. In the most basic sense, the director is a creative manager. They work with department heads in order to create a unified vision throughout all of the various facets of filmmaking. So in that sense, the director is the glue that holds everything together. As such, it stands to reason that they deserve some serious credit for being the driving force behind the film's vision. There's no doubt in my mind that directors serve an absolutely essential function on a film set. Perhaps even the most essential function (although there's a strong case for producers).

Here's the catch. Not all directors manage to the same extent. On one hand, many of them try to micro-manage every single department in an effort to maintain their "artistic vision." On the other, some of them are primarily concerned with working with the actors in an effort to maximize performance. The issue here is that, without an in-depth knowledge of the director's involvement in the pre-production, production, and post-production processes, it's impossible to determine the extent to which a director's "personal vision" has actually been translated to the final product that makes it to the screen.

Cahiers Du Cinema Hitchcock

That's not to say that some directors aren't artists in the truest sense of the word, and that some films don't inherently portray the artistic vision of their director. Folks like Tarkovsky, Malick, Godard, Wenders, Fellini, etc. are (were) exceptional artists whose films are often deeply personal works of art. There's no doubt in my mind that auteurs exist, but the notion that every person who directs a film is the sole author of that film strikes me as absurd.

Then there's the issue of whether or not the director actually wrote the script that they're directing. There's a much greater case for directors being considered an auteur when they've also written the script. (It doesn't hurt when you also produce, act in, and edit your own content like Louis C.K. or Shane Carruth.) However, can a director who didn't write the script (or participate in the editing) be considered an auteur at all? Frankly, I don't think so.

So where does this leave us? It's obvious that directors play an absolutely crucial role in the filmmaking process. However, the notion that directors are the sole creative force behind any film seems like an outdated one, at least to me. Filmmaking is an amazing collaborative art form, but we continue to treat it as if it were personal art form like painting or sculpting. In my opinion, we, as a society, need to focus more on the fact that filmmaking is inherently collaborative and eschew the outdated theory of auteurism.

I'd love to hear everyone's opinions on this question. Do directors get too much credit in the filmmaking process? Is it important to shift societal focus towards the fact that filmmaking is purely collaborative? Let us know down in the comments!

Your Comment

111 Comments

Industry pro's will (almost) always give credit where it is due, but the average movie-goer needs a face to place the credit. Just unfortunate human nature.

June 12, 2014 at 9:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Think of it this way, when a film sucks or does crappy, you never here about the grip boy, sound mixer, writer, or even the DP being criticized.

It is what it is, of course there are alot of people that make movies what they are, the script, sound, DP, actors etc are all key components that unite a great film.

However just like a Quaterback in the NFL, when a team takes a hard loss, its usually the Quaterback or head coach who is blamed.

June 12, 2014 at 1:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JAYEE

John August (the guy that wrote Big Fish, The Nines, Corpse Bride and many episodes of Charlie's Angel) will totally disagree with you about the director always getting the blame. He once stated in an article on his blog that directors tend to get most of the credit when a film is great but it is common to hear critics blaming "sloppy writing", "weak story" or "poorly written characters" when a film fails expectations.

August 9, 2014 at 2:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter

I absolutely agree. Auteur theory has been outdated for some time and people outside of the industry often have no one idea of the collaborative forces behind film.

Your point about directors being the consumer-facing 'name' for a film (eg Tarantino's' Django Unchained) is a valid one but I think films only have this sort of brand recognition for major, commercial films. A more extreme example is when moviegoers say "Leonardo Dicaprio's Wolf of Wall Street".

Directors need to tackle this problem from the inside out and start by recognising their crews in public situations. Press interviews, awards shows etc. A worthy creative force is one which allows other creative forces around them to influence their work. Without that, you're simply a one-dimensional projection.

June 12, 2014 at 9:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The problem is that when we're talking about Hollywood were talking about movies made for the least common denominator. http://nofilmschool.com/2014/05/ted-hope-reinvent-hollywood-series-launc... makes some good points along what this article is playing around with.

June 12, 2014 at 9:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The answer to this is simple. Some get to much credit, some not enough. It depends entirely on the director.

June 12, 2014 at 9:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JPS

This. Not every director is the same. Some directors have more input than others, and more responsibilities. A guy like Tarantino is more responsible for what the audience sees because he write, directs, produces and he picks his own music, settings, etc. Whereas a director hired by a studio to direct a someone else's script that someone else is producing may not have all of creative control. So each film and director is different situations.

June 12, 2014 at 10:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave C

I think it falls on the ultimate responsibility aspect of the whole bit. Like how a CEO is the first the person blamed or lauded on a company's success or failure. I don't think any of us who direct for a living would think of ourselves as the primary reason for a film's success, but I do think it's my job to notice if anything that's being captured by the camera (whether I'm directly responsible for it or not) is not up to par.

This is a dicey question and I think too subjective and specific to the individuals and specific situation to say definitively, but I would argue that being ultimately responsible for a film's failings should conversely say that it makes sense that a director be first in line for a film's success.

Oh and on your point about whether a director can be considered an auteur without writing the script, I absolutely think they can. Again, this depends on the specific situation - but a very strong point of view can easily be as important as the words on the page in terms of crafting a creative vision. I think we can make a stronger point that a director who does not produce his or her film in any capacity is less responsible for it's ultimate success.

June 12, 2014 at 9:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carlos D

Well they should get credit / praise / blame. They are the driving force behind making a film that works. Or a film that doesn't work.

For example, if a director makes decisions that in the end turn out to be bad (like taking too much time in a certain scene only to have to rush other scenes to their detriment) then there is no one else to blame / credit than the director.

He is the taste behind all the decisions. Or atleast he should be. There are directors who can't come up with anything themselves but they aren't very good ones.

June 12, 2014 at 9:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mikko Löppönen

The director should get all the credit for hiring and using the right talent in a good movie. If you are talking about Transformers, the director is pretty unnecessary and should not get any credit.
Ant-Man went from being a very interesting movie to unwatchable when studio did not let Edgar Wright do whatever he wants. A proven director is the best indicator of a good movie.

June 12, 2014 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jake

what are you on about directors don't hire crews.

June 12, 2014 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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keef

Indeed the making of a movie is a collaborative work, its not far saying that "that film is a work of art of one person", and, of course, saying that the "Steve McQueen’s cinematography in 12 Years A Slave was brilliant." must come from someone who is not part of the business and/or have no knowledge whatsoever about the film making process.

BUT, lets not forget the director's job. Its not only the "glue" that holds every department together, nor only the final voice on the set.

"However, can a director who didn’t write the script (or participate in the editing) be considered an auteur at all? Frankly, I don’t think so."

The directors job, even when he didn't write the script, is to take that story on the paper and give it a ton, an image, a texture. And that is made through visualizing the shots and creating them.

So the film end up being the directors view of that story. He chose the camera angles, the timing, etc.

You can give the same script to 10 different directors and you will have ten different films.
Of course the cinematographer is key in every film and the director should/must work intrinsically with the cinematographer to make reality whatever he has in his mind.

Point being is: just by saying if the director didn't write the script he does not deserve credit enough is a quite shallow argument.

Everybody in film making process deserves the same amount of credit.

June 12, 2014 at 10:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Celso Destefano

"The directors job, even when he didn't write the script, is to take that story on the paper and give it a ton, an image, a texture. And that is made through visualizing the shots and creating them."

I really think that depends on the script. Comics and graphic novels are basically the highest quality storyboard you could ask for, often with years of canon behind in terms of story. In those kind of scenarios, a Director making it "his" is a load of shit, even when they completely butcher a story (I'm looking at most Marvel movies unfortunately), no matter what tone they give it, it's not theirs, not by along shot. I realize the article is talking about key people on a crew more, but still.

For spec scripts, I can't help but view the Director mainly as a really good organizer; if it'snot some studio library padding, that's another story. Michael Bay makes other people's movies- organizer; Wes Anderson makes his movies- Director.

June 27, 2014 at 3:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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kurt

But then, you've got Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. No one had ever done what he did with Batman. I'd say he definitely deserves an auteur title for the trilogy.

October 10, 2017 at 9:52AM

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Stephanie Spicer
Writer/Director
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I think that the Director's job should be split up, also a producer's role. You can never really be sure what each person did for the film. I also think that the Director of Photography should get more creative control. So he's what I propose. There will be 5 directors. Director of Visuals (mix of director and DP) , Director of Acting (part of Director's role) , Director of Post Production (editor or/and VFX supervisor) , Director of Finance (Executive Producer), and Production Manager(Producer who actually helps make the film).

June 12, 2014 at 11:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Um, no. Vittorio Storaro, undoubtedly one of the best cinematographers, would strongly disagree with you. There is only one Director on set. Just like there is only one captain of a ship. If a ship sinks, they don't say "Who was the first mate? I'm sure he didn't do the best job he could.". When a film fails they blame the director, not the producers, cast or crew. A "good" director will and should always, give credit where credit is due. However, you will never hear a "good" director say "Oh that DP was very argumentative, and phoned it in, because he/she didn't get his/her way.". Or maybe they should.

June 12, 2014 at 11:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John

Sometimes the director's job is split up, in the case of multiple assistant directors. However, the whole point of having a director is to have one person who is creatively in charge of and ultimately responsible for where the film is going. If you split that job up, you risk having a very confused cast and crew who don't know who to get an okay from, and that's a recipe for disaster.

October 10, 2017 at 9:55AM, Edited October 10, 9:55AM

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Stephanie Spicer
Writer/Director
162

Do Directors Get Too Much Credit in the Filmmaking Process?

No.

June 12, 2014 at 11:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Petteri

yes

June 12, 2014 at 12:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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keef

maybe?

June 12, 2014 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Could you share the reasons for your opinion? I'd like to hear them.

June 24, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aspen Gray

"However, can a director who didn’t write the script (or participate in the editing) be considered an auteur at all?"

For those interested in deepening their approach to this question, many academic cultural theories often view the author as just as much of a construct as the work itself. According to these viewpoints, it is not about weather the person credited as the director wrote the script, directed, placed the lights or not. Even when someone locks himself into a room alone and writes a poem, that person never the "sole creative force" behind the poem as meaning takes place in context. See for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_Author

"The director" is more about marketing then the process of film making. And the cult that is generated around this phenomena in the marketing process is damaging to the process as a whole when young people approach the art with an aim to become like their idols.

June 12, 2014 at 11:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"“The director” is more about marketing then the process of film making."

This is absolutely ridiculous. If anything Acquisition and Distribution Producers take care of marketing for a film. Saying that a director is not really part of the filmmaking process isn't just simply inaccurate, but very ignorant. Those directors who write and direct are an essential part of the film and completely deserve the credit they receive. A director must have knowledge in every aspect of filmmaking, his job is knowing everyone else's job and communicating his vision within the context of a crew-member's language.

There is only one director for a project, his ability to simply do the job is evidence enough that only a select few people can direct because of the immense requirements demanded and for those who excel at the career: Kubrick, Tarantino, McQueen, Boyle, Jackson, etc. These people's very talents, skills, and personalities saturate every aspect of their films. Of course, the incredible talents of their crews is the variable of how close the film comes to their vision.

June 12, 2014 at 1:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Emmanuil

Hi Emmanuil. Did you check out the references that I made in my comments? If you did, you might understand better what I meant when I said "the director" within quotation marks, and that it had nothing to do with lessening someone's job. I think it was pretty evident from my comment that I was talking about a very specific angle.

I'm not expecting everyone here to be interested in this angle and I'm fine with people disagreeing, but perhaps we could get more out of exchanging ideas here without calling each other's ideas ridiculous or ignorant?

June 12, 2014 at 4:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I personally couldn't do it without a great crew and value every person on my sets. From DP to PA everybody has a job to do and no one person is more important than another. Egos can harsh the vibe. All deserve the highest respect. But if I have a crew member is poisoning the vibe on set, they're gone. No one is irreplaceable... not even me.

June 12, 2014 at 11:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lanz

shit script shit film. doesn't matter how good the director is. reverse it and you can still have something quite watchable. director as god was created by studios to fuck writers over and keep everyone else in place. thought that was common knowledge. oh and as for putting that awesome team together? that's generally the producers job...

June 12, 2014 at 12:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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keef

A bad director can still ruin a great script. Go through the list of Black List scripts that have been made in the last few years. Many are far from great, despite strong scripts underneath them.

June 12, 2014 at 7:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I think it all boils down to responsibility. When shit goes south it's the director's fault. Always. When you carry the can for the whole film that's an enormous weight. In that sense I don't think directors get enough credit, or at least not the right amount of credit. The workload on a film is so immense it's kind of like being a multi-eventer in track and field, you have to be near enough an expert in every single one of them. Factor in all the pressure of delivering on a huge investment of cash and you're in a world of pain. If a film flops it's the director's fault and only really the producer and the director's careers are hurt by it. Even the actors can withstand the odd flop but it's almost suicide for a director.

I don't know any crew who require public acknowledgement of the role they played. Their acclaim within the industry is what matters and, with referral being such a massive part of recruitment, that all happens internally. Which is great.

So, really, genuinely I think what both producers and directors actually do is grossly misunderstood and under appreciated actually.

June 12, 2014 at 12:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"The workload on a film is so immense it’s kind of like being a multi-eventer in track and field, you have to be near enough an expert in every single one of them."

With more than 3 lights, most Directors couldn't give you a 2.5:1 ratio if they're lives depended on it dude, nor could they act the roles, or grip a 10k hanging off the side of a building. The Director's main job is making sure all the Key people are on the same page, from the acting, to the camera moves, lighting, etc.
-and if the script is their baby, then the story as well.

June 27, 2014 at 3:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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kurt

Dogme 95 will solve this problem. Remove the director's name and a chunk of that ego is removed leaving room for only the cast and crew.

June 12, 2014 at 12:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Moises Hernandez

I heard someone say once that if a director has done his job right he or she should be the most superfluous person on the set. But I digress...
Perhaps if you skew the question a bit: Should the director get the credit for a successful film? Because that answer would be no.
If the movie is great the director should get the credit for doing his job well, nothing more and nothing less.

June 12, 2014 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Billy Barber

This discussion is only going to lead to arguments and vitriol for most. My opinion is this: It strongly depends on the director and the nature of the project. There are plenty of directors, such as Miyazaki, Tarantino, Scorsese, etc. that if you take them out of the equation the project becomes unrecognizable. Then there are projects which are completely and totally designed by committee with no real spearhead. These production are normally the giant budget blockbusters where they only need a director who makes sure the film actually gets made.

I think writer-directors have a little bit more claim to credit, but only because the seed of the film was theirs from the beginning. At the least hands on a director should be a filter through which numerous ideas enter from the other creative departments and then a select few pass through. At the most hands on a director should be spearhead, the driving force, of the creativity with no department or part of the process considered too miniscule for their attention.

That's my opinion. But this is art. If there were a right way to do it it wouldn't be art anymore.

June 12, 2014 at 1:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Coty

I dont think directors get too much credit , they are on set to head the technical team, so the director picks a good cinematographer to work with cos he wants the final job to look good , he picks a good assistant director , good sound team etc.

The director knows if the final job is bad then the producer will call for his head bcos everyone said the script was good. As a director you dont need to write before you can direct, all you need to do is to get into the head of the writer and you will bring the script to life.

The director might not determine the kind of lighting on set but some cinematographers transform to being a director so they determine type of cameras to use and reasons why also the lighting is determined by them.

@naijabloke

June 12, 2014 at 1:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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@naijabloke

A lot of the comments are directed at the Director's responsibility and influence, which is important to mention. But films are very similar bands. The lead singer, who may often write the songs, is responsible for the crowd energy and band's cohesive sound. But if the drummer stands out, we would note that he shredded the skins. So if a film is beautiful, we should credit the DP, if the actors kill it, we should say it had great acting, but if the "film" is great (as a whole), that is when we should compliment the Director.

It is not fair for DP's to let a director shoulder a bad film, because if you are directing the photography, you better make an image you are happy with.

June 12, 2014 at 1:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ken

oF cOurse nOt.................... literature is the writers true medium (write a book then).....theatre is the actors true medium(set the stage alight).... Photography is the camera persons true medium (frame up something new)....... radio/records/cd's/mp3's is the sound person true medium ..... film is the directors true medium..... the film maker is working with these elements for an intention to say something.... and like it or not....... he or she is the director..... :)....

June 12, 2014 at 1:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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wannabeDirector

In the old video art days of the '80s it was just assumed that the producer would also be the talent and likely sole crew member too. I remember getting confused when a couple of short films where done around the same time with two friends acting in each other's short film. In my mind, the one in front of the camera was the filmmaker when in fact it was the opposite. It took awhile to stop associating the actors with the wrong film.
I think as well that programmers want a star. I remember a big time photographer collaborating with another artist who was lesser known. The programmer was gushing over him and his new piece and the photographer kept reminding her that it was a collaboration and the other artist did most of the work. The programmer then said "Oh, don't be so modest" and just ignored the other artist's input and paid attention only to the big name.

June 12, 2014 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I was thinking about this recently when I realized that while I can easily name off directors that I admire, I can hardly do so with cinematographers. Considering that I foremost want to be a cinematographer, this is a bit unusual and unfortunate. Even a filmmaker can fall into this trap.
My perception is that we all know that there can be a huge division between being technical and being creative. This is what we remind ourselves of when we say that "Story is King" as we try not to drool over some awesome new camera. That does not mean that being technical and creative are incompatible though, which we as people engaged in this field should know. People who aren't involved or as experienced in this field may not recognize this as readily. Whereas we see a whole team of creatives accomplishing a goal, it is easy for others to perceive that situation as the director, someone beaming with passion and a vision, commanding a team of "just technicians" to carry out that creative vision. I think this is the problem; people might not realize that, for example, a cinematographer isn't just mindlessly responding to a director's orders. Just because you're a techie doesn't mean your role isn't creative. Even more, many might not even realize that the director isn't necessarily operating the camera in the first place. Excessive credit is just the result of a naive perception of how filmmaking works. Fortunately, a good director would always redirect that praise to its proper recipient.

June 12, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brett

I'd say that most people don't know what a producer actually does, especially where in the studio system they hire the directors. Producers often get final edit (which is why director's cuts are so different and rare).

I can tell you one thing for sure, writers don't get enough credit.

June 12, 2014 at 2:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dan

Best comment so far. Writers are so badly done by

June 12, 2014 at 2:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I definitely believe most do when they shouldn't. I heard from industry professionals, that some directors are not involved at all in shot listing, and major creative elements but mainly just focused on the performances. Then they go on to reap the benefits and get the credit of the cinematography. Now I do believe if the director made up the shots then went to a DP and they worked together on it it's a different story, and the director can do that. Like was stated in the article, all depends how involved they are. if the director has an overall grand scheme of everything like Wes Anderson then they do deserve most of the credit. They have styles of shots, camera movement, lighting and set design which gets communicated to every department, which then has to figure out how to carry it out. Now it leaves less artistic choices for other artists but at the end of the day if it's an auteur like you stated and he is completely running the show (writer, director, producer, etc) then by all means one might expect that. But I do know a lot of directors who aren't technically capable or as creative as there collaborators and rely heavily on them to make them look good. Which is fine, because we know it's a collaborative effort. Most DP's, PD's, Editors, etc know they probably won't be getting major credit and are ok with that because at the end of the day there name is still on the credits, they know what they did and what was created and don't have ego's. They say a director needs to stick to his guns and sometimes be "that" guy so that his vision comes across, especially if your crew isn't as invested into a project as much as the director is. It's all subjective but at the end of the day like stated, there are several artists working together and without the "direction" they wouldn't be making the same movie.

June 12, 2014 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brad Watts

I have never heard of a film director being shut out of the shot list selection process.

August 24, 2014 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James

If am working on a big budget movie i will definitely use a good cinematographer that will think out some technical details for me , also a good sound person, why will a big name director have a movie with great pictures but poor sound.

Directors will always be at the center stage in film making , only technical and creative people will want to know who the other skills that made the movie great, but cinema goers just want to see a great movie.

June 12, 2014 at 3:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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@naijabloke

I think there is at least a distinction between contributions in vision and contributions in execution. To say an individual is the author of a film is not to say that that individual "made the film" by him or herself. I think the best parallel is in architecture, another highly collaborative art. A building is a result of many laborers and craftsmen, but without a strong vision and a clear communication of that vision force a singular (not necessarily single) source, the building will usually look like crap. As irreplaceable as the contributions of a carpenter or mason might be, without a unified vision, their work will be aesthetically destructive to each other.

I think big budget bombs show the need for strong directors more than anything. The craftsmanship in these tentpole disasters is usually top notch, but no aesthetic decision in a unified work can be made in a vacuum. Films in which even talented craftsmen are allowed to do as they please rarely work, but people do leave those films complementing the costuming, cinematography, vfx, etc. while railing against how bad the movie was.

Also, the process of filmmaking is not universal, and I do think educated audiences account for this. In television, who really complements or lauds the directors? It's the (rightly) the executive producers and showrunners who get the credit. It depends on your production model. I think most of the directors who get praised as auteurs deserve it. I don't think every director is automatically an auteur, but I strongly believe they exist.

June 12, 2014 at 5:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ElSeeKay

IMAGO has been struggling for a few years to see the recognition of co-authorship for the cinematography in narrative cinema.
Visit this link http://www.imago.org/index.php/authorship.html
Much more articles will come soon into this page but for now read these 2 articles as well here
http://www.imago.org/index.php/news/item/209-authorship-and-the-director...
Thank you very much for bringing up such discussion.

June 12, 2014 at 6:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sometimes directors do get too much credit (especially for both failures and success). But honestly what pisses me off most is the "Film by" credit.

No one *ever* earns that credit. I don't care if you wrote and directed it. You probably didn't shoot, sound record, and edit it. Not to mention all the below the line craftsmen and women.

A "Film by" credit is partially ego driven and partially marketing driven. Either way, it sucks.

June 12, 2014 at 7:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Is not always equal. It depends entirely on the crew, the director and the work process.

June 12, 2014 at 7:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carolina Aular

Agreed, agreed. That said, i think its too much to ask the casual movie going crowd to grapple with the complexities of the film making process.

As consumers we all take many things for granted, how often do we credit people with a speech they didn't write or products they didn't invent (Steve jobs anyone?). Its enough for me to point to a movie and say 'I helped make that.'

June 12, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Forrest Alsobrook

From another point of view, those who direct and star should collaborate more. Pick one, please.

June 12, 2014 at 10:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hari Har

Here's the litmus test, even assuming the director wrote the script. Take ANY movie; replace the DP, editor, Production Designer, composer (and even in some cases that I can think of, the location scout) and you will have a completely different film.

June 12, 2014 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I don't know about that look at Spielberg or Kubrick. Or better yet the late Tony Scott, he would choose the cameras, the lenses, the film stock, the movement, the shutter speed and what lights were being used at what settings.

June 13, 2014 at 2:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Grant

Grant that is not the case, I've listened to a great interview wtih Paul Cameron and he is pretty clear that Tony Scott gave him a huge amount of free reign on the look of Man on Fire. He let him experiment with hand cranking, cross processing, and other optical effects.

June 13, 2014 at 9:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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You know who REALLY get too much credit in the filmmaking process?

Actors.

Most of them are just performers and it's a cultural habit of ours to include them in the filmmaking process. Wrong.

June 13, 2014 at 12:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Raph Dae

Actors are "just performers," huh? As an actor AND a director, I have a great deal of respect for both, but actors get so much credit (and blame) because they're what really makes a film take off. You can have all of the expert lighting, editing, sound and camera work in the world, but without great performances by exceptional actors, you'd be looking at an empty set.

So many people seem to think that because great actors make playing a scene look so effortless, so fluid and so, well, human, that anyone can do what they do. Wrong. Good directors recognize that acting is a difficult craft that must be treated with the utmost respect. Actors aren't marionettes that you can just place in a certain position to then recite some lines on cue, but many directors today still seem to regard them as little more than a nuisance or necessary evil standing in the way of them making their film.

June 13, 2014 at 2:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris

Good point. David Cronenberg has said the only 'direction' he needs to give to actors is 'say it faster' because when you cast the right people, they do the vast majority of the directing and creative process for you. In situations like this, the director is little more than a time-keeper for the performance.

Of course, this works the other way and a director's guidance can sometimes be the only way to get a good performance out of a poor or inexperienced actor who is not 'bringing it' on the day. In such a scenario, the director effectively becomes the actor by proxy.

In other words, the balance of artistic merit in the actor/director relationship really depends on the actor/director in question but either way, it's still a collaboration - the director has to know when to get out of the way of a good performance and a faltering actor needs to trust the director's guidance when it's needed.

June 13, 2014 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcos

What's missing from all this is any sense of the marathon that is feature film production. People's energy ebbs and flows and from one day to the next the set can feel completely different. Every setup brings its own challenges and I find, being a director your job is to set the bar for everyone else. So many days I had to take five minutes to superglue a broad grin to my face and just keep it there through the whole day to keep everyone else positive. If you're grim and dour then everyone else will be. People really aren't machines as much as you might want them to be and you have to be as much big brother, psychiatrist and counsellor as director sometimes. Weird job.

June 13, 2014 at 4:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Interesting that Kubrick, who is often called an auteur, most definitely did treat his actors as poseable mannequins.

June 13, 2014 at 3:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I think you misinterpreted my comment. Or maybe I didn't formulate it well.

Actors tend to be the face of the movie, and a lot of them (especially the most successful ones) are overrated and overpaid.

I'm blaming BOTH the industry for giving in to market whims, and the market for being so shallow in its analysis of film talent.

My point is, since we're at it, why not put actors into the equation too. And since we're talking about a creative process, why not answer the following question: can a brainless but good-looking actor do well in film? Some do. Can a brainless but good-looking director do well in film? It's hard enough even when you do have a brain.

None of the above challenges the fact that filmmaking is, indeed, a collective process and if actors get too much credit traditionally, then there's a growing trend whereby directors do too!

June 14, 2014 at 11:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Raph Dae

Couldn't disagree with you more pal.

June 15, 2014 at 7:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The Subject of the discussion is wrong...! One may have thousands of people in a film..But who selects them ? Who leads them ? Who is responsible for the concept of a certain film...? On whose direction the whole unit works ? Who directs even the producer ? Who is the ultimate deciding authority ? THE DIRECTOR....!

June 13, 2014 at 12:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nowadays it is the CG Supervisor.

June 13, 2014 at 12:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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FerederikO.

Nice one. :D

June 15, 2014 at 4:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Vojin Kovacevic

I could be wrong, but I'm preeeeeetty sure the director answers to the EP and the studio.

June 13, 2014 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Taylor Russ

wrong... If you had been on a film set you would relies how the DOP and his team tend to be the sanity and experience on set and how the director is often a guide and many times a play thing. The Assistant director tends to be the most useful person and the producer who gets to slap the director over the head when he wants to do something even more stupid than before. haha i sound really negative but its all fun and good. :)

June 14, 2014 at 2:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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No. If you're incompetent behind the camera... and you hire a talented DP... they are the DP's shots. The director should not get credit for this. Same goes for any job the director is not an "auteur" at...

Most directors, that are not auteurs... should really just get a "Performance Supervisor" credit.

June 14, 2014 at 3:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bwhitz

I think they do deserve the credit. Spielberg films are the way they are because of him. Same can be said for the Scott brothers. They bring the right talent together. Those of us who know what a cinematographer is know their worth, but they were still most likely approved by the director.

June 13, 2014 at 1:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alan Veucasovic

I think the point is that the DOP is not the one doing the interviews, not the one on the red carpet and i don't think they are even at the same oscar ceremony as the director or at least not broadcast live. Even the writer and music guys are more discussed. Shame really. Im sure if you were chosen for your job but ended up making your boss look really good and intact influence him to making the right choices, would you be happy if he took all the glory and your name was barely counted.

June 14, 2014 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In a film there are creatives and technicians working to give best of their talent but Director is responsible for directing their talent in correct level best for the script and film.
Every crew member in a film is working as an individual responsible towards its department except the Director who has to sail a project from pre production till release of it.
Their are many other reasons best known to all the technician including me who dont mind giving credit to the Director.

June 13, 2014 at 2:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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AkashDeep Pandey

I think it's just very easy and convenient to cite one person as the "owner" of a movie. Especially today, where people want to show what they know. That does give the director power. I also think, though, that the director plays a serious role in DIRECTING the other departments. A director can step in and tell each department how he wants it to look, so that they carry out their craft and make it that way. Then, of course, we must respect the departments' work, but the director's vision. This works on a spectrum, however, as I'm sure that some directors just let the various departments do their thing. But, the great credit of the voice of a film that we are discussing goes to the director who directs the various departments' work or, better yet, does some of, if not all of, the work his/herself.

Don't get me wrong, the director doesn't deserve all the credit. Without the various departments, despite any direction, there would be no film.

June 13, 2014 at 3:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jaec

When you're directing a feature film no department just gets on with it. You're constantly bombarded with questions, constantly dealing with requests to view, give feedback, suggest alternatives. Department heads rightly hold the director accountable for the ultimate decision making on what goes on in the film. I think that's pretty important.

June 13, 2014 at 4:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I don't think it's that the director gets too much attention. More that everyone else doesn't get enough attention. Not surprising. Everyone wants to talk to the captain and look at the mermaid on the bow. Doesn't mean the deck hands are any less important to make sure the ship's in shape and moving in the water.

June 13, 2014 at 3:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mildsauceapi

+1

June 13, 2014 at 10:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Coty

Spot on Robert... you are absolutely right. In fact, most films are made in the edit, which is why some our most revered directors started out as editors.

June 13, 2014 at 3:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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As a director, there are definitely a few things that ring true.

1. " Rid yourself of the burden of directing by casting correctly." This doesn't mean you should be any less engaged but it makes your job a whole lot easier. Even the visual look an actor portrays can be half the battle. There can be a great actor but they may not "look" right in that role or have the right feel.

2. It boils down to what kind of director you are. Are you Soderberg? Fincher? Where no matter who you use
as a cinematographer your look is what the audience sees. Or are you kind of letting your team make their own decisions? If the latter is the case, then yes it is a collaborative effort.

In most instances, speaking just from my own experiences, as a director, I prep the hell out of everything. I produce, direct, dp, edit, color, vfx, etc. you name it. Just because I don't want much room for error in obscuring what I see in my head. There has also been times when I have collaborated with other people on their projects, etc. I think it boils down to who is doing the ACTUAL work.

Rant over.

June 13, 2014 at 5:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I think it boils down to the fact that the vast majority of average movie-goers have very little understanding of the way movies are made. BTS specials are so popular because it provides an insight into the 'magic' behind the movie.

Of course, anyone who works in film knows it's anything but magic. But anyone who works in film will tell you how important every person on the crew is.

Realistically, the Director is mainly responsible for getting the necessary performance out of the actors - which is the main thing you're watching. They're also responsible for the decision-making, in collaboration with other HODs, that crafts the look and feel of the film. As much as you could say that 12 Years A Slave would look very different if Sean Bobbitt did not shoot it - it would also be a very different film if Steve McQueen didn't direct it.

The film Director does deserve a large portion of credit - though I think the main issue you're coming up against is the general public assuming that the Director operates the camera (indeed some do, or at least dictate specific placement). There's little understanding of what Cinematography actually is, which is why you often find people lauding a film's Cinematography if it has beautiful scenery, or beautiful production design - attributing those to the work of the Cinematographer. Many people don't realise that films need lights at all, let alone the amount of light or light modifiers - the general decision making that goes on around the Cinematographic process of a film in order to create the look (in conjunction with scenic artists, Production Designers, Location scouts, etc. etc.) is something that many people don't even realise happens. If you want better attribution of credit, then you need to spend a long time educating people on how films are made.

In terms of Directors, they do have style. They do have their own unique touches. And they have ways of writing/re-writing or simply bringing stories to life that are uniquely their own. It may be a collaboration and decision-making process with people they trust - but the point is they chose their Cinematographer for a reason. Tarantino films are very distinctive, just as Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, or Spielberg films are distinctive in their own way. If Spielberg were to direct Grand Budapest Hotel, it would probably be a very different movie - just as if Tarantino directed, say, War Horse or Schindler's List.

June 13, 2014 at 5:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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J

Professional DP's I think do get enough credit for creating the image. Although it is a very important part and adds enormously to the finished product It is still the result of what the director wanted. What makes any film is the creativity that goes inside That's production design for example and more important than anything Sound recordist The director is the man in charge of all of this and it is his/her vision that must be kept. Without it the film would fall apart. From the script to Preproduction From storyboards to blocking. The director will decide on the look and colours Its up to DP to create the directors vision. In the end the Director is the driving force behind the film. Its a bit like saying do we need an England football manager Why not put the top player in charge.

June 13, 2014 at 6:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark Morris

You'd be surprised how many DPs are really working on set as the Director. It happens on quite a lot more shoots than I was personally aware of, including HIGH level ones. In many cases, the Cinematographer doesn't get nearly enough credit.

June 14, 2014 at 10:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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100% depends on the director. Some directors truly own a film and drive the creative process all the way thru. Many rely on their team to pick up a lot of the details. As a director and a DP i see both sides and believe it goes both ways. I have been on a lot of sets with people that have it all in their head and know exactly how they want to approach each scene. I also have been on many sets where i (as the DP) have to walk the director thru things more than i should. Really depends on who you are working with.

June 13, 2014 at 7:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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steve

You said: "However, can a director who didn’t write the script (or participate in the editing) be considered an auteur at all? Frankly, I don’t think so." Originally, Andrew Sarris claimed more authorship from directors who didn't write their own material, as they were still able to bring their vision through others various material e.g. Hitchcock - the ultimate auteur - worked in the studio and off a number of writers material. However, this argument off the auteur theory largely depends on whether we are relating to the theory itself or contemporary practice. The two have diverged as the theory has progressed as a dodgy affair. But, to the point, I don't think directors get too much credit; it is the most stressful, demanding and creative job going.

June 13, 2014 at 2:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In regards to the comment "You know who REALLY get too much credit in the filmmaking process? Actors". I'm a Producer/Director/Editor. Actors are not just performers. We ask a lot from an actor. Be it emotional or physical we rely heavily on their talent and tenacity to deliver their best performance. Then after the performance we ask them to promote the film as well. Actors are crucial to almost any project. Albeit, there are some who will just phone in a performance and I say they are shit for talent. "There are no small roles only small actors.". If you are just doing a slasher film (this is where the, almost any project comes in) and you primary goal is a body count and tipping the gore meter, then you don't really care about the performance. If that's the case, plan on staying a B filmmaker. Not that that's totally bad either. You can make a nice living of of crappy B films. But what if you get a great performance out of an actor, who has talent, and you meet levels of horror? Just imagine the goregasim your audience will get and the dedicated fan base you will build. Actors bring a lot to the project and the filmmaker has to be able to recognize their talent for what it is, or can be.
I had a heated discussion with a friend, who had been in the business for about a decade longer than I. His theory was "Give me any actor and I will get a great performance out of them. They're basically puppets". To that I said "Bullshit.". Obviously he was not a Director, nor do I think he could ever be one. My main point that convinced him was Forest Gump. You could have cast a number of highly talented actors in that role. But it was Tom Hanks interpretation that breathed life into that character. Al Pachino, as talented an actor as he is, would not have given us the same performance. Have you ever read a book and then seen the movie? I'm sure many have and the character just didn't live up to the one that was in your head. Bob Zemeckis knew what he wanted and Tom Hanks "Brought It". Their collaboration on that film is why the Director/Actor relationship has to be one of trust and a mutual understanding of what type of performance they want to bring to their audience. After seeing Forest Gump, could anyone see anybody else in that role? The Actor/Director relationship is just one of the many nomadic relationships that are formed on a set between cast and crew. Mutual trust and admiration for above and below the line is a big part of what can make or break a production. We can not be divided in our efforts. Egos should never come into play on set. We're all in it together. We are all part of breathing life into something that was once just an idea.

June 13, 2014 at 2:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lanz

wes Anderson is an auteur. No denying that.

June 13, 2014 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gavin

yup!

June 14, 2014 at 10:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ooops...re post, I placed my first comment in a wrong place and could not delete it...Sorry...So anyway here are some facts:
Directors may appear to look over credited just for the people who work outside the industry. Sometimes an established director would chase a particular actor, cinematographer or set designer because he knows that his vision will come to life with the work of the crew he is after. And actually a director may not get an approval from an investor or a studio if his crew and cast sucks and it doesn’t matter if this particular director is Spielberg or Cameron.
Frankly, I witnessed one a really shitty first time director( who even hasn’t shot a single scene in his entire life) get the budget for the movie. The thing is that the movie came out better than anyone expected. And you know why? Just because this wannabe director was surrounded by veteran professionals crew and very talented actors. So the credit went to the producer who knew that the strong professional crew and cast would manage to pull out the movie. That ‘director’ never got another movie.
Hardy, thanks for this article! I would like to note that this kind of Answer Survey flame article will come out from someone who has very little idea about the industry, which is not a problem at all! But what is a point of this article??Do you want to get answers for your personal question to educate your self on this subject or this article is supposed to provide some useful and interesting info for the readers?

June 13, 2014 at 2:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Einar

There's a difference between being an expert and being an insider. The latter doesn't give you insight to assess questions such as whether directors get too much credit, and may indeed be an impediment to such assessment. Einar, you try to defuse with "not a problem" what is essentially an ad hominem attack on the article's author for not being "inside" enough. But insider savvy is not a relevant qualification for answering the question posed.

June 13, 2014 at 3:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The Lone Banana

I believe its the same questions to ask in a restaurant kitchen , although you don't ever list the line cook or garde manger guys credits at the end of the meal or a lunch. it takes an entire team to create the Chefs' vision of a menu and he/she also takes credit for all the acclaim as well as criticism. if a line cook fucks up and overcooks a piece of fish and it gets past the chef (or chef strangely has a night off that night) its not the cooks name on the restaurant, its the chefs, and we hold them responsible as the "director". Yet the chef alone int responsible for the meal. I have collaborated with a Director or two on two short films now as a DP and it all really depends on the director on how "collaborative" the set is. Sometimes my input is welcomed and even sought, other times its "i want this scene, lit like this, and shot from here, like this."

June 13, 2014 at 8:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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As a Director/Auteur I've recently left the modern hollywood collaborative workforce to pursue "smaller" projects where my vision, leadership, and story will remain intact. In response to the article, I find the question disturbing, Does the Director receive too much credit? I work very hard for the credit I do get. I agree others may not be getting the credit they deserve but is it fair to ask Directors to get less credit for what they do as a result. I'm just saying why not create a positive discourse where we can ask who deserves more credit instead of arguing about someone who is getting some?

June 13, 2014 at 8:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brad you might be the first person in history to label themselves an auteur. You might need more than a couple of unheard of shorts on your imdb before you can claim to be auteur turning his back on hollywood.

June 13, 2014 at 9:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ekel

+1

It's one thing to believe in the concept of auteurism, but another to refer to yourself as one.

June 16, 2014 at 5:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Chill man. It is just my imho. No need to play a hardy's lawyer.

June 14, 2014 at 5:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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einar

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