March 3, 2016

Here Are Some Great Tips for Directors Who Are Just Starting Out

Directing is a tough gig, especially if you're not completely clear on what it is you'll be doing on set.

You show up on set for the first day of shooting after months of brainstorming, budgeting, and organizing, and all of a sudden it's like, "What the hell do I even do?" Don't worry — we've all been there. If you're a little lost on how to not only direct actors, but also lead a team of creatives on a film project, Simon Cade of DLSRguide has some excellent tips for you in the video below:

The work of a director isn't really straightforward with clear-cut tasks to be performed in a specific way. A lot of it is nuanced and gut-driven. I mean, working with actors is probably the most important responsibility a director has, but that alone is just as vague as everything else.

That's why knowing certain qualities a director should possess might be a helpful way of learning how to direct (aside from going out and actually doing it), and Cade gives you a list of such qualities:

  • Know what you're looking for
  • Delegate
  • Make decisions

Cade also suggests continuously asking yourself these questions when making choices on camera placement/movement, actors' performances, cinematography, sound, etc.

  • What does the audience need to see?
  • How do we want the audience to feel?

Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino have given some of the most valuable pieces of advice on directing, which sum up Cade's video perfectly:


As a director, you don't have to do that. Your job is to hire talented people who can do that -- Your job is explaining your vision. Your job is articulating to them what you want on the screen.


All you have to do is be able to answer questions; that's what the job is -- You're always kind of open to suggestions, so really the direction job solely comes down to your ability to answer questions at a moment's notice and turn the ship on a dime if you have to.

Really, that's pretty much what it comes down to: know what you want, communicate those things to people who can give them to you, and then be able to answer any question your cast and crew throw at you. That's the job. Still pretty vague, I know, but it's definitely a great foundation.     

Your Comment


How to become a writer on NFS.

Step 1: Follow popular filmmaking youtube channels.
Step 2: Copy/Paste video as an article.
Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2.

March 5, 2016 at 9:51AM, Edited March 5, 9:51AM


I don't like Renee posts neither, but she is the person in charge of that, which means her work.

I still don't like them, I just learned to let them be.

March 5, 2016 at 11:50AM

Edgar More

As the article suggests, know your audience.
Renee has done exactly that, and with good form.

This is helpful advice for someone starting out; however,
it may be difficult to listen to advice from the babyfaced video narrator.
BUT, his advice, especially about the difficulties of collaborating for folks who are accustomed to doing everything on their own is spot on and worth a rewind.

I recall several years ago, after spending several months planning, writing, building a camera kit, getting lights, and assembling a cast... to do my first recorded scene,.. only to suddenly realize with absolute horror I had no idea what to do or what was expected of me. This video and Renee's summary of advice would have been extremely helpful to me then, and is solid advice now for new film makers (or those considering it). That is exactly what this article is aimed at - which I imagine is a big chunk of NFS visiters.

Granted there are plenty who read NFS with more experience.
And NFS doesn't tend to make many videos themselves;
but, that is no reason to overly criticize.

Frankly these negative comments make me think of a 3rd grader making fun of a 1st grader

March 6, 2016 at 11:11AM, Edited March 6, 11:15AM

Daniel Reed
Hat Collector

Exactly. The point of a news organization is to gather information into an easy format for readers, which is what NFS does. I love this site, and all the writers, because they gather the information that I don't have time to search for on my own. I learn something from every post, even those that get a lot of complaints. Yes there are a lot of gear articles, but I like knowing the new technology on the market and what specs to look for when I upgrade. It's a lot easier to read a list of NFS articles each week than visit dozens of websites looking for new content.

March 12, 2016 at 1:08AM, Edited March 12, 1:09AM

Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker

I think the fact that he is a baby face has a lot to do with certain peoples dislike of his videos. He is exceptionally wise for his years and I think some older more seasoned people feel threatened by someone that shows more common sense and frankly better judgement than they have. It seems to be people on this site that comment about him negatively. A recent comment referred to him as a hipster when he made a post saying he wouldn't be upgrading his camera because story was more important than equipment. A comment I completely agree with. I know this site talks about equipment a lot and getting updates on technology is a guilty pleasure of mine as much as it is for others who visit here. But the truths the truth and virtually everything he says has a definite resonance with the practicalities of film making. He has a better idea than most.

March 12, 2016 at 4:18AM

John Stockton
Filmmaker, Editor.

This article has a lot of great advice for the aspiring film director. There were two points I especially liked. One is knowing what you're looking for and communicating that that to your team. The other is to make sure your vision reaches your audience. I found this article through another blog that gives great advice to filmmakers.

May 19, 2016 at 3:39PM


Knowing what you want is very important.
But don't trick yourself into thinking that knowing what you want is the same as micromanaging your actors. Give them room excel and tweak their performance if needed. Rehearse if you can!
Knowing what you want is very important.
But it's maybe even more important that you recognize it when you get it in a slightly different shape than you imagined.

I've seen first time directors 'choking' the performance of the cast by dictating everything: mimics, voice pitch, hand gestures. It was frustrating for the actors and all the natural movement was killed and as a result it felt less convincing.
When I direct I like to just watch the monitor and firstly look whether I believe the actors or not. (And keep continuitiy, script and timing in mind. Play back to check for background 'accidents'. Have the MUA watch as well to check make up.)

BTW, knowing what you want is also good for moral on set.
Not knowing what you want can really kill the spirit.

October 14, 2016 at 5:01AM

Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer