Wow! Right off the bat, this has to be, hands down, the most informational video on directing I’ve ever seen.
Eric Sherman’s DVD on Directing, along with his books on the subject, are in my top list of reference materials. Eric makes sure you understand the terminology he’s using, so you can understand the subject… a very common mistake with teachers and writers is to impart nomenclature without defining it (and sometimes without understanding it) and hence preventing people from truly understanding the field.
Then, in all 3 DVDs, Eric breaks down the filmmaking process and interactions the director has with other people on set, and the dangers and pitfalls.
I highly recommend it, and I’m going to purchase his DVD on Producing as well… my view is, the more you know about something, the better you are at it 🙂
But, as a little extra bonus here, I had a short e-mail interview with Eric about the topic of directing and his DVDs… for your information. I hope you enjoy it, and pay a visit to his website: www.EricSherman.com
Eric, you’ve been involved in film all your life. How did you get involved in teaching and coaching, and why?
WHEN I WROTE DIRECTING THE FILM IN 1976, THE FOUNDER OF THE FILM DEPT AT PASADENA’S ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN, JIM JORDAN, CALLED ME AND ASKED ME TO TEACH. I SAID, “HAVE HAD NO EXPERIENCE TEACHING.” HE SAID, “ANYONE WHO WROTE THAT BOOK CAN TEACH!” I SAID OKAY, AND HAVE BEEN TEACHING SINCE THEN.
On your bio, I couldn’t help but notice some of the names your father, Vincent Sherman, worked with, and as an avid fan, I was wondering if you ever met Errol Flynn and know what he was like?
HE’S MY GODFATHER–NAMED ME IN THE HOSPITAL (TO WHERE HE AND MY FATHER HAD RUSHED UPON NOTIFICATION OF MY BIRTH). I HAD RED HAIR–HE SAID, “ERIC THE RED!” YES, I MET HIM–QUITE A LOVABLE FELLOW, AS WERE MOST OF THE PEOPLE WITH WHOM VINCENT HAD WORKED. I ESPECIALLY REMEMBER THE KINDNESS AND GRACIOUSNESS OF CLARK GABLE, THE “KING” OF HOLLYWOOD.
ALWAYS MADE ME AND EVERYONE FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS.
Who are some of your favorite films and directors, and why?
ANY FILM BY ROBERTO ROSSELLINI, ESPECIALLY THE LATE “HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARIES.” NOT ONLY ARE THEY AESTHETICALLY SUBLIME, THEY ADDRESS THE ETHICS AND CHOICES OF IMPORTANT INDIVIDUALS. FOR AMERICANS, JOHN FORD (THE SEARCHERS, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY), SAMUEL FULLER (THE NAKED KISS), ORSON WELLES (F FOR FAKE; TOUCH OF EVIL). SO MANY GREAT FILMS IN ONLY 100 YEARS OF HISTORY.
In the DVD you talk about a host of drills you have. I know you coach folks 1-on-1 in California, but what about us folks who live too far from So Cal, how can we get some of that goodness?
MY BOOK FRAME BY FRAME – A HANDBOOK FOR CREATIVE FILMMAKING, HAS THE FIRST FIVE. (YOU CAN ORDER IT FROM MY WEBSITE, WWW.ERICSHERMAN.COM.) THE MORE ADVANCED DRILLS ARE AVAILABLE VIA CONSULTATION–IN PERSON, BY PHONE, BY EMAIL.
You also talk about knowing where to put the camera, and what size to make the shot, etc. Do you recommend a particular book with the types of shots and camera motion?
NO, I DON’T. IT DEPENDS SO MUCH ON YOU, THE PERSON I’M CONSULTING. THERE ARE NO MAGIC FORMULAS, BUT THERE ARE RECOMMENDATIONS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS.
For an indie production, what is the smallest crew you recommend, and why?
DIRECTOR, DP, 1ST ASST CAMERA, LIGHTING/ELECTRICIAN, AND THEN A RESPONSIBLE “RUNNER” (ERRANDS AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE, ETC.). THEN, BASED ON WARDROBE AND MAKE-UP NEEDS, ONE EACH. SO IT LOOKS LIKE 5-7.
REMEMBER THAT EVERY PERSON YOU ADD NOT ONLY REQUIRES MORE $, MORE FOOD, BUT GEOMETRICALLY INCREASES THE ATTN YOU HAVE TO PAY TO KEEPING THEM HAPPY.
As an indie writer/director, I’ve also had to produce all my shorts. Now that I’m looking to shoot a feature, I feel I should get someone else to produce… how can I determine is a person will make a good producer or not?
THE PERSON MUST HAVE A VERY HIGH TOLERANCE FOR RANDOM MOTION.
IDEALLY, WOULD ALSO HAVE LIVED THROUGH A FILM. ALWAYS CHECK REFERENCES
– ONE-HALF ARE BOGUS. YES, ONE-HALF.
Do the 3 questions you mention in your Producer’s DVD apply here?
I ALWAYS ASK MY “SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK & ROLL” QUESTIONS OF EVERYONE WITH WHOM I WORK. I’M INTERESTED IN NOT ONLY THE CONTENT OF THEIR ANSWER, BUT IN THEIR DEGREE OF SINCERITY AND ABILITY TO LOOK ME IN THE EYE WHILE ANSWERING. GO TO THE “PRODUCING” DVD’S FOR THE EXACT QUESTIONS!
And since I’d be hiring the producer, as opposed to him hiring me, do you have any tips on keeping that balance? And how do I keep him from taking over the project?
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS WORK OUT ALL SUCH ISSUES IN ADVANCE. REVIEW ALL POSSIBLE CRITERIA AND ASSURE YOU COME TO AN AGREEMENT IN ADVANCE. WRITE DOWN THE POLICIES (I.E., UNWAVERING GUIDELINES) BEFORE YOU BEGIN; THEN YOU’VE GOT SOMETHING TO REFER TO.
MAKE SURE YOU’VE COVERED ALL “WHAT IF”-TYPE QUESTIONS
Are you planning on a DVD on how to get actors to deliver their best performance?
YES, THE ACTING DVDS HAVE BEEN SHOT. WE’RE NOW EDITING.
READY IN A MONTH OR TWO.
Finally, with the current state of the economy and some States cutting back incentives, some folks are saying the days of independent filmmaking are numbered and that we should do everything for free. With the load of rubbish coming out of Hollywood at the moment, I think we have increasing better opportunities to get noticed. What are your views on the topic?
THE “END” OF VARIOUS ARTS HAVE LONG BEEN PREDICTED (JAZZ, LOW-BUDGET INDIE FILMS, ETC.). THAT’S WISHFUL THINKING ON THE PART OF THE “BIG BOYS.”
BUT YOU MUST LEARN THE MARKETPLACE FOR ANY ENDEAVOR. THAT’S ONE OF THE KEY THINGS I LIKE TO CONSULT ON WITH MY CLIENTS.
Eric, thanks again for all your insight, and personally, for all you’ve done for me… I would not be a filmmaker today, if it weren’t for you 🙂
Writer, Director, Filmmaker