Always be learning new things. There’s so much to learn in this business of storytelling. And in life. It’ll all make you a better director.
Famous movie director and all-around legend Elia Kazan agrees- check out this PDF on the DGA site on “What Makes A Director“.
I had a meeting with someone last month, a CEO of another video production company, who told me he does his best to cut his costs to the bone for every job, so he can profit more. Shooting with poor camera and lighting packages. Sub-contracting editing and post to interns who’d do it for $300. And hiring crew at the very cheapest rates he could get away with. Then he charges his clients as if he’d brought his “A team” to the party.
That sucks. And I think that’s shitty business.
I like money, sure. But it’s not the only driver for me, and it shouldn’t be for you, if you want to do the kind of great work that it takes to get better clients. I believe it’s best to always, always over-deliver to your clients, not to skate by on the bare bones minimums.
I don’t mean ‘let the client take advantage of you’. But I do mean, do every job in the best way you can. Don’t skimp. If the gig calls for a RED Epic Dragon, bring one. If you know to get a great picture on location you’ll need a ton of high-end lights, bring them. And pay your crew fairly.
Maybe it’s just how I was raised. But I don’t like being ripped off, and I don’t ever rip off my clients. They hire you to give your best, so give them your best.
If you take every job you are offered, you will not have the time and mental space to do the work you need to advance your career. It becomes all about the money, or maybe specifically, your fear of not having enough. The work, and your career, will suffer.
This is a very hard lesson, especially if you have just come off some lean times. And it often means you need to walk a tightrope. That’s OK.
I sometimes fail on this one, but less and less often as I advance. The road behind me is littered with the corpses of directors who didn’t ever learn this lesson.