Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Oh My God, Robin Smith And John Jacobsen Teaching In The Same Room?" By John Jacobsen

You couldn’t be more excited about this than I am. I think Robin is the greatest director who still says hello to me, and that TheFilmSchool and Freehold have partnered up to offer a hands on directing course with her co-teaching is an extremely exciting opportunity for any one thinking of becoming a serious director.

There aren’t may directing courses offered in Seattle, so this is a rare chance to flex your creative talents with the two of us watching over your shoulder which sounds a little creepy, but I know will be inspiring. When I teach acting, I often pass on a quote from Uta Hagen who said, “Actors must be director proof.” She said that, as do I, because there are so many directors who do not know their craft. This is a sad state, but not a new one, and Robin and I designed this course to do what we can to improve the quality of directors working in Seattle and raise the bar.

Directing is HARD. You have to know a little about everything, and a lot about a few things. You lead the entire production creatively. You inspire, you teach, you nurture, and you push.

But without craft, you are dead before you begin. I like to say I want to be the smartest person on the set (which isn’t easy because there are often A LOT of really smart people in film, and in theatre), but that means I must know my craft. You can’t just wing directing – too many people try this and hence, Uta’s comment. You have to know what you’re doing and the only way to know is to learn the craft and then practice, practice, practice. That’s the path we hope to push our directors (and actors) on in this class.

Directors have to know text. It’s a director’s job to get a new script in shape, ready for production, and to do that, you have to know what makes story work. The text in a script is like a map: we use it to find out where we are going – but how we get there is up to the actors and the director. It’s our job to mine the gold of the material using the clues in the map and to look deep below the lines and action into the thoughts of the characters. This course starts with hands-on text work, learning how scenes are structures and how to discover motivation, action, and sub-text and then play it specifically, moment to moment and with honesty and courage.

Directors are the only people who can talk to the actor so the director/actor relationship is critical. The director takes his/her discoveries and work on the text, and translates that to the performer so it jumps off the page and comes alive. Actors also want to work with directors who understand their specific language. When a director understands the actor’s language, they will be able to communicate with the actors more efficiently, which will help them to achieve more believable and well-grounded performances. This course has high quality actors in the class that directors will work with, so learning the language to work with them is critical.

And while some may, with justification, argue that directors must know camera, I will suggest here that what directors need to know next is actually editing. When we focus on how to cut a scene to tell a story, that focuses us back into the script, back into the performance, and yes, back into the shots. By knowing editing we learn how to shoot. What will cut, what to cut, when to cut. So this course teaches directors not only to plan their multiple shoots with us using storyboard and shot lists, and develop a method for doing so on all future shoots, it also has directors thinking ahead to plan their edit and shoot and cut their own work themselves.

We’ve designed a course that both Robin and I would love to take. That is, if we weren’t the instructors. We’re both, I think, really excited to be in the room learning from each other, and from you, our talented charges that apply for this course. Join us and let’s all work to raise the bar.

To apply for the Film Directing Course: http://www.freeholdtheatre.org/new-film-directing-course-john-jacobsen-and-robin-lynn-smith

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