Welcome to RJFS: DIRECTING - Official Video Discussion


This is the official discussion for the first video in our Directing Track.

Do you have any questions for Matt or Lauren? Thoughts about the video? Suggestions for the track? Post them here!


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How would you direct young actors in run and gun productions?


Is it right for the director to take a small role or even be one of the protagonists in his film?


As a director, are you the one with the main vision and tell everyone else what to do? Curious because I’ve been involved in a couple short films and its mostly me telling people “you stand here” “you do this” so would I be considered the director?


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What are some techniques or tips that help you to keep everything rolling mentally, so that the movie stays on schedule, you don’t forget important things, and generally keep your sanity when there’s a ton of stuff to keep track of?


How do you organize people when you direct them because, usually, when I make videos and order people around, it just doesn’t become the way I visualized it, are there any tips?


Its tough to say anything general about directing actors. There are lots of different techniques, and all actors are different.

The only thing I can really say, ESPECIALLY if time is of the essence, is make sure they KNOW what they are doing before you say action. This sounds obvious, but its not. Even now, I have once or twice called action and I thought we rehearsed, and the camera knew what was going on, or that the actor knew where we were starting from, but they didn’t. It happens because you are communicating to so many people.

Be CLEAR and CONCISE. And think about what you NEED if its a run and gun.


Sure - why not? I mean, its a political question, and there is definitely situations where they shouldn’t.

But like anyone, its just whether or not the person is right for the part. If the director is a good actor, and they think they are the right person, go ahead. But not everyone can act and direct. Or even if they can, they may not be able to do both at the same time.


Yes, as the director, that is, in a sense, your only job. Everyone looks to you for the answers. You are the vision holder. If you wanna tell people to stand here and there, or you want your assistant director to do it, thats all in your directing style.



Honestly the most important thing to me is learning to stay unemotional about things when its gets crazy. Ultimately you are trying to make something. And if you get it into your head that it represents YOU, or your LEGACY or any number of things, it will mess you up. Those things are true… and they will go through your head all the time. But you have to learn to block it out on set when you have to make decisions. Cause that is all you do. Make hundreds of decisions.

And that means, learning that someone is always losing. That sounds sad, but its the truth. Someone once said directing is simply deciding who loses. Whether its the DP who won’t get as nice light cause you want the scene lit for 360, or the actors who rather act a scene uninterrupted, but instead are doing a scene line by line cause you have very precise coverage you want. Or Art Department cause you are moving money to get a bigger explosion. Or SFX cause you are cutting an explosion in order to have a nicer set.

Everyone on your set wants to do a great job. They are talented and passionate people. And you have to learn how to communicate what you want because it makes those loses easier. If you just tell your DP “look, I don’t care if the light won’t look as good as it could, just make it happen!” Well, that sort of sucks. And they may not give you great work.

If you come up and say… “Hey, look. I know this won’t be as controlled lighting as you want. But for this scene, between this two actors, I really want them to build into it, and I want them to be lose. I think its important for the performances. I want the tension to escalate naturally and I want some rawness in their staging. So, yes, we have to light for 360 degrees, but I know you’ll make it look great, and it will really help the actors.”

Ronald D Moore said that sometimes he just had to yell out - “Isn’t this great, we are making a damn TV show.” Its all perspective. If you are directing something, you are lucky to do it. Chill out. Make decisions one at a time, and make sure everyone knows what they are doing.


It’s hard to know what you mean exactly. Is it the cinematography isn’t looking right? Or the staging of the actors?

There are a few general answers which is, if you are lucky or working on a larger set you will have multiple people to order people around. An AD and even a 2nd AD. You have your DP who should be talking to the camera department, not you.

I find, the better you communicate to others what your vision is, the closer the final product is to it. It doesnt even mean being more hands on, cause its impossible to do everything. But if you precisely communicate what you want, then suddenly actors show up in the right wardrobe, and the lighting has the right mood, etc.

If its a small crew, like we do with our shorts where it may literally just be myself, freddie and another person… its just kind of up to you make it work. And you will get better at it the more you do it. It took a long time for me to ever be happy with a single thing I shot.


Probably, cinematography too, 'cause I’m not really a professional filmer so it’s just a small crew like my cousins and friends as you’ve mentioned. It’s just a hobby er, a sort of fun hobby that I love but I still want to make the most out of it, but some times, when I visualize something and it looks amazing in my head, then when it comes to the real deal, it’s kinda a bit off…like I don’t know how to execute the angles that comes to my head like what are the tools that are recommended to be both useful and affordable to stabilize your camera and at the same time shoot some really cool angles!..I guess I’ll move to cinematography board too! But thanks for the advice, sir Matt! :smiley:


Thanks for taking the time to elaborate, @Matt. Your answer really helps to put things into perspective. I’ll keep what you said in mind as I’m working. Thanks again!


I just wanted to add something I’ve started doing, because I had the same problem as you, @TheSilhouette. When I have a video that I want to achieve a special look with, I figure out what exactly I’m going to be trying to achieve, and then do some tests to try to create that look. It might just be a single shot, but doing tests ahead of the actual shoot will help you see if you’re okay to start filming, or if you need to work on your approach and make changes.

Especially if you’re trying to pull off something advanced, these tests will help you (sometimes a LOT).


Great video and tips guys! Just sharing my experience from my shorts that I’ve directed and advice that I’d love to share. I always try to pick up a new tip or learn something new from each directing project I work on and at the end of it, write it down and add it to my list of “what i learned”. For example, learning how to give what kind of advice to what actor depending on their learning style.


For me the technical side is ok, communicating with the crew, making decision and all that…My main difficulty is to talk to actors as I’m not really good at finding the right word to make them perform the way I want…
I guess it’s a lot of learning as you go as each situation witch different actors is different, but have you got any advice anyway?


Matt was the first show you ever directed in?


Hey There,
I’ve been watching your guys’s stuff for quite some time now (my favorite being VGHS) and I’ve realized that I’m really motivated to become a actor/director (in Youtube short films or series). Yet I don’t really know how to get a good position on it and being very young I’d have a hard time getting myself out there. I was wondering if there was any good tips for just getting in one of these series because it would be my dream to play a role in a show like that.