Mission Statement

Welcome to the production. Feel free to fearlessly ask “stupid” questions. It is better to admit not knowing or understanding something than to pretend and cause a miscommunication or lavish time on a dead end chore. To save time, however, please be advised that the director has made hundreds of shorts and has absorbed years of behind the scenes information, from film school to compulsive study of DVD commentary tracks and issues of American Cinematographer for pleasure and has been at it since 1984. There may be many ways a director might approach a shoot and only one way that is chosen as most appropriate.

Please read the screenplay. If your job is visual, please also look at relevant storyboards and maps or floor plans that have been generated. There are so many moving parts on a movie that in a war against Murphy’s Law it makes sense to have a fixed point of reference. Do not expect any drastic change from the screenplay or the story-boarded shooting plan. You can look at it as an experiment in how close the finished movie can be to the vision. We can expect cast and crew to grow bored with repetition of the material and for any variation to seem refreshing for that group, but the audience will only likely hear these things once and so the inside joke of a crew reaction should not be treated as “best idea wins.” Best to press onward and make sure the original written or planned version still gets done.

If you have expectations about the production, please disclose these. Most will be benign. Maybe experience, or hoping someone you know can be on screen, or being able to show an item you have created. But also keep in mind that screen time is carefully measured and a specific talent will have to be considered for its place. If an actor has experience improvising but no knack for learning written dialogue, that person should not have a speaking part. The goal is not to erode the scripted lines with improvised substitutes.

Physical safety must be the first concern, and safety will overrule any direction. Meanwhile, this movie will not be what colleges often call an intellectual “safe space” in terms of ideas and opinions. If someone finds the screenplay or a scene or line in it problematic, that is because the writer’s most satisfying content is designed to provoke. It will not be replaced or mutated into a woke alternative. If the process of learning lines, rehearsal, and getting the pacing right cramps the style of anyone they might want to consider opting out of the project as early as possible. We don’t want people to feel horrible about the movie they are in, and more importantly the integrity of the writer or director’s vision will be preferred over whims and sensitivities or peccadilloes that would undermine the objectives and subversive intentions of the movie. There will be something to offend everybody. The priority is for people to make an informed choice about being involved with the movie.

The script can help determine who is the right fit for it.

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Filmmaker, from North Bay, Ontario, currently in Toronto. Graduated from Humber Film and TV Production in the Nineties. Made countless short films.

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