I think there is something missing from the "bitch hat" conversation:
There are filming situations where you are with a crew you have been sequestered with in some manner for 6 months while say filming giant time lapses of the desert or just touring. You co-exist with people for very long periods of time and the real way people tend to behave kicks in. I think that if I do become frustrated after filming for 12 hours, editing for 6, then composing for 4 hours while managing the budgets and every other thing that needs managed and doing all of that 7 days a week for months on end.
There have been a few times that absolutely nothing would have gotten done - thus changing the path of my career - if I had not gone off and made sure everyone knew what their responsibilities and expectations were. It's simple management. Occasionally everyone's boss is a prick, and we always forgive them and appreciate them because we depend on them for our livelyhoods. If we are decent people.
I have to say that most sets (and, indeed, most of the better sets) I've been on have an element of 'bitch hat'. Obviously everyone is using the word tongue-in-cheek but there's really nothing wrong with being tough.
That's like saying that a teacher should always be kind and supportive even when their pupils are being little shits. Sometime the teacher has to be stern and a director should be prepared to be that person (or to tell their AD to be that person).
The best directors aren't the 'nicest' people, they're the most interesting and most passionate people.
A lot of the best directors that inspired your film career have been insufferable pricks and control freaks. It's been their obsession to finish the film with their vision intact. A lot of the most amazing directors have been infamous rather than famous. Not saying that any of this makes being an asshole to crew on a set ok though. I'm thinking of a book right now called What Would Machiavelli Do: The Ends Justify The Meanness.' it was a humorous semi-inspirational "succeed in business" book...
1. Choose your actors well. Try to compromise as little as possible when it comes to your actors. I read somewhere that casting is 80% of directing. I think it's true. Good actors who can follow direction will make your life easier.
2. You don't have to be a 'bitch,' but you do have to be the boss. Plan the day ahead of time. Then you'll know immediately when things go wrong and take corrective measures. When other people see this, they will be more eager to follow you and your direction and you won't have to be confrontational, as people will trust your judgment.
GOALS. As the 'poor-director-guy-behind-the-camera-and-editing-system' (writer, director, producer, cameraman, editor, gaffer, grip, janitor and horrible-sometimes-actor), I always finish what I start while making the 'product' the best I can and the most enjoyable in production for all involved (as possible). Not as hard as it may seem -- LOL -- I am still on favorable talking terms with everyone I have worked with in the past. To my knowledge, no one has ever used 'Bitch' or 'Prick' in describing me. I feel bad that no one has made big-money, (I lost a little money, wife says it is more like a lot of money), but all had fun and learned a bunch, (or so they say to my face -- LOL). Also have reels and finished 'stuff' to prove our lives were not idle. Expensive hobby... though I keep trying to make a dime for those around me (and myself).
KEY TO DIRECTING. I try to take a realistic approach to 'directing'. I am NOT lucky. NOT a genius. NOT rich. NOT famous. NOT a know-it-all. KEY. I am not afraid to screw-up (would never hurt those around me in the process). I am not intimidated easily but at the same time not afraid to take blame for anything that goes wrong. Heck, I don't mind -- I'll take the blame for ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING if it keeps the production moving forward. Chalk it up to live and learn. Besides, those in front and behind the camera are there, BECAUSE OF ME. IF i cannot say something nice about someone -- I say nothing. I do not spread rumors or slam anyone. EVER.
FIRST LESSON A DIRECTOR MUST LEARN. NEVER make promises that you cannot keep. NEVER. EVER! TREAT all those around you as you would have them treat you. Screw the 'ego' thing -- if you are directing (those with the biggest ego's sometimes are the most shallow). BE HONEST BUT also be sincere and never demeaning. Like people.
FAVORITE WORDS (as a director). (at the end of a production) "Hey, thats a wrap. Now lets make another movie." (with script in hand) "How would you say that?"(in regards to written dialogue) "Does that feel comfortable?" and (to cast member as I am moving cameras into a different angle/location) "Awesome, fantastic delivery. One more time!"
AFTER. I like to show the cast the edits in progress. How can i make them 'as cast' LOOK BETTER?
I am not rich or famous, so excuse my humble two cents... however, if I ever do make it into the big money realm, I have a lot of people I am going to want to share that wealth with...
I wonder why anyone would feel they need to put on their
“bitch hat” - ever.
A director can get a film made on time and on budget without
ever resorting to being a “bitch”. Managing people to do their
best doesn’t require aggressive, angry or bitchy behavior. Even
as a last resort.
Somehow people think a director needs to be a dictator.
With good planning and someone who keeps an eye on time and people, you don't need to be cruel, angry or aggressive.
My objective: getting the best takes possible of the shots I need.
The only time I've ever had to yell on set (in an angry fashion) was at my make-up artist/costumer. She was on set to make sure we maintained continuity in clothing, and she kept trying to direct. The whole crew was becoming irritated with it, and even though I asked her kindly to stop, i eventually had to make her leave. Idk what happened there, it was very unprofessional on her part, be a director if you want to direct.
Aside from that, my crew always gets a long really well. I generally allow them to try things out as much as they want and only find myself cracking down when we're running out of time.
A lot of the best directors that inspired your film career have been insufferable pricks and control freaks.
That might be true. However, I have first-hand accounts from many reliable sources who all say that Spielberg is a really nice guy. One such source even went so far as to say that Spielberg is the nicest director he's ever worked with (and the actor who said this has a very long and distinguished IMDB page). I figure if it works for Spielberg...