A film student's recommendations, reviews and essays on motion pictures new and old
What’s the Difference? Director vs. Writer-DirectorSeptember 13th, 2011 at Tue, 13th, 2011 at 12:07 pm by samuelhwolfe
If you’re a movie lover, I recommend you watch this clip before you read.
Filmmaker. What does that title encompass? Well, it would seem that according to arguably the most eccentric filmmaker of our time, Quentin Tarantino, true filmmakers are those who write and direct their own pictures. He goes on to say that writing and directing your own movies is essential to developing a voice as a filmmaker .
“There’s a lot of writer directors that come out, and they write and direct one movie, a second movie, and then a third movie, well, there’s a real voice there… It’s a lot easier to go and look at the scripts that are out there and available, and maybe work with a writer, or do a little rewrite or do that kind of thing, and you get more movies made. But, cut to six years down the line and where’s that voice? It’s gone away.”
It’s an interesting point, and for the most part, I agree with him. Think for a minute, what is film? Well, it’s a form of art, and artists, of whatever type, have distinct styles. So, maybe that’s it, Tarantino wants to recognized as a true artist; a man who deserves to be commended for his individual effort at making movies, as opposed to movies that are made from comic book adaptations, novel adaptations, or by directors who work with a separate screenwriter.
I have to admit, in that respect, he’s right. Writer-directors are different. The stories, images, and thoughts of those who write/direct their own pictures exist because they and they alone thought them up. Tarantino movies are literally a direct result of HIS ability as a story teller and a visual mastermind. Considering art as an expression of creative skill and imagination, Tarantino is in fact, a true artist.
Tarantino said that that directors who don’t write their own scripts can lose their voice as filmmakers over time, and that may be true as far as dialogue structure, style, and tone are concerned. But, “voice” can be defined in other ways. For example, directors who don’t write their own movies still have distinct trademarks that make their work unique and identifiable. Here are a few examples of notable visual trademarks of directors; proof that a director’s artistic touch can be seen regardless of who wrote the story.
Steven Spielberg’s “Wonder” Shot:
Spielberg doesn’t write most of his movies, but that doesn’t mean his style isn’t easily recognizable. Many of his movies tend to involve larger than life concepts, and his close up shots of characters with facial expressions of awe and wonder are a sure sign of a Spielberg creation.
Quentin Tarantino’s POV “Trunk” Shot:
Aside from Jackie Brown, Tarantino’s movies are completely original stories, written and directed by him. However, this is one of his signature visual trademarks, showing his characters from the point of view of what they’re looking at. (It’s not always a trunk)
Scorsese’s X of Death:
Martin Scorsese is a legendary director, yet, he doesn’t write most of his films. Here’s a signature touch of his, using X’s on screen to indicate the impending doom of his characters.
Film is a collaborative art. Think about the credits at the end of a motion picture. They go on for quite awhile right? Simply put, the movie wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for all those people listed: camera operator 1, camera operator 2, sound editor, special effects assistant #3. All of those obscure titles contributed in some way, big or small, to the final product, and I think that’s a big part of why movies are so special. Everyone plays a special role. So obviously, I’m not criticizing directors who don’t write, or writers who don’t direct. I mean, the majority of all movies ever made were not written/directed by one person. Everyone has their talents. Writing a screenplay is difficult. Translating a story to the big screen is also very difficult. Those who can do it both? Well, the greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.