I am a director who puts the script first, one who respects and depends on actors, yet still someone with an eye for the visual picture. Furthermore, I approach directing my own plays in the same way I approach directing a play by any other writer, be it a contemporary or a master like Chekhov.
First and foremost, casting is the caveat to all things any director can do. If the right actors have been found, then half of the director’s job is done.
My primary task as a director is to listen and watch the actors. Their instincts, problems and questions will illuminate and possibly alter whatever script analysis and pre-planning I have already done. (The same holds true for how the actors help me fix my own script problems – they tell me by their doing.)
After all, the fact that I had originally been trained as an actor lets me innately understand the actor’s process and how best to help them fulfill the requirements of the script.
As for script analysis, the concept is very simple: I work backwards, i.e. the ending informs the beginning, even if that ending is meant to be a surprise.
Visually, I am interested in dynamic images where the audience’s eye travels across the frame (be it the frame of a movie screen or the frame of the stage) but only in the context of enhancing character development and/or the action of the story and/or the theme(s) of the piece.
Stage and screen each have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses regarding visual dynamics, but the concepts of picture making are essentially the same, and my “eye” for such can likewise be gleaned from the compositions of my still photography, some of which are available for viewing elsewhere on this website.
Finally, it must be noted that I have not mentioned my director’s “vision” or auteur-ship of any kind. Simply because I don’t believe that is the director’s job.
There are stylists who put themselves above the script. I certainly don’t dismiss all such work – any blanket statement like that would be foolish and ignorant and riddled with exceptions – however I do believe, overall, that the work of a director is an interpretative art. Vision is in the script. It’s the director’s job, with enormous assistance from the actors, designers and crew, to make that vision into something 3-dimensional and alive.
There is a paradox here, because a director must be able to see the whole and create an organizational structure that will support that whole, yet simultaneously, the more humility one can have, the greater service the director can be to that totality.