One of the hardest things to do as a director is make sure everyone on your team is making the same film that you are. Sounds like a strange thing to say, but if you've ever made a film and ended up with a wonky tone, or one actor that was doing sitcom while everyone else was doing drama, or where the camera work reflects comedy coverage and you're making a tension piece... then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
In the world of short films, this duty of making sure everyone is on page falls squarely on your shoulders, but in the world of features and TV, you get to share that duty with your producers, and lord forbid you're not on page with them going in. Sometimes you get the producers who are MIA, never seen on set, and when the credits roll, you (and the rest of the cast and crew) ask, "Who the eff was that person?" Sometimes that's the best kind of producer to have. Sometimes not. In the best case scenario you find producers who read the script, see it the way you do, and you get to hit the ground running (in the same direction). Together. With the same hope and optimism that should come with the creation of every piece of art (and business).
It's been my experience that the quicker you get everyone on the same wavelength the better, especially when you're dealing with the trickier genres (Horror being one), the subgenres (supernatural horror), and the genre mash ups (Horror Comedy).
Seems like Europeans and Asians and, well... just about everyone else in the world except us can handle radical tone shifts, quirky departures from the main plot, and characters that seem to be from an entirely different genre altogether... but here in the states, we like to grab a tone, maintain it, and stay the course.
If you're fortunate enough to have a team you've worked with over and over, like I have, then you've already got a leg up on the filmmaker who gets dropped into a cast and crew he or she has never worked with before. For them it's all about holding your nose and jumping into the cold water and hoping you don't die of hypothermia on the one extreme, and on the other extreme, coming out on the other side with at least one or two people you'll take with you to the next gig. People who got you, and what you were saying from the very start.
People who share your vision.
Going into this feature that I'm wrapping up now, I went in with a strong team that I've worked with over and over during the past couple years. They didn't all come at once. I've worked on a lot of commercials, videos, TV shows and features, and I've always managed to gain at least one new team member from each project along the way to add to my permanent gang.
Entering into this Syfy film, I had my phisical spfx partner, my DP, my composer, and my editor, not to mention many of my usual cast. Not all could join me because of location and union issues, but trust me, they'll be back. And on this film, I gained a few new members to the troupe. You'll see them on my next film, either in front of the camera or behind it.
Why? Because I mate for life when it comes to finding creative partners. And finding people who can see the fantasy worlds that I create, and then help translate them to the rest of the world, is not an easy task. And neither is having to convince an entirely new cast and crew to row in the same direction that I'm rowing.
If you've worked in Hollywood, you've heard that loyalty is dead, or that it has a price that can be bought off. But not for me. And not for my team.
As we finish up this film now, we're already planning the next one. One that's from the heart. My heart. Their hearts.
And oh, what dark hearts we have...
Gaudium per atrox.