When we watch movies one of the common titles we see are “a film by ______,” or “a ________ film” with that same name almost always popping up in the “directed by” title. As a result we tend to think of those people as the sole filmmaker of the movie. After my first few projects I would hear my cast and crew mention that I made a great video/film. I never heard them say we made something great. That always bothered me. As far as production/time spent on the projects I was the busiest, and it was my story, but if it wasn’t for hard work that the actors and crew put into the project, my stories would never come to life.
My first project was such a dream come true because I saw my name on the screen. And my name continued to pop up as I was doing 90% of the work on the project. At first I was proud, but then when I would show the film to other people I began to feel uncomfortable seeing my name all over the opening and closing credits. I wanted to share the bragging rights with more and more people. So, as more people became involved with my projects the less my name showed up and it felt great! I always hoped the whole crew would love to see their names on a movie.
However, I realized that it wasn’t enough if they did not feel like they really did anything for the production. It became really apparent when only the cast, aside from the audience, showed up to the premiere of my second short film. Ever since then I began to make it a point to tell everyone that we are not making my movie; we are making our movie. I realized that they were only waiting on doing what I told them to do because I was too focused on getting film in the can instead of opening up for creative input. Shame on me, and were it a large production I’m sure everything would’ve fallen apart even before the first frame was filmed. Now I include everyone into the creative process. I love to discuss and problem solve with everyone. It makes the whole project that much more personal for everyone.
As the director I am in charge of conducting the orchestra of actors and crew members to create the symphony. Yet unlike music which can be played by different muscians at any given time, a film is created by a carefully selected group of individuals who all specialize in skills that bring the whole film together. I want every person who works with me to feel pride when they see their name on an Allen Smithee, Jr. film. I know that I feel pride seeing all of their names, and knowing that they worked hard and gave me their absolute best. To the cast and crew–the unsung heroes.