The Director is responsible for the general interpretation of the script and usually defines the limits for the other interpretive artists: actors, designers, technicians. The director most see to it that all the production elements are harmonized and subordinated to an overall interpretation. His or her influence is stronger during rehearsals that in the actual performance. Once the curtain opens before an audience, the director is powerless to control what then takes place.
On the other hand, screen directors have a good deal more control over the final product. They too dominate the preproduction activities, but unlike the stage director, the filmmaker controls virtually every aspect of the finished work as well. The degree of precision a film director can achieve is impossible on the stage, for movie directors can rephotograph people and objects until they get exactly what they want. As we have seen, films communicate primarily through moving images, and it’s the director who determines most of the visual elements: the choice of shots, angles, lighting effects, filters, optical effects, framing, composition, camera movements, and editing. Furthermore, the director usually authorizes the costume and set designs and the choice of locales.
The differences in control and precision can best be illustrated perhaps by examining their handling of the mise en scène. Stage directors are much more restricted: They must work within one stationary set per scene. All patterns of movement take place within this given area. Because this is a threedimensional space, they have the advantage of depth as well as breadth to work with. Through the use of platforms, they can also exploit height on the stage. In the cinema, the director converts three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional image of space. Even with deep-focus photography, “depth” is not literal, but the flat image has certain advantages. A camera can be placed virtually anywhere, so the film director is not confined to a stationary set with a given number of “walls”. The eye-level long shot more or less corresponds to the theatrical proscenium arch. But in movies, the close-up also constitutes a given space-in effect a cinematic “roomlet”with iits own “walls” (the frame). Each shot, then, represents a new given space with different (and temporary) confines.
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