Having worked with a lot of different directors throughout the years and slowly progressing in directing more film and film related projects myself, I have come to realise that in the end there are only three kinds of directors.

Sure, you can categorise directors in many different ways, based on the experience of the directors and technical vs non technical knowledge for instance, which is something Peter D. Marshall describes brilliantly in his book on directing Making the Magic Happen.​​​​​​​ 

Putting the exact directors methodologies aside for a minute as well, in my humble opinion it really comes down to just these three (at least from a Cast & Crew perspective that is):

• The collaborator
• The dictator
• A combination of the two

I have worked with all of thee of these directors. The dictator generally has one way of doing things and one possible outlook on the project from the get go and will stick to that till the end. At whatever cost. And with any good director, that’s his of her own right. In the end, it is usually the director’s (though sometimes it’s the producer’s) vision that will make a story come to life, from page to stage, as they say.
However, when neglecting other key crew members that are there to help the director create the best possible movie within the budget that has been given, things can turn sideways up to near downright mutiny. Not something you would want on a film set, I might add.

The collaborator on the other hand, is a team player. She/he is at least open to suggestions by other key crew members such as the DOP. A collaborator listens to both his cast & crew, but should still be decisive. He’s a director after all. He or she is there to make solid choices. A producer has no trouble in firing a director who is indecisive. Like Charles Wilkinson quotes a producer in his book The Working Film Director: “I hire and fire you bums like extras”

So perhaps being too collaborative deprives a director of being true to him/herself, perhaps even from being original which can result in being too indecisive to make choices. An that is a pain for a any given crew at any given time of any given project as well.

Maybe the best directors (to work with as a crew member) are the ones that can be both at the same time, by generally being somewhere in the middle of these two. A 'Collabotator', if you will(?).

Bad jokes aside and having directed a few projects myself, and being a camera operator and DP now for years, I truly value the opinions of both cast & crew. I feel it is important to hear key crew members out. These are all brilliant people who have usually made their marks in their respectful fields and departments. They not only deserve to be heard just for being heard. Not just by you being nice to them by listening to them. No, they deserve to be heard because their ideas are worth listening to. They will come with ideas you had not even thought of yet. And that it what a collaborating director should really do.

This might be especially true for ‘beginning’ directors. I have seen a few young directors get cocky and sort of overrule the rest of the crew, including a DP with over 25 years of experience that I worked for as a CamOp at the time. The director refused to listen to his DP nine times out of ten, resulting in a miserable end product (a commercial).
As far as I know, it ended the young directors career before it even began. If you, as a director know how to work with actors for instance and you are a real people person (generally a terrific trade when wanting to become a director), but have hardly any actual knowledge about both the craft and science of cinematography, don’t tell the DP where the camera should be. Listen to the experienced DP how and why a shot should be taken and lit in a certain way. Pay attention to him/her. You will learn more than you can imagine.

Listening to the practical, technical and more story driven ideas of your key cast & crew members, will almost certainly help your project succeed in the best possible way. it will also help the overall morale during those long days of working hard. A lot of the listening ad acting in it needs to be done before even walking on set, of course. Proper preparation during pre-production is always key.

I’m looking forward hearing your thoughts on what you believe how a great director should work with his/her cast & crew. 

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