Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

I just ran a directing course for Southampton Film Week. It was originally going to be two days, but ended up as a single day.

It was quite difficult trying to figure out what to cover in a single day.  ( The last directing course I ran was 8 weeks long! )

There are so  many aspects to successful film directing. So rather than give a general overview I decided to pick a couple.

1. Where to put the camera?

2 How to get the right actors and how to block through a scene with them.


Where to put the camera?

This apparently simple decision goes to the heart of directing. Here’s  some of the considerations and some advice on how to get better at doing it..

1. Composition  – traditional photographic skill.  – get a stills camera – take photos.

2. Sequential Composition – putting together a series so they tell a story – learn to edit in camera.

3. How to fool the audience into thinking you’re a professional. Don’t zoom or pan.  …or track ..or tilt.

4. Lens choice – effect on perspective – using focus to isolate.   Learn about lenses.  Did I mention not zooming?

5. Simple dialogue scenes. Eyelines.  Crossing the line.  Why I cross the line.  – It’s OK  – but you need to learn how and when to do it.

6. Storyboards  – Why I don’t use Storyboards.  –  they leave the editor few choices  – are often unfilmable – and don’t allow for the actors input.

7. Shot descriptions – learn the language for good communication with the camera operator.

8. Multi- character dialogue scene.  Forget the eyelines. Use character looking left or right instead.

How to get the right actors and how to block through a scene with them.

Your film is only as good as the performances.

1. Casting –  How to attract good actors.    – get a good script. How?  Use a script reader.  Try  Lucy at

2. How to run auditions.  Be professional  ..It’s a two way process. Actors are choosing you as well.  Even if an actor seems perfect for the role, why you might not select them.

3. Staging, blocking and shooting a four character scene, so it feels natural for the actors and looks good.

4. Block and shoot your master first, then come in for the closer shots.


Many thanks to the actors – Hannah Timms  and  Itchen College drama students  Holly McCachlan, Toni Marlow and Hayden Covent.

Photos to come.





Leave a Reply