What is directing? According to Google it is “to control the operations of; manage or govern, supervise and control. In the film industry, the business of making movies, being a director is one of the biggest, most stressful roles you can have. The director is the one who works with and supervises the movements and work of the camera, making sure all the shots are right, lighting, and sound crew.
As a director you must be prepared to set aside a big majority of your time to working with all aspects of people involved in the movie. Mainly the production designer, actors, and screen writers. You are working on the film from the beginning stages of having it all on paper, to the very end when it hits theaters. One interesting thing after researching a number of directors and listening to a few interviews from directors such as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, a lot of them never went to film school. They learned by doing.
A quote by Quentin Tarantino during an interview on filmSCHOOLarchive he said, “You don’t have to know how to make a movie, if you truly love cinema with all your heart and with enough passion, you can’t help but make a good movie.” And then after viewing an interview with Christopher Nolan on the Yellow King Film Boy YouTube Channel he quoted Stanley Kubrick saying, “The best way to learn how to make a film is to make a film.” And further in the interview Christopher Nolan verifies that Stanley Kubrick couldn’t be more right in that statement. He didn’t and couldn’t get accepted into film school and because of that he just decided to make his own films despite the opposition that he faced. And the first film he ever directed he funded himself on a four-thousand-dollar budget.
A pattern you notice with the real big-name Hollywood directors like Christopher Nolan, Guy Richie, Quentin Tarantino, and Christopher McQuarrie, is each of them have their own style of directing which gives each of the films they direct their own little twist and their own little genius with the finished product. So, focusing on those four directors I want to dive into just what exactly their different styles of editing may be, pulling it from one of their most famous movies they’ve done.
Starting off with Quentin Tarantino I wanted to look at the style of his directing in relation with the movie Django Unchained. One thing Quentin Tarantino tends to love in his movie is violence. He backs that up with a quote from an interview saying, “I always say that cinema was made to film violence because it’s just so dang good.” He directs movies that will be easy to adhere to those standards mostly sticking with gangster and western films because with genres like those it’s easy to expect a lot of car chases, gun fights, and showdowns between good and bad, bad and bad, or just an all out war between everyone.
Django Unchained does not lack violence in any way shape or form. The story is based around a bounty hunter and a freed black slave going around hunting down criminals while also trying to free Django’s sweetheart there is bound to be violence in a movie like that. The opening scene shows a group of five slaves and their 2 guards walking through the dessert with a western ballet playing in the background kind of playing with your senses. What the slaves are going through is quite miserable but the music doesn’t play it off that way. It gives it a feeling that things are going to be alright for them.
Quentin Tarantino picks his cast members very carefully. He makes sure he has actors who will not only see the vision that he has for the movie but will be able to pull it off to his standards or even better which I think is why he uses the same actors for a lot of his movies. Brad Pitt and Samuel Jackson for example. You can expect to see Samuel Jackson in many of Quentin Tarantino’s films. One major aspect that I noticed a lot and really enjoyed in Django unchained was the way they did the really quick zoon onto a characters face. He did it in a number of places throughout the film. Whether it was to introduce a new character, or to create suspense before a big scene, or even for a victorious moment like at the end of the film when Django is walking away from the blown up house it does a quick zoom on him lighting his cigarette signifying his victory. Quentin Tarantino takes pride in how unique his directing is and his films are. Very rare are they not a hit.
The next director I wanted to focus on is Guy Richie. By far he has made some of my favorite movies to date from Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downy jr, to King Arthur Legend of the Sword. Guy Richie has one of my favorite styles of directing. All of his movies I have been a major fan of and the one I wanted to focus on was the first Sherlock Holmes. This really shows and shines the style of Guys directing. Guy is well known for the high paced action scenes, mixed with quality comedy moments scattered throughout the film to end with a fantastic action comedy. Guy Richie’s directing is shown mostly in his editing.
In Sherlock Holmes one thing I love about how he edits the film is when he’s showing Sherlock Holmes thought process. It’s a short span of time, maybe a minute or less, very fast paced jump cutting from one cut to another really quick. He uses montage very well. His action sequences are a work of genius. While he’s in a fight circle, the way he uses slow motion throughout the scene, helps to build the genius of Sherlock Holmes character as he plans out everything he’s going to do in his head. Guy Richie shows it in slow motion, breaking everything up very slow with Sherlock Holmes narrating everything that’s happening in the background, then coming back to normal time and having it go again.
A big thing and the last thing I wanted to mention about Guy Richie’s style of directing was how he likes having multiple main characters and multiple stories going at once. In Sherlock Holmes throughout the movie it’ll jump from what Sherlock Holmes is doing, to what Lord Henry Blackwood, and then quickly jump to what the police chief is doing, finally bringing all the stories together for a final scene of problem solving, action, and conclusion. The high paced action scenes and the way he’s able to develop his characters in the film makes the movie so enjoyable in every aspect. A very unique and brilliant way of directing.
Another remarkable and noteworthy director, who is my next focus is none other than Christopher Nolan. As mentioned earlier he is such a brilliant director with his ability to tell a story, keep it suspenseful, and all of this without ever attending film school. He’s learned it all by, “just making movies.” So in one of his most successful films Inception, this one shows a key element in his directing style and that is his emphasis on time. All of his films that he directs, they all have a huge emphasis and major focus on time, or the race against time. He loves heightening the urgency of time. For Inception this movie is especially true for that because as they go further and further into the dreams, the first, second, then third stages of inception (dream within a dream), timing becomes way more critical because if they don’t wake from the third phase in time, they can’t get back through the second and first phase and therefore won’t wake up in the real world.
I think another one of Christopher Nolan’s strengths is his choice for music in Inception. Hanz Zimmer is one of the most well-known composers of this day and age and Christopher Nolan uses him to the best of his abilities because of his talent in creating suspense through his music. The music in Inception creates a sense of urgency which is exactly what the movie intended and needed. It’s all about getting things accomplished in time or else they’ll be stuck in limbo. The way Christopher Nolan is able to mix his directing style with time and the music involved in Inception, it creates an Oscar winning film and an enjoyable thrill for everyone.
The last director and His movie I wanted to focus on is Christopher McQuarrie and his latest edition of the Mission Impossible franchise, Mission Impossible Fallout. Now Christopher McQuarrie sticks with the same pattern as most of the other directors mentioned in the way that he likes working with a lot of the same actors or in this case actor. Tom Cruise has been the star for most of his films. Most of his films have been with the mission impossible franchise starring Tom Cruise but have also included others like The Edge of Tomorrow, or Jack Reacher, both of which Tom Cruise has been the star of. With Mission Impossible Fallout, Christopher McQuarrie has done well with sticking with the pattern of all the other Mission Impossible’s, but is always taking it to the next level with intense fight sequences, working as a team to accomplish the mission.
With a lot of the camera shots in this movie it was quite genius. Tom Cruise did most of his own stunts like flying the helicopter through the mountainous valley and halo jumping at 30,000 feet. Christopher McQuarrie wanted the audience to see that Tom Cruise was actually doing all of these stunts himself and so carefully placed the cameras on the helicopter in a way where you could tell he was actually flying it. For this movie I found it so good because halfway through, I found myself thinking it was going to end at that moment because of how good it had been up to that point but they throw in the twist and it just keeps on going. He does a very good job at keeping you hooked and spiking your interest.
With Mission Impossible Fallout he stuck to the screen beats pretty well. It was pretty easy to point out most of the scenes. The break into two, fun and games, all is lost, finale, like I said it followed very closely with the other Mission Impossible movies but that’s why he’s such a good director is it may be a bit predictable when it comes to Mission Impossible but he makes them so enjoyable with the action and storyline that you can’t help but want more.
Directors don’t get the credit they deserve a lot of the time I think. The more you look into and study the making of movies, the more you come to realize the immense amount of time, planning, and overall stress it takes to putting together just a movie in general let alone a movie like the ones these 4 directors are able to make. Their unique abilities and creativity are milestones in the film industry. They keep pushing the limits of what film can be and the way you can portray a message and a meaning in a movie. When we take a look at all the movies, we’ve come across in our lifetime there’s good ones, there’s better ones, and then there’s ones that you’ll remember as the one’s that blew your mind visually, with the storyline, and the way the director was able to manipulate your feelings through his directing. These 4 directors are part of that group and will remain icons for a long time.