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Indie Filmmaking: Writer Vs Director

Since the invention of celluloid, conflicts between two creative heads- writer and director- have always been present. Writers have a clear picture in their heads of how they want the movie to look like- every scene, every prop, and every word the characters will say are all detailed in their heads. And this is expected because they’re creators/founders of the story. Without their story, there’s no film.

But the director is also a creative unit. If he simply follows the script by heart, then he’s not injecting his creativity. He’s simply a laborer, a manual worker of the writer and producer. And if the director strays too far from the script, to the point that the essence of the story is changed, then he’s insulting the writer.

There 3 main heads in a production are: the writer, director, editor. The producer affects the story but he’s not considered as part of the main creative units. The writer,director, and editor are the ones that put their ideas and visions to the story of the film. Note that I am not talking about mainstream filmmaking but indie filmmaking.

So how should we handle this?

Conflicts are inevitable especially if the director and writer have very different visions. The more creative the story is, the more likely it is for conflicts to rise. So it’s advisable that you work with like-minded people.

We should also learn about the process called COMMUTATION.

Commutation is the process of having a different approach of a scene without losing the essence of the scene (main topic). The director should commute the writer’s work. The editor should commute the director’s work. Each one should churn the materials passed on to them in order to create something different without losing the main purpose of the scene. The change should be physical only, and never chemical.

If the director won’t commute the script, then he ceases to become a director- he’s just a manager or a worker. He should put his creativity to the film in order for him to deserve the title.

So what can the director change?

He can change the manner of telling the story as long as the purpose of the scene is intact. And writers should not be offended by this.


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