Director’s Foundation Certificate LA


Availability: In-person, Online, VOD
Duration: 5 Monday evenings
June 18 – July 16, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Rough Diamond Productions
1424 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Course Fee: $269.00
Member Fee (15% OFF): $228.65

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The director is ultimately responsible for every image and sound that appears on the screen. Many new directors chase the dream of directing without the technical and creative skills needed to succeed. With the Directors Foundation Certificate LA course, learn the key skills of working with the screenplay, directing camera, cast and crew, and gain an overview of each area of the director’s responsibilities through a series of classes.

The Directors Foundation Certificate includes:

  • How directors work with writers 
  • How directors interpret the screenplay
  • How to work with actors in rehearsal and on set
  • The technical aspects and grammar of directing 
  • And, finally what the film director actually does on the day of the shoot and how to best work with an editor

Students taking the Directors Foundation Certificate LA will be given optional weekly assignments. Obviously, the more preparation a student does the more he or she will benefit form this engaging and entertaining course.



What you will learn:

Week 1: The Director And The Script

June 18th

The script is the blueprint for a movie. The director’s job is to read and interpret the screenplay. Discover how a good director translates the written word into the visual elements on the screen. A screenplay will be sent out to all students to read before the class and single scene will be work-shopped in Week 1. The instructor will talk about the over all story, how to break down a scene and discover the key events. He will discuss how to identify issues such as the 3 types of conflict in a scene.

  • Analyzing and reading the script.
  • Looking for the truth – what is this script really about?
  • 3 types of conflict in a scene explained.
  • Identifying key moments.
  • Finding additional visual elements including discovering your theme and best way to show it visually.
  • Discovering the hero’s journey.
  • Identify what each character wants and how this defines the conflict.
  • Written Assignment for next week: Summarize the hero’s journey in the story and identify some of the story elements discussed.

Week 2: The Grammar Of Directing

June 25th

Directors use a variety of shots and lenses to compose their scenes and create a vocabulary of cinematic techniques and processes. Directors must learn the do’s and don’ts of film grammar.

  • Using the camera with the intention to tell the story.
  • Demonstration of camera placement and lenses.
  • Framing and composition – when to use subjective or objective.
  • Approaching your coverage – the evolving master shot, shot size and focal length for coverage.
  • How does a director communicates his vision, floor plan, storyboards, lookbook and shot lists?
  • What is the 180 line? Understanding crossing the line with intention.
  • Written Assignment for next week: Take the scene and do your own story boards, floor plan and shot list.

Week 3: The Director and the Rehearsal

July 2nd

Students will be sent a reading assignment that discusses directing tools for actors before class to review.

  • Casting and how to handle and identify the best actors in casting.
  • Director’s role as a storyteller and how to get the results you want in performances from actors and how best to create characters for the screen.
  • Exercises to discover the subtext.
  • How to run a rehearsal and create mood and tension by inspiring the actors and using the tool of staging.
  • We will do a table read first.  Then students will adjust the performances.
  • Creating characters for the screen – going over Objective, action, subtext, destination, inner monologue, inner object, expectation, preceding moment, back story, biography.
  • Written Assignment for next week: Write a report on your thoughts on the tools and how you could use them for the characters in the scene.

Guests: 2 actors to join “Table Read Rehearsal.”

Week 4: Directing The Actor

July 9th

Put into practice the tools we have learned the previous week. The job of the director is to know the result you are looking for and have a vision of the film through the eyes of the audience. The director needs to know the emotional experience they want the audience to have. We will use the tools from the reading assignment to get the performance you want from the actors.

  • How to identify and understand an actor’s needs.
  • The Director’s focus on set.
  • Preparing to shoot.
  • Working with an AD on the shooting schedule.
  • Good communication under pressure.
  • Making decisions and staying flexible.
  • Shooting for the edit.
  • Demonstration of how to block the scene for the camera with actors.
  • Students will get a chance to try blocking based on their storyboards and floor plans prepared
  • Written Assignment for next week: Watch “A Fish Called Wanda.”

Guests: 2 actors to join “Directing the Actor”

Week 5:  Understanding The Editing Process 

July 16th

The film editor is a key creative on the film production team. On this evening learn about their role and discover how successful film directors manage this important relationship.

  • The function of the director in the editing room.
  • Understanding editing through analysis of a completed sequence.
  • What does the director need to understand about editing?
  • Sequence analysis on “A Fish Called Wanda.”
  • Discuss all the elements we have worked on the previous weeks and how they come to play in the sequence in “A Fish Called Wanda.”
  • Importance of music and sound design and how to pick the right composer.



Who should attend?

The Director’s Foundation Certificate Course covers a variety of basic and advanced techniques and processes. This course is for film directors starting out on their creative path, those interested in finding out more about directing, those who have done a short film and getting ready to go to the next level with a feature or those seeking a quick refresher course to tune up and improve their technique.



About the instructor

John Penney

Award winning writer/director John Penney attended UCLA where he studied film and received a degree in English. In addition to his screenplays, John has written short stories that have won him an award from the Adelphi Academy in New York, and have been published in the “Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.”

In 2011 John wrote and directed the supernatural thriller “Hellgate” starring William Hurt and Cary Elwes. The film was awarded Best Film at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival as well as the Best Horror Film from the Fantasy Horror Awards in Italy, sponsored by Syfy Europe Universal. Prior writer-director credits include the thriller “Zyzzyx Road” starring Katherine Heigl and Tom Sizemore, and the family film “Magic” with Robert Davis and Christopher Lloyd.

John is currently an adjunct Directing Instructor at the Los Angeles Film School and proudly presents the Directors Foundation Certificate LA.  He’s currently prepping his next feature film, “Truck Stop,” based on his novel.

In addition to his directing, John has written the screenplays for such films as “The Enemy” starring Roger Moore, Luke Perry, Olivia D’abo; “Contaminated Man” starring Peter Weller and William Hurt; “A Breed Apart” with Robert Patrick, Andrew McCarthy; “In Pursuit” with Daniel Baldwin, Claudia Schiffer, “Matter of Trust” with C. Thomas Howell. “The Kindred” with Rod Steiger, “Return of the Living Dead 3” with Mindy Clarke, “Past Perfect” with Eric Roberts, Laurie Holden and “Amphibious 3D” with Michael Pare.

John also served as a producer on his films “Zyzzyx Rd”,”A Breed Apart”, “Matter of Trust” and “In Pursuit.”

In 2012 John wrote his first novel “Truck Stop” and followed that up in 2013 with his second novel, “Killing Time.” He is also featured in the newly released book on screenwriting by Jose Prendes, “The High Concept Massacre” along with fellow screenwriters Carl Gottlieb (“Jaws”), Amy Holden Jones (“Mystic Pizza” “Indecent Proposal”), and Doug Richardson (“Bad Boys” “Die Hard 2”).


Attending the course online and on VOD

Do you want to attend the first class in person and online on other weeks? Or, do you want to attend online on some weeks and watch other weeks on VOD?  You have the freedom to attend this course in person, online, or by watching it on VOD without making any prior selection. 

LIVE ONLINE: Every attendee gets an email invitation for the online classroom 30 minutes before class start times. All you need to do is to click the link provided in that email and watch the class on your computer’s web browser without needing to download any special software. If you are attending on your smart phone or tablet, please download the ClickMeeting app.

VOD: Video on Demand is a great option if you want to repeat what you learned in the class or you didn’t have time to attend the class in person or online. Each attendee gets a Vimeo link 24-48 hours after each week’s Directors Foundation Certificate LA class. 


Did you know?

  • Raindance members save 15% on the Directors Foundation Certificate LA? You can join online >HERE< and start saving immediately
  • This course is FREE for our postgraduate/MA/ students
  • The Raindance Guarantee: If this course fails to meet your expectations, let us know after the second class and we will make a full, 100% no-questions-asked refund.

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