The most glamorous job in the film industry is that of a film director. Everyone wants to direct. There are seven deadly sins film directors make (even the experienced ones). Avoid these and you stand an excellent chance of launching your career.

Seven Deadly Sins Film Directors Make

1. Striving for perfection

Directors, particularly new ones, believe they have to be perfectionists. No. Films exist because of constant compromise. Compromise is key. A director’s talent is the quality of his/her compromises. Combined these compromises become your signature.

2. Burn the Budget

OK, there are two ways of looking at this.
A. Make sure you use all the money you have (and a bit more if you can).
B. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the budget determines the quality of your film. It certainly determines the production value, and therefore possibly distribution and how many people you reach, but NOT the quality.

3. Only good scripts become good films

Not true.

Dialogue is nothing more than body language, the same value as the way a character walks, or their smile, or their clothes. Plot is a vehicle with a flat tire a few days later. The only three things that make a film:
A. An interesting vision of the director.
B. Making the right shots (the camera tells the story, not the script).
C. A good story of course (which you stumble on while you shoot the film based on a bad story).

 4. Sex, Drugs and Filmmaking

There is no good way of making a film. Peckinpah was a drunk. Perhaps Spielberg sniffs coke like perfume. They’re not bad filmmakers. Some directors are miserable tyrants, misogynists, or empathetic to a fault but still profess to love their children. Talent is like cancer. It moves into a person without any prejudice.

5. Personal Films are a Must

See, I believe that’s true. But it’s a bit the same as saying: “There’ll be sunshine after the rain.” It may very well be true, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You, as a director, can only be what you are. Every filmmaker makes personal films. Every one of them. Only the audience perceives some more as personal than others mostly because the audience is pre-conditioned and brainwashed. In fifty years it may very well be different.

6. Be nice to your crew

I distrust directors who treat their crew like close family (and usually treat their close family like a crew).

Filmmaking has a selfish side and you better believe it. Be fair, be stern if needed, kind if possible, but never pretend you’re there for anything else than making your film. You’re not there to hold hands and sing kumbaya at the close of each shoot day. If you don’t fake, the crew will love you more in the end.

7. Who cares?

In the light of the universe and eternity nothing matters. But we live in the now, and to me the now matters. If you can make a film that excites people (even just a few), gives them a thought, an emotion or something that holds beauty you have achieved something valuable. You have communicated and have given value to your existence and that of others. That’s a treasure you can be proud of.

Ate de Jong presents a film directing masterclass at Raindance in London. In this weekend class De Jong will show you the tricks and traps of the trade he has learned from his own experience making two dozen films in Europe and Hollywood. Film directing masterclass details can be found here.

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About 

Few filmmakers have directed more features (24) than the cult director Ate de Jong. He has worked in the UK, in Europe and America. His film’s budgets range from micro to multi-millions. He’s worked with some of the world’s top actors as well as talented newcomers.

Ate de Jong studied at the Filmacademy of Amsterdam, and directed 6 feature films in The Netherlands, including A Flight of Rainbirds, Burning Love and Shadow of Victory.

In 1986 he moved to Hollywood with two small suitcases not knowing anyone in the US film industry. His first directing gig was an episode of Miami Vice (starring Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, James Brown and Chris Rock) He subsequently directed two US feature films: Highway to Hell (starring Chad Lowe, Kristy Swanson, Gilbert Gotfried and Ben Stiller) and Drop Dead Fred (starring Rik Mayall, Phoebe Cates, Carrie Fisher, Marsha Mason and Bridget Fonda), which have now become recogniazed cult classics around the world.

Since 1994 Ate has been working out of London. Most notably he directed the European co-production All Men Are Mortal (starring Stephen Rea, Irene Jacob, Chiara Mastroianni and Marianne Saegebrecht) based on the book of Simone de Beauvoir and the sexy thriller Fogbound (starring Luke Perry and Ben Daniels). He produced international pictures Left Luggage (Isabella Rossellini and Maximilian Schell) and The Discovery Of Heaven (Stephen Fry). His films were shown and laurelled at a variety of festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Moscou, LA, Seatttle, Chicago, Tokyo, Oporto and he was a sought after member of international panels and film juries.

More recently, Ate has produced and directed several UK features, Deadly Virtues (2013) and Love is Thicker than Water (2016). He is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Directors UK. IMDb Ate de Jong