Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Zone

"To make a fighter, you gotta strip 'em down to bare wood. You can't just tell them to forget everything they know, you gotta make them forget it in their bones. Make them so tired they only listen to you, only hear your voice, only do what you say and nothing else..."
- Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

I (the director) am the boxer, the film's the trainer.

It suddenly hit me this morning that I feel this way, and it's the way I have felt for all the other films I've directed. Once I start getting this close to the film shoot, I get tunnel vision and I forget everything else. The film is it. Everything I say, do, see or hear somehow loops back to the film, reminding me of it in some way. Making me think about it in a different way.

This morning I was shocked at how tired I was. In my fatigued state, as I was thinking about the film, the above quote came to mind. Then, I started thinking about why it came to mind.

I've been up late two nights in a row working on this film (well, late for an out-of-college guy like me) and it struck me that I am letting the film "train" me. I also realized that I think that's a good portion of what good directing is. I need to submit myself to the film's story and act out of the things I discover as I delve into the story, characters and themes. Directing isn't so much about being in charge as it is about being the champion of the film, the "fighter" for the story. The director is (or should be) the one who acquires the most intimate knowledge of the script, who relates to it the most personally, or is trained to operate within the fictional world of the script more than anyone else. He then takes this knowledge and relays it to his team.
This has proven to be good brain-fodder for me the past hour or so and is actually quite encouraging and challenging, too. It encourages me to keep on digging deeper and deeper into the characters, themes, story and world; rehearsing them over and over in my head until they become instinctual knowledge to me. Just like the fighter learns to fight instinctually.

Okay, I'm going to cut this post short because I don't want stretch the analogy too much!

Yay for external processing!


  1. Awesome analogy and thought, man! I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

  2. Thanks for posting that Will. That was a very helpful reminder about the role of a team leader.