First Time Director Workshop 101

On Monday the 31st March 2014, we held an introduction to directing for short film workshop.  Leading the workshop, Christy DeHaven and Dave Armstrong covered the basics of film directing, laying the theoretical  foundations for our budding directors who took the class. This session will be followed up with a practical directing workshop in the coming weeks with UK Film Director and Teacher Lesley Manning. To make sure you’re the first to hear about future workshops, sign up to our mailing list here.

The Directing 101 worksop at the Forum

The Directing 101 worksop at the Forum

 We also invited Sonya, James and Shawn to the workshop, all of whom have gained their first directing credit through the MannIN Shorts Scheme over the last two years. Here are some pearls of wisdom from each:-

Sonya directing DoP  Christy on the set of 'I do'

Sonya directing DoP Christy on the set of ‘I do’

1. What was your relationship/ background in Directing/ Filmmaking up until you directed your first short, and how did it help your directing experience?


“I studied drama when I left school and my degree is in Literature which is useful when I’m working on the script and thinking about character.”


“I’ve been a theatre actor for most of my career. The nature of theatre is that you must sustain a character over the course of an evening until the story is completely told. This now-instinctive approach to scripts helped me keep the story straight, despite shooting scenes “out of order” as it were.”


“I’ve worked in TV and film for the last 15 years or so in the cutting room, so I’ve spent lots of time around lots of directors and seen how you tell a story. It helped me with the short because my experience has taught me that performance is everything. If you get that right your piece will work. You can have the most beautiful shots but if the performance isn’t right it won’t fly!. That was the the main thing I took into filming so I tried to make sure I’d sorted a lot of the other areas before so I could concentrate on the actors when we were filming.”

James on the set of 'Benches' with Camera Crew

James on the set of ‘Benches’ with Camera Crew

2. What do you wish you’d known before embarking on Directing a Short film?


“That you don’t need to have all the answers.”


“How much time you need in order to do the job justice!. I suppose it doesn’t matter how hard everyone tells you it’s going to be, it’s still very, very intense!, and I only filmed for two days!”


“Every career, artistic or otherwise, owns a particular language. I’d have liked to understand a bit more of the jargon of film making.”


Shawn speaking to lead actor Ray on location for ‘Barry Brown’

3. What’s your advice to first time directors?


“Be kind. Your crew and actors are far less likely to stage an uprising if you are a benevolent dictator.”


“Preparation. Test as much as you can before filming and have a plan that you can fall back on so you’re not having to fire fight through the shooting process. I’d also surround yourself with experienced people and use their knowledge to help you achieve your vision.”



At MannIN Shorts.. here are some of our favourite Directors who each have very iconic styles:

Jean Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) – creates from a childlike imagination using vivid colours, quirky wardrobe, characters with characteristics within intricately designed sets

 Wes Anderson:- The attention to detail Wes pays in the construction of each frame and shot  in his films is astonishing. Each shot is almost a character in itself, and we find Wes often centralises the shot. Here’s a clever little video illustrating this.

Alfred Hitchcock:- The original master of suspense, utilised unusual camera angles, iconic costume and editing techniques to develop his trademark style

This Blog was created by Emily Cook - MannIN Shorts

This Blog was created by Emily Cook – MannIN Shorts


About MannIN Shorts

"MannIN Shorts" is a brand new Isle of Man film initiative set to provide a platform for hopeful filmmakers.  Young or old, local or international it provides a launch pad to develop skills, ideas and actually make films, right here on the Isle of Man.
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