Movie Directors Have Two Responsibilities by Bill Duke

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Film Courage: So your latest film CREATED EQUAL, how many people would show up [on set] everyday?

Bill Duke, Actor and Director: Depending on the day, the courthouse scenes, lots and lots. Similar scenes, if you’re directing, you’re in charge of a whole lot of folks (30, 40, 50 sometimes 100 more). A big feature film, a few hundred. And you have to translate your vision to everybody from The Teamsters to the actors to the first and second AD, the DP, sound, wardrobe, props, costume because for me I have…I’m a very paranoid director. I go through my sets at least 5 to 7 times (every set). I block, my DP, everybody comes with me and I have my assistant write my shot list. So every angle, every shot, every set-up my entire staff and crew have it a week before I shoot. There’s no drama, no mystery, you come to the set, cast comes in, I know the blocking (I may make some adjustments) but they know everything so that when we’re there, we work. It’s not figuring things out. Rehearsals give you room to…for the actors who don’t feel comfortable sitting here “Can I sit over here?” Fine, that’s not a problem.


Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and behind the Camera by Bill Duke


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But we don’t say “Wait a minute? Instead of waiting for the sun to shine, let’s wait for the sun to set.” That don’t happen. Because that means you didn’t make your day. You just have to be planning.

Directors, they’re in charge of two things. Creative process – you have to translate your vision to everybody. But the second thing is – they are managers. They are managers of three things – time, people, and money. It’s mathematics. You have 12 hours in a day that you can work, a certain number of scenes, that are broken down into set-ups. Each set-up you have a certain number of minutes to make your day. An actor comes in unprepared and um…that’s a big problem.

So we work as a team, a collaborate effort, understanding our obligations and responsibilities.

Question for the Viewers: How is your approach to directing the same or different?



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Bill Duke directing Lou Diamond Phillips in CREATED EQUAL