Here’s What You Should Know Before Making A Feature Film by Douglas Taurel of The American Soldier and Landing Home

I’m Douglas Taurel. I’m an actor and a filmmaker. I want to share a few lessons that I think every first-time director should know and that will serve you really well on your first project.

Bannerman Castle on Bannerman Island, New York from Douglas Taurel’s
The American Soldier Solo Show

00:12 – 1. READ & RESEARCH 

Read books and talk to other directors for Do’s and Don’ts.  

The two books I read:

How Not to Make a Short Film

Making it Big in Shorts


=> Your storyboards can be as simple as drawing stick figures on paper, they don’t have to be elaborate. Record scenes from movies that inspire you with your phone and take screen shots of those scenes. File them in a folder on your computer, or iPhone or Google Doc, for inspiration on how you want to stage your actors and shoot your scenes. 

5.00  – 3. HIRE A GOOD DP, AD, PM and PD

=> Spend your budget on hiring quality people so that you can have the best possible film. The better quality people you hire up front, the better chance of success you will have. 


=> Your emails will be the life blood of your production capabilities as a first time director.  The more organized you are, the more power you will have as a first time director. Don’t underestimate the value and POWER of always keeping your email organized. It will allow you to focus on the things that you want to focus on. 

Douglas Taurel in
The American Soldier Solo Show

14:38 – 5. MAKE A NOTEBOOK 

=> Keep all of your notes in a notebook so the you feel like a director and you look like a director. You will be able to refer back to it when you have a question about a character, a scene or need a contract to show someone for some reason. 


=> Shoot plenty of punch ins so that you can tell your story as creatively as possible in the editing phase. You can’t have enough punch ins. What’s a punch in? – Your DP will tell you. 


=> A relaxed actor is a good actor. Make your actors feel respected and supported and they will give you Oscar type performances. Hire only good actors! Always! 

Behind-the-scenes on Landing Home web series

21:50 – 8. USE IMPROV

=> Use improv to help actors feel grounded.  Sometimes you will need to help your actors.  Have them talk about a story before the scene starts, or about a moment they each experienced during a particular day of the week, and then start the scene. Always record the improv! 

23:21 – 9. BELIEVE – YOU CAN DO IT!

=> Every night talk to yourself as if you have already completed an amazing film. Tell yourself how grateful you are that everything turned out so perfect,  even if you haven’t shot a single frame. You will make it happen by believing it has and will happen. 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – T.D


Landing Home is a 6 part TV-web series that tells the compelling story of a veteran trying to adjust back to civilian life after leaving the military. The web-series is inspired by Douglas Taurel’s play The American Soldier which touches on many aspects of war and explores the sacrifices and challenges our veterans and their families face as they return home from combat. Produced by Cyclops Production, Thomas Edison State University .

Cast with over 17 veterans both in the crew and the cast, and a good amount of cast and crew members who have, and had veterans in their family.


Behind-the-scenes on Landing Home web series with Douglas Taurel and Ylfa Edelstein



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