Biggest Mistakes A Director Can Make On The First Day Of Production by James Kicklighter

Film Courage: What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made on the first day of shooting?

James Kicklighter, Filmmaker: I think some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made on the first day of shooting usually pertain to interpersonal things.

At this point I kind of know what I need to do to get something done technically. I know the story, I know all of the different pieces that I need to deploy to hopefully have a good film. The first day obviously sets the tone for many of those things, right?

You have sometimes people you’ve worked with hundreds of times and sometimes you’ve got people that are brand new that you’ve never seen before. When you’re doing that I think you have to figure out how those relationships that you have existing are going to mesh with those that are new.

And it’s figuring out the interpersonal dynamics of how these people tick, what makes them tick, deciding what they think is funny and not funny, things like that.

Because that tone you set on your set, on the first day, it does not matter what the film is. It can be anything you’re shooting, an ad, a documentary film, whatever. That is going to set the tone with that person that doesn’t know you for the rest of the shoot and if you blow that by misjudging someone by how they feel about things (whatever), then you’ve got to work on getting that back (to get them back).

I think that may be for me personally the most…that’s something I messed up before. I try to do better about now.

Film Courage: Well…that’s big of you to admit that you’ve misjudged. But there are also people that look for a challenge and they try it on someone in charge and bring whatever they’re dealing with and they say “No…I’m going to be the thorn in the side to this person.”

James: Sure. And some people definitely have that. I try to meet as many people as possible across as many departments as possible before shooting something to kind of get a sense of people and how they are…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).



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