We have begun the long process of casting a feature. My father is always asking me whether we have finished shooting yet and I tell him, er, we are having meetings. He cannot believe that we cannot just tell people to come along and shoot the film.
Of course he is right. We should be able to say, hey guys, come along and shoot this movie because it’ll be great and we'll all have a fun time! But people being what they are, nobody will turn up without pay, and it will not necessarily be the right people if they do, and regretfully there is no guarantee of a fun time!
Putting together a movie is a black art. One guy can be marvelously talented but put him in a team with another, and somehow the two do not add up even to a sum of the parts. Whereas another bunch of guys are much better together than you can imagine them being when looking at them individually.
In the movie industry you often see that a winning team stick together. And when the team breaks down and people branch out on their own, somehow nothing quite works for them. Whether you are actors or crew or producers and writers, there are people with whom you do better, and others, despite one liking them, one does worse.
I wish I had a magic formula for who will make a movie work and who will not, but one has to trust instincts, do screen tests, ask for recommendations, and see who one has a productive chemistry with that can translate into a good movie. If I have any criteria for a movie made in the way I like to work, it is for people who are enthusiastic and communicative.
There are directors who hate that! They do not want people with ideas. They want people to do as they are told. Well, so do I in the last analysis, but I like chatty people who can articulate their thoughts. Those who do that best, are not egotistical and argumentative, they are people who muck in and help when things go wrong, and people who anticipate problems and make sure that they do not happen!
I think of Gordon Ramsay in his TV persona as badass Chef, yelling at his kitchen staff to "Communicate!" Though I'm not a fan of his management style, I sure as hell believe in that "communicate!" mantra. If people are not clearly communicating with each other where they are, what they doing, why they are doing it, and when they are doing it, so much time and energy is wasted.
The directors job, I think has less to do with what he does on set, but who he chooses to be there with him.