What Makes A Good Director?

Last night I followed my own advice and watched a film directed by a woman that wasn’t in a stereotypical genre. It was Jodie Fosters Money Monster staring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. The film was a good watch, tackling issues of economic struggle and class systems in the modern age. The tension building and relief of the occasional comedic moments created a balanced film that kept you engaged all the way through to the end.

A comment from someone I was watching it with started my brain spurring though. I can’t remember exactly what they said but it was along the lines of how Jodie Foster’s direction was able to capture the emotional intensity of the characters and it got me thinking about direction and why maybe a woman would be better at capturing the emotional side of a story, even in action focused genres.

Of course there’s the organisation side of things that directors have to be good at but most of the time they’ll have a team of producers to help them along. There’s the creative direction, but this is often subjective to an audience and what makes a film good is often up for debate. The performances however can draw focus. A good performance in a bad film will often be commented upon and vice versa.

An interview as part of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative with Assistant Director Samantha Smith McGrady (Jason Bourne, Game of Thrones) shares her thoughts on what makes women particularly good directors.

She mentions that women directors are able to read a situation more sensitively and therefore provide support for actors during difficult scenes. She says in the video “I think women have a more sensitive approach to managing people.” Perhaps this is part of the reason why women are able to get emotionally intense performances out of their actors. Making them feel comfortable on set allows for better performance.

Another aspect she touches on is the ability to listen to your cast and crew. Of course generalising is not necessarily a positive activity but across the board women are known for being better listeners. Communication is key on a busy set and perhaps its the ladies natural ability to just simply listen that allows for a great performance.

We could therefore conclude that part of women’s natural abilities as listeners and nurturers allows for a comfortable set where actors can feel supported and therefore give better emotionally connected performances. Of course it’s just speculation but when you watch Money Monster (because I recommended you do) pay close attention to the actors emotional performances. I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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