The job of a film director is multifaceted. On the one hand, they're responsible for researching and planning the many ways in which a script can be translated to the screen. They therefore have lots of ideas about camera angles, visual design, locations, and set design, actors and action, lighting design, and pacing. 

Once on set, after a lot of those choices have already been decided, the director is more necessary than ever, as they must be present every day to make sure those pre-production plans are properly executed. The director also needs to work directly with the actors, making sure they hit their marks and deliver their performances in a believable and appropriate way throughout the entire production phase. 

After the production is completed – wrapped, as they say – and the film crew has gone home, the director's job of making the film really begins: in the editing room. In other words, a director has to have a vision for the story and then see that this vision is executed as closely as possible from start to finish. 

It’s no wonder that directors get the most important credit! 

The Reading 

Read more about "The Director’s Style" in Chapter 11 of The Art of Watching Films (310 – 329).

The Watching – Three Films by One Director

Ok, so when it comes to style, every director has one, even if it's entirely derivative or incredibly schlocky. Director Wes Anderson's style is neither of these: it has been fresh, charming, and unmistakable since his debut film Bottle Rocket (1996).  His style can be seen in every facet of the filmmaking that we have discussed in this course: from dialog, themes, casting, to production design, cinematography, score, editing, titles, and animation. Anderson is known for his nostalgic storylines and production design, as well as the blending of well-worn styles (eg French New Wave, stop-motion, and cinéma vérité ).

Production design and cinematography, in particular, are Anderson trademarks. This short video below explores the use of symmetry in his films:

But, as this 15 minute explainer video below explains, there are unique aspects in every facet of his films:

You can watch any of Anderson's movies and get an understanding of his style, but I have included nine films in the LEH – Visual Storytelling library that I think are the most enjoyable (I have excluded Darjeeling Limited (2007) for no other reason than it's my least favorite). Your job for this module is to watch (at least) three of them. Now, you could choose to go with him earliest films to try to understand how his style began to form, starting with Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), and the amazing Royal Tenenbaums (2001). Or you might go for his films that feature, or are entirely, stop-motion animation: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Isle of Dogs (2018 – which BTW took four years to make!). Or you may just want to try and understand the evolution of his style by watching his first major film (Bottle Rocket), then his most well-known film (Royal Tenenbaums) and finally watching his latest release (The French Dispatch (2021)). That said, which three films you choose is entirely up to you.

The Questions

Once you’ve watched these three films, answer the following questions: