The job of a film director is multifaceted. On the one hand, she's responsible for researching and planning the many ways in which a script can be translated to the screen. She'll 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 she 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 

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

The Watching – Three Films by One Director

For this module, you are going to research the work of one director in an attempt to analyze the evolution of her directing style. I have chosen Ava Duvernay for the director we will analyze this semester, as she is one of the few women of color directors in Hollywood and has made a series of very important – and very timely – films in the last decade. Starting with Selma (2014), for example, tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, culminating in the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Then came 2016's 13th, a documentary exploring race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States through the lens of the titular 13th amendment, which abolished slavery everywhere in the US. And though in a very different vein, A Wrinkle in Time (2018) is notable because, with its release,Duvernay became the first black woman to direct a live-action film grossing over $100 million at U.S. box office. 

All these movies have significant differences: one is a dramatization of a historical event; another is a documentary (about a series of historical events); and still another is a cinematic interpretation of a classic – and entirely fictional – young adult novel. But I'm asking you to think about similarities. Thinking about the reading, which concerns elements of a director's style, can you describe a stylistic thread running through these three seemingly different films? 

The Questions

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