Travis Tidbits

This is an archive of all of the Travis Technique Tidbits from Mark's popular Travis Technique newsletters. The most recent is first. Enjoy. Mark also writes a popular blog for directors, actors, and writers for The Wrap that has received a wave of positive reviews. Visit Mark's blog on The Wrap.  

5 Key Questions Directors Forget to Ask

TRAVIS TECHNIQUE TIDBIT #1:

5 Key Questions Directors Forget to Ask

Director B&WDirectors are expected to have all the answers. After all, it’s their film; the director is the captain, the leader, and the guide through the chaos. So we expect answers from them, clear and simple. And when we get their answers we can do our job.
But way too often there are five key questions that many directors seem to ignore, dismiss or they simply make the assumption that the answers areobvious. And also, chances are that nobody is asking them these questions:

 

1. What is the story really all about?

This is the most crucial and difficult question to answer. And it is the most important question because every decision, every choice every day rides on the director being clear about the power, message and meaning of the story.

2. What is this scene really all about?

Every single scene has its own story, its own arc, and its own underlying point, message or impact. You can’t direct a scene if you don’t know how you want this scene to impact the rest of the story, and how you want it to impact the audience.

3. Why is this scene in the movie?

If there is no strong, compelling reason for a scene to be in the movie then perhaps it doesn’t belong. Every scene is a piece of a larger puzzle and it connects with many other pieces. You can’t effectively create this piece of the puzzle without knowing why you need it and how it connects to other pieces.

4. What are the objectives, obstacles, risks and expectations for every character within each scene?

Many directors overlook or bypass this question because they feel this is the actor’s job. The answer really needs to come out of the collaboration with the actors (and the characters) and with the director keeping in mind the first three crucial questions.

5. What must be achieved with each scene in order to insure that it supports the movie?

This is the puzzle again. It has to hang together. Once you are clear on the answers to the first four questions you are ready to tackle this one. And this is mainly because the answer to this question resides in the compilation of the answers to the first four questions.
And if you have thoroughly answered these five questions for every scene, by the time you are heading into production you can feel assured that your film will become a cohesive whole.
Take a look at your next project (whether you are writer, actor or director) and try answering these questions. You will see that they open up new portals through which you can view the story and your role in bringing that story to life. If you want more support you can start with my books or DVDs hereOr simply contact me.