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Film & Media Studies

Film 1-on-1: Questions to Ask Directors

15 topics that can help directors expound on their films and articulate their artistic vision

I use these guide questions in interviewing film directors in the web series, Film 1-on-1 — Conversations on the art and practice of film directing, cinematography, cinematic storytelling, editing , and sound, across a wide range of diverse film genres.

  1. CONCEPT & SYNOPSIS: What is the concept — e.g, Jurassic Park’s concept is what if there’s a theme park that features real dinosaurs instead of regular animals — of your film? Can you give us a brief and spoiler-free synopsis?
  2. THEMES: What themes, e.g., humanity vs. technology, coming of age, corruption, perseverance, death, family drama, etc., are explored in your film?
  3. DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT: What is your vision as the director of this film? Can you please express your directorial/artistic statement?
  4. INSPIRATIONS: What inspired you to make this film?
  5. DIRECTING PROCESS: What was your process in directing this film? Can you describe the creative decisions that you made in terms of mise-en-scène, i.e., settings & props, costume & makeup, lighting — e.g., high-key vs. low-key, hard/soft light — and directing actors & figure movement?
  6. SCREENPLAY: How did the screenplay come into being? How did you bring the story, characters, and milieu to life in your film?
  7. GENRE: What is the genre of this film? Did you intend to follow the conventions of that genre or make some innovations?
  8. CINEMATOGRAPHY: Can you describe your creative collaboration with the Director of Photography? How did the dynamics go in making creative decisions in terms of framing and composition, lighting design, lens, camera position & movement, etc.?
  9. EDITING: Can you describe your creative collaboration with the editor? Did you make any special/unconventional editing choice?
  10. SOUND & MUSIC: Can you describe your film’s overall sound design? What role, if any, did music play in your film?
  11. CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNED: What problems did you encounter in making this film and what have you learned as a result of dealing with those challenges?
  12. AUDIENCE RESPONSE: Where has this film been screened so far? What were the audience’s reactions? Were there Q&A sessions? Can you share some memorable questions from the audience and how you addressed them?
  13. SOCIAL DISCOURSE: How do you envision this film’s contribution to social discourse?
  14. IDEAL FILM: How would you describe the “perfect” film? How do you envision your body of work to define you as a film director?
  15. PROMOTIONS & PLANS: What platforms have you used in promoting this film? What are your plans after this film?