Ask a Mentor
Asking for Direction
Nicole Riegel shares her thoughts on finding the right director for a greenlit project, looking at both sides of the relationship.
Getting a script greenlit and funded is a goal screenwriters dream about. But what about after that? If you don’t direct, how do you find the right person to take your script from page to screen? Writer-director Nicole Riegel (Holler) encourages writers to ask themselves some important questions when seeking a creative connection with a director.
Question: “I have a script that is greenlit + funded. I’m needing a director, someone that has a good track record of decent box office that will be acceptable. I’m needing some good advice, steps I can take to connect with a director. MANY THANKS!”
Nicole Riegel: Hi! Thank you for the question, and I will answer this the best I can from the perspective of a writer-director. In terms of practical connection, I encourage you to reach out to the directors on your list or their representatives to gauge interest and availability for your project.
In terms of a creative connection between writer and director, there are some big important questions to ask yourself first about the kind of collaborator you are seeking: Are you willing to allow the director to be part of the writing process? Are you open to script changes at this stage? What is most important to preserve in the story? Do you prefer a non-writing director? Even a great non-writing director will have a point of view on the screenplay, and I encourage you to be open to all those ideas since you’re asking a fellow artist to devote the next few years of their life to your script.
As a director, one of the biggest turn-offs when approached with a script is when it feels like the writer isn’t open to further development and is looking for someone to shoot their script as is. Yes, a script is the foundation from which all great films are made, but you must allow it to become a film. The script is an important piece of a much larger filmmaking process that is guided by the director.
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with all sorts of directors from around the globe, of various experience levels, so you can be well researched in whose directorial voice you trust with yours. Diversify and think outside the box when making your list. A director who made a film that is almost exactly like your script most likely won’t want to make the same film twice. As a director, it’s exciting when I’m sent material that isn’t exactly like the film I just made.
Many great scripts are personal, even autobiographical, for the writer, and if you have strong opinions on what can or cannot be changed, I encourage showing up to the first director meeting prepared to speak about what is most important to you. The right director will find those things the most important to them as well. When you do find the right director, be open and vulnerable to changes that could enhance the film in ways you never imagined. That’s the beauty of collaboration and how strong creative partnerships between writers and directors are formed. I wish you the very best of luck!
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