What can you find about how the director works on set ?

What is the background of the filmmaker that influences the way they bring human behavior to the screen?  In your own words…

Eg:  Lars Von Trier was brought up in an extremely permissive environment that contrasted with his strict and abusive school environment. His parents took him to nudist camps, but he had to conform in his school environment, and so consequently he was “very scared” of the real world.  He also discovered as a young adult that his father wasn’t his father: that he had been the result of a fling that his mother had with her boss.   Throughout his career he has been ‘disliked, misunderstood, and unpleasant” – and he has taken steps to be contrary with producers and others: in creating his films, he always is looking to disrupt the audience expectations and make them think and experience outside the norm.  In “Dogville” the sense of impending doom and fear is a driving force that makes the outcomes believable if not inevitable.


2)    What do you know about the creation of characters in one of their films?

Eg:  Von Triers characters are often psychologically complex and not easily generalized, but there are other consistent ways that he approaches characters beyond the norm.  Often his characters are allegorical or represent specific ideas (“Dogville”) and extend an ideology about religion or ‘faith’, but a faith that has many readings. He deliberately violates notions of accepted society and finds the frailty in all.  He also often touches on the persecution of women, almost to an obsessive nature.  He says they are not women, not female at all, but instead says, “They are Self Portraits.” (Newsweek) Also, “My technique is that I divide my personality into the characters that I write, and then very early on they get a life of their own.”


3)    What can you find about how the director works on set ?

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Eg: Von Trier is not known to be an actor’s director – and has been said to have no interest in what the actors think.  He is mixing his elements, but his direction is mechanical, often describing motion and voice, but not getting into the psychological understanding that many actors expect.   He does press the performer, in what is sometimes perceived as an unsympathetic way, but this process sometimes produces performances that shine in confident actors OR reveal the delicacies in those that usually require more interaction. On the other hand, the crew and creative are often satisfied with his demanding and technical approach.  He is known for having a dark but funny perspective – witty and intelligent – and at least from the cinematography perspective is demanding, technical and precise in this desires to capture the essence of the scenes.  Cinematographer Anthony Dodd Mantle described the process of “Antichrist” as both exhausting, demanding and interesting – both from keeping VonTrier emotionally satisfied and also resolving technical demands.


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