You’ve heard it before that film is a director’s medium. The screenwriter writes a story, the director transforms that written story into a visual story. Every story has a theme and you as the director must visually present that theme making the viewer understand it and feel it. The way you accomplish that becomes your directing style.
Every great director has his/her own style. Some directors like to use extreme close-up shots, some like to use tracking shots, some use lots of establishing shots to set the tone. In the editing room, the director usually has “final cut” which means the director has the final say on what gets cut and what gets included as well as how the film is cut. For example, thrillers tend to use a lot of quick cuts to establish suspense.
So, how do you find your own directing style? Start by studying great directors you admire. Watch a lot of movies. Study those movies. Analyze the films by reading the scripts, break down each scene as you watch and read. Make notes on what kind of shot the director chose and how you felt while watching the scene. Make notes on the camera angles, the lighting, and the locations. Question everything about the films you view. Could the story be told without the scene? Could the story be told in a different location? Would it lose or gain something in a new location?
There are a plethora of sources online to read interviews of your favorite directors where they share some of their advice on filmmaking. You can also download scripts for free.
After you’ve become familiar with your favorite directors and immersed yourself in their films, begin by shooting your own film. Start with a short film and an iPhone if you’re on a budget. If you don’t have a script, write one. A short film is anything under 40 minutes. If you can tell a story in 2 minutes, shorter is always better. Good movies are nothing more than emotional manipulations. They get our attention by grabbing our emotions. It doesn’t matter if that emotion is fear, sadness, happiness or anger; it just has to be genuine. At the end, we should feel satisfied. You will find your own directing style as you begin copying things you’ve already seen on screen but better.