Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino ban cellphones on set. Robert Rodriguez invites established painters to teach the actors how to paint in between takes. Directors often bring their quirks to the filmmaking process, establishing rules to make the shoot more efficient or creative. We asked filmmakers to share theirs:
I am extremely hassled by the way people say, "Silence!" I don't allow that on set. Nobody even says action or cut, because I believe that when you hear the word 'action', you get tensed and the molecules in your body start saying: I have to act, I have to act. I don't bring a clapboard in front of the actor because of the way the clapboard person shouts. I do all of this so that the actor is sacred and secure. I also try to break for lunch absolutely on time because I believe that a film crew runs on their stomach and I think that people should be fed on time.
I get a human traffic policeman because a set has so many people. I try and give each person their space and have designated areas for equipment because otherwise, there will be a 100 people between my actor and I, and I'll have to put on American rugby attire to reach them.
My only rule on set is to have fun. Shooting is hard work, but there's no point putting in the effort if you don't have fun doing it. My only pet peeve is lack of punctuality. I don't care much for anyone who thinks their time is more important than anyone else's.
There are a couple of rules that Raj (Nidimoru) and I have. One of those is no smoking on set. We want to have a smoke-free environment. Most people adhere to this, and if they want to smoke, then they go outside.
There are a lot of crew members on set and often, they forget that they have a walkie and so start yelling instructions to each other across the set. That's one of my pet peeves – constantly reminding them to use it. This happens at least once everyday. I think it's important to maintain silence on the set because the director and actors need to think, and this noise disturbs your concentration.
A non-serious pet peeve I used to have (now it will be there forever) is that I hate walking around on a set and shaking hands with everybody, every morning. You work with them for 12 hours, then you get 3 hours of rest and then you are back on set. People don't understand that shaking hands is the number one way to spread germs. As a director, you cannot afford to fall sick even for one day; you are indispensable. So I used to try my best to not shake hands with people without offending them, thankfully now that won't happen thanks to COVID.
I hate murmurs. Hate. Hate. Hate.
I hate assistants taking notes on their mobile phones. Totally inefficient. Notepads and pens rule. All assistants must use a notepad. Sounds simple but it's a tough habit to inculcate.
The joy to create and uplift humanity through stories is what keeps me going. The chatters and the 'opinionated' baggage which comes along with making a film sometime can wear me down. But it's important to step back and ask why I want to make films. When I answer that, all the unwanted chatter settles down. I retreat into my shell of writing and making films. I have always believed that the important thread of storytelling is in the way I weave what I want to say. Rather than following formula, I love creating new spaces. And the same goes while on set. Everyone should be respectful and speak with dignity to all. I don't allow screaming and shouting on set as that demotivates everyone. If we have something to say, we speak clearly and sort it out with oneness and equanimity. Give and expect love and kindness as a team and magic happens.