What makes a great Director?

Good question, right?

Well, I’ve got a bunch of thoughts on the subject, but I thought I’d leave this question to an expert.

Oh Elia?  Elia Kazan?  Can you take this one?

Last month I wrote about a blog about writing tips and repurposed eight great ones from Kurt Vonnegut.  Judging from the number of page views it got . . . you liked it.  Or should.

So I thought you’d like some more . . . but maybe about a different subject.

This month I thought I’d point to an article by the great stage and film director, Elia Kazan.  You know, the dude who directed the original productions of Streetcar and Death of a Salesman.

In this article (which is actually a speech that he gave to students), Elia talks about all the things I think a director should know . . . from the “music of the day” to “costuming” to “the erotic arts” (which he also says best comes from personal experience . . . he said it!  I didn’t!).

When you read the article (which you can find here), you’ll see that it looks like he’s talking about being a film director but there ain’t nothing on the list that I can’t see being applied to the stage.

So if you’re a Director, read it.

And if you’re a Producer, read it twice.

Because it’s even more of a Producer’s job to know what makes a great Director than the Director himself.  Because the Producer’s in charge of finding the great Directors in the first place.

Lucky for us Producers, Mr. Kazan gave us a great guide.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Heather Davies says:

    Thank you Ken. The article was excellent! I’m a theatre director in Canada/UK- When I begand directing I asked one of my mentors for advice about this craft, she said, “Expand your Vision”. I’m still doing that- it’s a lifetime pursuit!

    It’s a pleasure to read your blog. I believe that it would be an even greater pleasure to work with you. Until then, Best wishes, Heather

  • alex says:

    wow, great article.

  • J.C. Schutz says:

    Really brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kim says:

    This is a great speech. Love it.

  • Derek says:

    So glad you found this, Ken. I first discovered this article in a very old magazine called Action – from the Director’s Guild of America – Jan-Feb 1974 edition ! Someone gave it to me years ago and this mag has been one of my most treasured possessions ever since. It’s one of the most insightful, inspiring pieces I’ve ever read. A big thank you for posting it here again.

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