It is not so easy to explain what direction
exactly is, mostly because the borderline to the other disciplines in
filmmaking is a rather blurred one. The main purpose of direction is to make
all those different aspects harmonize to each other to form a well-functioning
film. The term "well-functioning" just means that it is tried to achieve the
highest possible impact on the viewers. How this impact may look like depends
on the goals of the work. For most films or series those goals are basically
the same, though. There are just differences in the emphasis on each of the
goals. Here are the most important ones. Some of them are surely trivial:
- The general appearance ought to be more or less aesthetic and/or realistic
depending on the purpose of the film. The director does not have much to do
here, but usually he makes certain requests to his colleagues or objects to a
worked-out design if he does not agree with it. Two evident requirements to
WMT series are the very realistic background art and
the typical character design, which has to be still compliant with the
original. Or what would you think about a "Blonde-haired Anne of Green
- Of course the viewers need to know what is happening at all. You can view
the story not only from a distance but you can also look at it in detail. And
this is the main field of work for a director. Starting from a rough
description delivered by the screenplay he tries to visually interpret it in a
way as effective as possible. Under this viewpoint a whole lot of important
factors come to mind, like the actions themselves, viewing angles und cuts. On
the following pages I will deal mostly with those aspects.
- Essentially more important than the looks of the characters is how they
are from the inside. Their characters are as important as their thoughts and
feelings. How expressively the feelings are mediated is mostly dependent on
the talent of the actors or in case of animation of the animators. Characters
define themselves through their reaction on different events and are therefore
mostly described by the screenplay. But especially on this field, the direction
is often underestimated. At first facial expressions and body language must be
developed and the reactions must be visualized in the right manner.
- In some cases it is desired to express a certain message which invites the
viewers to think about a subject, or even more of them. It is possible to do
this in a very subtle and sneaky way or to do it using key scenes or dialogues.
Some popular anime directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno of Studio
Gainax are very ambitious considering this topic. In this series those
messages are present as well but they are mostly handled by the screenplay.
Shots with a symbolized meaning are seldom found (but they are present).
- And finally the most important thing: if you don't want the film to become
a dry character study, you will have to appeal to the emotions of the viewers.
What would a crime story be without suspense or a comedy without humour? In a
drama story like this one the essential emotion is the feeling to be right
The director and the writer could impossibly do all that work alone.
Therefore they are dependent on the support of no less important co-workers.
For example beside others someone for the camera, one for the layout, an art
director (whatever that is) and three animation directors contributed to
'A Little Princess Sara'. I will not plunge into the difficulties
of analyzing who exactly does what. Instead, a more general approach will be
used. The following pages want to show that directing can be not only a mere
job but also a high art, especially as far as this series is concerned.
The journey begins with some
introductory examples and leads on from
that page, but for a better overview I have included a small table of contents.