1: I am not loaded! Not that I've been the most careful spender of money and it's true Ebay has been kept busy with a fair few idiotic and impulsive purchases of mine, but I don't have a spare room full of money. Sometimes it is easy to forget that a director has to work on a project from start to finish unlike almost 90% of a film crew. While we are off to the edit, or the sound mix and so on, most other crew members might well be on to the next job or the one after. Now, I'm sure the four people who will eventually read this might be selling their DVD copies of London To Brighton in protest because they assume I earn massssssssssses of money per film, far more than 90% of the crew. That is a MYTH. If you calculated weeks worked and overall salary there have been jobs where I haven't even been on the living wage. I DO want to point out that I am aware of this before I embark on any job and I have loved the jobs I've worked on. But unless you are going straight onto a film with a decent budget, well over the million pound plus mark, you won't be retiring on the fee.
2: A great short does not a great long film make. I made a few decent shorts, played at a few decent festivals, a deal with Fox Searchlight that had more pages than God. I was talented (so I was told in meetings), I had some scripts; I was also on 'lists', which was probably a polite way of saying "we thought of him/her but no way". The best way of directing your first feature is to do it on your own for no money and hope it's not shit. If you make your first film with a big company and you are completely untested you will find it very hard and may have to concede, something you will only have to do on a low low budget film due to lack of cash, which is actually less painful.
3: Everyone has money. That is a lie, only very careful people have money and they often have money because they don't give it out very often. Sitting with someone in a coffee shop who loves your script and says they can finance the film via this fund and that fund is awesome BUT, 95% of the time, despite a good dollop of best intentions, untrue. Never believe ANYONE has the money for your film until you've finished it and EVERYONE has been paid.
4: Your film is the best film in the world. Unfortunately your film isn't the best film in the world or if it is you certainly won't be reading this, you will be in a hotel suite with a lot of money and choices. I've screened cuts of films from early edits to finished films where the powers that be; financiers, distributors, critics, actors and directors, have all said words along the lines of, "this is the best film in the world". I have believed it, and even when I haven't believed it I have been unable to get the annoying and fake image of me on the front cover of Rolling Stone in a bath of Oscars. Believing your film will be anything other than, "a decent piece of work that some people like and might get you another job" only leads to disappointment.
5: The simplicity of being nice. It's the easiest thing in the world. Be nice to everyone and do your utmost to treat everyone with the same level of respect, from the runner to the lead actor. A team completes a film and if the team gets along, that's a free trip to the bingo hall.
6: Pick your battles. Losing your shit over the colour of the teapot is pointless and energy zapping, unless of course your film is called Harry's Yellow Teapot. Otherwise worry about the big things. It's all very well spending a day choreographing the curtains to reflect the emotional journey of man, but if the acting's shit and story makes no sense you've chosen the wrong battle to fight. Character, script and acting. You make those three things gripping and most other things can be forgiven.
7: It's only a film. You are not curing cancer, nor rescuing small children from famine or even dishing out soup to the homeless. You're stood in a North Face jacket getting pissed off because the biscuit selection is crap today. Directing is a job, but people have real jobs, people work harder and get paid much less. Keep a lid on your ego and remember how lucky you are to be doing something that most wannabe directors will never get a chance to do: Make a film.
8: Directors need an audience. Er, which is a rather unsubtle way of saying, come and see my show. It's a play, which is basically like a film in the greatest 3D ever invented. See detail below.
Finally... Turn your phone off.
Paul Andrew Williams directs Ticking, a play starring Tom Hughes, Anthony Head and Niamh Cusack, opening on 6th October at Trafalgar Studios. Tickets are available now: http://bit.ly/1L2GSLY