How brief that was. Directing is addictive. With only a four-day shoot, wonderful actors included, you feel as if you've only just warmed up before it's over. When I dabbled in acting, a television director told me that he would much rather direct TV than film as with the latter he would only make one film every two years or so, at best. Experiencing the buzz of directing (with only two films under my belt) I wouldn't have it any other way.
Perhaps that's why it's such a buzz for me, as the writing, the planning, and the assembling of cast and crew are all parts of the process. The act of directing is the rather large, succulent cherry on top. And you enjoy it all the more. Then perhaps (for Clint at least) comes the most enjoyable of all - the editing. Ok, I don't agree with Clint. Directing is the most enjoyable for me as watching take after take is a little like listening to a stuck record, but as the piece comes together there is naturally yet another buzz, or after-buzz if you will - an echo of the set.
Working with Paul McGann was like watching a master craftsman. Above everything else, he somehow made my protagonist more mysterious, conflicted and generally more 'interesting' than I had envisaged from the written word. This is the sort of thing great actors can do when they lift it off the page. I've worked with actors before, as an actor - and therefore I haven't really witnessed the preparation and deliberation from the beginning to end. What's so impressive with Paul is how easy it looks. He's my favourite type of actor in the sense that he doesn't 'do' anything.
But there is so much going on underneath, as if a volcano could quite possibly erupt with no warning. There was a lot of pacing once on the set and his focus was remarkable, as if he were the only one in the room and it pervaded the set with an intensity that surely wasn't there without him, at least with me jumping around like a kid in a sweet shop. Talking things through with him both before and during the shoot demonstrated, to me at least, the sort of relationship I would hope to have with a leading actor on every film. Mind you, it was only four days (the other thing about such a brief shoot - only being able to hear the abridged Withnail stories, the Alien 3 stories, the Paper Mask stories, even the RADA stories. Maybe more during ADR!). Imagine my excitement when it came to the two dialogue-heavy days, one with Paul and Ronald Pickup, the other with Paul and Owen Brenman (during the latter, I had planned on one section to cut into a close-up of Paul, but his presence during the initial master shot was so electrifying it was already as if he WERE in close-up so I slashed the idea).
My next film (a feature) has a similar leading character. Hmmmm...