Capra's 1939 letter to NYT about Directing

Capra's letter

"Them are only half a dozen directors in Hollywood today who are allowed to shoot as they please and who have any supervision over their editing. agree with you when you say that motion pictures are the director's medium. That is exactly what it is, or should be. We have tried for three years to establish a Directors' Guild, and the only demands we have made on the producers as a Guild were to have two weeks' preparation for 'A' pictures, one week preparation time for 'B' pictures, and to have supervision of just the first rough-cut of the picture. "You would think that in any medium that was the director's medium the director would naturally be conceded these two very minor points. We have only asked that the director be allowed to read the script he is going to do and to assemble the film in its first rough form for presentation to the head of the studio. It has taken three years of constant battling to achieve any part of this. "We are now in the process of closing a deal between director and producer which allows us the minimum of preparation of time, but still does not give us the right to assemble our pictures in rough form, but merely to assemble our sequences as the picture goes along. This is to be done in our own time, meaning, of course, nights and Sundays, and no say whatever in the final process of editing. "I would say that 80 percent of the directors today shoot scenes exactly as they are told to shoot them without any changes whatsoever, and that 90 per cent of them have no voice in the story or in the editing. Truly a sad situation for a medium that is supposed to be the director's medium. "All of us realize that situation and some of us are trying to do something about it by insisting upon producer-director set-ups, but we don't get any too much encouragement along this line. Our only hope is that the success of these producer-director set-ups will give others the guts to insist upon doing likewise."

At the time of this letter, Capra was President of the Director's Guild.

Original page 2007 | Updated April 2013

Frank Capra Premiere Collection

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