Do you think it’s bad for the movie, if the story, the screenplay and directing is being done by the same person?

— Karri Tahvanainen
via IMDb

Not if that one person is extremely talented. Some of my favorite movies come from writer-directors, who carried the project from conception to completion.

But there are certainly writers who shouldn’t direct, and directors who would be better off leaving the words to someone else. For instance…

No, actually, I won’t name names. But it’s not hard to think of a few examples.

It may be helpful to compare the attributes of a writer to the life of a director.

WRITER: works alone, sets own schedule, implements notes
DIRECTOR: works with crew, follows production schedule, gives notes

The job of a writer and the job of a director are fundamentally different, which is why so few people are great at both.

But I think there are situations where the writer is justified in choosing to direct his own material, even if he is a misanthropic slow-poke who has trouble communicating with others. Some stories have such a unique vision and voice, they can really only be told by one person.

For example, Kevin Smith often gets ragged on for his directing, and I think even he’d admit that his films don’t always look that great. His camera work isn’t inspired. His staging can be awkward. But the fact is, a “more talented” director couldn’t make a Kevin Smith movie. His films rely on a certain attitude and personality that only he can provide. Terrence Malick’s CLERKS just wouldn’t be the same.