There is an artistry in the round not often exhibited or required by Directors not working in animation (for various reasons). However, there are Directors who have turned their hand to art beyond the moving image of Cinema, Commercials (Ridley Scott and innumerable others), TV Series (David Lynch, Martin Scorsese) or Computer Games.
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Indian Director Satyajit Ray was initially a Graphic Designer and used those skills to design the posters for his films.
From Top: Enemy of the People, Devi,
The Home and the World
He had collaborated on the creation of their soundtracks early on with famed musicians such as Ravi Shankar but, frustrated by their differing viewpoints, would go it alone from Teen Kanya (1961) onwards. John Carpenter is another whose musical input matched the quality of his visual.
Ray was also a writer of short stories (for which he designed the covers) and left as a legacy two beloved characters in particular : Professor Shonku, a scientist and Feluda, a detective. His interest in Science led him to write the (unfilmed) script The Alien, which many, including Ray himself, claimed was wrongfully taken as inspiration for Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.
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M Night Shyamalan is another to have pursued an interest in literature, with a children's picture book entitled Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story. Originating in the stories he would tell his daughters, it was released (illustrated by Crash McReery) almost concurrently with his much less well-received film Lady in the Water, which transported the lady of the title from the pool in a young child's back garden to the swimming pool in a motel complex.
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Russian Director Andrei Tarkovsky was given the opportunity to Direct Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov with the Kirov Opera Orchestra in Covent Garden in 1983. Contemporary reviews, whilst not overwhelming in praise, remarked on the creative, "filmic", orchestration of actors and sets. A performance was recorded and is available on DVD.
Robert Lloyd (Boris),
Andrei Tarkovsky (Director) and Claudio Abbado (Conductor)
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Another Director who took the helm of film's nearest cousin, theatre or live performance, is Zhang Yimou, whose recent films House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower have been notable for their studied and flamboyant theatricality. In 2008 he devised and coordinated the extraordinary Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, a task that will now fall, in London, to another film director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 127 Hours).
There are plentiful examples of Film Directors directing theatre and vice versa, though not, generally, during the same period in their careers.
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Dipping your toes in the waters of another art can widen your influences, and deepen appreciation and aptitude for your chosen field. It is a sign of a curiosity and erudition (Animator Harry Smith compiled the acclaimed Anthology of American Folk Music from his own collection) that appears to be generally lacking in the cinematic world.
How many other striking examples are there of this exploration?