On Directing Film Reviews

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  1. J. Ott "John Ott" says
    56 of 63 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    “It’s a good thing the people in Hollywood have no souls…”, August 19, 2003
    By 
    J. Ott “John Ott” (Los Angeles, CA USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: On Directing Film (Paperback)

    “…so they don’t have to suffer through the lives they lead.”

    Mamet is always Mamet. Even when talking about directing– after having directed only two films, HOUSE OF GAMES and THINGS CHANGE. Never heard of ’em, you say? Yes, this book is taken from a series of lectures he gave at Columbia film school in 1990. Since then, Mamet has directed Steve Martin not to be funny (THE SPANISH PRISONER) and Gene Hackman not to be cool (HEIST) as well as other actors not to “inflect.”

    Most people, like me, love Mamet’s writing but find his directing stilted and wooden. This book explains why. Written half as rant and half as Socratic dialogue, Mamet lays out his film theory with second-rate Sergei Eisenstein (I think he means Kuleshov) and third-rate Bruno Bettelheim (who wrote about fairy tales, not film). The result is a mixed bag, not too informative about directing, but always entertaining.

    If you want to know why telling a story on film is like telling a dirty joke, this is your book. If you’d like to read how to construct a movie about a farmer who has to sell a pig, or a student who wants to “get a retraction,” this is your book. If you want to know why “[t]he less the hero is described to us, the better off we are,” this is your book. It’s slim, it reads fast, and it’s easier to understand than THE THREE USES FOR A KNIFE. If you want a book about directing by a real director, I recommend Sidney Lumet’s MAKING MOVIES.

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  2. Jonathan LeMond says
    24 of 27 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    rigid, but important, April 4, 2000
    By 
    Jonathan LeMond (New York, NY USA) –

    This review is from: On Directing Film (Paperback)

    After reading screenplay books for years — the likes of Syd Field, McKee, Howard, Hunter, etc. — Mamet is a refreshing change. I realized how the other books, for all intents and purposes, were analyses of scripts, avoiding or skirting the issues of method and process. In other words, it’s not hard to look at a huge box office and critically-acclaimed hit (Chinatown being the consensus favorite) and explain what makes it so good. We all know it’s good. We’ve seen the movie. We’ve read the script. We’re all in awe. And we all know the elements. But the actual process of writing, of formulating a story visually, of actually creating instead of merely analyzing, seems to be an afterthough to these folks. I mean, in some way, you’ve got to ask yourself why these fellas — McKee, Field, and others — have never actually written a thing! Mamet espouses a simplicity to the process of storytelling in film, beat by beat. It’s a bit repetitive and sterile, as is the man himself. I don’t agree with him on everything, and neither will you. He contradicts himself all the time and seems to take delight in his own presence, but he is a great craftsman, and anyone looking to tell stories visually would be mistaken to think this book unimportant or trivial. A must read for aspiring filmmakers, especially those who write.

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  3. Jon Silverton "silverbullet" says
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Straight to the Point, Easy to Follow, and Great Illustrations!, December 23, 2009
    This review is from: Film Crew: Fundamentals of Professional Film and Video Production (Paperback)

    This book has nice, lean chapters that are easy to read and understand. I love it when information is presented in brief chunks like that without a lot of unnecessary fluff. After reading it, I feel as if I have a good foundation in each of the many aspects of production that I can now go out and continue to build on. The supporting illustrations are extremely helpful in reinforcing the concepts discussed in the book. They also make for some pretty cool artwork too!

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  4. Grover C. says
    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Solid Introductory Level Filmmaking Book. Simple, Clear and Direct…, February 7, 2010
    By 
    Grover C. (Chicago, USA) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Film Crew: Fundamentals of Professional Film and Video Production (Paperback)

    Okay, so I have quite a collection of video and film production related books. Some are of the step-by-step “how to” variety, geared primarily toward beginners, while others are giant, tedious volumes that are densely packed with technical information. What I love so much about Film Crew, and what, in my opinion, sets it apart from a lot of the other filmmaking books is the simple, clear and direct way in which the information is presented. This book is one of the best ways to assimilate a quick overview of the essential components in most film and video production applications. I can definitely see this book becoming a staple publication that will probably end up being widely used as a beginning textbook in film schools and video production classes.

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