Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics
If you love reading, you should have a copy of DIRECTING sitting on your bookshelf. One might find it strange that I would recommend a book that covers film directing from A to Z and back again, to an audience of literature aficionados. Bear with me, though: if you have ever found yourself totally lost in a novel or film and asked yourself, “How did the author/director do that?!” DIRECTING will answer that question and much, much more.
I originally was attracted to this book as a tool for my younger daughter, a budding film producer. The subtitle --- “Film Techniques and Aesthetics” --- is a bit dry and, to be honest, doesn’t quite include everything that this exhaustive, 500-page delight covers. The table of contents is 13 pages all by itself, starting with an overview of who a director is and what a director does, and moves on to scripting, pre-production, casting, dealing with actors, camera shots, the dreaded post-production, and everything else in between. DIRECTING is also paired up with a website (www.directingbook.com) that supplements and previews the book.
"While this is not the type of book that one sits down and reads cover to cover, even the most casual browser will be intrigued by its subject matter and, at the very least, will come away from it with a new appreciation for what the director of a film does, from concept to realization."
If you have a concept but don’t know where to start, DIRECTING will lay down a breadcrumb on the first step and keep dropping them all the way through a very interesting and complex forest. While it does this, it presents examples of what is being discussed from any number of films, including many of which you may be totally unfamiliar. If you’re in the mood to watch something different, open up the book at random and you’ll find something. Have you ever heard of a movie called 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days? I hadn’t until just now, when I found it mentioned in a section dealing with “Real Time and Expanded Time.” You won’t find such examples on every single page, but there are enough to keep you busy for the rest of your life, if you want to use it as a movie guide.
I would say, though, that if you’d like to do anything from filming a five-minute video that you’re going to put on YouTube to a project that you want to submit to a film festival, DIRECTING will show you how the job gets done. And readers? You will gain a new appreciation for how your favorite authors do what they do, and why the film adaptation of your favorite book met your expectations. Or otherwise.
While this is not the type of book that one sits down and reads cover to cover, even the most casual browser will be intrigued by its subject matter and, at the very least, will come away from it with a new appreciation for what the director of a film does, from concept to realization. For those bitten by the directing or even acting bug, it is that mentor who will never lie to you, but will instead demonstrate how those 60 or 90 minutes on-screen are the product of hundreds of hours of work. DIRECTING is an absolutely indispensable guide to ripping down the veil that covers the process of creating a film. And it is so much more as well.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 26, 2013