On Directing Film

Front Cover
Penguin, 1991 - Performing Arts - 107 pages
2 Reviews
According to David Mamet, a film director must, above all things, think visually. Most of this instructive and funny book is written in dialogue form and based on film classes Mamet taught at Columbia University. He encourages his students to tell their stories not with words, but through the juxtaposition of uninflected images. The best films, Mamet argues, are composed of simple shots. The great filmmaker understands that the burden of cinematic storytelling lies less in the individual shot than in the collective meaning that shots convey when they are edited together. Mamet borrows many of his ideas about directing, writing, and acting from Russian masters such as Konstantin Stanislavsky, Sergei M. Eisenstein, and Vsevelod Pudovkin, but he presents his material in so delightful and lively a fashion that he revitalizes it for the contemporary reader. -- From Amazon.com.

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On directing film

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Noted playwright, screenwriter, and director Mamet offers his views on film directing taken, some in transcript form, from lectures and classes at Columbia. With only two films under his belt, Mamet ... Read full review

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Of course, if you ask twenty directors how to direct a film, you'll get twenty answers. But Mamet's perspective is shrewd and deliberately unpopular.
I use this book in my filmmaking classes to
offer a perpsective that is bracing and thought-provoking. The best angle, in my humble opinion, is the idea that all of a director's difficult and harrowing work is done once they've got their shot list. The shot list forces the camera to tell the story, and actors need only be present and in character.
He derides directors who try to cajole their actors into cramming lots of meaning into their performances; to him the hard work is making absolutely certain everyone will understand what is meant by each shot (by creating a solid shot list), and the actor's job is to simply behave naturally and in character. A shoot day should be relatively relaxing for a good director, as their most difficult work is behind them.
Good stuff.



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About the author (1991)

David Mamet 's Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984. He is also the author of Writing in Restaurants and On Directing Film, both available from Penguin.

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