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Paperback On Directing a Film Book

ISBN: 0571165494

ISBN13: 9780571165490

On Directing a Film

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. A masterclass on the art of directing from the Pulitzer Prize-winning (and Oscar and Tony-nominated) writer of Glengarry Glen Ross , Speed the Plow , The Verdict , and Wag the Dog Calling on his...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An interesting take from an interesting storyteller

I read the other reviews here and I laugh. The critics of Mamet claim they hate Hollywood movies, then tell us Mamet has no business writing this book because his movies aren't like all the other movies in Hollywood. Mamet is one of the very very few true auteurs of American cinema. He has his own style and controls it from front to back. And now we have not only House of Games, but The Spanish Prisoner, Heist, and the best Mamet on film to date in Spartan. In these films we find the theories he teaches here put to awesome use. Watch the films, read the book.

Hitchcock would have loved this book

Those who think that modern orgies of self-indulgence by directors such as Tarantino and Guy Ritchie are masterpieces, might think again after reading this well written and concise primer on the craft of directing.Mamet's argument is essentially that film is a visual montage of shots presented in logical order, that lead the viewer through the goal directed struggle of the protagonist. Every shot should further the immediate goal of the scene and the longer term goal of the movie. The director tells the story by juxtaposing uninflected shots one after the other.His claim is that this juxtaposition of images is all but forgotten in today's cinema (Hitchcock would certainly agree). Modern directors instead rely on "making the shot interesting" regardless of its merit in the larger goal of the film. Or they rely on the actors to tell the story verbally. Or they follow the protagonist with the camera and ignore the benefits of montage to film plotting.This book is a careful restatement of time-honored principles of filmmaking expounded by Eisenstein and adhered to by the greatest filmmakers, such as Lang and Hitchcock.

I really enjoyed this book

This book, like all the books of Mamet I have read, is very short. It taught me a lot about film making without the need to turn a whole lot of pages. I think there comes a time when even the most faithful Mamet reader says, "I've read enough of this guy's short little books, I'm moving on." I've reached that point myself. Nonetheless I'm glad I read this book and think anyone who is interested in theatre or film will consider its purchase a good investment of money and time. Per page it is expensive, but it is provocative and thoughtful, and never boring or trite.

Buy this book. It's worth it.

I have found this book to be of great use. I have highlighted much of the text and have been assimilating it since it came out in hardcover. Technology is evolving toward consumer movie making and this book can serve as a point of departure for anyone with a video camera and a desire to tell stories but no pressing desire to become a part of "the industry". His technique is admittedly rigid but is simple to understand. When one honestly and patiently applies the technique in order to conceive a story outline, the results--since the unconscious is employed instead of the ego--can be quite enchanting. This book aims toward a more poetic cinema. I highly recommend it.

An arrow in the quiver of any fine writer.

Mamet's plays have been known for exposing gender miscommunication(Oleanna, Sexual Perversity in Chicago), investigating what drives the common man (Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo) and bringing to light our fears and desires (The Duck Variations, Edmond). He has a style of theatre attributed to him, identified by blue collar, swearing, seedy characters. When NYPD Blue premiered it was referred to, by some, as Mamet TV. It is easy to watch a Mamet play and forget that the playwright is a poet and he, at times, writes in iambic pentameter. However, he isn't just a playwright. Mamet has directed movies (Things Change, We're No Angels, Oleanna, House of Games), written movies (The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1981), adapted plays (An Enemy of the People, The Cherry Orchard) and has written criticism on the art of the theatre and writing for it. The title of On Directing Film is misleading. A better title would be, For the Director Who Writes. Mamet spends a great deal of time in the book, it is structured around lectures he gave at Columbia University in 1987, explaining how to trim a script to its core so the best, and most coherent story can be told through film. Often his students will mention camera angles or camera movements to complete an emerging story they are developing, but Mamet is quick to reduce the lecture to the field which he knows well. Writing. He always returns to the script and how that should be structured so an excellent story can be told. Filming the script, the easy part, is for later. Mamet draws from Hitchcock to Hemingway to Aristotle to explain what makes a good story work and how that can be applied to writing the script. On Directing Film should be mandatory reading for all students, formal or informal, of creative writing.
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