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Best books for professional FILM DIRECTORS


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#1 VOlodya VO

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 07:44 AM

Hello!
I have finished cinema institute in Russia as a film director. Id like not to stop my education and to adopt a wide experience of the American cinematographers.
My question is:
What books, textbooks are for the film directors already having some knowledge in given area?

Especially interests:
1. Working with the actors in movie and all info about it. What actor's «system» the American actors work etc?
2. How to direct rehearsals with actors?
3. Shooting of dialogues.
3. Camera movement in the scene. How to reach dynamics in one scene.
4. Director's «development» of a scene on known examples (famous films).
5. A multi-camera method of shooting. How cameras settle down in action scenes?
6. Work with the Art Director in film. How to achieve a picture without superfluous elements.
7. Director's technologies of shooting a primetime series, shows (as «LOST»).

I ask here, as we do not have American film-textbooks on sale - therefore before buying in internet, it would be desirable to know what of numerous books tell about the given themes most in detail. Excuse me for my bad English:)

I shall be grateful to advice. Also I wish to learn, what sites can be esteemed on the given subjects. Thank you
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#2 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 11:53 AM

"On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director" by Alexander Mackendrick
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#3 David Sweetman

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 12:42 PM

By far, the best book for what you're looking for that I've encountered is "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston. It goes very in-depth into practical strategies for working with actors.

Edited by David Sweetman, 17 September 2006 - 12:46 PM.

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#4 J. Michael Whalen

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 12:49 PM

By far, the best book for what you're looking for that I've encountered is "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston. It goes very in-depth into practical strategies for working with actors.



I agree with David. DIRECTING ACTORS is great, and I'm currently trying to find the follow up to it. I believe it's called The Directors Intuition (?) None the less Directing Actors really made me think in a different way about how to communicate with actors.
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#5 Craig Knowles

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 02:04 PM

My three favourites, in no particular order, are:

-- Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics by Michael Rabinger
-- Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
-- Moviemakers' Master Class: Private Lessons from the World's Foremost Directors by Laurent Tirard

The first is a thick, comprehensive textbook, where the second two are lighter and more readable for both information and enjoyment.

Edited by Craig Knowles, 17 September 2006 - 02:05 PM.

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#6 Keneu Luca

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 04:54 PM

ON DIRECTING FILM
by David Mamet

Best I've read yet, although I haven't read some of the above suggetions, so I think I too will look some of them up.
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#7 Bryan Darling

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 02:06 AM

I have to say that both of Judith Weston's books are great. I have read both and took her workshop. It really changed my perspective on process both in film and life. It has made a marked difference in my work and my relating with other people. If you do a search for her on Amazon.com you can find her books. If at all possible I strongly recommend her workshop. She is based in LA and travels throughout the world.

She makes no promises and pushes no agenda. It's a great eye-opening experience if you want it to be. She is very accessible. You can call her and work directly with her if need be. Her website should come up in a google search.
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#8 Mark Williams

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 02:39 AM

This is something I have wondered about! I had sort of come to the conclusion that most Directors are concerned with Blocking Lighting etc.. The technical side.. Actors are expected to know there jobs and are left to do there work after technical rehearsals.. Having acted in Plays And my experience is in theatre the director is more involved and will correct actors.. Especially Voice projection etc.. Film is usually a representation of reality.. I would have thought any Acting/ Coaching neccesary would have been handled by a drama teacher before they get to the set?

I have read Clint eastwood would often tell the actors it was a rehearsal and they would be more relaxed often using that footage for the Film.. I think its very important to have a distance and a professional crew.. So there is no pressure on them.. Also a friendly helpful and understanding tolerance as people can react all kinds of ways under stress sometimes appearing aloof or rude Perhaps there getting into character or they need to feel in control to have the confidence to carry off the part..
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#9 VOlodya VO

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:28 AM

Thanks for your quick answers!
"Directing Actors" and "Directors Intuition" by Judith Weston are two different books. What is the difference between them? I should buy both?

About Rabiger - I know, that he wrote about documentaries. And this book is about movies?

My questions - from 3 to 7. In what books it is possible to read about it? Of course, my interest is in books not for beginners but for the advanced level.

Where are these topics discussed in the Internet? Is there any sites for the film directors?
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#10 Hugh Thomson

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 04:29 PM

Rabiger has two books. I don't have Directing the Documentary, only Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics. It's worth getting. There's a lot of good stuff on working with actors. There is also a fair bit on writing/narrative beats.

A friend of mine highly recommended Directing Actors to me.

I just borrowed The filmmaker's Guide to Production Design by Vincent LoBrutto. Haven't read it yet, but it's one of the few production design books out there.
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#11 VOlodya VO

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 03:58 AM

Thank you for your advices, but I still need answers about my other questions:

3.!!! Camera movement in the scene. How to reach max dynamics.
5.!!! A multi-camera method of shooting. How cameras settle down?
7.!!! Director's technologies of shooting a primetime series, shows (as «LOST»)

and also these questions:
4. Director's «development» of a scene on known examples (famous films).
6. Work with the Art Director in film. How to achieve a picture without superfluous elements.

What books tells about these topics?
And, of course, is there any sites and forums expecially for film directors? Like cinematography.com for DOP?

Edited by VOlodya VO, 27 September 2006 - 04:02 AM.

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#12 Mike Rizos

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 09:47 PM

3.Grammar of the film language by Daniel Arijon. Covers just about every situation as far as actor and camera movement, fully illustrated with little drawings. Somewhat similar but more specialized, comprehensive and superior to Film directing shot by shot by Steven D. Katz.

4. You can find bits and pieces of this in various elementary books. Stefan Shariff's The elements of cinema examines the structure behind the development of certain scenes in The birds, Potemkin, Nevsky, Psycho, Rio Bravo, The grand illusion, Muriel, etc.

By far the most enjoyable book I've read on general filmmaking is William Bayer's Breaking through, selling out, dropping dead and other notes on filmmaking. Written about 35 years ago, it is direct, funny, witty, cynical, and contains information you won't find anywhere else.
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#13 ryan_bennett

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 10:33 PM

Thank you for your advices, but I still need answers about my other questions:

3.!!! Camera movement in the scene. How to reach max dynamics.
5.!!! A multi-camera method of shooting. How cameras settle down?
7.!!! Director's technologies of shooting a primetime series, shows (as «LOST»)

and also these questions:
4. Director's «development» of a scene on known examples (famous films).
6. Work with the Art Director in film. How to achieve a picture without superfluous elements.

What books tells about these topics?
And, of course, is there any sites and forums expecially for film directors? Like cinematography.com for DOP?


First off these books already mentioned are worth getting:

-- Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics by Michael Rabinger
-- Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
-- Moviemakers' Master Class: Private Lessons from the World's Foremost Directors by Laurent Tirard


And the Judith Weston books I highly reccomened myself. I have read all of these and I would also like to add "Total Directing" by Tom Kingdom. I have taken classes with him and his book covers multi-cam, etc. that you ask of as does Rabiger's book. For hte most part with camera movement you really can't read a book and apply it, in fact a lot of you ask you can't go to a book and automatically get a formula. I say this way too much, you have to try and experiment and fail or succeed. Really Judith Weston says this over and over, there's no end all be all. The best way is if you go and try and if you could afford one book I would say the Moviemakers' Master Class as it's an awesome peek at the big boys at work. I really learned a lot and it's great to see who loves zooms (Woody Allen) who hates them. Haha and Goddard who dislikes any camera movement that he doesn't seem necessary, that is moving the camera just to be cinematic. I have been thinking of that a lot myself.
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#14 VOlodya VO

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 01:49 PM

Thank you! I have Arijon book! It is very nice, but for me - I think - this book is for beginners. This is some sort of fundamental knowledge but now I want a little bit more.
"Shot by Shot" - is also that sort of a book? And the sequel - Katz`s "Cinematic Motion"? What is the difference between these 2 books?
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#15 VOlodya VO

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 02:03 PM

to Mike Rizos
Thank you! I just got Arijon book! It is very verynice! but for me - I think - first of all this book is for beginners. This is some sort of fundamental knowledge. But now I want a little bit more.
"Shot by Shot" - is similar? And the sequel - Katz`s "Cinematic Motion"? What is the difference between his 2 books?
And thanks for William Bayer!!!
Ryan Bennett
You right! I dont like books with simple formulas. But I think that my level is not so good for TVshows for example. So I try to find some info about multi-camera directing etc. Thank you very much for your advice!
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#16 David Sweetman

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 04:02 PM

"Shot by Shot" - is similar? And the sequel - Katz`s "Cinematic Motion"?

I've read Shot by Shot but not Cinematic Motion, Shot by Shot is very basic and great for beginners, it's mostly about how to block a scene and other more technical aspects of directing. By the time I read it, it didn't much benefit me because I had already learned most of it from film class and by trial and error.
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#17 Mike Rizos

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 07:37 PM

Thank you! I have Arijon book! It is very nice, but for me - I think - this book is for beginners. This is some sort of fundamental knowledge but now I want a little bit more.
"Shot by Shot" - is also that sort of a book? And the sequel - Katz`s "Cinematic Motion"? What is the difference between these 2 books?


I agree with David. I think you'll find Shot by shot very basic also. It has a more general nature, and covers the process from concept to the screen. Chapters include: Visualization, Production design, Storyboards, Composing shots, Editing, Staging dialogue sequences(2,3,4 subjects), Mobile staging, Depth of frame, Camera angles, and the Moving camera(pan,crane,tracking,transitions etc).

I haven't read Cinematic motion but it's advertized in the back of Shot by shot as" Features staging and blocking strategies for various dialogue and dramatic situations. Includes interviews with John Sayles...etc"
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#18 Jon-Hebert Barto

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 08:54 PM

Both of those books are good but conventional, placing them in the "student/early-learner" catagory. I read Shot by Shot when I was 16 if that helps at all. Nothing wrong with the book. It is a well done piece. But like I said it is a little on the "beginner" side of the coin. Cine Motion is basically part 2. It goes into more intricate blocking and coverage techniques, but again, is meant as a beginning course book.

They actually use Shot by Shot in the UT at Austin film school.

Actually, I was just thinking, if you are interested in this kind of book for "pros" a Directors bio might be a good bet. Scarecrow press put out books on De Palma, Riefenstahl, Malick, etc. that covers their personal grammar. Some good bios carry much insight into the creative process.....hope this helps a little.

Edited by Jon-Hebert Barto, 01 October 2006 - 08:49 PM.

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#19 VOlodya VO

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 08:46 AM

And Rabiger? Also for beginers?
Thanks for books about "directing actors". Here, in Russia we have very famous Stanislavsky and Chehov theatre metodics. But there are no methods for working with actors in movies! No books or textbooks at all.
And we havent any literature about multicameras. I know- this is a big problem for our filmmakers - how to organize several cameras at the stage and how to reach maximum results. Thats why - I ask you about it. I saw a film about "ABC LOST - Making a PILOT". Not a big budget or technologies, but very smart use of several cameras gives good result! So I want to know - how to place cameras not just "correctly for editing", but how to place them to reach superb results, dynamics!
Maybe - you suggest good, modern and not simple books for the art of editing?
Believe me - I have some experience as editor and director, but I want more, something like master-class.
Thanks for your interest to this topic. And once again - excuse me for bad English.
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#20 James McBee

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 05:14 PM

Another vote for Moviemakers' Master Class. Great book. Frankly I think that?s the only kind of book on filmmaking that has any real value. As a few previous posts have pointed out there?s no such thing as a ?how to? guide to directing. At least there shouldn?t be. Either something works or it doesn?t, and the only way your can find out is by trying it. In the Woody Allen interview, he says that students ask him all the time how he knew that he could get away with talking straight to the camera in Annie Hall, and he says that he always responds that it?s just something he knew. Even though Allen is not among my favorite directors (though I?ve certainly enjoyed some of his films), that really struck me. When it comes down to it, filmmaking is usually more about following your instincts than anything.

Another book that I really enjoyed (and learned from) is the Hitchcock/Truffaut book. It has been criticized in so much as a lot of people feel that Truffaut didn?t really push Hitchcock enough, but there?s still lots of good stuff in there. Every medium has its master technicians, and it?s always been my feeling that Hitchcock fills that role in the world of film.
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