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Must Read books for aspiring directors?


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#1 DH Kang

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 12:12 PM

Didn't go to film school (too poor).

I was just wondering if - besides watching tons of dvds with director commentaries -
there were any "must read" books people can recommend
for an aspiring director who needs to
learn his "fundamentals of film making"

I ve read Stanislavisky books - anything else I should look at?

Also, are tutorial CD's on how to direct like "www.directamovie.com" (Googled and found it)
any good? I figure I might as well give one a try if it's actually good.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 12:13 PM

I recommend getting a well versed understanding of literature, some philosophy, and history.. but I'm not director. Also a backing in Art/Music/Theater will help a lot not so much with actors but with "creating" the film.
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#3 Tim Tyler

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 01:41 PM

...there were any "must read" books people can recommend


You might start here: http://astore.amazon...?...UTF8&node=6
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#4 Karel Bata

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 05:18 AM

Directing is a very personal thing, and though it's worth looking at how others you admire go about it (watch all those DVD extras), ultimately it's very much about you and what you want to say. I'd say read books on editing and acting: to me directing is editing, only in your head.

Edward Dmytryk's written very excellent books on both, and William Goldman's Adventures... is chock full of pointers. When the Shooting Stops... by Ralph Rosenblum is a great memoir by an influential editor (they're all obsessives!) and The Technique of Film Editing by Ken Dancyger is also very good, and has tips on directing. Check out his seminal book on screenwriting.

To direct actors, you really need to understand what they are doing. Michael Caine, Simon Callow, and Peter Barkworth have all written excellent acting memoirs full of tips and insights that are now required reading on many acting courses. Impro by Keith Johnstone is a work of absolute genius! Avoid the sequel.

I'd agree about reading up on psychology. Freud and the Post Freudians by J.A.C. Brown is a good primer, and Susan Balckmore's Theories of Consciousness will leave you wondering if your most cherished notions of who you are are just neat tricks for getting through the day. :(

All the above are bite sized and easily readable. :D
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#5 kevin baggott

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 10:28 AM

HI DH. This is coming from someone who will read five books on film chemistry vs put a friend up against a wall and throw a light on them and see what ya get. Personally besides some basic books I think yer better off grabbing a friends hd/dv camera and go out and make a short film and learn from there. See what works - what doesn't.

That said the below books have been indispensible for me.

The Five C's of Cinematography, by Joseph Mascelli

Kazan A Master Directs, by Jeff Young.

Tarkovsky;s Refelctions in Time.

And lastly I would listen to Gordon Willis's commentary for, Bright Lights, Big City.

Save Tarkovsky's book for last. The rest of the items above have been the best of hundreds of books I've read. All the best.

PS as for writing - just try and feel it and try to dip into the unconscious when you can. A writer once said that the best writers don't know what they're doing. I agree with that. They write from a deeper place. The more personal the more universal I would say. And lastly vomit it all up before you start re-writing. All first drafts are not very good. It's the re-writing that makes us look smart. And lastly don't judge the work when yer writing. And write at least five minutes every day. As Mailer said professional writers write on even the bad day. No life is too busy you can't write for five minutes. Even if you work in the coal mines you can still write five minutes. Cause if you write everyday then the voices in yer head can't bully you. "You'll never be a writer, director, etc."

Anyway - some thoughts before I've had my morning coffee.
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#6 Evan Ferrario

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 01:30 AM

Kubrick: The Definitive Edition

I read this book until it fell apart, then I kept reading the disconnected pages. I think there is a lot of misinformation about Kubrick and how he directed but reading his interviews gives great insight into how he really worked and thought. Almost every great piece of "directing advice" i know came in some form from Kubrick.
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#7 Michael K Bergstrom

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 03:15 AM

"The Art of War" - Sun Tzu
and "Acting for the Camera" by Tony Barr. Those are my must reads for directors.
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#8 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 05:47 AM

Dostoevsky.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 11:01 AM

Dylan Thomas ;)
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 11:12 AM

First, read THIS: http://realfilmcaree...hp?topic=1834.0

Then, read EVERY PAGE of this site: http://www.wordplayer.com

I also recommend this book: http://www.amazon.co...m_syf_dtl_pop_2

And this (to help you understand the career aspects of the job you would like to have): http://www.amazon.co...t...5862&sr=8-1

And browse through the suggestions on specific Directing books here: http://realfilmcaree...x.php?topic=9.0

And the books and movies listed here: http://www.amazon.co..._res_rpsy_alt_1


Plus, as mentioned, instead of concentrating on "filmmaking," think of yourself as a Storyteller first. Of course you want and need to learn the nuts & bolts of the filmmaking process, but a background in subjects like History, Sociology, Myth, Art, Political Science, Literature, Theater.... any and all of these concentrations will round out your basic knowledge of the world, it's history, and the people in it which will make you a better storyteller. In addition, as a Director, COMMUNICATION skills and interpersonal skills are vital, so take courses that help you in that respect.

I'll toss in one more book that could be helpful: http://www.amazon.co...a...2647&sr=1-1


That should keep you busy. :)
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#11 Alexander Jorgensen

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 03:44 PM

Herzog on Herzog.
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#12 George Ebersole

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:18 PM

I recommend getting a well versed understanding of literature, some philosophy, and history.. but I'm not director. Also a backing in Art/Music/Theater will help a lot not so much with actors but with "creating" the film.

Completely agree. A lot of directors, particularly directors of commercials, completely miss this ultra important factor. So, they go to film school or go through the broadcasting department at a university, and are given the basics but nothing more; i.e. "Basic shot workbook/syllabus; what is a medium shot, what is a TTT shot, what does tight mean, what does wide mean..." That kind of thing. No joke. I've seen them in years past by videographers that went to big name campuses and carried around exactly what I described.

If it's a good film school like USC, UCLA, SF State or NYU, then you'll get an okay dose of what works, and what doesn't. But making a good film is about bringing your knowledge of the arts to bear. And a lot of kids just don't have that. Innate talent will only take you so far, and ultimately will fail you in the end without formal training and a healthy database to back it up.

It's like the teenager who sees a lot of junk films, makes it to the core program, then thinks he can crank out great stuff, but completely fails and doesn't understand why. So he winds up shooting schlocky horror flicks or porn, and that's if he's lucky.

Otherwise, if he's a bit more competent than that, then he'll wind up shooting industrials, and maybe the occasional offbeat indy. From there he can move up the food chain.

Just my take.

p.s. today's film industry is primarily all about market appeal. Based upon what I've seen on the screen, and this is just my personal opinion, it seems like the only thing that matters now is if your technically competent, because the money-people'll hire other personnel to make up for any artistic short comings any of the crew have. And this usually means a test market audience to tweak whatever film that's in the works. Ergo, the director probably doesn't have a whole lot of say anymore, and much less so the people working for and with him.
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#13 Matt Garland @ Portabrace

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 02:09 PM

Cassavetes on Cassavetes
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