On Directing Film : A Book Review / by Marc Hampson

On Directing FilmOn Directing Film by David Mamet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"If a person's objective is truly - and you don't have to do it humbly, because you'll get humble soon enough - to understand the nature of the medium, that objective will be communicated to the audience."

This book is a brilliant study in taking the role of the director and bringing an idea to life through communicating a series of images - the shot list. It's a book on Directing, but I would just as much recommend it to any screenwriter as well.

Mamet works hard to stay away from discussing angles & visual style as he thinks you should (at least in your initial planning) as these are not his strong suits (to which he admits) but instead demands that shots should communicate through staging, action and juxtaposition. Information should not be read or told but questioned, answered and experienced.

His points are further stressed through demonstration in workshop format between students and himself in two of the longest chapters near the beginning and end of the book that I quite enjoyed.

A strong theme running throughout the book is putting in the hard work will help you to know the job as it focuses heavily on workshopping down to communicating the information in the shot to it's core which in turn cuts away the fluff making it easier to communicate (in theory) what's happening in said shot with the sets, props, actors, etc.

The book's back cover purports that this book looks at every aspect of directing - "from script to cutting room floor" - that's simply not true if you simply learning about film and are just getting into the art form.

However if this is a chapter slightly further along on your journey I would HIGLY RECOMMEND this as an advanced masterclass. Not too advanced to understand for anyone by any means - but maybe too advanced to fully absorb... But what do I know. Read it anyways :)

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