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Screencraft Series: Directing

by Mike Goodridge

Screencraft has undertaken a venture aiming to unravel the multi-layered language of filmmaking by exploring the fusion of those crafts that combine to create the most important art form of the twentieth century. Each book in the series will focus on one key creative discipline within the medium, explaining and illuminating it in the best way possible–through the work of its leading practitioners. In revealing their roles in the filmmaking process, they will shed light on the way films evolve through a fusion of forces which at first glance might appear to be incompatible: art and industry, vision and compromise or design and accident.

Ask a movie journalist about what sells–an interview with a film actor or an interview with a director–and he’ll say actor just about every time. In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, actors have become more than just the marketing tools around which the film is sold to audiences. THEY have unwittingly become the spokesperson for the movies in which they appear, even though they haven’t worked on the project itself for months. Disturbingly, the director, who has his or her stamp on the film before during and after shooting, has been sidelined in the public perception. A director certainly doesn’t make great copy like a movie star does, especially if the star has recently separated from a partner, or been caught in a lewd act.

Behind the scenes and away from tabloid perceptions, the directors are the real stars of the cinema. In a colorful quote made in early 2000, Ridley Scott said what many less outspoken filmmakers just keep to themselves:"When actors say,’ what about my performance?’ I say what about my performance? I’m responsible for the way it looks, the way it sounds, the way its cast, what the locations look like, what the script’s like, how the shoes are tied and how your hairs done. SO Back off and give me a little bit of space to coordinate these things–at which I am maybe the best, I say its not just about you. Ultimately it’s about me."This book is all about directors. A word about the selection procedure. When I was first commissioned to write the book, I drew up a short list of directors who would qualify for in-depth investigation into their body of work. My initial line-up came to 71. Whittling that down to fifteen was a painful process of elimination based around the selection criteria of different cultures and nationalities as well as distinct styles and pioneering achievements. Of course the choices are subjective, and some directors were not available, like Jean-Luc Godard, Ingmar Bergman, Billy Wilder, Eric Rohmer, Woody Allen or Claude Chabrol. Others, like Martin Scorsese and Zhang Yimou were shooting and literally unreachable.

I visited most of the filmmakers on their home territory and fortunately didn’t have to conduct any interviews during promotional periods for specific films. That way, I believe they were more open and less jaded. Each interview was a surprise in that no two had the same things to say about the way they work. These fourteen men and one woman have wildly differing inspirations, experiences, styles, approaches and disciplines. All, naturally, are larger-than-life, idiosyncratic personalities. That each had a different approach to filmmaking confirmed that, for this extraordinarily demanding and intensely personal job, no technique could be learned. Film school can teach a budding director about a wide-angle lens, but you cannot learn how to become Ken Loach or David Lynch.

This book therefore intends only to offer insight into how unique talents such as these have evolved and how they put a film together from the first idea to the final cut. Here are fifteen of the worlds most celebrated living film directors. Pedro Almodóvar, Roman Polanski, Takeshi Kitano, Mike Leigh, Lars Von Trier, Steven Soderbergh, Jane Campion, Ang Lee, Oliver Stone, Ken Loach, Wim Winders, David Lynch, James Ivory, Bernardo Bertolucci and Milos Forman.

Price: $37.95
Quantity:  Out of stock

Screencraft Series: Directing
Publisher: Focal Press
Pages: 176
ISBN: 0-240-80498-8


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