Top 5 Books Every Director Should Read
Top 5 Books Every Director Should Read
5) The Men Who Made The Movies by Richard Schickel
Schickel was one of the first to chronicle the great directors of Hollywood’s golden years. Any movie seen today, any well made movie, can draw its roots to the people in this book. Watching the older movies and listening to the directors discuss their process and theories on filmmaking is a great way to guide your own development. This book also does a great job of instilling the notion that today there is too much emphasis on art in what is a craft business. Although it is a creative field, any young director needs to understand the basic cinema vocabulary if they want to create a professional body of work.
There is no more human account of the process one undertakes when making a movie than Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. He maintains such a clarity when describing his emotions during earlier productions that it’s at times impossible to argue this book was not written as a diary. Lumet destroys his own pedestal and exemplifies the reality of the process, a man using his knowledge and tools to create something that hopefully an audience will enjoy. He truly makes the reader believe that anyone is capable of being a director as long as they respect the craft and have the right intentions. One of the most unpretentious pieces on filmmaking there is. After reading Making Movies there is no doubt that being a director is a job and like any job, there is accountability so the job must be done well.
3) Interviews: George Lucas
George Lucas is a student of cinema and a product of the 1960’s boom in film school directors. Reading a collection of his interviews that span from the beginning of his career is interesting because you get his direct insight, not just the reflections of a billionaire. Like Lumet, Lucas understands the profession of being a filmmaker and sees the traditional filmmaking process as being just as important as expressing his voice. Ironic to note, there is always a respect for the audience in his words. Controversy is a mainstay for Lucas since he began re-editing and redesigning his filmography, however, the interviews in the text are inspiring and seem to make the elusive profession feel more tangible to grasp.
2) Stanislavsky Directs by Nikolai M. Gorchakov
Stanislavsky has become one of the most famous theater directors in history, a true godfather. Almost all modern acting methods can be traced back to Stan the Man and the reason why is because for him, a production was only as good as the emotional impact it could have on the viewer. He was a psychologist to the audience and manipulated his figures on stage to best express the intent of the scene. Interestingly enough, Stanislavsky Directs was not written by the legend himself but rather a protege, a younger director in his theater company. The reader learns as a student from a student. There is no need to decipher the cryptic talent of Stanislavsky because the author, Gorchakov, masterfully plays the role of Sherlock’s Watson.
1) Film Technique and Film Acting by V.I. Pudovkin
One of the most important books ever written on the craft of filmmaking. To be a director and not know the basic vocabulary of cinema is to be a mathematician without understanding the equal sign. Although overshadowed by Eisenstein, Pudovkin was a notable director himself during the early years of the Soviet Union. With Film Technique and Film Acting he breaks down the process of making a movie into the most basic elements. It is these elements that connect the director to the audience making the movie a medium of communication. Without these the audience is left confused, listening to the shouts of a language in which they hold no fluency. This text should be considered a bible of filmmaking because without and understanding of its contents, every director would just be making home movies.