Hey guys, I just joined. I'm almost finished reading the Guide and would like to know what some other good books are. Obviously, I've read Rebel Without a Crew, but what else should I look at? At this point, I'd like something that'll teach me how to direct, how to tell a story.
Last edited by MaximA on Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:26 am; edited 1 time in total
Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:09 pm
Joined: 23 Jan 2008 Posts: 507 Location: City of Hate, Texas
First, welcome to the forum.
Second, sorry to say you've asked for books that on subjects that can't be taught, if a book can teach. There are a couple of books - like Directing Actors (mentioned in the Guide) - that offer advice on how to approach these, but they're mostly disciplines that are learned by doing. Stephen King, in his memoir "On Writing" says that the two things a writer has to do is write a lot and read a lot. Orson Welles said the best way to learn how to make a movie is to go make one. Books like Syd Field's "Screenplay" are good as far as they go, but take them with a grain of salt. Remember some of the best stories exist outside the box - pay attention not so much to what works as to how and why it works.
One thing that will teach you a lot about directing is learning to act. Take some acting classes even if you're never going to act because you'll learn more about what your actors need.
Most of all, though, just go make a movie.
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Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:40 pm
Joined: 13 Aug 2007 Posts: 857 Location: SouthBay -- L.A.
Joined: 19 May 2009 Posts: 2 Location: Cambridge, MA
New Book on Building a Fan Base & Earning a Living
Warning: bald-faced self-promotion here...
But want to mention a book I wrote that came out in April 2009, which focuses on how filmmakers can cultivate a fan base and support themselves financially. Title is "Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age." I interviewed people like the animators behind "Red vs. Blue," "Homestar Runner," and JibJab, as well as the sci-fi director Timo Vuorensola ("Star Wreck" and "Iron Sky") and a number of doc filmmakers. The goal of the book is to present some of the strategies, new ideas, and tools that work best for people trying to do creative stuff and earn a living while doing it. I get into the business models around selling downloads, DVDs, merch, and also doing ad-supported content.
There's a free 35-page sample at the book's Web site, along with lots of bonus material. The book is available there or on Amazon.
SETTING UP YOUR SHOTS (the most basic)
SHOT BY SHOT (shots that will cut together)
CINEMATIC MOTION (moving the action, moving the camera)
REBEL WITHOUT A CREW (the reb bible)
FIRST-TIME DIRECTOR (the necessity and technique of moving the camera)
Next level books:
DV REBEL'S GUIDE (the directing section will mean more if you've read the above books)
ACTORS TURNED DIRECTORS (getting the great performance)
THE FILM DIRECTOR'S INTUTION (overall planning to create the emotional impact)
DIRECTING THE FILM (non-glam interviews with the gods and goddesses of cinema directing)
THE GRAMMAR OF THE FILM LANGUAGE (the graduate-level version of "Setting Up Your Shots")
HOW A MADE A HUNDRED MOVIES IN HOLLYWOOD AND NEVER LOST A DIME (Roger Corman's life in movies)
SHOOTING TO KILL (Christine Vachon starts with nothing and ends up at the Oscars)
INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILMS (Re/Search finds the weirdest)
These are, in my humble opinion and having read scores of others, are the best of the lot. There are many other books, but not as many as screenwriting books. There's usually a pearl in each one. Whether those pearls are worth $24.95 is up to you.
Whether THE FILM DIECTOR AS SUPERSTAR has anything to offer is a personal matter.
Art books on pictorial composition (Walter Foster books from the art-materials store is a start)
Take a professional acting class if you aren't an actor (screen acting, of course)
See every classic movie at your video store; examine them (don't forget silents and obscure foreign movies)
If you have never directed anything, produce and direct a play. Pick a well-known, production-proven play so you will at least not have to fight with a marginal script. Forget Shakespeare, but Albee and Pinter would be good choices. You won't make any money, but it will cost less than making a movie. You'll learn how to talk to actors to get the performance you want. You'll learn what the crap of production is and how to deal with it. The local community of actors will learn who you are, and you will have those two most valuable things, a rep and a track record. The point is: you just have to do it. After directing even a short one-act play, you'll have a much better idea of what how-to-direct questions to ask.
Remember that stage actors and screen actors have a different craft. If you're making a movie, stage acting craft isn't the right tool for creating the performance.
When you're ready to make your movie, look at your actual toolkit and see what kinds of shots you can actually do. If you don't have access to or can't afford a helicopter, consider cutting or changing the helicopter shot. The absolute barest minimum camera tool set for designing shots would be a tripod/fluid-head, and a DVRG ghettocam mount (I made one from steel angle iron for more mass). Then get a dolly/slider for smooth motion. Then get a jib for smooth up and down motion. Then mount the jib on the dolly. For the car shot, duct-taping the D.P. to the hood is not recommended, especially for chase scenes and screeching tight turns.
The way you tell the story has to do with:
sound, including sfx and music
post-production (e.g. AE, MB)
"Directing" means that you direct all of that. None is particularly easier than the others.
When in total doubt, act like you know what you're doing. Even experienced people will be fooled. It is better to make a wrong decision than no decision. If you don't remember if you've crossed the line or not, don't argue, shoot it both ways. Learn storyboarding from Stu in the DVRG. Have a plan for every shot and for every day; keep people moving. Go from set-up to set-up without dawdling. Exceed your pages-per-day. Pay for everyone's lunch, they'll be grateful and will return. Have someone on your crew who can take you aside and tell you when you're being a complete asshole; believe that person; then apologize publically to the entire cast and crew. All success is due to your collaborators, all failure is due to you alone.
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