The latest in the excellent FilmCraft series of books concentrating on different aspects of the filmmaking process is Directing (released June 2012). The choice of directors featured by author Mike Goodridge covers USA, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Turkey, Asia and Australia and includes in depth interviews with Clint Eastwood, Paul Greengrass, Peter Weir, Pedro Almodovar, Susanne Bier, Stephen Frears, Zhang Yimou, Istvan Szabo, Park Chan-wook, Michael Haneke, Terry Gilliam, Amos Gitai, Guillermo del Toro, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Clint Eastwood states, “A lifetime in movies is the same as a lifetime in any profession: you are constantly a student.” Without a good story the film “will never take on the life it is supposed to have out there with the audience…Sometimes I don’t change a good script at all. I bought the Unforgiven script in 1980 and put it in a drawer and said I’ll do this some day— And I took it from the drawer ten years later and called up the writer and said I had a couple of ideas and wanted to rewrite some of it, and he was fine with that.”
The director is often glorified in the media as the master craftsman but author Goodridge provides a more realistic, rounded perspective where the director is the head of a collaborative effort that includes writers, producers, cinematographers, sound, designers and editors. But ultimately the fact the director is given credit or blame for the finished film creates extra pressures. The successful directors often have the clearest vision. Goodridge explores these individual visions in great detail and illuminates the reader with a greater understanding of the complexities of the directing process. Each director has their own style and unique preparation ranging from complex storyboarding (Park Chan-wook), to plotting shot plans at the screenplay stage (Michael Haneke) to waiting until they are on set to make shooting decisions. The Dardenne brothers allow four to eight weeks rehearsal time for actors.
Many of the directors learned their craft over years of hard work in television (Eastwood on Rawhide) and documentary film/TV (Paul Greengrass on ITV’s World in Action), before finally achieving success as acclaimed directors. Guillermo del Torro began his career as a camera grip and stunt driver and Susanne Bier worked on commercial films in Denmark. Success comes with experience and knowledge.
The move to digital video is discussed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. “I feel that you can search for new ways of expression and you can have a chance to go deeper into the human soul with digital just because you can shoot more in low-budget independent movies.”
As with previous books in the series a “Legacy” section is included as a tribute to directors of note no longer with us. These include John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard and Akira Kurosawa.
This is a fine addition to the excellent FilmCraft series and will be of great interest to anyone interested in the film making process whether they be professionals, students or fans.
Review copyright Paul Green 2012. All rights reserved.