A masterclass on the art of directing from the Pulitzer Prize-winning (and Oscar and Tony-nominated) writer of Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed the Plow, The Verdict, and Wag the Dog
Calling on his unique perspective as playwright, screenwriter, and director of his own critically acclaimed movies like House of Games, State and Main, and Things Change, David Mamet illuminates how a film comes to be. He looks at every aspect of directing—from script to cutting room—to show the many tasks directors undertake in reaching their prime objective: presenting a story that will be understood by the audience and has the power to be both surprising and inevitable at the same time. Based on a series of classes Mamet taught at Columbia University’s film school, On Directing Film will be indispensible not only to students but to anyone interested in an overview of the craft of filmmaking.
“Passion, clarity, commitment, intelligence—just what one would expect from Mamet.” —Sidney Lumet, Academy Award-nominated director of 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict
According to David Mamet, a film director must, above all things, think visually. Most of this instructive and funny book is written in dialogue form and based on film classes Mamet taught at Columbia University. He encourages his students to tell their stories not with words, but through the juxtaposition of uninflected images. The best films, Mamet argues, are composed of simple shots. The great filmmaker understands that the burden of cinematic storytelling lies less in the individual shot than in the collective meaning that shots convey when they are edited together. Mamet borrows many of his ideas about directing, writing, and acting from Russian masters such as Konstantin Stanislavsky, Sergei M. Eisenstein, and Vsevelod Pudovkin, but he presents his material in so delightful and lively a fashion that he revitalizes it for the contemporary reader.