Three Great Books for Directors, on Directing

The common refrain is: Directing can’t be taught. After 10 years on the job, I have to agree.

Like any art, you can learn the basics quickly, but mastery only comes with practice, making mistakes, introspection, observation, imagination and motivation. Nobody can teach you these things, you only learn them by doing.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free cheatsheet (with examples) of tried and tested ways to cover a scene or action that will save your skin when your mind goes blank (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).

One of the best things a budding (or even experienced) director can do is read about or witness how other directors handle their craft. Hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Here are my recommendations:

1

If you only had to read one book on directing, read this one:

Making Movies, by Sidney Lumet

From selecting a script to putting it up on screen, a master tells you everything you need to know. There isn’t a better book on directing, period.

2

A lot of people feel anybody can direct. They are right in a way, it looks so easy and effortless when you’re not a director. Few realize that there’s a lot going on under the hood. It’s not for nothing that many directors wear hats and sunglasses.

Sometimes, you need a superhuman level of concentration and analysis. Why? To do what this book teaches you to do: blocking, framing, motion and editing in camera.

Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen, by Steven Katz

3

Everybody has a favorite director, right? It’s such a shame that many don’t publish books on their thoughts and techniques. Sometimes, though, somebody pins them down for a few hours to mine their mind. This is what you get as a result:

Moviemakers’ Master Class: Private Lessons from the World’s Foremost Directors, by Laurent Tirard

In the same vein, is The Directors: Take One to Take Four, by Robert J. Emery.

4 bonus!

The true worth of a book is gauged by how it stands the test of time. This one is definitely a motivation to any cash-starved indie filmmaker, as it was to me.

Maybe you’ll find it still relevant: Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player, by Robert Rodriquez.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free cheatsheet (with examples) of tried and tested ways to cover a scene or action that will save your skin when your mind goes blank (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).