Directing Feature Films: The Creative Collaborarion Between Director, Writers, and Actors Paperback – Jun 10 2004
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Now, 12 years, 4 films, 19 theatrical productions, and a handful of awards later, we use this book nearly every day. Be it on the set or stage, or just from inspiration and brush-up, this magnificent book encapsulates everything about Mark's talents. He is no primadonna, unwilling to divulge more than a few vaguaries of his techniques, nor does he preach to you about his own successful career and how wonderful he is. What he does do if layout technique, approach, execution and adjustment in a no-nonsense fashion that yields one of the best "How-To" books on directing (not only film but more specifically actors), and achieving the vision of a director, ever written.
If you are looking for a book to keep in your hip-pocket on the set, or something to refer back to for inspiration, ideas, and fixes, then look no further. This is it.
What most struck me about the book was not so much the teachings about the right way to make a movie but more importantly the right way to work with the people on the set. In every chapter Travis talks about, and gives some examples, of the right way to handle the egos and frailties of the cast and crew. This information alone can make a film set far more productive and fun to work on by teaching a director how to understand, respect and offer the leadership everyone needs. Collaboration is a word used throughout the book and I really like that aspect of it. Many directors can benefit from these lessons in people skills.
One of my favorite chapters dealt with the rehearsal process of a film. I have worked on lots of no budget - low budget films and that step is often missed. After reading the chapter I will be more aware, when I have the authority, to schedule rehearsals so that the actors become more at ease with the film they are helping to make. Travis even has an example of a schedule of rehearsals broken down into segments of what will be done on a certain day and how many hours it should take. You would obviously create what works for you but the outline is there.
I recommend reading the book front to back but then use it as a reference for the future. Carry it with you on set, to script readings and even during editing. That way at any point during the production you feel lost or just need a bit of advice you just open up to the section dealing with where you are at in the process. Hint: Get an e-book version for your electronic device of choice, that way no one on set knows your looking up answers!
The book has been in print for nearly twenty years now and updated since. It is a required book used in film schools around the world, so you know the valuable information in this one is going to help your directing career move forward. It is 400 pages of solid information that every director and any filmmaker in general should have on their bookshelf (or e-reader). Become a better director by reading “Directing Feature Films” by Mark Travis.