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The Best Book on Directing I’ve Ever Read

First of all, if you haven’t been to the library since you graduated, you’re missing out. They’ve got millions of book, and they just give them away. For free!

And if you’re having flashbacks of the card catalogue and Dewey decimal system, don’t worry. The LA library’s website has a search engine, just like you’d expect in the 21st century. You don’t even have to go to whatever branch your book is at; they’ll send it to the one nearest you, if you like.

Also, they have videos, audiobooks, Kindle books. I mean, Jesus Christ, I sound like an advertisement, but seriously guys, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a broke-ass PA, and the library is giving you books for fucking free. Take advantage of it.

So, anyway, last weekend I was wandering the stacks, looking for a book called Master Shots (basically a book of cool shots from movie history), to help inspire me for my next short film. As I was skimming spines, I saw a name I recognized– Bethany Rooney.1

She directed a few episodes of the first show I ever worked on. I’ve never actually read a book by someone I knew personally, so I grabbed it off the shelf. It was called Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing.

Well, I was looking for a book on directing, anyway, and I remember liking Bethany’s work. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from her.

Holy shit, did I. Seriously, if you have any interest at all in directing, go out and buy this book. Or, you know, check it out from the library.

You see, most books about directing focus on the fun stuff– talking to actors, framing cool shots, yelling at the writer. Rooney and Belli talk about all of that, too, but they also go much deeper into the weeds. They talk about schedules and budgets and tech scouts, for Pete’s sake.

I had never even heard the term “tech scout” until my first day of prep on my first series. No book or film professor had so much as implied their existence.

Directors Tell the Story shows you what the actual job is of a director. Yes, the artsy-fartsy stuff is there, too, but they tell you more. The greatest tracking shot in the world won’t mean squat if you don’t make your day.

I know a lot of my readers are interested in climbing above the line some day. If you hope to do that, Belli and Rooney’s book will be a definite help.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. It was co-written by Mary Lou Belli, who is an accomplished director herself, although I’ve never worked with her.
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