Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Book Review: On Directing Film by David Mamet


“On Directing Film” by David Mamet, a title which keeps popping up on the list whenever I tried looking around for recommendations on filmmaking for beginners. The content of the book was mainly based on conversations between Mamet and his students during their discourses regarding analysing scenes or preparing for scenes. The brainstorming process depicted the gist of Mamet’s ideal of good filmmaking habits and examples were provided either by Mamet or his students in between.

Within these few selected discussion, there are views on certain aspect of filmmaking process that give out good pointers such as director’s thinking process when preparing the story and analysing the scene. However, one of the biggest take home message from this book was these conversations are, in the end, still Mamet’s own thought. This is after all, a record of what he thought as the ideal of filmmaking. However, since this book was written, there were great movies made that may not have fit into his criteria that well. However, that did not mean this book was not useful. Instead, the most important message I gathered from this book was the attitude towards filmmaking, the mindfulness, concentration and passion in ensuring good habits when you make a film. The exercise to look at each and every scene and analyse their meaning, indication, motive and message to conveyed made one realized what kind of thought process must be firing within a filmmaker’s brain all the time. These are, in my opinion, a reminder of good habits and practices to kick off your journey as filmmaker.


This book was not thick and was only a few conversation long. Hence, I would like to urge any aspiring filmmaking to take a look at the book and gain some insight on the art of filmmaking.

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