Spring 2013

Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics, 5th Edition
(Focal Press, 560 pages, $49.95)
By Michael Rabiger and Mick Hurbis-Cherrier

When documentarian and film professor Michael Rabiger’s Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics was first released in 2003, it was embraced by aspiring and veteran filmmakers alike for its exhaustive, step-by-step introduction to the many roles of a director, on and off set. Now in its 5th edition, Rabiger has teamed up with fellow filmmaker Mick Hurbis-Cherrier for an even more hands-on guide that incorporates the broader elements of technique, alongside cutting-edge technologies.

While the basics of film aesthetics are well addressed, the value of this volume lies in its practical approach. Rabiger and Hurbis-Cherrier’s firsthand experience allows them to describe the day-to-day of directing in simple, uncomplicated terms, appealing to both the novice and seasoned pro.

A bit overwhelming at first sight, Directing tackles facets of the job, from preproduction to post, in eight meaty sections. But the learning-by-doing method makes this across-the-board introduction accessible, practical and surprisingly entertaining.

Breakdowns of such cornerstones as screen grammar and the syntax of film are heavily illustrated with charts, diagrams and visual aids from both current and classic films. Much attention is given to the logistics of preproduction, such as budgeting above and below the line costs, and downloadable instructions on how to produce call sheets and floor plans.

It also boasts a concise, clear-headed view of the creative process itself; particularly in working with actors and crew; methodically covered with conceptual exercises and real-life scenarios. New to this edition is a companion website for further learning, offering activities for students, teaching notes for instructors, as well as forms and logs that are used every day on sets.

Directing offers a comprehensive how-to manual so that new filmmakers won’t have to learn everything the hard way.

Review written by Carley Johnson


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