A priceless examination of the filmmaker's craft, from the renowned director of Sweet Smell of Success
After more than twenty years in the film industry as a screenwriter, storyboard editor, and director of memorable films such as The Ladykillers, Alexander Mackendrick turned his back on Hollywood and began a new career as the Dean of one of the country's most demanding and influential film schools. His absolute devotion to the craft of filmmaking served as a powerful impetus to students at the California Institute for the Arts for almost twenty five years, with a teaching style that included prodigious notes, neatly crafted storyboards, and handouts containing excerpts of works by Kierkegaard, Aristotle, and others. At the core of Mackendrick's lessons lay a deceptively simple goal: to teach aspiring filmmakers how to structure and write the stories they want to tell, while using the devices particular to the medium of film to tell their stories effectively.
In this impressive volume, edited by Paul Cronin, the myriad materials that made Mackendrick's reputation as an instructor are collected for the first time, offering a chance for professionals as well as students to discover a methodology of filmmaking that is challenging yet refreshing in its clarity. Meticulously illustrated and drawing on examples from such classic films as North by Northwest, Citizen Kane, and Touch of Evil, Mackendrick's elegant lessons are sure to provide inspiration for a new generation of filmmakers.
Although Mackendrick (1912-93) made most of his pictures, including the classic Sweet Smell of Success, in the 1950s, his stature has only increased in the intervening decades. In 1969, he abandoned his directorial career and became one of the first faculty members at the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, where he established himself as a demanding teacher who brilliantly conveyed what he insisted was the craft-not the art-of directing. He always maintained (perhaps disingenuously) that film directing and writing could not really be taught, only learned through self-education. This book is a compilation of Mackendrick's copious class handouts. Together, they convey his belief that talent is no substitute for a solid grounding in the essentials. The book's topics include dramatic construction (with numerous storyboarding sketches included), the uses of dramatic irony, dialog construction, and the relationship between director and actor. Few of the thousands of books about film directors have parsed their art and craft as thoroughly as this one does and, most invaluably, in the director's own words. It should be required reading for cinema school courses and is recommended for major cinema collections.-Roy Liebman, Los Angeles P.L. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.