When asked if I would like a review copy for FilmCraft: Directing by Mike Goodridge, I immediately jumped at the chance. Considering I’ve only ever written film reviews didn’t even occur to me until after having received the book. And seeing how I haven’t written anything close to a book review since high school started to make me weary. Let alone the fact that since the book is a compilation of interviews and wouldn’t even have a narrative flow. You could call it, “the most entertaining college book you’ve never read.”
It’s divided into chapters highlighting the 16 interviewed directors, including Pedro Almodovar, Paul Greengrass, Stephen Frears, Park Chan-wook, Peter Weir, and Zhang Yimou, just to name a few. Each discusses his own methods of madness. Five “Legacy” chapters are sprinkled throughout discussing some of the most revered names behind the lens. I couldn’t help but be most excited for Guillermo del Toro, one of my favorite directors. Reading through his section was a complete delight and he also delivers some huge laughs.
The other director who manages to be equally entertaining is Terry Gilliam. Being one of the men behind the Monty Python crew, it’s no surprise that he too delivers his own laugh-out-loud anecdotes. And who can read the Clint Eastwood chapter without hearing his gravelly iconic voice in their head. Unfortunately, Stephen Frears continually mentions his most recent film, Lay the Favorite, making for some unintentional laughs–Even if only because I already bore witness to how dreadful it is at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
The directors impart wisdom throughout in the form of sections appropriately titled “Advice to young filmmakers.” Page after page consists of behind the scenes photos, film stills, shooting scripts, and storyboards. It’s all very enlightening to see the process that goes on in the minds of today’s (and yesterday’s) top directors. The “Legacy” chapters would be the “yesterday” highlighting Ingmar Bergman, John Ford, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, and Akira Kurosawa.
So while at first glance it may just appear to be another coffee table book, or something someone might think came from a college course, for the most part, FilmCraft: Directing is definitely not something to be judged by its cover.