Book Review: The Film Director 2nd Edition by Richard L. Bare

13 07 2011

Copyright Richard L. Bare and WIley Publishing 2000

My personal library of books on film history, theory, production process and reference numbers currently at just over 100 books.  Of that lot, I would say about 10-15 are books on directing, which include such classics as Making Movies by Sidney Lumet and On Film-making by Alexander Mackendrick.  This book, by television and motion picture director Richard L. Bare, was the latest edition to the “library,” and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the information contained within.

Richard L. Bare himself is probably not known to the mainstream by name, but I’m sure you’ve seen his work before.  The majority of his professional career was spent in television, where he directed episodes of such classic shows as The Twilight Zone, Petticoat Junction and Maverick, among many others.  However, he is probably best known for directing the lions share (168 episodes), and being a driving creative force, behind the popular CBS program Green Acres with Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.

I came across this book upon reading background information on a recent Twilight Zone episode I had watched.  Intrigued, and with the price not being very high from Amazon, I decided to go ahead and buy the book blind and give it a shot.  Of all my books on directing, I’ve never really felt like there’s been one that touches on the practicalities of directing in the precise manner in which I had hoped.  Some are wonderful personal accounts of a career, some tinged in personal philosophies and many are very existential musings on the process of directing and taming performance.  However, none has fully satisfied my desires on practical text until this one.

Of course, you can’t learn all the complexities of directing and how to become a great director from a book; this book will even tell you that!  A truly great director takes a certain God given trait, but the ability to learn how to properly make a movie in the director’s chair, can be covered.  This is what The Film Director does for you.  It lays out every facet of what a director has to do in pre-production, production and post-production to make sure that a picture is produced correctly, on time and how to stay in budget.  Bare covers how to deal with difficult actors, short cuts you can utilize when budget is an issue and other inside information that only a learned director could tell you.

In addition, Bare recounts his own experiences becoming a director and some of his other personal trials and tribulations in the field.  He makes it clear that it is no easy process as well.  An early graduate of the University of Southern California’s film program (he’s 97 and still kicking!), Bare won the coveted Paul Muni award for a short film he did in school, The Oval Portrait, based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name.  This was a national award and he was invited to wine and dine with many of the industry’s top producers and directors.  However, in the end, it was still another seven long years before he was able to gain employment from a studio.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book for someone who hasn’t any idea the role a director plays all the way to a practicing director with many various films under his belt.  You’re never too old to learn something, and this is the most practical, straight-forward text on the role of the film director that I have yet to come across.  Note that the original text was written in the early 1970s, this 2nd Edition of which I am reviewing was updated by Bare in 2000 to include some of the advances in the process of filmmaking and the industry itself.

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