Reviews

Directing The Film
Frame By Frame
Selling Your Film

DIRECTING THE FILM

DIRECTING THE FILM by Eric Sherman

Reviews
of
Directing The Film:
Film Directors On Their Art

Daily Variety
Sept. 27, 1976

"(Frank) Capra would approve of Eric Sherman’s approach in editing a new American Film Institute anthology, "Directing The Film: Film Directors On Their Art"…which goes out of its way to emphasize the need for individuality in filmmaking. It’s a first-rate addition to the textbook shelf and should have appeal for general readers as well.

A filmmaker himself, and the son of vet director Vincent Sherman, the book’s editor has a practical approach to his subject which keeps dusty theorizing to a minimum. He has culled quotations from directors out of 10,000 pages of material from AFI seminars and oral histories — a formidable job of editing, and one done with a lively sense of readability and intellectual stimulation.

Eric Sherman’s method is to let a director make a specific point, then immediately counter it with an opposite opinion from another director. An on and on, avoiding the kind of dogmatism Capra complained about. This should be a real eye-opener and brain-expander for film students, teaching them that the only rules in filmmaking are those discovered in the course of working.

The book is subdivided into broad categories on developing projects, preproduction planning, on-set methods, and audience response.  Within those bounds, the directors range widely, sometimes in short comments, often in longer anecdotes.  The tales they tell may be familiar and to those who don’t often read director interviews.

Sherman takes a democratic approach in allotting space to directors, allowing the hacks and the masters equal time.  Docu filmmakers, animators and experimental filmmakers are also represented.  The blend is stimulating: in one section, to cite a random instance, Sherman cuts from Jean Renoir to Louis Malle to Buzz Kulik to Martin Ritt to George Cukor.  Nicholas Ray and Federico Fellini support the wide screen, Howard Hawks and Leo McCarey denounce it.  And so forth, like a lively argument."

The UCLA Film Archive

Robert Rosen, Director (now Dean, UCLA Film School)

"The valuable information so often to be found in interviews with directors is usually in almost unusable form; points of genuine interest are lost in the midst of undigested and unorganized discussion; the materials are found in widely disparate sources.  The voluminous texts of the AFI seminars might have suffered a similar fate if Eric Sherman had not chosen to write and edit this intelligent and useful volume.  Sherman has poured through the texts with a sure eye and has separated the wheat from the chaff.  The most valuable insights available int he transcripts are made easily accessible by an intelligent and systematic format.  The book is in part the work of an intelligen editor, but the sensitive judgement used in selecting quotations and the useful format make it a valuable work of scholarship in its own right."

Robert W. Wagner, Professor Dept. of
Photography & Cinema
The Ohio State University

"…a rich compendium of information about the act and theory of film direction to which the student and teach of film will refer again and again.

The book puts the reader in personal touch with half a hundred directors, living and dead, in a way which, for the first time, makes it easy to compare their ideas and feelings on the wide variety of topics with which the director must deal, day-to-day, before, during, and post production.  The candid, informal comments of a Hitchcock, Cassavetes, Kershner, or Capra, illuminate the importance of both the art and the artist.

The questions and answers reflected in this work, generated by a dialogue between filmmakers and students, result in statements, and often in contradictions, directly relevant to the interests and need-to-know of the young film enthusiast. The fact that the material has been edited to juxtapose contrasting views on common and important topics, makes this book unique among books on the subject.

I would especially recommend it to those students and teachers who are looking for ideas, theories, aesthetics, and techniques originating from people who have had extensive professional experience in filmmaking–rather than from writers who have never been on the "battleground" of film and have never made nor worked on a film of consequences.

Eric Sherman has sorted out and ordered the expressions of distinguished film directors in a way which will intrigue, inform, and inspire those who practice the art as well as those who study, teach and enjoy the film experience."

Little, Brown and Company

"Despite the battle royal over the auteur theory, there is an undeniably strong relationship between how a director envisions a film, and what the film is.  In Directing The Film, Eric Sherman examines percepively the differences in directors’ scope of vision and methodological style that contribute so materially to the effect of finished films.  Seventy-five important American and European directors, including Cukor, Brakhage, Renoir, Hawks, Altman, and Zinneman, explore in their own words the fundamentals of filmmaking; who uses a storyboard and why, the relative importance of script and improvisation, working with actors, staging cameras, types of shots, special effects, and editing.  They reveal surprising, instructive disparities in the ways they approach their art or craft (itself a bone of contention).  Prepared under the auspices of the American Film Insitute Series, this is a storehouse of practical wisdom on every aspect of making films, an invaluable resource for students, would-be directors, and buffs."

Publishers Weekly

"Anyone from filmbuff and fledgling movie-maker to the general reader interested in the nuts, bolts and ‘esthetics’ of cinema art ought to find Eric Sherman’s big book an invaluable treasury of insights and guidelines.  Overy recent years, some of the best-known American and European film directors have gathered in frank seminars at the American Film Institute: from their recorded commentaries Sherman has culled their personal stories–how Raoul Walsh, for instance, cast ‘a guy called Bogard’ for ‘High Sierra’; when George Raft nixed the role–and their individual views on, quite literally, every aspect of directing a film.  Since the quarrel over the auteur theory of directing is still unresolved, there is plenty of meaty talk on the subject.  But if the clash of ideas on cinema as an ‘art’ lifts the level of the book, it is the way Sherman has organized the statements of 75 top directors…on scripts, money-raising, rehearsing, ‘shooting,’ casting, camera-work, film-editing and much more that makes his book what it is."

Frame By Frame by Eric Sherman

Frame By Frame by Eric Sherman

Reviews of

Frame By Frame: A Handbook For Creative Filmmaking

"F&F explains the process of making movies in a straightforward and lucid manner.  It demystifies the complexities and reduces the fears of making professional motion pictures.  Only the pure essence of the film art has been presented by Mr. Sherman." (Filmex)

"This is the clearest vision of the craft of cinema that I have ever encountered." (Gary Essert, Artistic Director, American Cinematheque and Founder, Los Angeles International Film Exposition)

Selling Your Film by Eric Sherman

Selling Your Film by Eric Sherman

Reviews of

Selling Your Film:  A Guide To The Contemporary Marketplace

"Eric Sherman’s new, expanded Selling Your Film is an indispensable, impressively comprehensive guide for independent filmmakers, written with admirable step-by-step clarity, seasoned throughout with sound advice." (Kevin Thomas, Film Critic, Los Angeles Times)

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Eric Sherman

PO Box 41-1688
Los Angeles, CA 90041
323-344-6051 Fax: 323-344-6053
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