On Directing Film Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the backdrop of On Directing Film? From what setting did the author base the text?

The book is based on a series of lectures he conducted at the Columbia University film school. His goal during this series was to explain the theory of film directing, one that he arrived at based chiefly on his background as a screenwriter.

2. What did Mamet write in the Preface regarding the blind author who decided to become a screenwriter?

Mamet made a reference to a newspaper review that derided a blind novelist's attempt to become a screenwriter. Mamet noted the reviewer's sublime ignorance of the craft of screenwriting: One does not have to be able to see to write a film story, one only has to be able to imagine.

3. What writers and filmmakers did Mamet refer to in the Preface and Chapter 1 regarding screenwriting and film direction?

In Georgi Tovstonogov's book "The Profession of the Stage," Mamet referenced the author's caution to directors not to worry about a "pretty picture" but rather to focus on the story. Hemingway instructed the writer to "Write the story, take out all the good lines, and see if it still works." Aristotle is also noted in saying, "The point is what happens to the hero...not what happens to the writer."

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