Auteur or not

220px-Alexander_Mackendrick

This week I am reading On Filmmaking: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director, a book of collected essays and lectures by Alexander Mackendrick. In the introduction Paul Cronin writes:

For Mackendrick, the very word ‘director’ implied being in control of other people’s skills just as much, if not more, than the exercise of one’s own craftsmanship. As he explained, ‘The true role of a director involves more than having practical experience in various technical skills – it means functioning as a leader who is able to give direction to a group of other talented individuals.’ In fact the great directors, he suggested, dissolve and disappear into the work,’ while making ‘other people look good’.

A very different idea than the one promoted by many film schools and critiques who promote the ever popular “auteur theory” which suggests that all brilliance emanates from the film’s director. From my recent experience at film school and generally working in the world of theatre and film, I do definitely understand Mackendrick’s point of view. The best work it seems comes from those who understand the story they are trying to tell and respect the ability of others to help them tell it. Every aspect adds so much – and being able to communicate and coalesce ideas and narrative to create an intriguing film is an incredible directorial skill.

– Jennifer Dean

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