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Directors: Life Behind the Camera

3.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Made in cooperation with the American Film Institute, DIRECTORS: LIFE BEHIND THE CAMERA features thirty-three legendary directors who reveal intimate and in-depth knowledge about the art of filmmaking and, as well, their own career in the movies.

Culled from over 300 hours of interviews, this two-disc, four hour presentation is totally interactive, allowing instant access to a single director, or access to an entire topic involving all directors. Also included are film clips, interviews with guest actors and industry veterans, and biographies and interesting facts about each director.

Featuring (in alphabetical order):

Robert Altman, Robert Benton, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Chris Columbus, Wes Craven, Cameron Crowe, Frank Darabont, Jonathan Demme, Richard Donner, Clint Eastwood, Nora Ephron, William Friedkin, Terry Gilliam, Ron Howard, Lawrence Kasdan, Spike Lee, Barry Levinson, George Lucas, David Lynch, Adrian Lyne, Garry Marshall, Penny Marshall, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Bryan Singer, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Robert Zemeckis, David Zucker


Everyone has to Start Somewhere

The Art of Writing and Choosing Scripts

The Care and Feeding of Actors

Your Cinematographer is Your Best Friend

One of their Most Compelling Films

Will the Industry Survive?

Long After they are Gone

Also featuring a wide range of A-list actors and industry veterans including:

Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Beals, Jerry Bruckheimer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Ossie Davis, Robert Englund, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Elliott Gould, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Michael Keaton, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Roy Scheider, Wil Wheaton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010
  • Run Time: 211 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003S6KGNY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,849 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

DIRECTORS:LIFE BEHIND THE CAMERA is not really a movie, nor is it a documentary.

It is, in fact, a series of short clips from interviews conducted by, I presume, the American Film Institute with thirty-three major motion picture directors. They include Robert Altman, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood, Nora Ephron, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and many others. These interviews are enhanced with occasional film clips and on-camera remarks from various actors and other folk with whom these directors have worked (e.g. Kevin Bacon, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Leslie Nielsen, Roy Scheider, etc.)

The two-disc set is totally interactive. The viewer chooses a topic, such as "Everyone Has to Start Somewhere," or "The Art of Writing and Choosing Scripts," or "The Care and Feeding of Actors," or "Will the Industry Survive," then he can either decided to listen to all of the responses to that subject, or just select the directors that interest him.

Although most of the answers are interesting and informative, many are only a sentence of two long and don't really add much to the discussion. I think this package would have benefited greatly from the services of an experienced editor and a narrator, both of whom could have woven this worthy material into a much more involving presentation.

© Michael B. Druxman
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I found this DVD very disappointing. It had a lot of potential - it's an interactive DVD with various categories, such as scripts, working with actors, working with cinematographers, etc. And in each section, you can select a director to hear their thoughts on the topic. The problem is, most of the 'interviews' are about two to three sentences long! It is clearly a short excerpt from a longer interview, and a lot of the time it feels like they're cutting them off mid-sentence.

Here is what Martin Scorsese has to say about working with actors: "They're your whole movie; their faces, you know, how they just literally ignite the frame, their emotion, you can't fake it, you can't paint it, you have to deal with the humanity of it, and the humanity of the actor". And that's it. I can't believe that's all he has to say on the subject. James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, they all say about two or three sentences and that's it. And it doesn't feel like a complete answer or thought, it feels like a tiny excerpt from a much larger and more interesting discussion.

This DVD is the definition of superficial. It claims to have been created from over 300 hours worth of interviews... what a wasted opportunity.
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This mammoth project co-sponsored by the American Film Institute is both fascinating and frustrating. With about 3.5 hours of footage over two discs, this is neither a film or a documentary per se. It is a compilation of interviews from 33 of the top directors (and I do mean top!) as they discuss a variety of topics from how they got their start, to writing and choosing scripts, to working with actors, to cinematographers, to personal films of import to them, to their legacies, and to the film industry in general. Some directors are more verbose than others offering real insight, some speak in platitudes. Some segments are genuinely involving, some are two sentence sound bites. While I do think this is a vital piece of film, it is maddening in its construction. The interactive menu allows you to choose a topic and than choose one of the 33 directors to respond to that topic. It's too much to watch everything straight through, but a lot of work to pick and choose. I loved it and hated it--it was like treasure hunt. KGHarris, 10/11.
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For anyone interested in motion pictures of the last half of the 20th century this is a must-have DVD! First Run Features previously released similar DVDs about cinematographers and script writers. Now we get to the real backbone of classic movies - the Director!

Produced in conjunction with the American Film Institute this DVD includes four hours of interviews culled from over 300 hours recorded in 2006 with 33 well known Directors. (only Francis Ford Coppola - and his daughter, Sofia- seem to be missing). Sure, we've love to see all 300 hours, but that would probably be cost prohibitive - and onlt the true scholar would have time to watch them.)

The interviews are grouped by "subject" - which the DVD's Director thinks of as "answers to questions". The background question is titled "Everyone has to start somewhere", Choosing actors for roles is titled "The Care and Feeding of Actors", and so on. There are seven categories in total. Not all of the 33 Directors are featured in each segment but they all appear in the background one and "One of Your Most Compelling Films", which is at the hear of the DVD and the longest segment. If that section alone was available, it would be a must own!

The Directors range from veterans like William Friedkin (The French Connection), Robert Altman (MASH), and Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets) to the new crop of "hot Directors" such as Tim Burton, Spike Lee and Bryan Singer. James Cameron is here too but, since the interviews are pre-2006, there is no mention of Avatar and his other recent projects. Sadly quite a few of the older Directors are now deceased so its great that their comments are preserved. Nearly all are excellent conversationalists and their stories will keep you interested.
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