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Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos, Revised Edition [Paperback]

Alan Rosenthal
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)


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Book Description

May 29, 1996 0809320142 978-0809320141 Revised

In this revised edition of a universally acclaimed guide, Rosenthal’s intellectual impetus remains the same: "For me, working in documentary implies a commitment that one wants to change the world for the better. That says it all."

Even before important revisions, Donald E. Staples, University of North Texas, said of Rosenthal’s work: "This book should be called the ‘Documentary Filmmaker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The moral, ethical, aesthetic, and communicative problems of documentary filmmaking are explored through knowledge and experience in the field, studio, editing room, theater, and television. Every new or established documentary filmmaker should read it."

And Henry Breitrose, writing in International Documentary, stated: "The concentration on technique as an end in itself has resulted in altogether too many exquisitely wrought empty vessels. Alan Rosenthal’s new book comes as a corrective. . . . The book is a major contribution to the literature of film teaching and will be immensely useful as a textbook and as a humane, intelligent, and thoughtful refresher course for documentary makers."

An internationally renowned documentary filmmaker with more than sixty films to his credit, including the Peabody Award-winning Out of the Ashes, Rosenthal has written the first book to address the realities involved in the making of a documentary. Rather than dealing with theory or hardware, Rosenthal tackles the day-to-day problems from initial concept through distribution. Simply and clearly, Rosenthal explains how to write, direct, and produce the new documentary, whether film or video. He emphasizes the research and writing of the documentary, from approach and structure through interviewing, narration writing, and the complexities of editing. This emphasis makes his book unique.

The organization of the book follows the process of making a documentary. Part 1 discusses ideas, research, and script structure; parts 2 and 3 go over preproduction and production; part 4 explores editing and narration writing; and part 5 discusses distinctive forms of documentary, including cinema verite and documentary drama. The concluding chapter offers a perspective on the entire process involved in the making of a documentary.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I can hardly praise this book enough. Should every documentary student read it? Certainly. Should every documentary filmmaker, no matter how experienced they are, read it? Certainly."—Austin Lamont, commenting on the first edition in Film Quarterly



“This book should be called the ‘Documentary Filmmaker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The moral, ethical, aesthetic, and communicative problems of documentary filmmaking are explored through knowledge and experi­ence in the field, studio, editing room, theater, and television. Every new or established documentary filmmaker should read it.”—Donald E. Staples, Univer­sity of North Texas

About the Author

Alan Rosenthal was born in England, studied law at Oxford, and has made over sixty films for television. His books include New Challenges for Documentary, Why Docudrama? Fact-Fiction on Film and TV, and Jerusalem: Take One! Memoirs of a Jewish Filmmaker. He received a Peabody Award for Journalism and the International Documentary Association’s award for scholarship. Currently he divides his time among projects in Jerusalem, London, and New York. His most recent film is Adolf Eichmann: The Secret Memoirs.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; Revised edition (May 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809320142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809320141
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,850,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fairly comprehensive guide May 17, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Rosenthal has written a fairly comprehensive guide for aspiring and new documentarians. He covers everything from initial idea through proposal to marketing and distribution, including delicate topics like how to explore your initial idea and figure out if it's any good, and where to look for funding. He mentions a lot of details that are easily missed by amateurs, all of which could be disastrous to production. My only reason for holding back a star is that I would have liked a bit more depth to the examples (e.g., a full sample budget instead of an outline of what to include).
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent source for beginner documentary makers July 19, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Before you pay a lot of money for a documentary filmmaking class, I strongly recommend this book. It seems to cover all the bases of the process (don't expect much info on equipment though) and includes insightful anecdotes from real situations. Rosenthal guides you through the entire evolution of a documentary from the conception of the idea, writing proposals, dealing with sponsors, locations and crews to distribution to the ethical responsibilities of a director. One distinguishing factor of this particular book in comparison to other books on filmmaking is its spectrum-from independents to corporate to public service films.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIVE STARS, excellent, excellent, excellent. June 25, 2001
Format:Paperback
This book is a masterful resource for any filmmaker regardless of their expertise.
No one has come close in their summation of the documentary process. It is 2001, the book was released in 1996, it is timeless. The best book on the market, a better book could only be devised by the author.
Four years of preperation in one book. Every student, professional filmmaker, enthusiast should have it. I have even allowed persons/subjects whom I was documenting to read this book. It made the process that much easier. They were extremely thankful. PURCHASE THE BOOK.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent resource April 26, 2002
Format:Paperback
Even while reading this book I was able to pitch an idea for an event and documentary project, my first, and gain acceptance for the project. The concepts are helpful as well as practical.
I read a lot of books once I am interested in a subject and I would place this one at the top for documentaries.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great source of info... March 20, 2001
Format:Paperback
I find myself opening this book up over and over again . I have learned alot from the writer of this book . I would tell anyone who is going to make a documentary , they should have this book on there desk.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good guide for those first starting.... April 4, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In starting something new, the potential making missteps that can derail the whole process is always present. This book helps you avoid those and has advice on how you can develop a quality product that people will want to see. Very worthwhile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent! September 14, 2009
Format:Paperback
Es un libro excelente. Ideal para quienes nos iniciamos en el apasionante oficio de contar historias con imagenes. Lo recomiendo ampliamente.
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