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From Book: In Their Own Words: Fictional Directors by Alex Heeney | Characteristics

As a publication, conducting interviews has been our own personal film school. As a team, we constantly compare the different answers of several filmmakers to often similar questions. For example, my long-standing interest in the relationship between film and theater has led to interviewing several filmmakers who work in both mediums and who form the basis of the ninth and final section of this book, “Film vs. Theater”. Over the years, I’ve asked filmmakers like Richard Eyre (The Children’s Act, 2017), Dominic Cooke (On Chesil beach, 2017) and Benedict Andrews (Una, 2016) on the differences between film and theater directing, including differences for the directing of actors. In this book, for the first time, you can see their answers one after the other to better understand where their opinions converge and diverge.

For years, we’ve searched for a way to help our readers make the same kinds of connections between cinematic approaches that we as writers and editors draw. Achieving this goal is what prompted us to launch our In their own words ebook series with In their own words: Documentary masters, vol. 1 in 2018. In this book, we’ve put our interviews with several of the best working documentary directors – Frederick Wiseman, Steve James, Penny Lane – one after another so you can compare their approaches. In our case studies on Frederick Wiseman and Gianfranco Rosi, I wrote an article in which I drew conflicting answers to the same questions from each of Wiseman and Rosi. The feedback we got from readers was that it allowed them to see again how these filmmakers are using fundamentally opposite approaches. With In their own words: fiction directors, we’ve broadened the approach to this piece to make it the approach for our entire book.

This book is made up of seventy-four of the best interviews we have conducted with fictional filmmakers, as a publication, since 2015. It is organized into nine parts: working in different genres, representation in cinema, creating a sense of belonging, making low-budget films, inventing an aesthetic, working with actors, filming, post-production and cinema versus theater. Each part is divided into a series of questions, like the ones that opened this foreword, with answers from several directors. By compiling interview responses by topic, you can make connections between the approaches of various filmmakers in a way that was never possible before. Even we, the editors, have found new connections, like Joachim Trier and Mia Hansen-Løve’s reverence for Isabelle Huppert and how working with her is a great example of why you don’t want to interfere too much with the editing process. ‘a professional actor.

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