Book Reviews Reviews

Learning from the masters

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Instep|November 3, 2019

No, it is not that kind of a book. Never Sleep with the Director and 50 Other Ridiculous Film Rules is a progressive collection of quotes by legendary filmmakers regarding the business. It is something for upcoming filmmakers and actors so they could have a guideline before they enter the field and excel in it. It is the book version of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ truism because some rules here are so idiotic that they don’t feel like worth reading, yet they might be exactly what the other person is in search of. Interesting, isn’t it?

Don’t take this book as a guideline but as an inspiration as every one of the 51 rules here teaches you something. Edited by Anneloes Van Gaalen, it refers to what his famous fellow creators said during their careers, giving you many variations of one rule. Why should one give importance to a director’s quote, you might ask? Well, they are the ones who get to yell ‘cut’ and ‘action’ on set, and without either, you can’t complete a film.

The book’s target market is plausibly the many indie directors as well as wannabe actors and actresses out there who sometimes find themselves at a crossroad regarding their careers.

In The Older The Actress, The Fewer The Parts, the book quotes the legendary Katherine Hepburn and Carrie Fischer who used to be leading ladies in their youth but faded away as they grew older. Through Let Other People Cut Your Trailer, the yesteryear filmmakers tell the readers that one shouldn’t edit their film’s trailer because they wouldn’t do justice to it. How I wish Khalil ur Rehman Qamar had read about it before releasing the Kaaf Kangna trailer recently.

And then there are the rules themselves – Know Your Lines is all about those actors who are late on the set, and don’t learn their lines; Don’t Answer The Phone refers to the many sequences in horror films where answering the phone means instant death; Less Is More instructs filmmakers to ensure that the less they speak on-screen the better; It’s Better To Be Typecast Than Not Cast At All is self-explanatory and the final rule, Break The Rules that tells you that you that in order to break the rules, you first have to know them. Then there are a few chapters where the filmmakers talk about ‘useless’ critics, taking risks and ensuring a final cut before the film’s release, all important aspects of filmmaking.

Who else to quote better than Alfred Hitchcock when talking about Show Don’t Tell or Quentin Tarantino – who once said that he makes films for Planet Earth, not just America? Every rule in this book has either an illustration accompanying it or a picture related to the subject, making it all the more understandable.

The directors most quoted here include Billy Wilder, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, and Alfred Hitchcock because their wisdom has been limitless when it came to filmmaking. You might agree with some of their views and disagree with a few but they spent their careers in the reel world, and know what to expect, and when to expect it. Happy reading.

About the author

Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi is a highly regarded journalist, critic, and commentator, specializing in news, sports, showbiz, film, blogs, articles, drama, reviews, and PTV drama. With extensive experience and a keen eye for storytelling, he captivates audiences with his insightful analysis and compelling presentations. His expertise and contributions have made him a prominent figure in the media and entertainment industry.