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Jeremy Kagan’s E-Textbook, Keys to Directing, published in Scalar

 

Keys to Directing is rich and informative… Acquired over decades of directing, teaching and in-depth conversations with fellow filmmakers, Kagan’s depth of knowledge is evident in every word, his wisdom matched by the palpable affection and respect he clearly has for the mysterious, difficult, joyous craft of directing. A uniquely valuable read for the filmmaking novice and experienced director alike.

‐SHAWN LEVY, film director of Night at the Museum

Keys to Directing, according to its author, Jeremy Kagan, is a “living” eTextbook that offers an in-depth examination of a director’s essential responsibilities. In addition to being a Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Kagan is also an Emmy Award winning director, writer, and producer of television and feature films. While his film credits include Heroes (1977), The Big Fix (1978), The Chosen (1981), and The Journey of Natty Gann (1985), Kagan has also directed episodes of many celebrated television shows, counting among them, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The West Wing, and The Guardian.

Figure 1. Kagan analyzes a four-person shot from Casablanca.

Kagan’s Keys to Directing presents a comprehensive study of its subject moving from chapters on casting and rehearsals through to directing and camera movement. Many sections offer ample real-world footage, sometimes in the form of classic scenes that invoke particular techniques under discussion and at other times, with Kagan himself in revealing behind-the-scenes rehearsals and experimental actor run-throughs. The section on camera movement, for example, covers a myriad of topics –nineteen in all- from camera lenses to green screens. Here, Kagan shows his readers “how to tell [their] story with the camera” by offering detailed analysis of techniques used in classic film and television scenes as well as diagramic breakdowns of camera and actor positioning within those scenes (see Figure 1).

The Introduction to Keys to Directing is free, but the full e-textbook is $20.

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The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.