On Film-making

Categories: | Films, Cinema |
On Film-making
Author: Alexander Mackendrick
Rating: 4.35
Bestsellers Rate: 25106
Publisher: FABER & FABER
Book Format: Paperback
Binding: None
Pages: 336
Hours of reading: 5.6 hours
Publication Date: 2021
Languages: | English |
Price: 15,33 €

About the book

An invaluable analysis of the director's art and craft, from one of the most revered of all film school directors. Alexander 'Sandy' Mackendrick directed classic Ealing comedies plus a Hollywood masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success. But after retiring from film-making in 1969, he then spent nearly 25 years teaching his craft at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. Mackendrick produced hundreds of pages of masterly handouts and sketches, designed to guide his students to a finer understanding of how to write a story, and then use those devices peculiar to cinema in order to tell that story as effectively as possible. Gathered and edited in this collection, Mackendrick's teachings reveal that he had the talent not only to make great films, but also to articulate the process with a clarity and insight that will still inspire any aspirant film-maker.




He doesn't soft soap his audience with advice to lie back and let their inner child do the work. Instead, he offers up the accumulated wisdom of a disciplined and productive career. - The Guardian

Alexander Mackendrick Biography

Alexander Mackendrick (September 8, 1912 – December 22, 1993) was an American-Scottish director and professor. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and later moved to Scotland. He began making television commercials before moving into post-production editing and directing films, most notably for Ealing Studios where his films include Whisky Galore! (1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Maggie (1954), and The Ladykillers (1955). After his first American film Sweet Smell of Success (1957), his career as a director declined and he became Dean of the CalArts School of Film/Video in California. He was the cousin of the Scottish writer Roger MacDougall.


He was born on 8 September 1912 the only child of Francis and Martha Mackendrick who had emigrated to the United States from Glasgow in 1911. His father was a ship builder and a civil engineer. When Mackendrick was six, his father died of influenza as a result of a pandemic that swept the world just after World War I. His mother, in desperate need of work, decided to be a dress designer. In order to pursue that decision, it was necessary for Martha MacKendrick to hand her only son over to his grandfather, who took young MacKendrick back to Scotland when he was seven years old. Mackendrick never saw or heard from his mother again. Mackendrick had a sad and lonely childhood. He attended Hillhead High School in Glasgow from 1919 to 1926 and then went on to spend three years at the Glasgow School of Art. In the early 1930s, MacKendrick moved to London to work as an art director for the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson. Between 1936 and 1938, Mackendrick scripted five cinema commercials. He later reflected that his work in the advertising industry was invaluable, in spite of his extreme dislike of the industry itself. MacKendrick wrote his first film script with his cousin and close friend, Roger MacDougall. It was bought by Associated British and later released, after script revisions, as Midnight Menace (1937).


At the start of the Second World War, Mackendrick was employed by the Minister of Information making British propaganda films. In 1942, he went to Algiers and then to Italy, working with the Psychological Warfare Division. He then shot newsreels, documentaries, made leaflets, and did radio news. In 1943, he became the director of the film unit and approved the production of Roberto Rossellini's early neorealist film, Rome, Open City (1945).

Ealing Studios

After the war, Mackendrick and Roger MacDougall set up Merlin Productions, where they produced documentaries for the Ministry of Information. Merlin Productions soon proved financially unviable. In 1946 Mackendrick joined Ealing Studios, originally as a scriptwriter and production designer, where he worked for nine years and directed five films made at Ealing; Whisky Galore! (US: Tight Little Island, 1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), Mandy (1952), The Maggie (US: High and Dry, ... Read full biography

Authors: Alexander Mackendrick
Publisher: FABER & FABER
Languages: | English |
Original Language:
ISBN13: 9780571211258
ISBN10: 0571211259
Reference Edition:
Edition: None
Edition Statement: Main
Illustrations: None
Literature Country: None
Literature Period: None
Book Format: Paperback
Book Binding: None
Paper: None
Font: None
Pages: 336
Book Weight: 445
Book Dimensions: 150x232x25
Circulation: None
Publication date: June 1, 2006
First Publication Date: None
Publication City/Country: London, United Kingdom

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