The film director Billy Wilder (The Apartment, 1960) commented on the subject of reading a screenplay: "It isn't necessarily helpful for a director to know how to write, but what is vitally important is that he know how to read." The stage director Harold Clurman, in On Directing, commented:
The director reads the script. He reads it again and again and again. He need not read it in consecutive daily sessions. In fact, he would do well, if time permits, to set it aside for a while after each reading and check on what he remembers of it. . . . First impressions — and he must regard the first two or three preliminary readings as first impressions — are often deceiving, that is conventional. To begin with, even experienced directors may see little more in a script than an intelligent theatergoer would. Like him, the director will be amused, laugh or cry, shudder or thrill. These reactions are not without value; they may even prove important . . . But they do not suffice as guides to the directorial problem, which . . . is to translate the script's words into the language of the stage [film] where men and women of flesh and blood who move in three dimensions among real objects are to replace description.
In order to apply this book's methodology to an entire story of manageable length I have written a short screenplay titled A Piece of Apple Pie. Read the screenplay now as if it were going to be your next directing project.
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