The Director’s Six Senses by Simone Bartesaghi (book review).

March 24, 2016 | By | Reply More

The book ‘The Director’s Six Senses’ by Simone Bartesaghi is not about revealing a special extra sense needed by directors to make film but the awareness they have to have during production. Directing is very much a visual/tactile thing and often creating an illusion in the camera frame. Bartesaghi does a convincing test visual of what makes people think they are seeing an airport by the way information is shown in a photograph to make you think that way. Applying this, you can probably save a fortune by mock up or even using a reception area somewhere that will give the right look without having to go anywhere near an airport. When you start thinking along these lines, then this book immediately becomes useful to film directors of all sorts, especially starters who have a ‘vision’.


Likewise, he also shows how directors presents images to the viewer to establish various details. I should also point out that he uses several SF film examples among them as part of this, all accompanied by stills showing how the info is presented. Later in the book, Bartesaghi lists his favourite films for a test and its hardly surprising that two SF films are highly placed.

There is also an awareness that actors need to examine the sets they are working so they know tacitly what is real and fake so they don’t break anything. He uses Jim Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ as an example in that to ensure the actors had the right feel for CGI, took them to Hawaii to explore the forestry there so they could use the physical information. Bartesaghi explores directors talking to the cast to ensure that they feel like they are acting naturally within a scene. From what he says, there’s a fine line between being true to a scene and faking it that the viewers will pick up on. That must get really complicated when one of the cast isn’t doing things properly. Spielberg says he moderates to the style of actor he’s dealing with to get the right performance. Looking at this objectively, this is what is elsewhere described as giving notes to the actors.

It was half-way through this book that two things occurred to me. Bartesaghi is actually getting you to analyse and apply your tastes from your favourite films. This can range from how you use your camera to various style preferences. In a broader scale, you can probably apply this to writing stories. I know I’ve read how some writers want to emulate their favourite author while I contest you need more than one or you’ll end up just a one author clone. Bartesaghi does pretty much the same thing as well and only as a foundation to finding your own voice.

I did briefly look at my DVD and films I taped off TV databases and saw patterns in proportion to how many SF films I have and found adventure, drama, crime and comedy were also in high numbers as well, so I must be pretty balanced in my tastes.

The self-discovery of why you want to direct a film is going to make many of you people think about your commitment. I rather like the way Bartesaghi says do a genre that you might not like as a challenge to see if you can do it as being rather pertinent. This also applies later in applying a mood of a familiar scene you like and focusing it on the viewer. From my objective, whether they are aware of it or not, viewers do have a grasp of film language and will recognise the emotion. In fiction, a lot of writers don’t fully grasp the emotional content of a scene and don’t utilise it in their stories so there is a lesson to be learnt here for any medium.

As one of the final pieces in this book, Bartesaghi gives a breakdown analysis sheet layout to keep you in mind as to what you want to achieve with your film. As he surmises, when you’re actually filming you aren’t really focusing on this when there’s a thousand and one other things taking your attention. Having this to fall back on in those rare quiet moments will no doubt keep things in perspective.

For such a short size, this book packs a lot of punch and knowledge. More importantly, if you have a desire to direct, has some useful pointers in looking at yourself and your needs to getting your best work. If you can apply some of these techniques to writing or other skills, I suspect you’ll have similar effect. A lot of this is familiar with me but then, I do tend to know my own mind. If you want to develop your ability as a director or writer then this book should be at the top of your list to read right now.

GF Willmetts

February 2016

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 124 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.95 (US), £10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-234-4)

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Category: Books, Culture

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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