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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
John Badham On Directing: 2nd Edition
by Betty Jo Tucker

After I finished reading the impressive first edition of John Badham On Directing, my fantasy involved finding some actors and a good script, then directing a movie. Badham’s detailed advice (which includes information from other successful directors and actors) made me feel confident that I knew how to helm a film. But that was back in 2013, and many directing opportunities have opened up during the past few years in the area of episodic television and streaming media.

Thanks to Badham, his 2nd edition includes a survival guide for the brave souls who venture into this burgeoning territory. And, of course, now my fantasy is … well, you know.

Badham’s delightful and breezy writing style always delights me. That makes it easy to read his explanations of effective techniques for directing scenes and the need for communication and collaboration on each project. Although the Executive Producer plus the network in episodic television and streaming media call the shots instead of the director, Badham reveals how to make the best of this situation.

And he’s not shy about describing how he’s learned by his own mistakes. Badham’s terrific sense of humor shines throughout this helpful and entertaining book. His candor is so refreshing!    

As in his first On Directing , Badham emphasizes humanistic virtues like respect, courtesy and open mindedness in this 2nd edition. I love the way he reminds readers against using sarcasm while directing, despite Alfred Hitchcock’s famous put-down of an actress who asked “What is my motivation?”

Hitchcock replied, “A paycheck.”

Although Hitchcock remains one of my favorite directors, Badham convinced me how remarks like that humiliate people instead of helping them do their best work.

I also appreciate how Badham includes fascinating contributions by other directors. In the section covering episodic television and streaming media, the contributors include Daniel Sackheim (Better Call Saul ), Rachel Goldberg (Veronica Mars), Romeo Tirone (Once Upon a Time ), Michael Zinberg (Rizzoli & Isles ), Trey Calloway (Rush Hour) and many more.     

According to IMDb, Badham has over 60 directing credits for movies and television shows. Two of his films – Blue Thunder and War Games – received four Academy Award nominations in 1983. Plus, his TV work earned two 1973 Emmy nominations – one for The Senator and one for The Law. He currently serves as Professor of Film and Media at Chapman University in California. I can’t help feeling jealous of his lucky students.       

(Both of John Badham’s books are published by Michael Wiese Productions. For more information, please go to

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