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Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start Paperback – December 26, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1st edition (December 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767906748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767906746
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Young NYU film school graduate Jarecki began this project as a "selfish" endeavor (he wanted to know how he could get his own start), but it evolved into an expansive collection of interviews with three generations of directors about how films are conceived, shot and distributed. The directors included span decades and genres, from John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) to Amy Heckerling (Clueless) to Ben Younger (Boiler Room), but nearly all agree on the need for perseverance and the belief that writing a good script is, as Younger says, the "easiest and most direct route to success." These directors generally praise film programs, like those at Columbia, NYU and AFI (American Film Institute), as training grounds, and they view Sundance and other festivals with both starry and jaundiced eyes. Aside from offering advice, the book also provides directors' views on the purpose of filmmaking. Edward Zwick (Glory) sees film as a way to communicate feelings and "organize" experience; Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber) considers it "telling a good story." Like a fine movie, the book generates memorable images, including Farrelly frozen by fear in bed before his first shoot and a teenaged John Dahl (The Last Seduction) trying to seduce a girl at a drive-in showing A Clockwork Orange. For future filmmakers, the book grants an extended community; for movie fans, it encourages faith in future films made by directors like Brett Ratner (Money Talks) who aim to inspire people, because "that's what movies ultimately are supposed to do."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

There is much to enjoy in this rather uneven set of interviews. Jarecki, a young director himself, isn't a deeply probing interviewer, and most of the questions sound as if the subjects had written them. For the most part, though, their stories prove immensely entertaining, detailing the cutthroat competition and illuminating the crazy luck that often leads to a filmmaker's first break. The debut films discussed by the likes of John Schlesinger and Edward Zwick tend to be ambitious or significant efforts, and it is enjoyable to hear their masterminds deprecate them from the perspective of subsequent experience. The book has great appeal to aspiring filmmakers, but the emphasis on technical details may put off casual readers. Still, the personality and intelligence of the subjects carries the day, as the director's affectionately recall how they turned their passion into a full-time gig. Will Hickman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on January 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nicholas Jarecki explains in his Introduction that as a film school graduate he was stymied by the seeming impossibility of actually ever directing films. He didn't want, he says, to "start at the bottom," and he wondered how working directors he admired had, in fact, gotten their starts. He had loads of questions - and decided to ask them - for himself and on behalf of the many people who have wondered the same things. This book is the result of Jarecki's good idea.
Jarecki's questions tend to focus on early influences, the educational and life experiences of the directors, and afford elegant ways into the personalities and attitudes of his subjects. The material is fresh and personal, and makes for great reading. Kimberly Peirce, who directed "Boys Don't Cry," tells a heartrending story of how she came to want to tell the Brandon Teena story. Barry Sonnenfeld compares directing to being a father, since in his view much of directing is "about consistency and love and hugging." Amy Heckerling generously gives credit to people who helped her along the way - including the friend who taught her to drive (no small thing) once she had moved from NY to LA. Part of what makes this book such satisfying reading is that Jarecki has somehow managed to collect interesting, lively, and quirky details from each and every director he interviewed.
Jarecki is smart and humane, and he doesn't show off. He's done something special here. In these interviews he listens actively and intelligently, with restraint and subtlety. One of the best things about these interviews is that they are quite specifically about work and love (and sometimes, luck) - not stardom. These are interesting autobiographies that afford keen insight into the motives, the practice, and process of directing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Greg on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are very few film books out there that future filmmakers (I'm one of them) must read. This book has clawed and elbowed its way onto the list to join Syd Field's Screenplay, Scorsese on Scorsese, Jack Mathews' The Battle of Brazil.
Jarecki interviews directors of all shapes and sizes (only complaint: not enough minority filmmakers--would have been nice to hear Kasi Lemmons or Melvin van Peebles talk about the additional challenges they faced). His questions are basic, it's true, but they also draw the directors out into detailed, fascinating discussions of how they got their films made (tenacity, perseverance, and drive.) The two most important common threads: sheer force of will, and the ability to write your own screenplays.
Reading about all the obstacles Kimberly Pierce and Vincenzo Natali (director of Cube), among others, faced may be disheartened, and Brett Ratner sounds like a schmuck, but this is still a wonderful, must-read book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anne Watts on December 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
BREAKING IN by Nicholas Jarecki is a must-read for aspiring filmmakers, screenwriters and film students. The author has chosen a diverse and interesting group of filmmakers as interview subjects. The interviews give the reader a unique insight into the motivations and personalities of these creative and incredibly motivated individuals. The book illustrates their passion for film and how they were able (many with great financial and personal difficulty) to turn their love of the medium and their drive and ability into a meaningful and lucrative profession.
With his adept interviewing style (the majority of the interviews were conducted in person) the author allows the directors to tell their own life "stories" of how they grew up and became interested in film. The responses to the questions Jarecki asks are very personal and nostalgic and the reader can only assume that, for many of the subjects, the interviews bring them back to their beginnings when they were struggling and just trying to find a way to get into the business of making a feature film. The interviewer keeps the focus of the interviews on the directors' first films and with relative ease seems to elicit candid and thought-provoking insights into their early inspirations and motivations.
This book reveals that the twenty directors were all somehow "moved" and compelled to make films and to share their experiences and vision of life with its triumphs and its tragedies; they have each, in their own unique way, used film as the outlet of their creativity.
The interviews not only offer insights into the process of filmmaking from a personal perspective but also serve as a metaphor for life. The fact that one can be "lucky" or talented is only part of the story here.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jarecki interviews a variety of directors about their backgrounds and their first feature films. He has selected a good range of (English-speaking) directors, from John Schlesinger, who was part of the British New Wave of the 1960s, to Kimberly Pierce, whose first film was Boys Don't Cry (1999). Some of the interviews are very funny and enlightening. Most of the directors are articulate and have some good "breaking in" stories to share. Only James Toback comes across as a big bore: he blames critics and marketing people for the box-office failure of his films, and seems very impressed by the fact that he has associated with a lot of celebrities. The real problem with this book is that it doesn't seem to have had an editor. There are so many errors that it seems incredible that the publisher, Broadway Books, is a division of a major publisher (Random House). Among the dozens of names misspelled (in both the text and the index) are: Stan Brackhage; Nicolas Cage; Nina Foch; Aaron Eckhart (spelled Erin Eckhard); Tom Milne; and Mary Woronov (her surname is spelled Waranoff). But the funniest mistake is the name created for the director of the Soviet film A Slave of Love: Michael Cove. The director's name is actually Nikita Mikhalkov.
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