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Making Movies Hardcover – March 14, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's well known that a vast number of people work on any given movie in roles as varied as writing scripts, choosing locations, dressing sets, costuming the players, lighting scenes, manipulating the camera, directing actors, editing film, working on sound, advertising the finished product, and screening it to an audience. Have you ever thought about how these components are collated? Or why the director is most often considered the author of a film? Wonder no more, because Sidney Lumet's Making Movies is a terrific journey through each stage of filmmaking that is overseen by the director. Lumet, the veteran director of Twelve Angry Men, The Pawnbroker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict, and many other fine movies, knows the ins and outs of American filmmaking as well as anyone. In this excellent, personable account, Lumet tells what he's learned about making movies in the course of the last 40 years. He shows why fine directors need to have strong imaginations, extraordinary adaptability, and skill in many different fields. His enthusiasm for his life's work, particularly his love of actors, is evident on every page of this book. As Herculean as the labors of film directing are, Lumet takes great pleasure in his work, almost guiltily admitting that the film director's job is "the best in the world." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Award-winning director Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon; The Verdict) serves as an unpretentious, anecdotal and sometimes irascible gide to the knotty process of getting a story on the screen. Brushing aside the auteur theory, he insists that filmmaking is a collaborative art involving technicians, actors and writers. Drawing upon almost 40 years' experience, the author lucidly explains the technical and aesthetic considerations in set design, cinematography and editing. As Lumet's movies are ample testimony to his love of language and actors, he unsurprisingly singles out such hyperbolic talents as screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and actors Al Pacino and Katharine Hepburn, from whom he coaxed one of her bravest performances?as the crumbling matriarch in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. But Lumet is not star-struck: "If my movie has two stars in it, I always know it really has three. The third star is the camera." Remarkably informative and engrossing, even if film is not your bag. It's all here: lights, camera, action.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (March 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679437096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679437093
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on November 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend recommended this book saying, "I'm not sure you want to learn about making movies, but this is a great project management book."
Well...I could see his point, but I didn't feel the same way about the book. There's a thin thread throughout about the way Lumet conducts his movie project, most evident in the book's best chapter (7) entitled "Shooting the Movie: At Last!" The pieces of the puzzle all fall together at that point, and you get a true sense of everyone's responsibilities and how Lumet plans and uses these resources. So yeah, that's project management.
But if you're going to buy this book, buy it because you're interested in how movies get made, starting right from how a script is chosen, through to the preview. From that perspective, it's a great book. Again, in the book's best chapter, you get a sense for just how draining - and unglamourous - it is to actually shoot the movie. Early pick-ups, lots of work with stand-ins to get the set (esp. lighting) right, multiple takes, late-night viewing of rushes. This is tough work, and Lumet describes it clear, concise language. And he pulls no punches as to where his frustrations lay in the process.
Roger Ebert's cover blurb states "I am sometimes asked if there is one book a filmgoer could read to learn more about how movies are made and what to look for while watching them. This is the book." I'd say that's a very accurate summation of what you'll find here.
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Format: Paperback
I've read 'Making Movies' for my 'Visual Communication' class, in which we examined visual sources that ranged from pictorial representations to actual films. I must admit, however, that the book was a real joy to read, and Lumet a master to know closely.
As the other reviewers have mentioned, Lumet's style makes it easy for everyone to understand and get a grasp of what it takes to shoot a movie, from reading a scenario, to bringing together a cast, from dealing with actors to trying to stay within the budget. The book's procession is designed in such a way, that your curiosity increases as you flip through the chapters. (You begin to wonder if the film's going to get ready in time.)
Lumet, as the director of many films, should be considered as a real master in the film industry. He has worked with important actors such as Sean Connery frequently, and succeeded in putting together remarkable films, like 'Twelve Angry Men'. He tells the audience exactly how he's felt and what he's thought during the making of the movies. He expresses the stress he's had when the actors did not show up on time, when the weather conditions changed dramatically or when the production company announced to cut off a significant portion of the film budget. He also depicts his delight when he's got astonishing performance from his actors and actresses, when the cameraman managed to do a better job than he had even planned. His telling of these remarks are inspiring, indeed.
'Making Movies' is a great source, although not necessarily a technical source, for all people either working or interested in the film world. A wonderful book to both read and have in shelf.
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Format: Hardcover
Get this book if you want to know what a year-in-the-life of a powerhouse filmmaker is like. If you are a beginner with an indie, much of Lumet's experiences are not going to apply. They are simply going to make you want to work harder on your indie so that you can get where he got! However, Lumet does NOT deceive. He never promises you any how-to information. He simply calls his book "Making Movies", and that is exactly the subject matter to which he sticks. His honesty does not go unnoticed, although he maybe should have called the book, "Making MY Movies".
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Format: Paperback
Lumet's book is one of the best film books I've read. It explains all the technical terms, and has diagrams to accompany the text. It explains the process of making movies step by step, and shows the glamorous and not so glamorous parts of the industry. This books is definately for people who are interested in the art of filmmaking, for fun or for work.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel was written for those who love movies, and for aspiring filmmakers. It gives the common person an insight and an appreciation for what it takes to make a film, and have it be successful. This is not a too technical book which only relies on "movie" terminology, but instead Lumet actually talks to the reader as if he was really in a conversation with you. He breaks down movie terms so they are easy to understand. Lumet also does not hold back any of his opinions on anybody. He will literally say how he feels about certain people on a film crew and how he reacts to everyone's ego. Lumet does not make himself out to be be the best filmmaker alive, yet he becomes a real person which anyone could be friends with. This novel can easily be read by one who has never seen any of his movies; but one who knows Lumet's work well can really relate to this novel. This is becasue Lumet talks about how he dealt with real life situations making his movies and not just some hypothetical situation. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would read it again and again. It is a necessary addition to anyone's library who truly enjoys movies and can appreciate its' artisitic qualities
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