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My First Movie: Twenty Celebrated Directors Talk About Their First Film Hardcover – March 6, 2001
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They say you never forget the first time, and 20 prominent directors reminisce vividly about their inaugural efforts behind the camera in this collection of original interviews. Editor Lowenstein, a filmmaker himself, elicits candid and revealing responses from subjects representing mainstream Hollywood (Oliver Stone, Anthony Minghella), American independent (the Coen Brothers, Kevin Smith), British (Mike Leigh, Neil Jordan), and foreign-language filmmaking (Ang Lee, Pedro Almodovar). Most are very forthcoming about insecurities and blunders as they impart information that is alternately entertaining and technical, though many admit to surprising technical ignorance when they launched their careers. Despite their varied personalities and filmmaking approaches, the directors radiate enthusiasm, and Lowenstein speculates that they enjoyed the rare opportunity to talk about a movie they weren't trying to sell. They have learned to appreciate the freedom they enjoyed on their first films, when they had no reputations or expectations to live up to. Wanna-be directors may get the most out of this, yet anyone interested in the filmmaking experience may find it valuable. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"My First Movie is a fascinating collection of life lessons from some of the greatest directors working today. Each director tells a different story, yet one thing unites them all, as I can attest to from my own first movie--the joy and terror felt by all first timers. This should be required reading for all film students and film fans alike." ?
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Throughout all of the interviews, I found the same recurring theme of panic surface. I was particularly impressed with the interview with Ang Lee where he discusses his quick success out of NYU and then 7 years of drought, as well as James Mangold's rocket to stardom taken down by his snide remarks to Katzenberg.
This book is probably more properly titled "Self Help" book for anyone that wants to make a movie, as you realize that the directors featured in this book are really no different from anyone else. In a few cases (I'll refrain from telling you), I actually found myself saying, "Why WOULD anyone have ever let this person direct a film." Thus, the reader will be comforted to know that if he or she keeps pushing, eventually they will get their project made.
Overall, the book is a wonderfully delightful read. My recommendation is to read a chapter a day, and then watch the director's movie... this will maximize the pleasure and reading experience.
Anthony Minghella felt at the limit of his abilities "every single day" shooting TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY. Steve Buscemi got sick internalizing his anxieties about TREES LOUNGE and Barry Levinson remembers the first cut of DINER as "devastating" and how and how Pauline Kael forced MGM to release the movie. On a lighter note, GAS, FOOD, LODGING's Allison Anders laments, "The hardest thing for women directors: you don't get laid as much!" Kevin Smith's account of overextending multiple credit cards to finance CLERKS is as amusing as Tom DiCillo's recollections of filming JOHNNY SUADE are harrowing.
Throughout the instructive is tempered by the gossipy. Mike Figgis recalls Tommy Lee Jones complaining that his trailer was a foot shorter then Melanie Griffith's on the low-budget STORMY MONDAY; James Mangold relates how Shelley Winters destroyed and rebuilt the confidence of her leading man in HEAVY. Pedro Almodovar, Ang Lee, Mike Leigh, Neil Jordan, Stephen Frears, the Cohen brothers and others weigh in with insights and humorous commentary on their travails and good fortune. Only Oliver Stone wiggles out, insisting on discussing SALVADOR (1986) instead of his first horror efforts.