Hi friends. My sincerest apologies for my absence over the past month. After moving back to my hometown I have just re-connected to the infoweb, much to your hungry relief I hope.
Anyways. This is just a quick post about a book you’ve probably already read, as it seems everyone except me was well aware of its existence years ago. The book is Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies and it is as Roger Ebert states on the cover, probably the best text anybody could read about the art of making motion pictures.
Through thirteen chapters Lumet (the director of by my count 45 films, including 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network) discusses almost every facet of filmmaking there is. It is a brilliant account by a director who is both insanely prolific yet exceptionally consistent.
The book successfully communicates all the arduousness that can go into making a film, something which is difficult to explain simply to those unfamiliar with filmmaking. As someone who has made only a few shorts I can’t fathom how directors make feature films, especially the epic variety that involve complexly staged scenes featuring thousands of extras and requiring the collaboration of hundreds of crew members. However, Lumet manages to explain handling such scenes with a simplicity that is present in so many of his pictures. From directing Katherine Hepburn, to crashing cars, to what he has on his sandwiches, Lumet covers every aspect possible in a very short space of time (only 218 pages!).
Furthermore, his revelations about, for instance, the decision to refrain from shooting the sky in Prince of the City, or his alterations of camera height in 12 Angry Men, show just how much thought goes into every decision on a motion picture.
Lumet’s book is about exactly what its title suggests, making movies, and for experts on film to the average cinema goer it is one of the best discussions of filmmaking you could read.
For those filmmakers reading this, here is an inspiring quote.
“For anyone who wants to direct but hasn’t made a first movie yet, there is no decision to make. Whatever the movie, whatever the auspices, whatever the problems, if there’s a chance to direct, take it! Period. Exclamation point! The first movie is its own justification, because it’s the first movie.” (10)
So, now that I have finished it expect to see more posts soon. And no, I haven’t forgotten about Cinematography Month! In fact, my list of great DoP’s keeps getting longer. Perhaps 2010 will be ‘Cinematography Year’? In any case, there is more to come, I haven’t even got close to my favourites. Here’s a teaser.