"My First Movie"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 26th April 2009Another gift from a friend that has languished unread for many moons (regular readers will have spotted a theme). The premise of the book is that Stephen Lowenstein - himself a film-maker (I though I have to confess I'm not sure that I've ever heard of him before) interviews a bunch of different directors about their experiences making their first films, with a view to gaining some insight into the process which might benefit other first-time directors.
I don't know that the list of names is really as diverse as Lowenstein tries to make out in his introduction, however from the interviews it becomes clear that directors come from a range of backgrounds and it's interesting to see how different these can be - as are the motivations for making movies in the first place. At the same time some common elements emerge: getting funding for the film is one (although the solutions to this varies), and the struggle to actually get to the point where shooting can begin.
I think though that there are two things that were particularly impressed upon me after reading the interviews. The first is the question "what does the director actually do?" The glib answer is that he or she directs - as one interviewee observes, the director is surrounded by people (cameramen, sound recordists, actors and so on) who are all expert at what they do, and it's the director's job to make the decisions that get them to all work together so that something actually happens that is caught on camera.
The second thing that came out for me is the importance of editing. Many of the directors repeated the idea that it's in the editing suite that the raw material is actually shaped into a film, and that the movie is really made.
Given the number of interviews this was a much quicker and more compelling read than I'd first thought it might be. I also liked the fact that there is a minimum of the technical details of making a film; instead there is a focus on the human challenges that have to be overcome to actually make a film - so that to an extent you wonder how anybody ever makes a film, ever.