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Making Movies

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  3,377 Ratings  ·  204 Reviews
From one of America's most acclaimed directors comes a book that is both a professional memoir and a definitive guide to the art, craft, and business of the motion picture. Drawing on 40 years of experience on movies ranging from Long Day's Journey Into Night to The Verdict, Lumet explains the painstaking labor that results in two hours of screen magic.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 19th 1996 by Vintage (first published March 14th 1995)
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Pat Napoleon Probably a nickname for his wife, Piedy, whom he mentions at the end of Chapter 9, "The Cutting Room".

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Aug 25, 2009 brian rated it liked it
lumet's an interesting guy to think about if one decides to make a film -- the guy's made some of the best films of our time. but for me, lumet provides a cautionary tale of what not to become.

12 Angry Men
Dog Day Afternoon
The Verdict
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

all good. and Network is great.

and he's made about fifty bad movies including A Stranger Among Us, Guilty as Sin, the remake of Gloria, etc...

lumet's obviously an intelligent guy with good taste (cites Carl Dreyer as
Jun 26, 2015 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, cinema
Sidney Lumet ha un curriculum imponente e impressionante: quasi sessanta anni di attività, cominciò a fare il regista in teatro (esperienza che lo segnerà, quanti suoi film sono adattamenti cinematografici di pièce teatrali!), attraversando la televisione (che negli anni Cinquanta in US sperimentava e innovava il linguaggio più del cinema dell’epoca, proprio come succede adesso), per esordire nel cinema a trentatre anni (nel suo paese, non proprio ragazzino a quel
Daniel Gonçalves
Jun 07, 2016 Daniel Gonçalves rated it it was amazing
I grew up with the conception that movies were art. The media would commonly refer to it as the 7th form of artistic expression. I had my doubts. In my young mind, it was easy to assemble a film together. All people had to do was bring actors to their sets. Then the camera would roll, and another motion picture was made. It was now waiting in the cinema, and you could by a ticket for a reasonable price.

I was wrong. There is much more to it.

Creating film is a complex process. The struggles are
Feb 28, 2015 Vishy rated it really liked it
I recently opened an old box which had been packed years back with books. It is wonderful when we pack a box and leave it to gather dust and then open it after many years. We are surprised by some of the treasures that we find inside. Sometimes we don’t know how a particular treasure got into the box and why it has been lurking there for many years. That is exactly what happened when I opened this box. I was surprised by some of the treasures I found and I was very excited. One of these was Sidn ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Lucas rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
Whether it's making movies your interested in, or understanding what happens behind the curtain, Sidney Lumet proves a veritable Oz. His macro treatment of how a movie is made, from beginning to end, affords the reader a privileged perspective and practical map for approaching the film making process. For a book that is only just over 200 pages, there is a tome's worth of wisdom, perspective, and knowledge buried inside Lumet's terse prose.

I'm just beginning to toy with the idea of making a sho
Patrick McCoy
Nov 24, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: film, non-fiction
Sidney Lumet, who died earlier this year, has no less than four film masterpieces: 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network. Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, are two of my favorite New York films of all time (others include: The French Connection, The Marathon Man, Day Of The Condor, Taxi Driver, Manhattan, Goodfellas). There are several other exceptional films also directed by Sidney Lumet: Prince Of The City, The Verdict, The Hill, and Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. Woody Allen ...more
Rodney Welch
Sep 02, 2009 Rodney Welch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
The perfect instruction book, either for fans or the career-minded. Imagine having a long conversation with a legendary director, where you get to ask him all the things you want to know: what's the shooting process like, how do you rehearse actors, what's the relationship between you and cinematographer, or you and the editor, how do you deal with unions, and while you're at it, what in the world is color timing? This book is all that, told in the plainest, most direct, most cut-the-crap manner ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Brandon rated it really liked it
Didn't completely finish it, this is a book you can jump to whichever part of the movie-making process you would like to know more about. Sidney Lumet does a great unbiased job of elaborating on the processes before during and after a movie is made. I learned quite a bit, especially about camera angles and particular reasons some shots are the way they are which helped me to better understand some shots I have seen in movies that left me wondering, wtf?. Great, simple read for a medium to avid m ...more
Dec 06, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing
I love movies. I want to make a movie.
Perhaps, reading this book will be the closest I'll come to making a movie.
It reads so gracefully. I felt I was in the shoes of Sidney Lumet, one of America's preeminent filmmakers., as he made his decisions on all aspects of putting a film from script to screen.
What can I say? If you like movies and ever dreamed of making a movie, read this book.
Stewart Summers
Dec 28, 2012 Stewart Summers rated it it was amazing
Terrific book! If you have aspirations to direct film and/or TV this book is a must read. Clear, concise and to the point. Easy to digest and comprehend. I had the opportunity to work on a Lumet film and this book is an accurate depiction of how he ran a film set. There was nothing he could not do. RIP SL.
Dec 04, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it
My favorite movie, Network, was directed by the author of this book. Naturally, I had to pick up a copy.

Let it be said that reading this affirmed my previous belief that one has to be insane to want to be a filmmaker. The number of moving parts on a movie set exceeds that of any particle accelerator, and it’s all chaos. Not only is there no way to predict how actors will behave or what kind of mechanical failures will arise in any of the thousand departments, there’s no way to predict how the au
Pamela Perry
Jan 26, 2017 Pamela Perry rated it really liked it
I'm a screenwriter. I have read several of the scripts to Sidney Lumet's masterpieces, ie: 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon. These scripts were masterful and provided a great foundation for Mr. Lumet to utilize his great talent.
It was interesting to learn his father was an actor, and Sidney had been a child actor, working in Yiddish Theater. He actually performed 'Macbeth' in Yiddish!
Mr Lumet was not infatuated with being a director or with 'Hollywood'. It was a good way to make a living and sup
Sep 05, 2014 Sanni added it
Kun kirjastosta tulee rakkauskirje lukuisten uusimisten ja lopulta kuukauden myöhästymisen jälkeen, on syytä vihdoin lukea se kirjan viimeinenkin kappale loppuun.

Lumet kuvaa järjestelmällisellä tarkkuudella kaikkia elokuvanteon vaiheita aina käsikirjoituksesta lavastukseen, näyttelijävalinnoista markkinatutkimuksiin. Kaikista yksityiskohdista hullaantuu helposti niin, että nähdessään lopulta valmiin elokuvan, pettyy vähäsen. Tuntuu, että appelsiinit Idän pikajunan arvoituksessa eivät ole tarpeek
Stephen Hull
Dec 24, 2016 Stephen Hull rated it really liked it
Don't know how I've missed this one in the past. A very readable and brief book about the filmmaking process. Some technical stuff is out of date (colour timing the answer print, anyone?) but lots about production and editing is still relevant. What's more, all of his examples are from films that he's made (e.g. 12 Angry Men, Network, Dog Day Afternoon), which only adds to the enjoyment. And some great quotes ("To make up for the joy of seeing Sophia Loren every morning, God punishes the directo ...more
Dec 25, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
Must-read for any cinephile, moviemaker, or motion picture enthusiast who's curious about the gears that move the magical motion picture factories of the golden age of studio cinema. Sidney Lumet applies his flair for storytelling into a genuine and personable account of the rare privilege he's had creating Hollywood giants, from the first days of color through to the last days before the digital revolution.
Raja Rathnam
Oct 02, 2014 Raja Rathnam rated it it was amazing
A master's experiences with truth. A good read.
Sherif Nagib
Oct 27, 2010 Sherif Nagib rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
A must read !
S Old account
Oct 21, 2014 S Old account rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Largely anecdotal, very informative and interesting read.
Nov 13, 2015 Carolin rated it it was amazing
I want all my favorite film makers to write the same book. This was fascinating!
Brock Spore
Jun 26, 2014 Brock Spore rated it liked it
Good book for what I might be getting into in the near future. Very technical at times but that is necessary. I knew that a lot goes into making movies but this really spells it out.
May 05, 2011 Elviza rated it really liked it
Damn bloody honest account of movie business.
Dec 01, 2016 Sathish rated it really liked it
Sidney Lumet is a celebrated filmmaker whose films started in black & white era and continued up to the current era.

Lumet breaks down into each chapter most aspects of filmmaking, how certain decisions are made & why there are no certain set of rules to follow as almost everything goes wrong even in the most well planned shoots.

Most of the chapters offers us rare glimpses into all the Politics, Frustrations, Heartbreaks behind all the Glitz & Glamour of Film World.

Chapters of Writer
Nov 25, 2016 Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: filmmaking
Sidney Lumet seems like he was a great guy as well as a great director. He knew how to get people to do their best work, and he's lavish in his praise of others. You'd think that everyone he worked with was an expert except him.

If there's one thing I'll take from this book, it's that the director's role is essentially this: Praise others when things go well, take responsibility when things are tough, and above all, make sure that everyone, from grip to composer, is working on the same movie.
Feb 06, 2017 Jay rated it really liked it
Great book that has a lot to say about making movies of course, but also pursuing any kind of craft or art form in general. Very well worth the read for any film buff, my head is full of new understanding regarding nearly every aspect of film-making. Some technical details are probably out of date due to the ever advancing march of technology but the fundamentals still hold and learning about the technical limitations and constraints of analog film allows for understanding regarding many film-ma ...more
Dec 30, 2016 Readread rated it it was amazing
Terrific look inside the movie making process. It's a little dated since it's from 1995 (pre-most of today's tech advancements). But Lumet's passion for filmmaking comes through beautifully. Highly recommend this book.
Jake Berlin
Jan 13, 2017 Jake Berlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, art, technology
a really fascinating look at how movies are made, told with warmth and humor and (seeming) honesty by one of my favorite directors.
Mar 06, 2017 Mahmoud rated it it was amazing
I have just met Sidney Lumet... Splendid! Very educative!
May 07, 2017 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-read-books
Excellent book. Very descriptive of the process of making a film with great examples.
Mar 17, 2017 Josh rated it liked it
Enjoyable, thorough read. Lumet really does give the outsider a peak at the inside.
May 23, 2015 Realini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-again
Making Movies by Sydney Lumet
If you want to learn about the movie business, you can’t do better than this- 10 out of 10

In this fabulous book, one of the best directors of all time tells you the way movies are made-well used to be made anyway.
From working with actors to editing, from the sets arrangements to the money issues, moving to focus groups- we learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes and how some of the best movies have been made.
It is wonderful to listen to the author of The Net
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  • On Directing Film
  • The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
  • Cinematic Storytelling
  • In the Blink of an Eye
  • Rebel Without a Crew, or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
  • Directing Actors
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade
  • Hitchcock
  • Moviemakers' Master Class
  • On Filmmaking: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director
  • Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen
  • Conversations With Scorsese
  • What They Don't Teach You at Film School: 161 Strategies For Making Your Own Movies No Matter What
  • Scorsese on Scorsese
  • The Great Movies
  • A History of Narrative Film
  • Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With Legendary Film Directors
  • Cassavetes on Cassavetes
Sidney Lumet was an Academy Award-winning American film director, with over 50 films to his name, including the critically acclaimed 12 Angry Men (1957), Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976) and The Verdict (1982), all of which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Director. He won an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, for his "brilliant services to screenw ...more
More about Sidney Lumet...

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“All good work requires self-revelation.” 39 likes
“In drama, the characters should determine the story. In melodrama, the story determines the characters.” 11 likes
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