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Making Movies

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  2,570 ratings  ·  161 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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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter BiskindPictures at a Revolution by Mark  HarrisHitchcock by François TruffautThe Great Movies by Roger EbertAdventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Books ABOUT Movies
17th out of 395 books — 150 voters
The Great Movies by Roger EbertThe Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott ZicreeThe Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin Grams Jr.The Cinema of Sidney Poitier by Lester J. KeyserLive from New York by Tom Shales
Books About Films and TV Shows
143rd out of 235 books — 43 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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
Rodney Welch
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
William Redd
Sidney Lumet is one of those powerhouses of filmmaking. His films don't all have the greatest financial success, but over the years he has delivered some amazing cinema. I mean, this is the man who adapted 12 Angry Men and Murder on the Orient Express for the screen, who brought us Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Lumet has always been one of the best, so when I saw this book on the shelf, I knew it would be a must read. Took me a while to finally get to it, but here we are.

The book itself is part
Patrick McCoy
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
Apr 08, 2015 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
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
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
Tom Stamper
Sidney Lumet made far more interesting movies than mediocre ones and several classics. I picked this up thinking it would be a memoir of his career and his approach to Hollywood. But rather than go through is career film by film, Lumet goes through the process of making a film and then uses his own movies as an examples of that part of the process. He explains why a screenwriter is important, but unlike theater, no one can be the sole author of a film. He talks working with actors and how to wor ...more
The very first book I ever read as someone interested in the film industry, without any hands-on experience in creating a film. Explains every single step a director takes in a film, including over-seeing art direction, clothes direction, camera usage, the relationship with screen-writers, relationships with actors, etc. After reading, you'll have more than a basic understanding how a movie is produced, and will find that a passionate appreciation of movies is activated; that movies are a triump ...more
It is clear that Sidney Lumet loves movies and the art of making them. His buoyant enthusiasm comes through well in this short book in which he lionizes basically everyone involved in the process of making movies, from the writers to the actors to the cinematographers, grips, and lighting and sound technicians. Much less of his love is reserved for the studio and, curiously, teamsters. After reading it, I feel like I have a much better feeling for the basic process by which a movie is made, thou ...more
Jason Luna
In some kind of mirroring effect with Lumet's academy award winning movie career, this book succeeds because of its honest plaintiveness. In his writing style and the way he presents information, he above all else tries to be honest about the film industry.

He discusses his own work with a direct and self-deprecating approach. He's not afraid to mention movies he did that were terrible, or how he had issues working with certain people. And he gives a breadth of information in an easygoing way.

Sonny Voyage
"...movies are the only art form that uses people to record something that is literally larger than life. Records don't do this, nor do books or any art form I can think of." pg 217

Although a bit outdated (written in 1995), Sidney Lumet's book on the craft of making movies is a refreshingly candid document of a pioneer of the medium, filled with anecdotal frills and a keen eye and sharp witticism for observation inside and outside the picture frame. Part tricks-of-the-trade, part autobiography a
Mohamed Elmasry
"أن نصنع جميعاً نفس الفيلم"

في البداية تخيَّلت إن الكتاب هيكون زي كتاب "هيتشكوك تروفو"، رؤية مخرج ما لمسيرته والمرور على تجربة صناعة كل فيلم، بس الكتاب عن خطوات صناعة (الفيلم) بشكل عام

فيه حاجات كتير جداً كانت مُفيدة ومُلهمة، تحديداً الأجزاء اللي تخص تطوير السيناريو.. التصوير.. والمونتاج، والفصل المُفضَّل بالنسبة لي ككتابة عن علاقته بالممثلين

فيه أجزاء تانية ليها علاقة بتجربة الإنتاج ضمن نظام الأستوديو في هوليوود، أغلبها كان ممتع كحكايات لشخص من جوا الصناعة، وبيجوها بعنف

مُجملاً، كان كتاب قيّم جداً،
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
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.
Brock Spore
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.
Lisa Stephenson
This excellent book is a primer on how to make films, both literally as he discusses the roles of the director, editor, cameraman, actors, and crew; and figuratively, talking about the many great films he has made and giving us plenty of anecdotes about the making of the films and the stars with whom he has worked. He directed such classics as "12 Angry Men" (his directorial debut); The Fugitive Kind; Network; Long Day's Journey Into Night; The Verdict; Dog Day Afternoon; and many more. He has a ...more
This really is one of the best books on making movies that I've read so far. It also ends on a very cautionary note about the changes in the industry that have been taking place. Sidney Lumet lived long enough to see the changes from film to digital, and seemed somewhat pessimistic about "Art for Art's Sake" becoming a stock price. Good low budget indies are still getting made though, and I think television is turning out better than he anticipated. (In the drama department). Most of the book is ...more
Largely anecdotal, very informative and interesting read.
A master's experiences with truth. A good read.
Damn bloody honest account of movie business.
Daniel Sloyan
Very informative look at film making from Lumet, and he covers just about every aspect of a production. I follow film quite a bit, and even I had no idea about all the aspects and detail that go into making a movie, or things that I had never even considered as being important. Some interesting stories, however I wish he had gotten into more details/stories from his own movies, but he states at the beginning of the book that that is not his intention with the book, so I guess I was warned, a mus ...more
Sherif Nagib
A must read !
The secrets of filmmaking this isn't. But what it is are the anecdotes of a master of his craft.

Sprinkled with real personality and a genuine human voice, this is also a thorough introduction to the means and devices of what it is to be a filmmaker. There are little gems in here for anyone either interested in what it takes to make your favourite movies, or those who want to replicate a class A director.

There is a real sense of life in this book. The sort of life I look for in the best of films.
Max Magbee
Sidney Lumet was one of the great American filmmakers to emerge from the post-war Television era (filmmakers like John Frankenheimer, George Roy Hill, and Franklin J. Schaffner, just to name a few, got their start directing live television during its "Golden Age" in the 1950s, helming one-hour dramas for programs like Playhouse 90 and Kraft Television Theatre), having made such classics as 12 ANGRY MEN (his first film!), DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK, SERPICO, and PRINCE OF THE CITY, just to name a ...more
With over 50 films to his name, Lumet is nothing short of being one of the most prolific filmmakers of our generation, and as a non-fiction writer, this book echoes his mastery, and eloquence of written word. Witty, sarcastic, and no-holds barred, this book is a wonderful behind the scenes/anatomy class of the autopsy of what goes into making a feature film - from inception to distribution, with all the delightful things in between, along with a few bonus history lessons about the "old hollywood ...more
Having been away from proper film industry work for a few years now, I was entirely reinvigorated with excitement and desire to return to and happily reminded of my fruitful experiences on a production set.

I enjoyed how Sidney Lumet wrote this book. He was very honest and reflective, in such a casual and personable way, about his personal experiences and thoughts on (mostly his own) movies. I've seen a couple of his more famous ones before and enjoyed them, but his true artist/filmmaker's appro
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Film & Tv 1 17 Apr 10, 2010 03:01AM  
  • On Directing Film
  • In the Blink of an Eye
  • The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
  • Cinematic Storytelling
  • Rebel Without a Crew, or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
  • Hitchcock
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade
  • Directing Actors
  • On Filmmaking: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
  • Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen
  • Conversations With Scorsese
  • Scorsese on Scorsese
  • The Great Movies
  • Something Like an Autobiography
  • Moviemakers' Master Class: Private Lessons from the World's Foremost Directors
  • A History of Narrative Film
  • Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
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
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“All good work requires self-revelation.” 35 likes
“In drama, the characters should determine the story. In melodrama, the story determines the characters.” 9 likes
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