Making Movies
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Making Movies

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,776 ratings  ·  122 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.
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published September 14th 1995 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published March 14th 1995)
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brian
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
Network
The Verdict
Serpico
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...more
Jeniffer Almonte
"There are no small decisions in movie-making". This quote definitely sums up the gist of Sidney Lumet's wonderfully enjoyable memoir/handbook. As someone who doesn't really know a lot about the work that goes into making a film, reading this book was pretty amazing. I had no idea that every single sound that isn't someone talking (footsteps, the swish of fabric, the clink of ice in a glass etc) is added individually after filming because their microphones can't capture it. Nor did I imagine the...more
Lucas
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...more
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
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
Brandon
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
Alexandria
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
Michael
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.
Doug
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
Elviza
Damn bloody honest account of movie business.
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
Kathy
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
Brian
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...more
Jason Rodriguez
Lumet made many films, while some are certainly flops (a fact which he readily admits) some are among the most significant contributions to film in American cinema history, Dog Day and Twelve Angry Men to name a few. Lumet gives an intriguing look into the incredible complexities that come along with feature filmmaking and offers practical insight into how a modern master worked under pressure from budgets, studios and himself to problem solve and get the job done.

Lumet recounts these tales with...more
Izzy
Book: Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

With this comprehensive and reflective book, Lumet provides an insider's perspective to the art, dedication and (very candidly) the difficulties and challenges that go into making movies. He takes you by the hand through the minute details of every aspect of filmmaking, from directing to writing, to lens and lighting. He leaves nothing undiscussed. Drawing from his life's work in the movies, he utilizes specifics from his films to illustrate the discussion. I r...more
Rogrogrog
haven't read this in years, but one of the things i'll always remember was that his philosophy was set and it was consistent, so far as what's said in this book, is what he said in interviews, and he rarely strayed from those principles for decades. a couple pieces of his general filmmaking philosophy that i can recall off the top of my head:

* i don't remember exactly how many, but he had a number of overarching themes that he knew his work could classify under (i.e. "children pay for the crimes...more
Leo
Sidney Lumet earned his place as one of the all time great American directors. In truth he is one of the all time greats in the world with a filmography that includes Dog Day Afternoon, Network, 12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker and so much more. With his easygoing raconteur style Lumet supplies more useful information on filmmaking specifically how to direct a film while maintaining the integrity of the creative process. If you want to learn about about directing or are interested in the behind-the-...more
Macy White
Sidney Lumet, director of such classics as Network, Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico, gives us a unique and personal explanation of the film process from beginning to end, pre-production to post-production. The explanations are insightful, clear and entertaining. This would be a great book to read for any fan of Lumet or anyone thinking about entering the film industry as it describes the hard work and challenges involved.

Please note, as the book was published in 1996, it does not contain the most...more
Jared
The Title of the book is almost correct. It should be How I make Movies. But Sydney Lumet clarifies early on in the book what HIS process is, and so I did not feel like he was wasting my time. He explains some of the movie making process. He explains the highs and low of his job. He complains, he rejoices. All of that stuff is interesting. He also explains why he make certain choices for some of his moves. Sometimes he tries to explain how certain technologies work and that is when I skimmed thr...more
Robert Morrow
I was surprised to learn that this book was published in the mid-90's, as a good chunk of it (the sections dealing with the technical aspects of movie making) is technologically passé. The book gave me a decent appreciation of the complexity of making a film and the challenges a director faces in terms of limitations and the simple realities of light and sound. The author is a serious name-dropper (there is one long paragraph towards the end of the book that is merely a list of directors he admi...more
Alexa
One of the best books on the craft of directing.

"There are many reasons for accepting a movie. I'm not a believer in waiting for 'great' material that will produce a masterpiece. What's important is that the material involve me personally on some level."

"Whatever I am, whatever the work will amount to, has to come out of my subconscious. I can't approach it cerebrally. Obviously, this is right and correct for me. Each person must approach the problem in whatever way works best for them."

"What is...more
Alex
Finally got around to reading this and really enjoyed it. A different perspective then you'll get from a film class --which would focus on interpretation of film as art -- and much more geared towards how movies are constructed, the kind of work I always enjoy. Lumet has a lot to offer on camera work, editing and directing actors in particular - love the part about the shift in lenses and perspective throughout Twelve Angry Men. What's most impressive is how he strives to keep everything about a...more
Kevin
An incredible read for anyone interested at all in the magic of the cinema, even if your participation only goes as far as watching movies. There is never a dull moment in the book, and instead of a patronizing tone, Lumet speaks in a down-to-earth one. He's bold and honest, and he isn't afraid to praise someone or trash someone, even if that someone is himself. By using examples drawn from his own path as a filmmaker he allows us to see his lessons in full detail, and his stories are always ext...more
James
A fine indepth look at filmmaking from one of the modern masters. Made me want to see more Sidney Lumet films, and it also makes me wonder how much the art has changed in the past twenty years. Insightful and easy to read.
Emily
In a little over 200 pages, Sidney Lumet explains the art and science of movie-making. His philosophy and tactics would be useful to any manager of a large, disparate team who is charged with ensuring that “we’re all making the same picture.” What I love about Lumet is that he's totally comfortable living with paradox: “There are directors who think they have to provoke people to get the best work out of them. I think this is madness…. Any athlete will tell you that tension is the surest way to...more
Stephen
Though dated from a production technology perspective, there's nothing out-of-date about the late Mr. Lumet's insights into working with actors and crews, and the unpredictable alchemy of making movies that move audiences emotionally.

Delightful tidbits from behind the scenes (and by tidbits I don't mean gossip, or scandal - but actual insight into how decisions in one area impacted outcomes in another), and reflections on his multi-decade career.

A must-read for anyone who loves filmmaking.
Kate M
What a joy to read " Making Movies", by the late Lumet. He gives the reader a first hand point of view on everything that goes into making a film- from directing, working with such great actors as Paul Newman, Al Pacino etc, to how the budget is dispersed. This piece was made all the more enjoyable and at times comical due to Lumet's placid attitude while making a picture (and trying to accomodate the demands of everyone on the set), to his straightforward tell it like it is style of writing. As...more
Adam
This book chronicles the different elements of making a movie through the lens of Sidney Lumet. Lumet tackles each part of the process of making a film (that a director is involved in) using examples from his favorite (and lesser) films. It's a short read (about 200 pages in length) with large font. I certainly could have used more detail on certain areas, but the book isn't meant to be a tutorial, it's clearly written to appeal more to movie fans than industry insiders. For those who enjoy movi...more
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Film & Tv 1 15 Apr 10, 2010 03:01AM  
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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.” 23 likes
“I don't know how to choose work that illuminates what my life is about. I don't know what my life is about and don't examine it. My life will define itself as I live it. The movies will define themselves as I make them. As long as the theme is something I care about at the moment, it's enough for me to start work. Maybe work itself is what my life is about.” 8 likes
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