Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System
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Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  357 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The 1990s saw a shock wave of dynamic new directing talent that took the Hollywood studio system by storm. At the forefront of that movement were six innovative and daring directors whose films pushed the boundaries of moviemaking and announced to the world that something exciting was happening in Hollywood. Sharon Waxman, editor and chief of The Wrap.com and for Hollywood...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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Kevin Cecil
Late in the summer of '99 I was dumped by my first girlfriend in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of Montana. Earlier that spring, RUSHMORE hit local screens. I fell in love with it. Actually love is too weak a word for what I felt, I was in lurve with RUSHMORE. I ended up seeing the film five times during its run, and bought the soundtrack the day it was available. Between RUSHMORE and the cabin in Montana: MATRIX, EXISTENZ, ELECTION, THE WINSLOW BOY, SOUTH PARK, LIMBO, AMERICAN PIE, EYES WI...more
Sara
To be honest, this book probably only deserves three stars—however, the subject matter dovetailed perfectly with the time period in my life when I was most obsessed with (current) movies, and it was utterly fascinating to read about the creation of films that are still some of my favorites ("Three Kings," "Being John Malkovich," "Boogie Nights," and "Traffic," specifically, although with the reverberations from "Fight Club" still rocking our culture today, reading about the turmoil surrounding t...more
Rahul
i like the book very much,it presents the directors as normal human beings going through their share of struggles to be at the position where they are at currently now,

all of them have struggled ,take any story for ex

Soderbergh :-He was trying to do various things from the age of 16 to get a movie made ,his internal conflicts,his problems with intimacy which to an extent is the charge labelled against his movies also,that his moves are icy and too cool in nature ,his internal struggles esp afte...more
Stephen
I just finished this book, loaned to me by a friend, thanks primarily to last weekend's "icepocalypse." It's about six "rebel" film directors from the worlds of indy movies, music videos, and advertising, all of whom got a chance to make movies for Hollywood studios eager to capitalize on those directors' edginess back in the 1990s. The result, unsurprisingly, was culture clash. The spotlighted directors are Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Finc...more
Patrick McCoy
I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with Sharon Waxman's Rebels On The Backlot (2006). The premise was appealing to me, in which Waxman reports on the lives and careers of Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction; Steven Soderbergh, Traffic; David Fincher, Fight Club; Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights; David O. Russell, Three Kings; and Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich. These are some of my favorite films of the last 20 years, but I would have liked to see more critical analysis and discussions o...more
John Leach
I felt the scope of this was too broad for any sort of real depth or insight.

It's worth a look for anyone interested in the work of Fincher, Jonze, Russell, Tarantino, Soderbergh, or Anderson. I found the sections of Fincher and Anderson to be the most illuminating. The Tarantino stuff certainly had a negative spin to it and told me nothing I didn't already know from other books.

A book that takes a similar approach to a different period (the seventies) and is far more effective is Peter Biskin...more
Erin
I started this book months ago, then paused in reading to to FINALLY watch "Magnolia" which I had purchased years ago. Good movie, and good book, full of lots of inside scoop on the big new directors of the early '90. I would have liked to have seen more focus on women or people of color though....those directors weren't necessarily as popular or influential as Tarantino or Soderbergh, they still deserved more than a cursory mention. Overall, though, a good read if you are into movies.
Adam
This is one of the series of books I'm reading to get a better understanding of the entertainment industry. By following six of the more (critically) successful directors through the 1990's the book gave a good overview of the rise of the studio in-house art divisions.

The book was fairly entertaining and mildly insightful but it did make far too much effort to make the six director's followed throughout the book seem important.
Amanda Hamilton
Interesting. I don't know a whole lot about how movies are made or even the background of most movie directors but this was interesting. I still haven't seen a lot of the movies mentioned in this book ("Three Kings", "Fight Club", "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia") and honestly, I had thought the book would be about older directors like Spielberg or George Lucas but maybe I should have looked at the cover a little better. ^^;

Anna Boudinot
Really opened my eyes to the hoops these directors had to jump through to get their films made -- films that are considered the best of the decade. It also inspired me to stick to my artistic vision instead of writing formulaic scripts that fit into the major studios' model for what's considered profitable. Though that doesn't necessarily mean any of my scripts will ever get made!
Catherine
This book is like the best parts of Entourage, the parts where the agents are all yelling at each other and deals are falling through and directors are being pricks. This book is not like the worst parts of Entourage, which involve ladies saying, "Hi, Vince" as they walk past him at a club. This means it is worth reading. Also, 90s independent film, yay!
Armando
Think you know all you can about Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, David Fincher and other 90s indie film stalwarts? This insightful book shares fascinating details about these filmmakers and reveals the struggles they went thru to make now-classic films like 'Pulp Fiction', 'Boogie Nights', 'Being John Malkovich', and 'Fight Club'.
Todd
A quick read. It's interesting to see the story behind some of my favorite films I really want to see Three Kings now that I've read the story of the making. Paul Thomas Anderson is crazy. Also if you're a fan of Entourage I'd recommend reading this book because it seems like a lot of the stories were taken from this book.
Chris
When I was seventeen, I read Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood and it forever set in me a love of exactly the dishy Hollywood behind-the-scenes stuff that Rebels on the Backlot delivers in spades. A really enjoyable tour of American film in the 1990's.
Burton
A plethora of entertaining anecdotes from the productions of some of the greatest films of the 90s. Lacking the oppressive cynicism of Peter Biskind's Easy Riders and Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures , Waxman's well researched Rebels on the Backlot makes for a light, enjoyable read.
Ryan
If it weren't for the subject matter of this book (namely the six titular directors), this book would have been a total chore. Luckily for Waxman, the subjects of her book are fascinating, even if her take on their material and her writing is not. Could have been so much more.
Neal
Kind of trashy and gossip-y, but also kind of awesome and entertaining. Some pretty interesting presentations of the different personality archetypes that directors tend to have. Weird when I see them completely mirrored in people I have contact with.
Rachel
I was particularly obsessed with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez films when I read this book. It took awhile to get through and I skimmed over several parts, but generally, if you have interest in modern movie directors, it is an enjoyable read.
Michael
Hollywood reads like a place that could destroy ones creativity. This book details how six "independant" directors managed to break through despite the fickle nature of America's movie factory. An interesting read.
Danny
Well written rag. Lots of hearsay and biased anger but a worthwhile read. Difficult to ascertain the full truth of some of these stories.

Thanks to M. Cassidy for letting me borrow it, for like a year or something.
Erin
Will be much loved by Gen-X movie fans. Gossipy, cultural review of Pulp Fiction, Traffic, Fight Club, Boogie Nights, among others. Definitely captures the "zeitgeist."
Ira
Lots of gossipy stories and tales about David O. Russell, Tarantino, Fincher and the other directors who lead a mini-indy film revolution in the 90's.
Mikhail
It's impressive how efficiently Waxman conflated so many massive egos into one 350-page book. A virtuosic feat to say the least. And so entertaining too.
Susie Shircliff


Couldn't put it down. Fun to read and then re-watch the movies. Gave them a whole new context and a whole new experience.
William Peirson
Mar 12, 2007 William Peirson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to learn more about Hollwyood
I thought this would be the standard "Hollywood is sooo amazing!" crap, but it's not. It's the cold, hard Prima-Donna truth.
Cyndi
This seems really interesting, and I actually read the intro and enjoyed it - something I rarely do.
Arledge
gives good insight into the machavellian tactics used by most up and coming directors especially tarentino
Stephanie
Really great content, but the editor should be fired. WAY too many typos and grammatical errors.
Matt
Fast read for it was full of my favorite kind of movie trivia.
Robby Abaya
Loved it. Inhaled it.
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