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Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American independent cinema

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  389 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
An insider's account of what goes on behind the scenes in independent film covers John Pierson's pivotal role in the launching of such films as Stranger than Paradise, Clerks, She's Gotta Have It, and Roger and Me.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 25th 1996 by Miramax Books (first published 1996)
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Mar 02, 2009 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a Jim Jarmusch/Charles Burnett binge in the last month, and I wanted to read more about 'Stranger in Paradise'. What I did not expect about revisiting this book and this subject was how nostalgic it would make me for the independent film scene of the 80s & 90s. This coincided with my teenage years going to see alternative films at the Mayan and staying up late watching movies on Bravo with my dad. And the way that the Sundance film festival influenced my interests in film school ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The first half of the title is the shock & awe portion, designed for promotional attraction. The second part better describes the book: it really is a guided tour of a decade of American Independent cinema.

More specifically, it's more about film distribution and the process of getting a film finished, sold, and ultimately seen. It's not really about the process of making the film itself, so if that's what you're looking for, then you'll be disappointed. There's not a lot of talk about the cr
Jan 12, 2009 Elaine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's not that this is a bad book, just that it is irrelevant unless you are in the business, the movie business,or heavily into movie trivia. It is all about how and when Indie films have been financed, where they were shown, what film festivals they've been in, and the like. It throws around the names of biggies like Scorsese and Cassavetes, as well as those of obscure indie film makers. It never analyzes any of the films and doesn't even show how, for instance, Slackers was chosen for distribu ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Timothy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: moofies
This book is well written and incredibly detailed, but I went into it thinking it would be about the creation and creative process behind the making of these films that represented a boom time in independent cinema. I wasn't really aware of John Peirson and his importance as a financer and deal maker, so I had no idea going in that his story would be focused almost entirely on the money and marketing side of the film business. Which of course is an essential element of getting small films to an ...more
I'm late reading this, so perhaps I would have enjoyed it more several years ago (the only nice thing about it is actually seeing, 15-20 years later what has actually come of the next big thing directors...and most of the ones Pierson champions have become pretty important,(Spike Lee, Michael Moore) or at least have steady careers (Kevin Smith).

Also, I'm not very knowledgable about film distribution and, while I'll admit that I learned some stuff, it wasn't really all that interesting to me. The
Nov 14, 2007 Jesse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was on my long list for many years. I'd always assumed it was the definitive book on indie film, but it turned out to be way more memoiry/insidery than I was expecting. Pierson knows wassup -- he sold the first films by Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, & others -- but he assumes the reader has way more background in the industry than I apparently have. Thankfully, I have Peter Biskind's "Down & Dirty Pictures" in my pile, which is (I suspect) more what I was ...more
In my library copy, someone had scrawled "Business" after the word "Cinema" on the title page, as either a clarification or a warning to future borrowers. That unknown graffitist's assessment was absolutely correct: this book is all about the financial side of the equation, with very little material on the artistic side.
Feb 05, 2010 Bcoltin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm taking a class by John Pierson at UT. He brings in actors, directors, producers and interviews them. This semester will include Tarantino, Possibly Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, one of the Coen brothers and others. SHould be fun
T.tara Turk-Haynes
Awesome recount of the birthing of indie cinema though scary because it is also the birth of indie cinema as we know it today!
Jul 29, 2012 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nice title but less than interesting unless you're fascinated by the complex details of indie film deal. It should be subtitled "My Dinner With Andre" for the indie-pendent crowd.
Sep 20, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
If you're at all interested in independent cinema in the late 80s and early 90s, this is a pretty good starter book on the subject. Not very indepth or expansive, but a good toe in the water.
D-train Longfellow
john pierson was all up in the middle of the indie film movement of the late-80's, early-90's. Very interesting stuff here.
Josh Folan
Nov 28, 2012 Josh Folan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insight from the guy who basically molded the definition of what good independent film is supposed to be.
Jun 09, 2007 Tambay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative and entertaining... a must read for anyone already in, or interested in diving into the cess pool known as indie filmmaking.
Distress Strauss
Funny how so few of these films appear to have lasted. Go Fish, anyone?
Bill Shannon
Aug 20, 2012 Bill Shannon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't know John Pierson's influence on art-house cinema of the 1980s and '90s, don't worry, he'll tell you.
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