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Making Movies

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  4,399 ratings  ·  272 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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 ·  4,399 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, cinema

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – Onora il padre e la madre”, 2007.

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
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
*2019 Re-read*

Sidney Lumet has always been one of my favorite directors and a big filmmaking inspiration to me. He's always enjoyable to listen to when he speaks about the craft and I've learned so much from him over the years, even from simply watching his movies, which includes numerous classics like Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict, 12 Angry Men, and Serpico.

And this book is a great summary of everything that makes Lumet awesome. You get a sense of his theories on filmmaking and workin
Aug 25, 2009 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
Daniel Gonçalves
Jun 07, 2016 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
Selva Subramanian
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cinema
Sidney Lumet has more than 50 films to his credit. But I had seen only two of his films: Dog day afternoon and Serpico prior to chancing upon this title on Amazon. And I came to know that he had an honorary Oscar too for lifetime achievement in Cinema. So bought this book based on reviews that it touches upon all aspects of Cinema. And sure it does.
This book came out in 1995, so certain aspects like cinematography belong to the period prior to that i.e. before they started making digitally. But
Kasa Cotugno
Beautifully executed examination of filmmaking. Lumet's generous sharing of his attention to detail from conception to final product explains the richness and care that went into his films even those that didn't work out. Not gossipy, but does provide insights into the entire process.
Feb 28, 2015 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Graeme Roberts
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surely Making Movies is the best book ever about the experience of doing just that. Published in 1995, it is now well out of date in terms of technology, but the art of storytelling hasn't changed, and neither has the average quality, in my opinion. Great directors like Sidney Lumet are still rare, but more of them come from countries other than the United States, and many more are women. Lumet used his own films, and occasionally those of others, to discuss the various stages in the production ...more
John Marken
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book that covers the basics of movie-making, focusing on the logistical and technical aspects of the craft. Each chapter focuses on one specific aspect (camera angles, sound, production design, ...) and is filled with anecdotes, experiences, and explanations that are not only informative, but written in such a lively and engaging voice that you feel that you are present with the crew at the shooting of these movies. Particularly valuable are the moments where Lumet describes the rela ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arts-theatre
A very practical review of both the personalities and the logistics of how movies are actually produced. Very enlightening - I liked the detailed explanations of what Directors actually do and what they are responsible for - ditto for the script writers.

I liked that when the author dropped names, it was only when people merited praise. If a particular personality behaved badly the name was omitted.
Morten Pedersen
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great look into professional filmmaking by one of the hard working masters in the field.
His work span over several decades and includes some of the real classics in cinema.
He gives us an intersting glimpse into the hard work of making movies but also why it is worth it in the end. We get just enough insight into all the aspects involved without delving into too much detail. This book came late in his life and career and we are treated to a lifetime of toughts and wisdom on movie making
Richard Wu
Dec 04, 2016 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
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: movie-making
Sidney Lumet directed a lot of movies. He has 73 credits on IMDB. That's a tremendous body of work, and he has some beautiful insights in this book. My favorite chapter was The Camera. He really gets into the weeds about how to use the camera to tell your story. He treats the camera like another character in the film and how he used the camera to create a story arc for the film and for the other actors. Pretty neat. It's slightly dated because this book was written in the 90's when everyone was ...more
Pamela Perry
Jan 26, 2017 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 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
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's filled with personal anecdotes, feelings, knowledge, beliefs, thoughts. Lumet shifts from precise and practical stories to skeptical self-mockery to dense references to little flashes of poetic insight.

"There are four primary forms of storytelling - tragedy, drama, comedy and farce. No category is absolute. ... there are subdivisions in drama and comedy. In drama, there is naturalism (Dog Day Afternoon) and realism (Serpico). In comedy there is high comedy (The Philadelphia Story) and low c
Stephen Hull
Dec 24, 2016 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 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 rated it it was amazing
A master's experiences with truth. A good read.
Sherif Nagib
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
A must read !
S Old account
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Largely anecdotal, very informative and interesting read.
Nov 13, 2015 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 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 rated it really liked it
Damn bloody honest account of movie business.
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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.” 49 likes
“In drama, the characters should determine the story. In melodrama, the story determines the characters.” 12 likes
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