cover image BREAKING IN: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start

BREAKING IN: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, , foreword by Roger Ebert. . Broadway, $14 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0674-6

Young NYU film school graduate Jarecki began this project as a "selfish" endeavor (he wanted to know how he could get his own start), but it evolved into an expansive collection of interviews with three generations of directors about how films are conceived, shot and distributed. The directors included span decades and genres, from John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) to Amy Heckerling (Clueless) to Ben Younger (Boiler Room), but nearly all agree on the need for perseverance and the belief that writing a good script is, as Younger says, the "easiest and most direct route to success." These directors generally praise film programs, like those at Columbia, NYU and AFI (American Film Institute), as training grounds, and they view Sundance and other festivals with both starry and jaundiced eyes. Aside from offering advice, the book also provides directors' views on the purpose of filmmaking. Edward Zwick (Glory) sees film as a way to communicate feelings and "organize" experience; Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber) considers it "telling a good story." Like a fine movie, the book generates memorable images, including Farrelly frozen by fear in bed before his first shoot and a teenaged John Dahl (The Last Seduction) trying to seduce a girl at a drive-in showing A Clockwork Orange. For future filmmakers, the book grants an extended community; for movie fans, it encourages faith in future films made by directors like Brett Ratner (Money Talks) who aim to inspire people, because "that's what movies ultimately are supposed to do." (Jan.)