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on January 26, 2003
For the aspiring producer of independent films, the "IFP/West Independent Filmmaker's Manual" is a great book to read. It gives the reader a solid overview of virtially every stage of the production process.
With the production of "Swingers" still fresh in their minds, writers Nicole Shay LaLoggia and Eden H. Wurmfield give the reader an insider's view of making that all important first film. Although "Swingers" was made on a tiny budget and without the benefit of the Screen Actors Guild's new low budget agreements, the film proved successful within a fiercely competitive independent film market.
These producers had what it takes to get a small film made without the benefit of a big budget or big name stars. Since most of the readers of this book are probably starting off in a similar situation, their insights are especially helpful. Veteran producers (while the writers may be considered veterans now) often lose touch with what it's like to be a new producer.
It's also important to note that these producers simply did not roll over and die after making, "Swingers." At this writing, Eden H. Wurmfeld is a finalist for the Motorola Producer's Award, part of the IFP's Independent Spirit Awards for "Kissing Jessica Stein" and "Fanci's Persuasion." In short, these producers are out there in the trenches and speak from not just knowledge, but experience.

A very helpful feature of the book are a series of checklists, to remind the producer of his or her daily responsibilities. Producing is a high pressure job that is very detail orientated. I wish this resource had been available when I started producing a few years before this book was published.
On the two CD-ROMs included (one formatted for PCs, the other for Macs), you get a series of very worthwhile extras. This includes an ample supply of production forms and interviews with prominent people in the independent film world. The interviews include Geoffrey Gilmore (Sundance Film Festival), Kasi Lemmons (writer/director of "Eve's Bayou," the #1 independent film of 1997), Kevin Smith (writer/director of "Clerks), Jon Favreau ("Swingers") and Billy Bob Thornton ("Slingblade"). Also included are interviews with veteran producers Ted Hope and Christine Vachon. These are all great for the independent filmmaker, particularly if you're trying to make deeply personal films to play at film festivals and on the "art house" circuit. If you're just interested in making B-grade genre films, these will be less helpful.
My one complaint about the included production forms is that they include a navigational box at the upper left hand corner that says, "Return to Contents," that can't be removed unless you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat.
LaLoggia and Wurmfeld's book demystifies the role of the "creative producer" on independent feature films. However, if you're interested in a nuts and bolts book on the role of a "line producer" (which is essentially a production manager and not one who develops a project from scratch), this book may still be beneficial, but perhaps less so. This is also true for people interested solely in producing mass market films for the major studios. If you don't yet know the difference or are trying to figure out which way to go, this book is a great jumping off point.
Dive in, the water's fine.
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on February 28, 2000
I was slightly disappointed by this book. But I had heard so much hype about it that anything short of a divine masterpiece was going to be a let-down. I will however strongly recommend this book to someone who is knowledgable about film, has a worthwhile project, and wants to know how to get it off the ground because what the authors do is detail how they went about making their indie film Swingers. Many will find this useful as it will tell you how to go about organizing, scheduling, budgeting, and then shooting your project. Anything you could possibly need to know is discussed. The one thing that I found the most enjoyable though was the cd it comes with that contains interviews with Kevin Smith (director of Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma) and others.
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on April 23, 2002
This book was a big disappointment. It seems half the pages are just print outs of forms, budgets, etc. The information tucked between the pages of forms is the same stuff found in many more comprehensive and readable books. It seemed to be written by a computer, not a person. The index is weak as is the glossary. These folks made one movie and thought they could tell the rest of the world how it's done. The hubris is only exceeded by the vapidity. Sent mine back for a refund.
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on November 12, 2003
The IFP/WEST Filmmakers Manual walks you through the line producing responsibilities of the movie SWINGERS. Written with detailed information including example budgets, call sheets and production notes. The book also provides useful situational anecedotes from the production.
This is the best resource for production management in independent filmmaking I have found to date.
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on September 12, 2000
The idea of an interview with Kevin Smith being a "bonus" is not appealing. Gimme REAL directors like Sydney Lumet or Jane Campion.
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on August 10, 1999
I loved this book. You get the feeling that these women have lived and worked in the indepenent film world. A must read.
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