Top positive review
Very Good Resource for Creative Producers of Indie Films
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.