HERE'S HOW THE BOOK CAME ABOUT
Two years ago I was asked by the London Film School to put together a workshop on how a director prepares for a film shoot. 'Sure' I said, will three hours do?'. 'Not really’, they said, ‘we were thinking more of a weekend event'. 'Two days! You're joking aren't you...?' They weren't.
So, I went home and spent the next couple of weeks trying to figure out and articulate what it is I've been doing since 1987.
The idea for the workshop was to define what the job of a film director really is and to go through the entire pre-production process, step by step, because this is when you actually make the film - bad prep is almost always the reason why things go wrong during a shoot.
The workshop - held six times now - has been very popular, attracting people from all over the world - probably because it's the only course of it's kind. Here's some feedback from a handful of participants:
WHAT SOME STUDENTS SAID ABOUT THE WORKSHOP:
Katharina List, January 2014: "We got the most valuable advice about how to evaluate a script, how to cast actors, how to boil a scene down to its essence, how to make decisions (under pressure) on set, how to communicate to the various departments... etc. I was amazed by how Jonas created an atmosphere of trust and concentration that everybody felt able to share their thoughts and engage and network."
Nabil, December 2014: "After only two hours on the first day I knew this was one of the best workshops I've ever attended. Jonas taught us how to be prepared for the first day of shooting, giving us rich examples from his professional experience, he taught us how to trust yourself and how to build trust with the people you work with"
Victoria, December 2014: "Jonas is an outstanding film professional; truly dedicated to what he does. More over he's an incredible communicator and teacher."
Fredrik, February 2015: "Jonas is good at making the complex process of filmmaking simpler by telling you what you should focus on, which is a true sign of someone who understands his craft and can pass it on in usable terms".
SO WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH A BOOK?
When participants on the workshop asked me for a reading list I gave them a pretty solid one. It turned out that most of them had already read all the books on it - but none of these covered the things we'd spent the weekend talking about.... There is a big, unexpected 'black hole' in the market. I decided to plug that hole by writing a book based on the seminar.
Book publishing today is a fiercely competitive industry with very small margins. I have had interest in the project from some prolific publishing houses but only if I re-write it to fit in with one of their already existing series of books. This would turn my book into something else. Even if I did this, it would probably take one to two years to get it out there. So I decided to self-publish the book to get it up and running with an eye to get it picked up by a publisher in the future.
SOUNDS A BIT RISKY?
If we reach our goal here it will cover the cost printing and distributing a first edition of 500 copies. We all take chances when we believe in something. Making film is in itself an act of trust and faith.
WHAT SOME PROFESSIONALS SAID ABOUT THE BOOK:
To reassure myself that the book delivers on it's promise, I passed the manuscript around to a group of readers for comments and criticism. Here is what five of them said:
Archie Tait - Producer: "Jonas has distilled the expertise and wisdom of his seminar into a short book. It is personal and entertaining, yet also highly informative, and creatively sophisticated. The book will appeal to budding filmmakers from all over the world. It is an important book, very practical and useful to all young filmmakers; yet it is the kind of book that the current state of book publishing can’t support."
Anthony Alleyne - Filmmaker and Course leader at Met Film School, London“: Hi Jonas, I have finally got round to reading your book and what a wonderful experience it was. I have never read anything on filmmaking like it before. It's personable, clear and a real page turner. The best, most practical material I've ever seen on the subject matter, written in modern and clear prose. I especially like the first name only mini case-studies. This really gives a human face to the theory and makes it stand out even further. My last question is, where do I get a copy? Fantastic. Well done.”
Tiarnan O’Sullivan - Filmmaker and Film School Graduate: “IT'S BRILLIANT, and I rarely say that about things but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Although it did make me slightly upset that I spent two years and countless amounts of money to get through film school when you made it tremendously simple in 93 pages, but congratulations, really a superb piece of work! I particularly enjoyed your anecdotes and ways of linking filmmaking to other walks of life such as chemistry and opera, thought it was beautifully done! My congratulations on an amazing piece of work.”
Marcelo Racana - Filmmaker and Head of Stockholm Film School, Sweden: “Dear Jonas, I’ve read your book which is fun, entertaining and very useful. I can, without hesitation recommend it to my students. It gives them all the basics they need. Where can I get hold of it? I suggest you come here and introduce it yourself, our doors are wide open for you.”
Margaret Glover - Writer and Producer: Dear Jonas I finally found my quiet time to enjoy your book in one, uninterrupted, page-turning experience. It was great to hear your voice coming through so clearly. Your repetitions and gentle admonishments made me smile. Best of all, I now know exactly why I’m a producer and have no ambition to direct for film or television. Everything from Chapters 1 through 26 is crucial for a producer to know, understand, respect and negotiate with a director. The rest is trust, pure and simple...
Sophie Dow, Journalist and Founder of Mindroom: Just like Steve Jobs, Jonas has managed to turn something very complex into simple. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But once you get there, you can move mountains. This is an essential companion to all future film directors. In fact - it might even save years of tuition fees - rich as it is in directing secrets.
So, if you're thinking of becoming a filmmaker - get yourself a copy of the book now by supporting this project. The book is being designed by a friend of mine who already have twelve books to her credits, the immensely talented Åsa Höjer (yes, you guessed it right from the letters in her name, she is Swedish). My guess is that the picture at the top of the page (taken by Kjell Dike at the shoot of my BAFTA winning film 'Artisten') will grace the cover.
Take a look at the list of rewards and decide on what you fancy. Any support, however small, is highly appreciated!
Risks and challenges
Risk involved should be limited to not reaching the goal, or if something like the extremely unlikely event of the truck delivering the books from the printers is hijacked by highwaymen and the printed books disappear. (I hope I'm not giving anyone ideas now...)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (23 days)