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The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker

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The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker

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The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker
By Amy Sewell
Hyperion: New York (2007)
ISBN: 978-1-4013-0318-1

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - Posted May 30, 2012

Have you ever considered making a documentary film? Or, have you ever wondered what it takes to make one? To find the answers to all your questions, take a gander at Amy Sewell's new book, The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker. This book is a comprehensive, and very readable introduction to the world of documentary filmmaking. Sewell walks you step-by-step through the process from initial idea to selling your finished film. Along the way she tackles such important issues as copyrights, filming, organizing your crew and equipment, editing, and finding locations in which to shot (film). She also touches upon the high cost of making a documentary film. For example, while her initial music budget was 80K, by the time the film was done, Sewell states that she spent more than 160K!

Sewell is the author and producer of the award winning documentary film, Mad Hot Ballroom, a film that follows a group of New York City public school students from P.S. 115 who are taking a school-mandated ballroom dancing class. In this book she walks you through all the steps that she went through in making her film. Thereby giving you not only a theoretical understanding of what it takes to make a documentary film, but also practical, albeit vicarious, experience in making a film.

The material in The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker is arranged in a natural, chronological pattern that walks you straight through the entire documentary filmmaking process. This book is highly readable (even if you don't have any real interest in documentary filmmaking!) Sewell's writing is natural and fluid, and you can easily imagine that she is simply a friend chatting with you over a cup of tea as she relates her filmmaking adventures. For those that are reading this book as a study guide, Sewell's explanations are clear and concise, and at the end of each chapter you will find an Action Plan. These plans are based on the material in the given chapter and they serve as a sort of checklist listing what you need to do at each stage of the filmmaking process and what you need to think about before you move on to the next stage of production.

Whether you are a seasoned documentary film maker, just starting out in the field, a writer looking to write a documentary, or if you're just curious about the process, you can't go wrong with this book.

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