The first thing that one tends to notice about the book is the honesty with which it has been written. Simonelli and Frumkes do not shy away from acknowledging their short comings, doubts and mistakes. The book doesn’t unnecessarily glorify them. From the very beginning, Simonelli, recovering from surgery, is ensnared by Frumkes, his partner, into agreeing to direct The Sweet Life. He openly accepts that at the beginning he underestimated the project and even admits that he lacked knowledge of direction. Laid out in a logical, methodical manner, the book takes the reader through the way, step by step, the movie takes shape. It includes dozens of legal forms, checklists, sample budgets, and other ready-to-use tools and describes the daily challenges faced while producing an “indie” shoot on a budget. Since it’s a book about serious film making, a normal reader might find certain chapters a little boring and may not always be able to connect with the script. However being witty, the book will not bore a movie fan with some amount of interest in the back-story or behind the scenes of a movie. For an aspiring film maker on the other hand, the book is the closest they can be to getting an insider’s perspective of producing an “indie”. The book also acts as an eye opener for all. It breaks the stereotypical notion of film making being all about artistic self realisation, but also introduces the difficulties faced and the business acumen and inner growth demanded. However, at certain points, the book comes across as whiny and too detailed about the difficulties faced, most of which can be easily overcome by some amount of planning, thick skin and an optimistic attitude. But then again, this simply helps to reaffirm a number of things that you simply should not do when making a low-budget movie.
Sanhita Sinha Chowdhury