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Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema

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In this book, John Pierson--who is responsible for getting films such as Michael Moore's Roger & Me and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It produced--provides an account of what goes on behind the scenes in independent filmmaking. "Mr. Pierson covers his territory with urgency and conviction."--New York Times Book Review. In this book, John Pierson--who is responsible for getting films such as Michael Moore's Roger & Me and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It produced--provides an account of what goes on behind the scenes in independent filmmaking. "Mr. Pierson covers his territory with urgency and conviction."--New York Times Book Review.


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In this book, John Pierson--who is responsible for getting films such as Michael Moore's Roger & Me and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It produced--provides an account of what goes on behind the scenes in independent filmmaking. "Mr. Pierson covers his territory with urgency and conviction."--New York Times Book Review. In this book, John Pierson--who is responsible for getting films such as Michael Moore's Roger & Me and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It produced--provides an account of what goes on behind the scenes in independent filmmaking. "Mr. Pierson covers his territory with urgency and conviction."--New York Times Book Review.

30 review for Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    It's not that this is a bad book, just that it is irrelevant unless you are in the business, the movie business,or heavily into movie trivia. It is all about how and when Indie films have been financed, where they were shown, what film festivals they've been in, and the like. It throws around the names of biggies like Scorsese and Cassavetes, as well as those of obscure indie film makers. It never analyzes any of the films and doesn't even show how, for instance, Slackers was chosen for distribu It's not that this is a bad book, just that it is irrelevant unless you are in the business, the movie business,or heavily into movie trivia. It is all about how and when Indie films have been financed, where they were shown, what film festivals they've been in, and the like. It throws around the names of biggies like Scorsese and Cassavetes, as well as those of obscure indie film makers. It never analyzes any of the films and doesn't even show how, for instance, Slackers was chosen for distribution. It certainly doesn't tie up the Indie film phenomenon to American culture, nor does it say anything about films in the studio era which managed to break free of the strictures of the time. For that matter, it lumps all Indie films together, not categorizing them at all. There's quite a difference between Stranger than Paradise and Clerks -- or is there? He never says. There is certainly a difference in position between Scorsese and his early films, which are here called Indie, and the black and white, handheld camera productions with cheap soundracks, which are also here called Indie.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    This was on my long list for many years. I'd always assumed it was the definitive book on indie film, but it turned out to be way more memoiry/insidery than I was expecting. Pierson knows wassup -- he sold the first films by Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, & others -- but he assumes the reader has way more background in the industry than I apparently have. Thankfully, I have Peter Biskind's "Down & Dirty Pictures" in my pile, which is (I suspect) more what I was hoping This was on my long list for many years. I'd always assumed it was the definitive book on indie film, but it turned out to be way more memoiry/insidery than I was expecting. Pierson knows wassup -- he sold the first films by Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, & others -- but he assumes the reader has way more background in the industry than I apparently have. Thankfully, I have Peter Biskind's "Down & Dirty Pictures" in my pile, which is (I suspect) more what I was hoping for.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    In my library copy, someone had scrawled "Business" after the word "Cinema" on the title page, as either a clarification or a warning to future borrowers. That unknown graffitist's assessment was absolutely correct: this book is all about the financial side of the equation, with very little material on the artistic side. In my library copy, someone had scrawled "Business" after the word "Cinema" on the title page, as either a clarification or a warning to future borrowers. That unknown graffitist's assessment was absolutely correct: this book is all about the financial side of the equation, with very little material on the artistic side.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    The first half of the title is the shock & awe portion, designed for promotional attraction. The second part better describes the book: it really is a guided tour of a decade of American Independent cinema. More specifically, it's more about film distribution and the process of getting a film finished, sold, and ultimately seen. It's not really about the process of making the film itself, so if that's what you're looking for, then you'll be disappointed. There's not a lot of talk about the craft, The first half of the title is the shock & awe portion, designed for promotional attraction. The second part better describes the book: it really is a guided tour of a decade of American Independent cinema. More specifically, it's more about film distribution and the process of getting a film finished, sold, and ultimately seen. It's not really about the process of making the film itself, so if that's what you're looking for, then you'll be disappointed. There's not a lot of talk about the craft, about editing techniques, screenwriting, casting, directorial choices, etc. This is more about the business end of it, and it's terrific. There's a lot of great lessons to be learned here for an aspiring filmmaker, and a lot of interesting bits for people interested in independent film. There's some insider accounts of some big films and big directors and Pierson works to get the films over the finish line and find some critical and commercial success. Pierson downplays his own role and abilities a lot of the time, making it a curiously humble book considering he's the central character for the entire thing. But the tone works well, in part because Pierson's willingness to be self-critical lends a great deal of extra credence to his take on situations where not all sides are fully reported and where point of view could color the outcome. Kevin Smith's commentary conversation with Pierson help link the narrative together and are typically witty and engaging. It helps adding that perspective to the scene and makes for a nice break from getting too bogged down in dry accounting details that are important to understanding the whole picture, but could have easily pulling the whole thing down. Interesting stuff.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    I've been on a Jim Jarmusch/Charles Burnett binge in the last month, and I wanted to read more about 'Stranger in Paradise'. What I did not expect about revisiting this book and this subject was how nostalgic it would make me for the independent film scene of the 80s & 90s. This coincided with my teenage years going to see alternative films at the Mayan and staying up late watching movies on Bravo with my dad. And the way that the Sundance film festival influenced my interests in film school in I've been on a Jim Jarmusch/Charles Burnett binge in the last month, and I wanted to read more about 'Stranger in Paradise'. What I did not expect about revisiting this book and this subject was how nostalgic it would make me for the independent film scene of the 80s & 90s. This coincided with my teenage years going to see alternative films at the Mayan and staying up late watching movies on Bravo with my dad. And the way that the Sundance film festival influenced my interests in film school in the mid 90s. Sad that all of that is over now.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fullnoom

    In the final chapter, Pierson writes “I do worry about independent film being judged by deal terms and box office results...” then why the hell did you write over 300 pages about specific numbers and figures in sales and dealings and distribution of indie films? I was really hoping for more meat and analysis on this wonderful era of cinema and these films and their makers place within the art form, especially considering I was aware of this book for the last 15-20 years. The last half of this bo In the final chapter, Pierson writes “I do worry about independent film being judged by deal terms and box office results...” then why the hell did you write over 300 pages about specific numbers and figures in sales and dealings and distribution of indie films? I was really hoping for more meat and analysis on this wonderful era of cinema and these films and their makers place within the art form, especially considering I was aware of this book for the last 15-20 years. The last half of this book was a chore to get through. There are some interesting background details and overall feelings behind some of my favorite films and filmmakers birth into cinema, but overall, I just don’t care about the business side of things. One thing I appreciated and found value in is I found out about some really under the radar films and have added them to my watch list. Also, Pierson and even Kevin Smith come off as arrogant and a little mean spirited in their perceptions and attitudes toward successful people. Even crossing the line in details about movie stars private lives The other thing of interest was reading about the Weinstein’s early days in film and the start of Miramax. Nothing was said of sexual misconduct from Harvey, but he was clearly ruthless (predatory?) in his dealings with purchasing and getting the films he wanted.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I'm late reading this, so perhaps I would have enjoyed it more several years ago (the only nice thing about it is actually seeing, 15-20 years later what has actually come of the next big thing directors...and most of the ones Pierson champions have become pretty important,(Spike Lee, Michael Moore) or at least have steady careers (Kevin Smith). Also, I'm not very knowledgable about film distribution and, while I'll admit that I learned some stuff, it wasn't really all that interesting to me. The I'm late reading this, so perhaps I would have enjoyed it more several years ago (the only nice thing about it is actually seeing, 15-20 years later what has actually come of the next big thing directors...and most of the ones Pierson champions have become pretty important,(Spike Lee, Michael Moore) or at least have steady careers (Kevin Smith). Also, I'm not very knowledgable about film distribution and, while I'll admit that I learned some stuff, it wasn't really all that interesting to me. There's some good information in here, but it's more a snapshot of a particular time. People in film production would enjoy it more and get more out of it than I did, I think.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill Shannon

    If you don't know John Pierson's influence on art-house cinema of the 1980s and '90s, don't worry, he'll tell you. If you don't know John Pierson's influence on art-house cinema of the 1980s and '90s, don't worry, he'll tell you.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.Lammers

    Deffo get an idea of what this book actually is before picking it up. As an admirer of 80s/90s US indie cinema I got it on a rec probably expecting a more widely focused study. What you actually get is an inside look from the very specific perspective of producer John Pierson focusing on the financial and business aspects of bringing touchstone films of the era to the screen such as She's Gotta Have It, Slacker, The Thin Blue Line and Clerks (Kevin Smith turns up for some Q & A sub-chapters to o Deffo get an idea of what this book actually is before picking it up. As an admirer of 80s/90s US indie cinema I got it on a rec probably expecting a more widely focused study. What you actually get is an inside look from the very specific perspective of producer John Pierson focusing on the financial and business aspects of bringing touchstone films of the era to the screen such as She's Gotta Have It, Slacker, The Thin Blue Line and Clerks (Kevin Smith turns up for some Q & A sub-chapters to offer a director's pov) The business minded inside baseball doesn't mean this is bereft of gossip however... a certain Harvey Weinstein is an expected key player (one quote lauding his support of feminist filmmaking will make you wince with hindsight as will as an anecdote about an obsession with an Eastern European model turned actress..) coming off as a ruthless operator. The book lightly implies that Michael Moore is a bit of a conspiratorial paranoid but the most vitriol is spared for Rob Weiss the director of Amongst Friends portrayed as a cocky chud of high comedy proportions. Worth a read as a behind the scenes look into the business aspect of the movie business.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tlingit

    This is a difficult book to review as I didn't finish it. In fact I didn't even try. I believe if you are interested in the details and background of Independent Cinema you would probably enjoy this book. If you took a cinema class you'd be assigned this book. It seems very thorough and I recognized the movies that were involved (as far as I read that is,) but unless you're very involved in the movie/cinema community this book brings little pleasure to the regular audience. This is too bad becau This is a difficult book to review as I didn't finish it. In fact I didn't even try. I believe if you are interested in the details and background of Independent Cinema you would probably enjoy this book. If you took a cinema class you'd be assigned this book. It seems very thorough and I recognized the movies that were involved (as far as I read that is,) but unless you're very involved in the movie/cinema community this book brings little pleasure to the regular audience. This is too bad because it is well written. I didn't know how to give it stars because although I didn't find it entertaining enough to draw me in permanently I know that it is well written and structured. Unfortunately well written and well structured doesn't always mean that everyone will like the material.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    I bought this book because Kevin Smith and his film Clerks were to be featured heavily in it. Furthermore, as a fan of independent film I wanted to learn what the late eighties into mid nineties was like regarding independent film. I learned a little, but not a lot. I have a very rough timeline of events in my head and a long list of movies to see. A lot of names and figures are dropped in this book and it was difficult to comprehend not being alive for the first half of the timeline and also no I bought this book because Kevin Smith and his film Clerks were to be featured heavily in it. Furthermore, as a fan of independent film I wanted to learn what the late eighties into mid nineties was like regarding independent film. I learned a little, but not a lot. I have a very rough timeline of events in my head and a long list of movies to see. A lot of names and figures are dropped in this book and it was difficult to comprehend not being alive for the first half of the timeline and also not being an industry insider. I still liked this book but wish it was written more for a fan/layman.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Greg Machlin

    Fantastic look inside indie cinema of the 1980s and 1990s from one of the mild-mannered guys who revolutionized it. A must-read for anyone who's interested in film or filmmaking. Fantastic look inside indie cinema of the 1980s and 1990s from one of the mild-mannered guys who revolutionized it. A must-read for anyone who's interested in film or filmmaking.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    This book is well written and incredibly detailed, but I went into it thinking it would be about the creation and creative process behind the making of these films that represented a boom time in independent cinema. I wasn't really aware of John Peirson and his importance as a financer and deal maker, so I had no idea going in that his story would be focused almost entirely on the money and marketing side of the film business. Which of course is an essential element of getting small films to an This book is well written and incredibly detailed, but I went into it thinking it would be about the creation and creative process behind the making of these films that represented a boom time in independent cinema. I wasn't really aware of John Peirson and his importance as a financer and deal maker, so I had no idea going in that his story would be focused almost entirely on the money and marketing side of the film business. Which of course is an essential element of getting small films to an audience, but from my point of interest I found a lot of this book about as stimulating as studying bank statements and somewhere about the half way mark found myself skimming through to the end. I'd recommend this to someone with an active interest in the business end of show biz or serious indie film train spotters.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bcoltin

    I'm taking a class by John Pierson at UT. He brings in actors, directors, producers and interviews them. This semester will include Tarantino, Possibly Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, one of the Coen brothers and others. SHould be fun I'm taking a class by John Pierson at UT. He brings in actors, directors, producers and interviews them. This semester will include Tarantino, Possibly Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, one of the Coen brothers and others. SHould be fun

  15. 4 out of 5

    T.tara Turk-Haynes

    Awesome recount of the birthing of indie cinema though scary because it is also the birth of indie cinema as we know it today!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Nice title but less than interesting unless you're fascinated by the complex details of indie film deal. It should be subtitled "My Dinner With Andre" for the indie-pendent crowd. Nice title but less than interesting unless you're fascinated by the complex details of indie film deal. It should be subtitled "My Dinner With Andre" for the indie-pendent crowd.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    If you're at all interested in independent cinema in the late 80s and early 90s, this is a pretty good starter book on the subject. Not very indepth or expansive, but a good toe in the water. If you're at all interested in independent cinema in the late 80s and early 90s, this is a pretty good starter book on the subject. Not very indepth or expansive, but a good toe in the water.

  18. 5 out of 5

    D-train Longfellow

    john pierson was all up in the middle of the indie film movement of the late-80's, early-90's. Very interesting stuff here. john pierson was all up in the middle of the indie film movement of the late-80's, early-90's. Very interesting stuff here.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh Folan

    Insight from the guy who basically molded the definition of what good independent film is supposed to be.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tambay

    Informative and entertaining... a must read for anyone already in, or interested in diving into the cess pool known as indie filmmaking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Distress Strauss

    Funny how so few of these films appear to have lasted. Go Fish, anyone?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

  23. 4 out of 5

    mr a m jarvis

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan Eggleston

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nadia Parbo

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Oh

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Travis Bursik

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