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by John Sayles & Gavin Smith

Pub Date: March 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-571-19280-7
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 This in-depth look at the work of one of America's most successful maverick filmmakers is another fine contribution to Faber and Faber's ``Directors on Directors'' series. As an accomplished writer, director, and actor, Sayles (Los Gusanos, 1991, etc.) is a rarely talented triple threat. His movies, including The Brother from Another Planet, The Secret of Roan Inish, and Lone Star, have won critical acclaim for their uncompromising honesty and their adamantly individual vision. Unlike many independent directors, Sayles truly works outside the Hollywood mainstream, contemplating unpopular subjects and problems, rarely casting stars, yet doing well enough to make film after film. He got his start with B-meister Roger Corman, cranking out quickie, though generously subtextual, genre scripts such as Piranha and Alligator--in which, as Sayles once remarked, ``the alligator eats its way through the entire socioeconomic system.'' He has also made money by taking on occasional acting gigs, by writing a well-received novel and a short-story collection, and by turning his hand to (usually uncredited) stints at Hollywood script-doctoring. It's worth noting that he pulled together no more than just enough money to fund his first film, Return of the Secaucus Seven, considered by some to be the wellspring of the modern indie movement; it established Sayles's reputation. This Q-and-A chronicle, despite inevitable generic limitations, provides a fascinating film-by-film analysis of his creative process. From his ideas about acting to his theories of editing to why he has favored a certain lens, Sayles remains articulate throughout, and often revealing. He's well-served by collaborator Smith, an associate editor of Film Comment, who asks the right questions and shows a rich, nuanced understanding of Sayles and his work. An invaluable companion piece to Sayles's films. (b&w photos, not seen)