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Paperback The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker Book

ISBN: 1401303188

ISBN13: 9781401303181

The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker

Want to make a documentary

Meet Amy Sewell, a former stay-at-home mother of twins with no filmmaking experience, who fell in love with a story about ballroom dancing kids. She went on to make and sell one of the most successful documentaries of all time.

Is that possible? How did she do it? In this engaging and insightful book, Sewell, the writer and producer of Mad Hot Ballroom, takes readers through the process. She...


Format: Paperback

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Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A good dose of inspiration

This book combines the inspirational story of the making of "Mad Hot Ballroom" with starting tips for the beginning documentary filmmaker. For fans of the documentary and for aspiring documentary filmmakers, it provides interesting and amusing stories from behind the scenes of one of the top ten documentaries of all time. It is by no means a how-to guide for making a documentary; however, there are some good tips and starting points for research into the process. The book's strong point is the inspiration and the passion behind the project as well as the inside look that the author provides on the process. The author actually could have focused completely on the inspirational stories behind the documentary to make it appeal to a wider audience, with an appendix at the end of the book for tips and information of the documentary-making process (or, she could have written two different books). However, Sewell manages to make the double focus work well because of her passion and enthusiasm. Overall, this is a quick and enjoyable read, recommended for fans of the documentary and for beginning documentary filmmakers looking for some inspiration and tips to start them on their journey.

Reviewed by Sarra Borne

Amy Sewell a stay-at-home mom to twin girls, with absolutely no experience at filmmaking, fell in love with the idea of making a movie about New York City's scholastic ballroom dancing program. This book follows her journey from "light bulb over the head" stage all the way through completion of one of the most successful documentaries of all time, Mad Hot Ballroom. When the author first started doing the research for the article that turned into first a film, and then this book, she was amazed at how quickly the fifth-graders from diverse economic and social backgrounds took to boring ballroom dancing; and how hard they worked to get in shape for the city wide competitions. Mad Hot Ballroom was named by the kids, when Sewell learned that the ten and eleven-year-olds used mad as an adjective meaning very in front of everything - mad hot, mad crazy, mad cool - she knew she had the film title. An enormous relief to her director who hated the working title of Not the Same Old Song and Dance. This illustrates just how much the making of both the film and the book was driven by the kids. Without them there would be no story. As much a primer as a narrative, the author includes all the information the reader would need to follow in her footsteps, including an action plan at the end of each chapter which reinforces the important points. Sewell is obviously enthusiastic about her subject making it a joy to read. The book is upbeat and bubbly. Using a series of amusing anecdotes to relay her story she makes the reader feel as if they are a part of the film making process. At only 175 pages, this is a very short book, and it went all too quickly. It could have used more about the dancing and competitions to really capture the reader's interest. Even so, it would be a great addition to the shelf of any aspiring filmmaker, because it really reinforces the idea that nearly anyone really can do it with enough drive, possibly a grant or two and support from friends and family.

excellent book for first time movie makers

Having just taken a course in film production I bought this book because Amy Sewell's movie was highlighted as an example of a huge success for a first time filmmaker. One can see why. Reading this book gives an insight into how passionate and dedicated she was to make Mad Hot Ballroom. Amy Sewell's book is well written, informative and entertaining to read. I highly recommend it.

Inspiring story and useful advice

I've been toying with the idea of making a documentary for years but wasn't sure how to get started. I loved Mad Hot Ballroom too. This appealed to me and I ended up reading Amy Sewell's book in one day. The story behind the film is interesting, and pretty incredible that she did it with no previous experience. The book has lots of smart, practical tips too. Down-to-earth and a fun read.
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