I got into filmmaking, I remember my first real experience
with John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Stakeout, The
Hard Way) through his movie, War Games. I recall
that, at the time, I was highly annoyed with him and the
entire movie because it was so unrealistic. The lack of
realism was not due to the idea that a teenage nerd could
accidentally hack a nuclear silo. No, that was in the realm
of the improbable, but still possible. The part that my
teenage mind had issues with was the fact that a totally
hot chick had been interested in the nerdy main character
and that he had hooked up with her by the end of the movie.
As a teenage nerd myself, I felt that was the sort of fairy
tale ending that set up unreasonable expectations in the
minds of nerds everywhere.
many years later, after meeting and marrying a hot chick
myself (who specifically loves the nerd side of me, it might
be added!), I have given up my early bitterness with Mr.
Badham and his work. As such, I was able to read I'll
Be In My Trailer with a completely unbiased mind.
after reading this book, I believe that, through his writing
and directorial techniques that he outlines in this book,
Mr. Badham may be providing one of the most singularly useful
and fascinating approaches to the director/actor dynamic
that I have ever read.
a heart for directing that seems especially inspired by
early producer and friend, Rob Cohen (director of XXX,
The Fast & The Furious, and Stealth), John
Badham shows how the past thirty years of directing have
taught him to communicate with his actors and provide a
safe environment for them to create their on-screen characters.
Despite all the time constraints that he's had to work under,
Mr. Badham shows how to take enough time with each actor
to insure that they understand what they're doing right,
what they're doing wrong, and that you appreciate them as
the same time, he illustrates how important it is to make
each actor do his or her homework and grow his or her character
without having you hold his hand for the entire process.
By emphasizing both sides of the equation, Mr. Badham shows
how the deft director will make a friendly environment for
actors to do their best work in without putting up with
I'll Be In My Trailer is simple to understand because
of how naturally the accounts that form John Badham's life
are recounted. To assist, the language is basic and straight
forward, allowing you to absorb information directly, without
having to wonder what words like 'pariah', 'elucidation',
or 'transcendentalism' have to do with directing.
(Don't get me wrong, I love all three of those words, but
they don't lend themselves particularly well to easily understood
books of practical knowledge!)
The thing I loved about this book is just how much practical
information is brought up, with very little non-related
'fluff'. The stories make the book interesting, but they
don't digress from what each section is trying to teach
you about the art of being a director.
example: want to know how to get actors to behave specifically,
rather than generally? I'll Be In My Trailer shows
you how to use 'actable' verbs that can make it easier to
obtain the results you're looking for. Of course, every
once in awhile, you run into a smart-aleck actor that refuses
to allow you to assist him or her in this manner. Even in
this situation, Mr. Badham explains how to most effectively
deal with this type of actor.
depth of information covered in this book stretches from
how you cast actors in the first place, to how you behave
with your actors, to how you behave with your producers,
to how you deal with your stunt people, to how you deal
with the red tape which can so often accompany filmmaking.
Not only does it cover all of this, but it covers it in
a way that makes the logical ethos of filmmaking the central
point from which the information comes. As such, this allows
a lot of deep information to be culled without getting muddied
by the gray areas that old Hollywood has allowed to seep
into ethical ambiguity. Folks who are afraid of moral judgements
will find Badham's empirical logic to be refreshing, as
he is quick to explain real world cause-and-effect, rather
than simply stating right-and-wrong. (Fascinatingly enough,
empirical cause-and-effect tends to reflect moral right-and-wrong.)
If you have any interest in the art of directing, you will
be hard-pressed to put this book down before you're done
reading it. I am a notoriously slow reader and I polished
it off in a couple of days. John Badham has such a transparent
way of presenting himself and the stories from his life
that you can't help but be fascinated. It doesn't matter
if he's discussing a movie you've never seen, the information
he relates from his time directing stays fresh and fascinating
writing in a compelling manner about things that most of
us have actually wondered about, Mr. Badham manages to infuse
enough humor into his work for a ready laugh to come to
your lips many times throughout the book. What makes the
humor work is how many of John Badham's real life mistakes
are the basis for the humor.
of my favorite segments in this regard came from his explanation
of why you never direct a druggie or a drunk, which he illustrated
from his own directing life. He explained that he didn't
realize how important this was when he was a newer director
and got saddled with directing a TV pilot with a drunk lead
actor. The eventual product was shelved because the drunken
actor couldn't be coached, edited, or otherwise fixed after
the fact. As Mr. Badham concluded, "You could smell
the Vodka fumes coming out of the TV set!"
With a comprehensive index and bullet pointed sections,
I'll Be In My Trailer is extremely reusable. John
Badham's salient points on filmmaking are the sort you will
often re-reference when dealing with difficult days as a
director, or when sharing wisdom with other directors. (Ironically,
this book has so much intelligent information about relationships,
that many husbands could learn how to better deal with their
wives by reading Mr. Badham's book!)
$24.99 is extremely inexpensive for how much stuff is packed
into this book. If you are a director, you need this book.
As I mentioned before, it may be one of the easiest to understand
and most informationally packed books on the art of directing
actors that I have ever read.
Mr. Badham does something with this book that is almost
impossible to do: find a simple way to transfer a lifetime
of filmmaking experience to the reader of this book. This
is the closest thing to having a microchip with all of John
Badham's memories and experience installed in your brain.
The amount of necessary understanding about the art of filmmaking
and dealing with actors in this book will save you a lifetime
of grief at any budget level!