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   Training Review
   I'll Be In My Trailer:
   The Creative Wars Between
   Directors & Actors
   Author: John Badham & Craig Modderno
   Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
   Format: Instructional Book (243 pgs.)
   Topic: How to Direct Actors

   Cost: $24.95
   For Special Price: Click Here

   Website: Michael Wiese Productions
   Release Dates: July 15, 2006
   Review Date: March 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

Final Score:

Before 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.

However, 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.

And, 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.

With 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 people.

At 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 unwarranted crap.

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!)

Depth of Information
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.

For 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.

The 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.)

Interest Level
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 even so.

Besides 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.

One 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!)

Value vs. Cost
$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.

Overall Comment
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!

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           

JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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