Squire, Jason E. (Ed.). the Movie Business Book (Fourth Edition)

By Soukup, Paul A. | Communication Research Trends, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Squire, Jason E. (Ed.). the Movie Business Book (Fourth Edition)


Soukup, Paul A., Communication Research Trends


Squire, Jason E. (Ed.). The Movie Business Book (fourth edition). New York: Routledge (A Focal Press Book), 2017. Pp. xxiii, 628. ISBN 978-1-138-65627-7 (cloth) $114.75; 978-1-138-65629-1 (paper) $38.21.

Where many books about film present the topic as either a history of cinema or as a critical exercise in interpreting films, this edited collection introduces film making as a production process and as a movie business. Edited by Jason Squire, an associate professor of practice at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, it draws on the experience of film professionals. Most of the chapters in the collection are authored by people working in the industry; for example, the material about producing films and the role of the producer comes from Michael London, a Los Angeles-based producer. Similarly in the chapter on directing the reader gains the experience of Doug Liman, a New York director.

Squire begins with an introduction that sets the stage by identifying some of the "disrupters" that have changed the movie business: the Internet as both a distribution medium and as a venue for low-cost production, the multiplication of screen technologies, the collapse of the traditional release windows, a qualitative change in the customers and their expectations, increased costs, and the rise of piracy. Squire then identifies the traditional movie business in terms of its industrial segments (production, distribution, exhibition) and its stages of production (development, preproduction, production, and post-production). He also briefly introduces the business models current in the Hollywood process.

The rest of the book itself follows the organizational principle identified as the stages of production--the progression of film making from beginning to end. Like every film, the book begins with the development of a film and ends with its international distribution. Individual sections examine the creators, the "property," money, management, "the deal," production, marketing, revenue streams, theatrical distribution, theatrical exhibition, home entertainment and self distribution, the DYI model, consumer products, international film, and a look to the future. This list of section headings gives a very good outline of the industry itself--not only particular practices within the industry but also the attitudes and production tasks and hurdles that an individual working on film must face.

The first section, "The Creators," introduces the reader to the role of the producer, the director, and the film maker. "The entrepreneurial independent producer initiates the movie. The job is akin to a general contractor building a house" (p. 19). Liman likens the job of the director to that of a storyteller; he illustrates the tasks involved by references to his own work. This leads directly to the second section about intellectual property--the idea or story or script that a producer and writer will develop. These chapters address the role of the screenwriter as well as of the agent (who represents the screenwriter and the other participants), and of the story editor; a final chapter introduces intellectual property rights. This last chapter takes into account the management of property rights and the legal side of the film making industry. For those less familiar with intellectual property, this chapter provides an excellent introduction in very accessible terms. The third section of the book examines money and film finance. Here the reader meets an entertainment lawyer who deals with the money behind the films, a compliance consultant who details how people are actually paid in the film making process, and a financial analyst who shows how the markets evaluate the movie companies themselves. The movie business can require large sums of money, most of it coming from investors who seek a return on their investment, a process detailed in the three chapters of this section.

After people have secured the intellectual property and financing, the next step moves closer to production. …

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