Academy Award winning film producer Jonathan Sanger has once again given us a provocative tale that reaches audiences at the core of their heart, only this time his medium is print instead of film. His book "Making the Elephant Man: A Producer's Memoir" gives us an insider's look at the creation of one of the first ever indie films and a box-office smash, as well as a peek into the early careers of movie greats David Lynch, Mel Brooks and Anthony Hopkins.
Sanger's memoir details the challenge of transforming a true story about a nineteenth century sideshow freak into the iconic art film, THE ELEPHANT MAN, that continues to be a gold standard for artful cinematic creativity today. His memoir is MAKING THE ELEPHANT MAN - A PRODUCER'S MEMOIR, (ISBN 973-1476666624), Mcfarland & Co Inc publisher, December 30, 2016, 277 pages, $29.95 in Paperback and Kindle available on Amazon or on the author's website www.JonathanSangerProductions.com View the book trailer here:http://bit.ly/MakingTheElephantManTrailer
Few members of a film audience appreciate the intricacies of the myriad aspects of making a film. Sanger takes his experience as the producer of THE ELEPHANT MAN and opens a powerful discussion on the evolution of cinema, how he 'discovered' a script written by 'unknowns' Christopher DeVore and Eric Bergren finding "it was exactly the kind of story I would want to make, a historical biography about a wretched soul who had nonetheless lived an extraordinary life" - the true story of 19th century grossly deformed John Merrick, known as the Elephant Man working in a sideshow in London who was treated by a kind Dr. Treves.
"When I wrote this, I was teaching a course in independent film and using my experience with this film to teach," says Sanger. "I realized that it would be great to get these stories down and put them in a book." For every movie he makes, Sanger keeps a notebook about the crew, the schedules, what they ordered for lunch, and other details. He was able to tap into notes from 30 years ago that brought the whole process up fresh in his mind, including the strong emotions that gripped him upon first reading the script..
"Human stories have always moved me," says Sanger. "I like movies about people who are outliers, who are not in the mainstream for one reason or another, even if they are famous. It's not something I'm actually seeking, it's just a trend I've noticed over the years, about myself as a producer."
Sanger's latest two movies, to be released in 2017, both follow similar themes. In Chapter and Verse, a reformed gang leader returns to Harlem where he gets a job delivering meals. Unexpectedly, he bonds with an elderly woman. Marshall is a biographical thriller about a self-possessed strong lawyer who is unable to do something he is known for, and has to train someone else who is not ready for the job.
Written with passion, Sanger's memoir takes us with elegant prose and many black and white photographs through the presentation to Mel Brooks who helped propel the young Sanger's project into the hands of neophyte director David Lynch, the details of finding the proper crew, the cast (John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Sir John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anne Bancroft), the location, the anxieties of meeting deadlines, the technical hurdles of creating a film about such a character - facing struggles at every turn. Even the final showing of the completed film to an audience of professionals, whose silence terrified Jonathan, until he learned the silence was due to the emotional impact of the story - an unspoken Bravo!
A memoir such as this (closing with an Appendix - A Pictorial Storyboard of The Elephant Man followed by chapter notes) is not only a brilliant documentary of the evolution of a great film by a young producer new to the game of film production, but it is also a powerful story of bonding among those who devote their lives to the arts, willing to ride that psychological rollercoaster such a choice demands. It's a story about overcoming odds to follow your passion, a theme that will resonate with many audiences for years to come.
About The Author
Brooklyn born Jonathan Sanger is a highly respected producer and director of major films, television series, and theatrical productions, having earned twenty Academy Award nominations, and winning three.
In 1976, Sanger moved to Los Angles, where he worked for Lorimar Television on network television series The Blue Knight and Eight Is Enough. In 1978 he was Mel Brooks' Assistant Director on High Anxiety, which led to a long professional association. For Brooks' wife, Anne Bancroft's feature directorial debut film Fatso, Sanger served as Associate Producer. During this period Sanger had acquired the rights to the script of The Elephant Man - his first production which led to a successful career in both producing and directing films - films such as Frances, Without Limits, Vanilla Sky, Flight of the Navigator, The Producers, and Code Name: Emerald.
Sanger's passion about film led him to create The Discovery Program, which offers the opportunity for film professionals of all types to create short films of their own without the assistance of big-budget studios.
Along with the release of his memoir, Sanger is looking forward to two movie releases in 2017, Chapter and Verse, an indie film about a reformed Harlem gangster, and Marshall, a film about a case in the early law career of the first African-American associate judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.