Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

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Hachette Books, Mar 10, 2020 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld's outrageous and hilarious memoir traces his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Barry Sonnenfeld's philosophy is, "Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future." Told in his unmistakable voice, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother is a laugh-out-loud memoir about coming of age. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood's most successful producers and directors.

Written with poignant insight and real-life irony, the book follows Sonnenfeld from childhood as a French horn player through graduate film school at NYU, where he developed his talent for cinematography. His first job after graduating was shooting nine feature length pornos in nine days. From that humble entrée, he went on to form a friendship with the Coen Brothers, launching his career shooting their first three films.

Though Sonnenfeld had no ambition to direct, Scott Rudin convinced him to be the director of The Addams Family. It was a successful career move. He went on to direct many more films and television shows. Will Smith once joked that he wanted to take Sonnenfeld to Philadelphia public schools and say, "If this guy could end up as a successful film director on big budget films, anyone can." This book is a fascinating and hilarious roadmap for anyone who thinks they can't succeed in life because of a rough beginning.

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Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

User Review  - Book Verdict

With this candid memoir, Sonnenfeld (b. 1953) traces his journey from a troubled childhood to success as a sought-after filmmaker. Growing up in New York City, he contended with a philandering father ... Read full review

Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Sonnenfeld recounts harrowing childhood experiences followed by his success in the film business in this episodic and uneven debut memoir. En route to becoming a respected cinematographer in the 1980s ... Read full review


Spooky Action at a Distance
Barry Sonnenfeld Call Your Mother
the CM Part 1
Depression Central
White Shirts
Cant Be Beat
Miami Beach
Fear of Flying
My Life Begins I Meet Sweetie
The Cash Machine
The Coens
Blood Simple
Pay or Play
Addams Family

A Christian Bar Mitzvah
Eleanor Roosevelt
The Button
The Flip Side
The Promise of Suicide
Yet More Promised Suicides
NYU Graduate Film School
Kidney Stones
An Actress Short a Cum Shot Behind
Insult to Injury
Sophies Choice
Get Shorty
A Christmas Miracle
A Final Promise of Suicide
The Captains Table
the CM Part 2
Burying the Lede
A Miracle Is What Seems Impossible but Happens Anyway

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About the author (2020)

Barry Sonnenfeld is a filmmaker and writer who broke into the film industry as the cinematographer on the Coen Brothers' first three films: Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, and Miller's Crossing. He also was the director of photography on Throw Mamma from the Train, Big, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery. Sonnenfeld made his directorial debut with The Addams Family in 1991, and has gone on to direct a number of films including Addams Family Values, Get Shorty, and the first three Men in Blacks. His television credits include Pushing Daisies, for which he won an Emmy, and most recently Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

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