Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Interview with Author Ian Haydn Smith


1. What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into a book?

It was a commission, so it didn't start with me. But it was similar to a book I had been interested in writing that looks at how cinema has changed. Not just in terms of technology, but the way films are made and how they grapple with the world around us. It's drawn from my experience of watching films over decades and seeing how they have embraced new ideas and attempted to reflect changes in society.

2. What is it about and who is it for?

It looks at cinema from the perspective of major shifts. These could be technological, artistic, social or political. They range from the introduction of innovations – from sound to CGI – to how film language has changed (editing, in particular has undergone momentous change). It also looks at film that have engaged with particular issues, for both good and bad. And it runs the gamut of cinema around the world. So there's Jaws and how that film changed the way we look at the sea as well as being the the key modern blockbuster, Terminator 2 and its breakthrough in the use of CGI, and Touki Bouki which is a landmark in African cinema. 

My ideal reader is not necessarily a die-hard film fan, but someone interested in seeing how cinema has changed. Certainly a reader who would be interested in reading all the books in this series, looking at different art forms, and seeing how these forms cross over with each other.

3. What do you hope the reader will be left with after reading it?

Their own thoughts on what films challenged the status quo or were instrumental in changing things. This is not the endpoint of this discussion but a provocation for readers to consider what films they feel changed things in a certain way.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?

There's no easy answer to this. There's no divine inspiration for me. It's all about graft. I have to get past a blank page. So my first draft is pretty much anything that I feel needs to be said, not always in logical order. The second draft is the most important for me. That's when the writing takes shape. Subsequent drafts are tweaking and polishing.  

Everyone has their own approach. There are no hard and fast rules. It's finding the way that works best for you and being disciplined enough to stick to it until you're done.  

Most importantly, make sure you remove all access to streaming services on your laptop/desktop! 

5. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? 

Hard to tell. I only know one person who still uses an electronic reading device. It feels like the pleasure of reading a book proper has returned with a vengeance. But trends can change so quickly.  

I think the most welcome change is the embrace of international titles, across fiction and non-fiction. Alongside that is the push to recognise a global landscape when approaching subjects. So, in the case of FilmQuake, it's not approaching changes in cinema as a Western phenomenon, but seeing shifts taking place in all cinemas. Take Mati Diop's Cannes recent winner Atlantics, a ghost story about migration, economic inequality and the conflict between tradition and modernity. It's extraordinary. 

6. What challenges did you overcome to write this book?

Being limited by the length of the book. There are always films that have to be cut because of space. And I'm sure readers will have a list of titles they feel should have been included. Some probably were, but they had to be cut because they covered the same ground as another film, or because one film better represented an issue I was covering. 

7. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

Well, the cover's nice, so it will look great on your bookshelf.   

 Ian Haydn Smith is a London-based writer. He is the update editor on 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and is the editor of BFI Filmmakers Magazine and Curzon Magazine. Ian is also the author of Selling the Movie: The Art of the Film PosterThe Short Story of Photography and Cult Filmmakers



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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum. 



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