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Cinema by the Bay [Hardcover]

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Item description for Cinema by the Bay by Sheerly Avni...

What do Apocalypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Star Wars, The Incredibles, Shrek, High Plains Drifter, Never Cry Wolf, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Right Stuff have in common? These great post '60s full length feature films, and many others, were produced by the five movie studios located in the Bay Area or directed by independent filmmakers living and working in Northern California.
In the early '70s the Bay Area film community exploded with a proliferation of California-schooled independent filmmakers and the founding of several new studios--American Zoetrope, The Saul Zaentz Company and Lucasfilm Ltd. With the formation of Pixar and PDI studios, the '80s welcomed yet another fresh pool of talent­many of whom were recent graduates of the California Institute of the Arts and Stanford where they had studied experimental animation. Over the years, many factors and influences have caused such an eclectic group of filmmakers to gravitate towards the Bay Area: the talented community of artists, the proximity to Stanford, the tech companies of Silicon Valley, even the uncommonly beautiful light has played a part. Some came, like Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, with a vision to create a film studio away from the traditional pressures of Hollywood, following in the footsteps of John Korty. Some, like Phil Kaufman, were drawn to the area's writers, such as Henry Miller. And some were born here, and stayed because, as Clint Eastwood says, "Where you're born sort of becomes your roots." However they ended up here, all of the Bay Area filmmakers share one driving quality: they love making movies on their own terms and according to their own vision.
From San Francisco magazine, June 2006:

"...until recently few writers had bothered to catalog the filmic history of the most picturesque city in the's a blast to riffle through this gorgeous volume, with its large color stills from films we all love. Even better, Avni provides lots of tasty insider anecdotes."

From 7x7 magazine, June 2006:

"Cinema By the Bay offers an in-depth look at the bay area film business, profiling the studios behind such classics as The Godfather (American Zoetrope), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (The Saul Zaentz Company) and the big daddy--Star Wars (Lucasfilm Ltd)."

From (IFC/IndieWire), June 15, 2006:

"With Cinema By the Bay, Sheerly Avni has created not so much a coffee-table book, as a depth-charge desktop tome: You may want to get wired enough to finish it in one long sitting. This first title from George Lucas Books is a rich, visual history of San Francisco Bay Area filmmaking that doesn't just roll from A to Z (from American to Zoetrope), but digs up the Northern California roots of motion pictures themselves (from Muybridge to Von Stroheim, courtesy of an elegant essay by former San Francisco film critic Michael Sragow. Alongside the cornerstones of the historical NoCal industry--Zaentz and Zoetrope, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and PDI--are page after page of directors (Carroll Ballard, Joan Chen, Clint Eastwood, Rob Nilsson, Henry Selick, Terry Zwigoff) who've helped San Francisco maintain its status as a creative outpost."

From Sci Fi Magazine, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel, August 2006:

"Cinema By the Bay”, the first release from the publishing arm of the still-growing George Lucas entertainment empire, is an affectionate look at the community of major filmmakers who base themselves in San Francisco and environs rather than in that glitzier production hub further down the to page through, but the book is significantly more novel in those sections covering moviemakers and films that haven't had more than their share of coffee-table books. Clint Eastwood...Philip Kaufman...Michael Ritchie...Extreme collectors may want to snap up the signed and numbered limited edition, which includes the signatures of George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Saul Zaentz."

From East Bay express, May, 2006:

“Tom Selleck was originally pegged to play Indiana Jones, as Sheerly Avni reveals in Cinema by the Bay (JAK, $39.95), the most beautiful coffee-table book about the most beautiful films made in the most beautiful spot on Earth. Lustrous photographs augment inside scoops on a dozen directors' careers…”

From the UK's Empire Magazine, June 2006 rated Five of Five Stars:

“… Avni's book does a terrific job in capturing the heady sense of creative buzz that envelopes Frisco's filmmaking fraternity and exploring the Bay Area's diverse output. While this is the first book from the George Lucas Books imprint, the scope goes way beyond Star Wars. We are treated to an in-depth analysis of the key studios … and directors …. Each study is laced with nifty potted histories, detailed studies of every film, a useful timeline and tons of trivia; who kenew that PDI animated a segment of a Simpsons Halloween episode for free? En route, the book highlights some forgotten talents and unknown artists. The tone is enthusiastic without sacrificing insight and intelligence and is also not afraid to get gritty …. Essential reading for anyone who loves great cinema.”
Author SHEERLY AVNI, is a Bay Area-based Arts and Entertainment writer. Her essays and articles have appeared in San Francisco Magazine and Variety, and on
Introduction by MICHEAL SRAGOW, the lead film critic for the Baltimore Sun. Michael edited the Library of America's two-volume collection of James Agee's writing and Produced and Abandoned: The National Film Critics Write on the Best Films You've Never Seen. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in many publications including The New Yorker, The San Francisco Examiner,, and Rolling Stone and he is currently writing a biography of Victor Fleming for Pantheon.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11" Width: 9.2" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   3.5 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 23, 2006
Publisher   George Lucas Books
ISBN  1932183884  
ISBN13  9781932183887  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Direction & Production
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > History & Criticism
4Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Industry
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > California

Reviews - What do customers think about Cinema by the Bay?

A Poor and Superficial Look at The Bay's Rich Film History  Aug 3, 2008
This book is a major disappointment. To start, San Francisco has a rich, interesting film history, where many artists have made some great films. This book, sadly, does not come close to covering or doing justice to any of them. Where is the covering of Canyon Cinema, and the indie scene that sprang up in the 60's? Apparently, San Francisco filmmaking began with George Lucas and Francis Coppola.

It is unsurprising then to learn that this is published by Lucas Books--the thing revolves around American Zoetrope (president: Coppola; ex-co-president: Lucas), Lucasfilm, and Pixar (originally a division of Lucasfilm).

Okay, thats not a crime--these three giants truely do make up the bulk of the areas filmmaking history. They have great legacies behind them and interesting, complicated histories to discuss. If only the book accomplished this. What we get are a lot of photographs from the movies and summaries of their plots.

Thats basically all this is--you get a few pages of background on the various companies, and then a list of their films, with accompanying plot summaries and some general production anecdotes. In other words, stuff almost everyone already knows. Informative? No. Candid? Not really. Interesting? Only if you know absolutely nothing about these people.

But even if you DO know nothing about these people, this book is a terrible introduction, and as a general history of the Bay area's filmmakers its equally inappropriate for its omissions and passing, rather superficial coverage of smaller names like Carrol Ballard and John Korty. There's really no scenario under which I can recommend this book. Skip it.
A welcome and strongly recommended addition  Mar 6, 2007
"Cinema By The Bay" by San Francisco-based film and culture writer Sheerly Avni is a profusely illustrated survey of influential, full-length, post-1960s feature films produced by five movie studios located in the San Francisco Bay Area (American Zoetrope, The Saul Zaentz Company, Lucasfilm Ltd., Pixar Animation Studies, and Pacific Data images), or which were directed by independent filmmakers living and working in Northern California (many of whom were recent graduates of the California Institute of the Arts and Stanford - where they had studied experimental animation). Enhanced with the inclusion of an informed and informative introduction by film critic Michael Sragow, filmographies, an index, credits and acknowledgments, "Cinema By The Bay"is a welcome and strongly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library Cinema History reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Really impressive debut from Lucas Books  Jan 4, 2007
This book sums up the last four decades of filmmaking that has come out of the Bay Area. When you see all these films collected between the covers of this book, one realizes just how much Coppola, Lucas, Eastwood, Kaufman, Saul Zaentz, and Pixar have contributed to our collective movie consciousness. The writing is crisp and lucid, but the images [many never seen previously] and page layouts are astounding. This would make a wonderful gift for *any* movie lover, but even those with a casual interest in film will find it captivating. I am pretty sure this is the first book from Lucas Books, and I applaud it.
Luxuriant Coffee Table Book Shows Just How Many Filmmakers Have Left Their Hearts in San Francisco  Jun 23, 2006
The pervasive influence of the San Francisco Bay Area on the American film industry certainly makes for a rich pictorial of quite a tapestry of movies. At first, it seems like the commonality of location would make for a contrived listing, but this book is not just about filming locations. What local arts writer Sheerly Avni does is a solid if rather lightweight job of capturing the frenzied spirit that has marked Northern California's moviemaking scene since the early 1970's. Unsurprisingly, she tends to get effusive about her publisher, George Lucas, and his limited output as a director, but it is a forgivable breech when one considers the breadth of films, both renowned and almost forgotten, that she writes about here.

The book is divided neatly into two sections, the first devoted to the five studios based in the Bay Area (Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope, Lucasfilm and the Saul Zaentz Company, as well as the CGI powerhouses of Pixar and PDI) and the second to the filmmakers who are either from here or have chosen toe base themselves here. They include not only Coppola and Lucas but also Carroll Ballard, Clint Eastwood, Phil Kaufman, Michael Ritchie, Chris Columbus and Wayne Wang among others. A complete filmography is included for each studio and director, and Avni provides plenty of interesting information about the productions. The best part of the book is really the treasure trove of production photos provided for each major film presented, many rarely seen before. I also like how certain overlooked films of quality, such as "Tucker: A Man and His Dream", receive renewed attention here, as well as vastly talented filmmakers like Ballard, who do not usually receive much media attention.

Michael Sragow, film critic for the Baltimore Sun, provides the book's invaluable introduction, which summarizes the long history that Northern California has had on cinema starting with Charlie Chaplin's use of Niles in the East Bay as a shooting location for many of his early silents. Alfred Hitchcock is another filmmaker known for his love of Bay Area locations as seen in "Vertigo", "Shadow of the Doubt" and "The Birds", a topic covered thoroughly in Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal's entertaining "Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco". In the meantime, this is a worthy coffee table book providing ample evidence of how San Francisco has been an enduring creative touch point for much of the best of American cinema.
Picture Perfect  Jun 10, 2006
From the founding of Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope to Pixar's struggles to stay fresh, I learned so much about the Bay Area's contribution to American film reading this book. (And who knew film producer Saul Zaentz discovered Creedence Clearwater Revival in a prior life as a record producer?) I always thought of "The Godfather" as the region's major movie claim to fame, but this book covers five studios, and 12 independent directors, most of whose names even the most casual filmgoer will recognize. Of course, "Star Wars" and "Amadeus" are covered, but so are less likely suspects such as "Rumble Fish" and "A Perfect World."

The photographs and images are amazing, but Avni's spunky text really makes it. I will be giving this book to my dad, who has lived in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, for Christmas.

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