Barry Sonnenfeld appears in conversation with Rob Reiner discussing his memoir, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker at the Aratani Theatre, downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 8 PM.
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 Momma 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 Black films. His television credits include Pushing Daisies, for which he won an Emmy, and most recently Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
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.
Rob Reiner first came to fame as a two-time Emmy Award winning actor on the landmark television series All In the Family. He went on to become an acclaimed director of some of the most popular and influential motion pictures. His work ranges from the satire This Is Spinal Tap to dramas like Stand By Me, Misery, A Few Good Men, and Ghosts of Mississippi to romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, to the enduring uncharacteristic The American President, to The Princess Bride. His now 20 films also include The Bucket List, Flipped, LBJ starring Woody Harrelson and most recently Shock and Awe, about the run up to the war in Iraq which stars Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, James Marsden, and Reiner himself. Reiner is also a dedicated political activist. In California in 1998 he passed a tobacco tax initiative to fund early childhood development. And for seven years he chaired California’s First Five Commission to oversee the implementation of the initiative. In 2003 he led the effort to save Ahmanson Ranch from an environmentally harmful development in the Santa Monica Mountains. He and his wife, Michele helped form The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which filed a federal lawsuit to overturn California’s Prop 8. Their victory at the Supreme Court paved the way for marriage equality nationwide.
Aratani Theatre at JACCC
244 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012