Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Twilight: Director's Notebook by Catherine Hardwicke

Twilight: Director's Notebook by Catherine Hardwicke
March 17, 2009; Little, Brown Young Readers


A personal, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the blockbuster film Twilight from groundbreaking director Catherine Hardwicke!

This intimate full-color "notebook", designed to replicate the one director Catherine Hardwicke kept on and off the set, takes you through the creative process that went into making Stephenie Meyer's breathtaking novel come alive on screen - from casting to costumes, stunts to story boards. With never-before-seen notes, sketches, and photographs taken directly from the visionary director's personal notebook, this book includes everything from her visual inspirations, to step-by-step breakdowns of action sequences, to a behind the scenes look at some of the most pivotal moments in the creation of the film, and much more. (courtesy of Goodreads)


Twilight: Director's Notebook takes us back in time - to a day when Twilight was a low-budget, quirky indie movie and the cast were young, struggling actors. It feels like a lot longer than four years (filming started four years ago; the movie was released three years ago).

Catherine Hardwicke takes us behind the scenes with her handwritten notebook full of behind the scenes photos, story board shots, and inside information. Rob and Kristen may be the stars of Twilight (Taylor isn't big until New Moon), but Catherine is the star of this book. You get the feeling that she's a mixture of laid-back cool and manic energy. She's crazy, but in a good way. I imagine that she is a lot of fun and somewhat difficult and frustrating to work for.

The Notebook starts out with Catherine's vision of Twilight and quickly moves on to location scouting in Washington and Oregon. There are numerous pages of drawings, description, and costume fittings of the characters. I loved seeing how they used the characters' clothes to enhance their personalities - like having Bella wear earth colors and gradually go from tom-boy to feminine apparel as the movie went on. She tells various tidbits about the casting, like how Peter wasn't the original actor cast for Carlisle. The pages about creating the sets were fascinating. Everything from choosing and decorating the Cullen house to Charlie's house to Arizona-ing Bella's house in Phoenix (which was really in California). You even get some idea of what they could and couldn't do within their budget.

Catherine takes you through each of the major scenes in Twilight: the van crash, the meadow, the Cullen house, the baseball games, the ballet studio, and more. There is a lot of story-board art, some of which is artful and some of which looks more functional. The pages are also filled with screen shots from the movie, behind the scenes photos, and even some pictures from rehearsals. The photos and art are all captioned with funny quips about how the scenes were shot, what the actors struggled with, or the temperamental weather. I liked reading about how difficult it was to shoot before Kristen turned 18.

At the end, there were a few pages about the editing process, the little CGI they had to do, creating the soundtrack and score, and even a little bit about the Twilight mania. There's even a grainy photo of Rob recording songs for the film (I thought Let Me Sign was so much better than Never Think and wish it wasn't a bonus track on the iTunes version). I particularly liked seeing how scenes could change from light to dark, from sunny to cloudy through editing.

If you want to be a Negative Nancy, you can tear this book apart. Catherine only published this to cash in on the Twilight payola. The so-called "Director's Notebook" is nothing like a real director's notebook would be. The "handwritten", homey feel is a fake attempt to convince readers that Catherine is your friend and that you're getting tons of insider information when really you can find most of the photos and Catherine's stories on the Internet. All of this is probably true, but I don't care. I love this book. As flawed as the first movie was, it had an edgy, low-budget feel that felt more personal than the later movies when they had big budgets and a big reputation to fill.

Rating: 5 / 5


  1. This is not normally something I would read but it does sound really interesting, great review as always. Thanks

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

  2. The first movie was bloody awful, I'll admit, but I am intrigued by the notebook. Perhaps it is a bit of a cop-out for the author to attempt to get close to the average reader/consumer, but I'd still give it a go. Fab thoughts, Alison! :)

  3. I have been wanting to get this and now also both of the graphic novels. I'll have to add them to my Christmas list. I heart my Twilight =)

  4. I confess I'm a Negative Nancy. The first movie was awful and BLUE! I've seen other movies by Hardwicke, but I never really cared for them. You, do however, make some great points and I think it would make a great gift for fans of the movie who don't already own a copy. I guess if I cared for the movie maybe for just a tiny bit I'd pick it up.

  5. It's interesting to see a review of this so many years after the first movie came out.

    You know, I didn't hate the first movie. There are so few female directors, I don't see any use in tearing one down. I think Hardwicke did an amazing job translating the written word to screen and making the movie more realistic.

    I love how she diversified the kids at Forks High, added the field trip scene among other things.

  6. I want this one too for my collection. I'm sure she just waned to cash in but I dont care. I will definitely pay!

  7. I know the first movie gets a lot of flack for being poorly made, but hey, people forget how tiny the budget was and Catherine did her best to work with what she got.

    Catherine is from my part of the world, so I'm a huge fan! I'm glad she made a mark with Twilight.

  8. I like! I may just buy it. I scan through it the other day, it had some great pictures!

  9. I know people like to rip on the first directors in movie series, like Chris Columbus and Catherine Hardwicke, but I often feel people are too hard on them. Considering the budget and time restraints Catherine was given compared to the other directors, she did a pretty good job with Twilight. And I like that she's a little crazy :)


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