« | Main | »

Mark Moskovitz – Film Director (Part 2 of 2)

By Admin | July 22, 2008

In the second part of his interview, Mark Moskovitz tells us about his passion for reading, the non-profit he started to “rescue” good but obscure books, and his collaboration with Philadelphia businessman and mayoral candidate Sam Katz on making a documentary about the City of Brotherly Love.


How many books do you own in your personal library?

Never counted. Have no clue. All I know is that they are spilling off the shelves. I cut back the last few years and actually read differently now.

Books have become very vivid to me again, like when I was teenager, so I read far fewer but each one more preciously.

Let’s see – in the “library” room there are 5 banks of 6-7 shelves floor to ceiling. If each holds thirty, that’s about a thousand or more in that room.

I have a lot history elsewhere, and another room with an entire wall shelved, and a huge built-in in the bedroom, and about 500 baseball books alone in the basement.

And, I’m working on a film about art, so there’s lots of those around now and I moved all the movie and music books into the attic where my son rehearses with a band.

What is your aim with the Lost Book Club?

I wish I had more time to do what I set out to. It is a nonprofit 501c3, so contributions are tax-deductible.

Many people have sent me books or written in suggesting books—they too have favorites that no one else seems to know about.

So, the goal would be to bring back some of these and donate to libraries or make available again. Perhaps the reader—the person who discovered the book—does the intro and a critic does an afterward, or vice-versa, much like we did in the reprint of “Stones.”

The second book we did, after The Stones of Summer (Lost Books Club, published by Barnes & Noble) was Janet Hobhouse’s The Furies (Lost Books Club, published by NYRB). It didn’t have a movie, so it’s still “lost” to a degree. But it should be read.

What are your five all time favorite books?

I can’t do this…….would be like asking about children Here’s some off the top of my head:

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

Tender Is the Night, F. Scott you-know-who

Anna Karenina, Uncle Leo

The Thin Red Line, James Jones

Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut

Minor Characters, Joyce Johnson

Picasso and Dora, James Lord

V., Pynchon

Humboldt’s Gift, Bellow

The Sentimental Education, Flaubert

Chronicles, Bob Dylan

What are you reading now?

I left an Icelandic thriller called Jar City on the airplane by accident. So I started What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.

I just finished North Toward Home by Willie Morris, and 1948 by Bernard DeVoto. After Siri’s book I want to read The Renaissance by Walter Pater.

How did you come to get matched up with Sam Katz on the proposed Philly documentary?

He called me. I worked on his commercials for Mayor (of Philadelphia) in 1999 and we have had a few chats since.

I was intrigued. I have often asked myself why I am still living here and is there such a thing as a Philadelphian.

I think the trauma of the 1964 Phillies season has stuck me here for good.

What obstacles will you have to overcome in getting it made? What is the current status of the project?

Sam has been incredible in both vision and pulling people together for this. His love of the city and for its history is the driving force and has brought hundreds of like-minded souls out of the woodwork.

This is truly great. Because those are the stories and judgments and various perspectives we need. So I know we can.

Find the content and tell the story. Getting backers—whether foundations or financial or media entities—to believe that as well is what it takes to get it made.

Where is your funding coming from for the Philly documentary?

We have been fortunate to get a grant from the Barra Foundation and other givers to leapfrog from where we are to the next step. It’s going to happen. It’s thrilling.

What is your role in the Katz project?

Making films or television is a team effort. It’s about collaboration. I’ll steer the creative process and make the production happen.

I also think, with the brainstorming of many others, a whole team of people, I’ll set the direction of how we tell the story. How a story is told is the story when it comes to narrative of this type.

Above and beyond that—being the Producer–I’ll direct some or much of it. I think we will have other collaborators involved sharing a lot of the creative credit, however.

What is the best thing about Philly that is little known and that you would like to highlight in your documentary?

Two things: how many firsts happened here even if they migrated elsewhere; and our mindset. Is there such a thing as a Philadelphian and if so, what.

That said, I hope the project scales up in a way that we make people in other cities or towns think about what community is, what cities mean to them, and how we go from here to there, wherever there may be.

Which is the best Ken Burns’ documentary?

I’ve only seen Jazz and most of Baseball, and the Brooklyn Bridge. I like the archival footage, and treasure his on-camera interviews. He gets people passionate on the subjects.

The narratives themselves I take issue with. My history of baseball and jazz, both subjects I’m obsessed with as well, would be different.

But, that’s what makes this work fun. Ten directors would make ten different films from the same script. I object a bit to his versions being somehow “definitive” of the subject.

But, I don’t think Ken would call them this. I’ve heard him more than once talk about “truth” in documentary work and he and Moore and Herzog are all valuable in discussing what works, what’s true, and what’s manipulative but still true.

Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com

Topics: Filmmakers | No Comments »

Comments are closed.