Finally there's a movie for book lovers

    Television, movies and Internet seemed to have replaced books in our culture, but filmmaker Mark Moskowitz, in his film “”Stone Reader,”” skillfully breathes life into the literary culture that seemed all but dead.

    In 1977, at the age of 18, Moskowitz was compelled to buy “”The Stones of Summer”” by the unknown writer Dow Mossman after he read its praise in a New York Times book review. Some 25 years later, he actually got around to reading it and it affected his life so much that he was driven to search for the mysterious author who vanished after its publication, thus initiating what would eventually become a brilliantly crafted film about the passion, madness and reality in the literary world.

    With beautiful, if amateurish, cinematography and an ingenious structure, “”Stone Reader”” pulls the audience into Moskowitz’s obsessive world as they gladly tag along for this exciting journey of emotional and intellectual discovery. By the end of it, you’ll either be inspired to devote yourself to writing or to read this book or one of the numerous others listed.

    In his own words, Moskowitz speaks of his motivations and intentions in making this film.

    Guardian: You were an English major, so how did you get into film?

    Mark Moskowitz: I fell into the filmmaking business completely by accident. I went to work for this company in Philadelphia making $25 a week sweeping out the studio on Saturdays. The rest of the week I hung around the studio and worked for nothing. We made industrial films and bad TV commercials and I learned the business and loved it. I just stayed and within a couple of years, my wife was working and supporting us, and I learned to produce, direct, the camera work, the trade and it took off from there. I just followed my heart and did what I wanted to do. I was never financially motivated; I just kept wanting to make what I kept wanting to make. That’s the key to success in the arts, maybe in life: Do what you want to do and you’ll succeed at it. And if you succeed at it, financial security will come as a byproduct.

    G: You say you aren’t a writer, but you have great storytelling ability which you can see by watching the movie. You could have made it really boring.

    MM: Yeah I could have. It’s amazing it’s not. I used every trick in the book to try and keep you going. I think that’s the fun part about writing a novel. Think about it, when you write a novel, you don’t know where the story’s going. You don’t know what the characters are gonna do. That’s the fun of it. In filmmaking, that can only come from nonfiction work. In a fiction film, it’s all scripted and organized; the surprises are out. A lot of directors will tell you that shooting the film is the worst part. There is no discovery. It’s just execution.

    G: Was it incredibly frustrating, as you were making your film, realizing that no one knew who this guy was?

    MM: Yeah. Yeah, it was terrible because all I wanted to do was connect about the book. I wanted someone to say “”Oh! You read that book?”” You know when you read a good book. That’s why I went to Maine to see John Sealy. It was great. Here was a guy 30 years my senior from a different time and a different place and we could talk like we really knew each other within hours.

    G: How was it for you when you went to visit Bill Murray [the retired writing professor] and you asked him about the one person he had helped along, and he mentioned “”The Stones of Summer”” and Dow Mossman?

    MM: I was blown away. I was speechless. A lot of people say “”You didn’t react.”” I was stunned. The classmates didn’t remember him. I didn’t think the professor would remember him. So I thought let’s get this guy talking and then we’ll ease him into it and then I’ll drag out the book. So when he just brings it out I didn’t know what to do. He was a real guy. I had to go find the guy … The fascinating thing, as you watch the movie, is that all the clues are there in the movie.

    See the mystery and love in “”Stone Reader”” when it opens at Madstone Theaters on May 9.

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