In these strikingly candid interviews, ten internationally acclaimed directors—Richard Linklater, Richard Kelly, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Takeshi Kitano, Shekhar Kapur, Émir Kusturica, Agnès Jaoui, Lukas Moodysson, Terry Gilliam, and Sam Mendes—talk about the struggles and rewards of making their first film.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular director and his or her debut—Slacker, Donnie Darko, Amores Perros, Jabberwocky, and American Beauty among them—and reveals telling details about the inside story of the film-making process: from writing the script to raising the money, from casting actors to gathering the crew, from shooting to editing, and, finally, screening the film.

From these very different directors, working in many different countries, we get glimpses of a rich variety of filmmaking worlds—from Bollywood to Hollywood, no-budget to low-budget, studio-financed to self-financed.In each case, the directors relive the sometimes comic, sometimes tragic struggle to launch their careers, unself-consciously opening up about one of the most grueling experiences imaginable.Stephen Lowenstein, a young director himself, with two short films to his credit, has posed the questions that reveal their tales of triumph and disaster.

For anyone who wants to direct, these stories will be enlightening and inspiring.For all other film fans, these interviews are an entertaining look at the raw beginnings of directors whose names are now familiar to cinema audiences around the world.