Book Review: Zen and the Art of Producing

Written by October 12th, 2012 at 11:41 am

Zen and the Art of Producing
Mixerman (Eric Sarafin)
Hal Leonard Books

Clever, informed, and –above all- realistic, Eric Sarafin is the ideal writer to serve as your guide through the tangled world of production. Though the title suggests an eastern approach to the art, Sarafin’s presentation is actually much more pragmatic in scope. He’s more of an Italian courtier than a Buddhist monk, think Castiglione with a little Machiavelli. Yes, Zen and the Art of Producing is very much a Book of the Courtier for would-be producers, greenhorns, and vets alike. Thankfully, his writing style isn’t nearly as dense as the aforementioned, long-dead, favorites of academia. In fact, Sarafin affects a very personal style, speaking casually to his readers, as if they were friends, not just students.

What we have here is not some field guide to producing – though Sarafin does devote a portion of Zen to the actual mechanics of production -; instead, we have a work that is centered around two poles. One can think of them as eastern and western spheres, zen and artifice.  On one hand, the zen focuses on what it means to be a producer, the qualities one must incorporate into their being, and the personal journey one must take in order to achieve inner stability. On the other, the artifice deals with the politics behind producing, the maneuvering, marketing, begging, borrowing, and stealing that come with reality. Through the politics you’ll learn how to properly direct mixers, engineers, and session players; how to gain the trust of the brain-child; how to secure your position of leadership in your endeavors.

Zen and the Art of Producing is an enjoyable read. Sarafin isn’t above jokes and wit, and for that this reader is thankful. This book will set your mind in the direction required to manifest your goals, all without bogging you down with unnecessary jargon and rhetoric.

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