Jonathan SangerProductions


"Thousands and thousands of details go into the making of a film.  It is the sum total of all those things that either makes a great picture or destroys it."

David O. Selznick, Producer

This book captures many of the challenging, terrifying, funny, and serendipitously lucky details that went into the making of The Elephant Man-- a film made 30 years ago that two of today's greatest stars, Bradley Cooper and Johnny Depp, credit for motivating them to become actors.

At the age of 32  I moved my family to Los Angeles to find work in film. Three years later, when my children’s babysitter showed me her boyfriend’s screenplay, the true story of a hideously disfigured man saved by a visionary surgeon in Victorian England, I threw all my energy in to make the movie. Despite the steep learning curve of producing, the challenges of a tiny budget, challenges with neophyte director, David Lynch, scheduling problems with John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, plus the pressure of launching the first serious film from Mel Brook’s new company, a year later I walked the red carpet as a nominee for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Wanted Live Human Freaks--The Making of the Elephant Man is the story of that year.   It will appeal to the dreamers, the serious film students, the tabloid readers and lovers of a good story.

What makes the book different from a celebrity tell all, although there is that--is the never before told details, never before seen photographs that might explain why The Elephant Man was a great picture and how a shy guy from Brooklyn who always felt protective of the disenfranchised underdog got to be its producer.   In addition, the reader will come away with a greater understanding of what is the meaning of the ubiquitous term "producer".  

Why write this book 30 years later?   The perspective I have after working as a producer and director for 34 years in Hollywood gives me the distance to reflect upon and interpret the details of one year in a far more profound way than had I published a memoir after the making of the film.

Finally, within these pages is the narrative of John Merrick, the story behind the film story, of the triumph of his human spirit which will hopefully inspire a new generation who never saw or heard of the character known as the Elephant Man.