About the Book

From idea to (self)-publication

Even before I started writing Order in Chaos I had a clear idea about making a kind of e-book with access to film clips. Through the years I have experienced frustration when reading film books, which often described films I had not seen or I had not seen them in a long time and could not remember the details.

I became very inspired by the wonderful book How Music Works by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne. In the book Byrne uses sounds and music as examples to give the reader an understanding, which cannot be communicated by words alone. And I thought that in this digital age it would be possible to have visual material/film clips connected to a film book in order to base the understanding of the text to a filmic experience.

For the last 25 years I have held master classes, taught at workshops, film schools and festivals around the world and with the digital format I also saw a possibility to distribute the e-book easily and cheaply. Especially to regions which do not have a stable infrastructure with e.g. film schools and support schemes. 

I knew that I was a good teacher but I was not sure if I could transfer this ability into writing a text. As a film editor I am always part of a dialogue - with my director, with the material and with an expected audience. In the writing process I was alone and I had to create the material on my own. During the writing process I therefore said yes to teaching more workshops and master classes than normally. I did this in order to test my material, but also to strengthen my confidence and get energy during this (for me) novel process. And it worked. 

I finished writing over the course of three years (I edited a few films in between), and now came the time to get the book out into the world!

Unfortunately it turned out that what I regarded as a brilliant concept - an e-book about film with integrated film clips - did not seem common or attractive to the publishing industry. They were used to publishing classical printed books or e-books with stills and not moving images. While the book was being translated I was in contact with publishing houses, agents and people who knew the publishing business, but I did not succeed in finding a publisher. 

Finally one of the world’s biggest academic publishers showed an interest. They worked with textbooks and never understood the pedagogical aspect of the e-book format, they wanted to change the title and minimize the book’s personal angle. But in spite of the obvious differences I kept the dialogue open and we arrived at the contract stage. When I read through the contract I discovered that I would write off all editorial rights, which in the film world is the same as giving away the final cut. Normally I only edit films where the director has final cut, so for that reason I had to withdraw from the collaboration and was back at square one. 

I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to preserve my version of my book I had to publish it myself.

This resulted in a collaboration with The Norwegian Film School, who had supported the writing process, and Rough Cut Service. Cecilie Bolvinkel joined to manage the production and publication. Neither myself nor Cecilie had tried to publish a book before but we commenced with the energy and strength of the unknowledgeable. First up was writing fund applications to find financing for the production, followed by technical solutions for the e-book and visual material. Furthermore we decided to make a limited printed edition, which was a great decision in terms of promotion and visibility, but which also meant more unknown territory - paper thickness, shipping prices and custom declarations. 

With optimism, teamwork and help from friends around the world Order in Chaos was launched one year later in 2021 at IDFA - International Documentary Festival Amsterdam. 

So the book was finally published seven years after I started the project and it has been an exciting and sometimes also tough journey, but today I am very happy to see the book coming out into the world, where it by now has been sold to readers in over 55 countries. 


Thanks to all who have helped, believed in and supported the project. 

The saying goes: ”It takes a village to raise a child”

Regarding my book I would say: ”It takes a globe to publish a book”


Niels Pagh Andersen January 2022