Book Review: Film Directing, Shot For Shot & Cinematic Motion

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: August 14, 1991

There aren’t very many books about film directing that can be described as “absolutely essential.” Steven D. Katz has written two such books, and Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen is one of them. You would be hard pressed to find a film student or even a film director who isn’t familiar with the text. It’s the book that future filmmakers must read as a foundation to build upon.

Katz blends textual knowledge about shot composition, staging sequences, pre-visualization, depth of frame, and camera techniques with visual illustrations to make the concepts that he teaches clear and easy to understand. The result is a book that one might wish to read before each and every production in order to clear the cobwebs. One might even wish to use it a quick reference while visualizing your film and planning its shots during pre-production.

Over 750 storyboards and illustrations can be found throughout the book—including never before published storyboards from Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (although some or all of these have been published in other books since this book originally hit the shelves). This book would be a very good place for burgeoning filmmaker’s to begin their education, but it belongs on every filmmaker’s shelf no matter how deep their well of knowledge.

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: May 15, 2004

This follow-up to Shot for Shot concentrates on various methods that directors use to create sequence shots and how to compose and choreograph scenes for the moving camera. Katz uses numerous diagrams and storyboard illustrations to communicate the various concepts that the book discusses. It’s a more focused book than Shot for Shot (which is more of an overview of the visualization process), and future filmmakers hoping to further develop their craft will certainly want to add this to their libraries.

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Book Review: The Sound Effects Bible

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: Oct 01, 2008

The Sound Effects Bible: How to Create and Record Hollywood Style Sound Effects has been marketed as “the complete guide to recording, editing, and designing your own sound effects” and it nearly lives up to this promise. Rick Viers covers a variety of topics with varying levels of detail and is comprehensive enough to give the reader a decent foundation to build their knowledge and experience upon. In fact, it probably offers information that you may never need. It will make a very good reference for those who have specific sound effects needs as it covers such topics as sound design, equipment and microphone selection, digital audio, how to create a Foley stage, sound editing, field recording, and much more. Burgeoning filmmakers will want it in their reference libraries.

Book Review: The Green Screen Handbook (2nd Edition)

Book CoverPublisher: Focal Press

Release Date: November 15, 2014

Jeff Foster’s textbook on green screen production methods is intended to be a comprehensive educational resource for beginners. While it covers every aspect of the green screen process (the screen itself, lighting, compositing, etc.), it is quite vague and not terribly in-depth despite the wealth of photographs that provide visual examples to clarify the text. It makes for a reasonably solid introduction for filmmakers, but anyone looking for detailed instruction will have to find it elsewhere.

Review by: Devon Powell

Book Review: Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics (5th Edition)

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Publisher: Focal Press

Release Date: January 24, 2013

Michael Rabiger and Mick Hurbis-Cherrier offer young filmmakers one of the most comprehensive texts available on film directing. In fact, the book is designed for the classroom and offers all of the information that one might learn in film school (at a much lower price). Those who read and learn the information provided within these pages are bound to develop a foundational knowledge on the subject in which they can securely hang more focused and specialized information.

What’s more, the information earned here should be digested by not only those looking for a career in Hollywood but should also greatly improve the efforts of any low budget independent producers. Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics (5th Edition) earns an overwhelmingly enthusiastic recommendation.

Review by: Devon Powell

Book Review: Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign (2nd Edition)

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: July 01, 2016

John T. Trigonis offers readers the benefit of his real world successes in the Crowdfunding arena as he walks the reader through the crowdfunding process and relays all sorts of advice along the way. Much of the information here is more generalized due to the nature of Crowdfunding. Each campaign has its own set of unique obstacles and must be handled in its own unique way. However, the book gives the reader the confidence to move forward and explains the basics in a way that will allow them to utilize this information in the way that best benefits their campaign. Those planning such an endeavor might do well to invest in this useful text.

Review by: Devon Powell

 

 

 

Book Review: The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (American Edition)

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

Release Date: April 14, 2004

This text by Chris Jones and Genevieve Jolliffe is made up of countless interviews with people that have worked on independent films (of varying importance). The interviews were conducted with the intent of providing future independent filmmakers advice about the process of making independent films. Of course, some of the interviews are more helpful than others.

The quality of the advice often depends on the individual interviewers, as does the level of interest that the reader has while reading the text. When the book is at its best, it makes for an experience that is both enjoyable and educational. When it is at its worse, it is rather tedious and unhelpful. However, what is interesting and what is tedious will probably depend on the individual readers and what they hope to gain from the book.

The meat of the book is 701 pages in length (this isn’t counting the appendix). It is one of those books that is best digested in small bites. This reviewer found it helpful to read approximately 200 pages at a time (while reading another book between each 200 pages). The reason for this is that there are so many interviews, and a lot of them cover similar territory. Each interview stands on its own, and it isn’t the sort of book that is easily read cover to cover.

Review by: Devon Powell

Book Review: The Filmmaker’s Handbook – A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age

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Publisher: Plume Publishing

 Release Date: November 27, 2012

 Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus have probably written the most comprehensive book about film production for anyone that is interested in independent filmmaking. Nearly every element of production is covered in exhaustive detail, but the book is written so that it is easily understood. The only real criticism that one might have about the text is that there is so much detail, that the timid may find that they become overwhelmed. However, anyone that makes it to the end of this 790 page text will have gained a level of knowledge that can only boost their confidence, and increase their creative potential. Admittedly, this book tends to lean towards the technical aspects of the filmmaking craft. However, knowledge is power. It opens one’s mind to the creative possibilities so that they can move forward with confidence. This alone is worth the price of the book.

 Review by: Devon Powell