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.

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Book Review: Cinematography for Directors

 

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: August 01, 2009

Jacqueline B. Frost’s Cinematography for Directors utilizes original interviews with the following cinematographers:

Roger Deakins

(Sid and Nancy, Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, A Beautiful Mind, The Village, Jarhead, No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Revolutionary Road, Prisoners, Sicario)

Rodrigo Prieto

(Amores Perros, Ten Tiny Love Stories, 25th Hour, 8 Mile, Frida, Alexander, 21 Grams, Brokeback Mountain, Babel, Broken Embraces, Biutiful, We Bought A Zoo, Argo, The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence, The Irishman)

Matthew Libatique

(Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Phone Booth, Gothika, She Hate Me, Inside Man, The Fountain, The Number 23, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Miracle at St. Anna, Black Swan, Noah, Straight Outta Compton, Chi-Raq, Money Monster, Mother!)

John Seale

(Witness, The Hitcher, The Mosquito Coast, Rain Man, Dead Poet’s Society, Lorenzo’s Oil, The Firm, The Paper, The American President, The English Patient, Ghosts of Mississippi, City of Angels, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Perfect Storm, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Cold Mountain, Spanglish, Mad Max: Fury Road)

Daniel Pearl

(The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [remake], Captivity, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Friday the 13th [remake], The Apparition, The Boy, Mom and Dad)

Nancy Schreiber

(Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, November, Loverboy, The Nines, A Beautiful Life)

Richard P. Crudo

(American Buffalo, American Pie, Dirty People)

She also interviews Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza, Grumpy Old Men, Richie Rich, The Associate, Miss Congeniality, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Welcome to Mooseport, My Life in Ruins) in order to give the reader a director’s perspective.

Block quotes from these original conversations intermingle with quotes taken from American Cinematographer magazine to provide the meat of Jacqueline B. Frost’s text, which is certainly required reading for anyone who is looking for a foundation on which to build a knowledge of cinematography—especially those looking for insight on how a director collaborates with these artists and artisans.

Frost provides contextual structuring while allowing these quotes to inform her readers and illustrate how different cinematographers and directors tend to have very different sensibilities and working methods. Such a format makes for interesting reading, but it must be said that the result is decidedly repetitive. With some finesse and a lot of editing, the book’s page count could probably be cut in half without losing any pertinent information. It sometimes reads as if Frost has forgotten that she has already covered certain material (sometimes nearly verbatim).

Cinephiles are also likely to be somewhat irritated that many of the included screenshots that provide illustration to Frost’s text have been horizontally stretched. Frankly, stretching a film’s photography is downright careless and almost unforgivable in a book that is all about how a film’s image is paramount to how an audience interprets a film. A book about cinematography should present such illustration much more care than this one does. Neither of these issues should discourage the burgeoning filmmaker from picking up the book, but it is difficult not to lament these missed opportunities and careless oversights.

Book Review: The Film Director’s Intuition

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Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions

Release Date: Sep 25, 2003

Judith Weston’s The Film Director’s Intuition: Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniques is a book that will probably divide the future filmmakers that it targets. The title doesn’t quite give one a clear idea as to the content of the book’s 334 pages. It could’ve easily been entitled Directing Actors: Volume Two as Weston’s focus is very much on the relationship between directors and their chosen actors and the role that script analysis plays in directing the cast of players. It’s nice that such a book exists since an actor’s performance is so pivotal to the success of a film.

The back of the book claims that the text is intended to help “directors, actors, writers, designers, producers and executives tap into the imagination and instincts, which will help them create the films they always dreamed of” but if the filmmaker works by previsualizing his intended shots ahead of time, they may find that Weston’s methods fly in the face of their plans. She seems to dislike this approach and does everything except state this verbatim. However, it should be possible to use this book as a way of expanding one’s concept of how a film should be shot and what a director should expect of their actors. What’s more, there is no reason that some of these techniques shouldn’t work within the confines of a filmmaker’s more rigid shot planning. There is certainly no law that says that the reader can’t take the information that feels useful to them and ignore that that doesn’t. There is no one way to make a movie any more than there is a single right way to approach giving actor’s direction.

Book Review: The Making of Dunkirk

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Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: July 18, 2017

The Making of Dunkirk” tells the incredible story of how Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy) brought a historical moment in World War II to life on the screen using innovative film-making techniques that give the film a gritty, exhilarating realism rarely seen in modern cinema. Those who haven’t seen the film itself should correct their oversight soon. It tells the story of the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, France, in a daring endeavor that saved them from certain defeat at the hands of enemy forces. Featuring a stunning ensemble cast that includes newcomers Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Harry Styles, as well as acclaimed actors Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy, Dunkirk offers a breathtaking glimpse at a turning point in the conflict determined by not only the ingenuity of the British forces but also the bravery of British civilians who sailed into war-torn waters to save them. The film has already received an incredible amount of box office and critical success—earning 3 Golden Globe Nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Score) and 8 Academy Awards Nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing).

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James Mottram’s coffee table account of the creation of Dunkirk gives a surprisingly comprehensive account of production. Interviews with the director and key department heads give the text a more authentic resonance and offers the reader first-hand accounts of the film’s creation. Of course, the information is richly illustrated with never-before-seen imagery from the shoot, concept art, storyboards, and other documentation. The accumulative effect is both enjoyable and informative, and the book is essential reading for fans of the film or for anyone who admires the director.

Book Review: The Coen Brothers – The Iconic Filmmakers and Their Work

Cover.jpgPublisher: Aurum Press

Release Date: November 09, 2017

Ian Nathan’s wonderful new book on the Coen Brothers and films can best be described as a career biography that blends “behind the scenes” information with scholarly analysis. It is an essential text for anyone with an affection for those with an affection for the Coen filmography. The in-depth and informative text re-examines their entire output with an emphasis on the films that they directed themselves. It covers their early lives to their indie debut with Blood Simple to their most recent release of Hail Caesar! Packed with stunning images from the Kobal archives, the book also mentions their upcoming mini-series, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

What’s more, the presentation is really quite special as the hardback book is housed in an attractive slipcase that is extremely sturdy. Everything about the book earns our enthusiastic approval and recommendation.

Book Review: Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The Ultimate Visual History

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Publisher: Harper Design

Release Date: October 24, 2017

There are two kinds of coffee table books. The first category includes books that are quick cash-in products and have been built around a generous helping of still photography that includes the occasional quote or caption spread throughout the pages. If these books offer text, it is usually generalized fluff that offers very little in the way of actual information. Needless to say, these books are quite disappointing to the discerning reader.

The second category is quite different. These books offer much more to the discerning reader. The images mix organically with textual information in a way that creates a relationship between these two ingredients, and the result is incredibly informative and extremely entertaining. It is our pleasure to assure readers that Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History belongs to this second category.

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It is described by Harper design as a “fully authorized behind-the-scenes book exploring the creation, production, and legacy of this iconic film” and we feel that the book more than lives up to this description. Created in conjunction with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, it details the complete creative journey behind the making of the film and examines its cultural impact. The book features a wealth of rare and never-before-seen images from the archives—including on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and even script pages in an effort to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen. Interviews with some of the key contributors were utilized in an effort to create a first-hand commentary about the making of this film classic.

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Needless to say, we can wholeheartedly recommend this excellent book to anyone who has an affection for the film or Steven Spielberg.

Book Review: Tarantino – A Retrospective

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Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1963, Quentin Tarantino spent many Saturday evenings during his childhood accompanying his mother to the movies, nourishing a love of film that was, over the course of his life, to become all-consuming. It is just as well, because he would grow up to be one of American cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. Known for his highly cinematic visual style, out-of-sequence storytelling, and grandiose violence, Tarantino’s films have provoked both praise and criticism over the course of his career. They’ve also won him a host of awards—including Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards—usually for his original screenplays. His oeuvre includes the cult classic Pulp Fiction, bloody revenge saga Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and historical epics Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. This stunning retrospective catalogs each of Quentin Tarantino’s movies in detail, from My Best Friend’s Birthday to The Hateful Eight. The book is a tribute to a unique directing and writing talent, celebrating an uncompromising, passionate director’s enthralling career at the heart of cult filmmaking.

Make no mistake about this, Tarantino: A Retrospective isn’t merely coffee-table fluff with a lot of great photographs and artwork (although, there are plenty of great photos to be found throughout the book). This is an informative examination of the director’s career! Tom Shone’s text is a seamless mixture of career biography, retrospective appreciation, and film criticism. Surprisingly, there aren’t many essential books available about the director. This makes Shone’s text all the more essential for fans of the director, but it almost seems a bit premature when one considers the fact that Tarantino has consistently insisted that he will only make ten films before he retires from making movies. With eight films under his belt, one wonders why Shone didn’t wait a few years to release the book so that it could include those two new projects. We can’t answer this question with any authority, but we can say with absolute certainty that fans will be very happy that they didn’t have to wait!