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Filmmaking books

Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 2:25pm

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The Siege

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Do you guys own any books about filmmaking, if yes which one(s)?

I own:

Rebel without a crew - Robert Rodriguez (Read it)
The DV Rebel's Guide - Stu Maschwitz (Beginning on it)
How to shoot a feature film for $10,000 - Bret Stern (Lent it out)
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 3:00pm

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razerlazer2

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I have got

making of starwars revenge of the sith

lord of the rings ofical movie guide

and behind the mask of spider man

razerlazer2
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 5:33pm

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ben3308

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I own the same books (by Rodriguez and Stern), sans the DV Rebel's Guide, which I didn't buy because I already knew most of what it said.

Another great book (perhaps "the" book to get) is The Five C's of Cinematography by Joseph Mascelli.

It's veeeeeery formal and wordy, but it explains cinematography and its values and history. I learned a lot from it because I understood how cinematography came to be, why has become what it is, and how I can hone my craft close to what the founding fathers of it wanted.

In addition, I own the Animator's Survival Kit which, while not a filmmaking book, helps with an understanding of motion and movement within images, which helps extremely if you've ever storyboarded or done pre-vis. My friend has a great book called Directing Actors which describes some great techniques for the modern director. I dunno who it's by, but I've read some of it and have enjoyed it thus far.
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 6:23pm

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Mellifluous

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Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's Guide

Oscar-Winning Screenwriters on Screenwriting

Moviemakers' Master Class (conversations with different directors like the Coens, Burton, Scorsese, Takeshi Kitano etc)

Forgot to mention Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook and PRoducer's Blueprint -decent but not really the best books out there.

However, the most helpful books I have are books that give you an historical understanding of the moviemaking business, e.g. The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era. Fantastic stuff.

Still, in my opinion the best way to learn how to make films is (if not doing) to watch Akira Kurosawa's best known films and some of his lesser known ones like The Bad Sleep Well.

Last edited Thu, 15th May 2008, 6:50pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 6:33pm

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Rockfilmers

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I have DV Rebles Guide and I loved it. I want to get How to shoot a feature film for $10,000
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 6:39pm

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pdrg

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Focal Press are a good publisher for serious books (ie not glamorous puff-pieces!) about our industry.

Another good book for the shelf (although the intro books will overlap a lot) is "Raindance Producers' Lab Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking" by Elliot Grove (who owns Raindance Festival and the British Independent Film Awards) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Raindance-Producers-Lab-Budget-Filmmaking/dp/0240516990. Quite straight to the point, suits aspiring producers as it covers the business and reality as opposed to the glamour. Worth a read, although Amazon offering a staggering 20p off is a bit stingy wink
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 8:00pm

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EvilDonut

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I have about 30 books or so. Very cheap on amazon.

Also action/cut filmmaking DVD course.

Stick to the autobiographies from renowned filmmakers. Learn from guys who make visionary films vs those who write filmmaking books purely for the profit.

d
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 9:31pm

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The Flying Fox

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This has been a good book, has lots of general knowledge, goes into quite a lot of detail (you'll learn how a ccd works for instance) and is useful as a guide aswell.

Focal press by the way wink

Tim
Posted: Thu, 15th May 2008, 11:06pm

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pdrg

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EvilDonut wrote:


Stick to the autobiographies from renowned filmmakers. Learn from guys who make visionary films vs those who write filmmaking books purely for the profit.
Personally I reckon there's space for both on the bookshelf - the autobios are great at setting the scene and inspiring vision, but getting at least one book that teaches basic budgeting etc is essential! They're for different audiences, really, but both useful for fledglings smile

With a proper budget you stand a negligible chance of raising finance, without one you've no chance at all. Learn all about money and how it works, it's not glamorous, but the example I like to use is that you should know the difference between net and gross profit - if you don't, I'm paying your percentage out of net!
Posted: Fri, 16th May 2008, 12:56am

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Limey

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I have:

-Lights Camera Scream

-Film Directing Shot by Shot

-How to Make an Action Movie for $99

-Setting up Your Shots


Those books are all pretty good. "Film Directing Shot by Shot" is really detailed and has lots of info in it but it's a little dry to read. "Lights Camera Scream" is a really old book written back when people used 8mm for home video. "Setting up Your Shots" is very easy to read.
Posted: Fri, 16th May 2008, 1:06am

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EvilDonut

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pdrg wrote:

EvilDonut wrote:


Stick to the autobiographies from renowned filmmakers. Learn from guys who make visionary films vs those who write filmmaking books purely for the profit.
Personally I reckon there's space for both on the bookshelf - the autobios are great at setting the scene and inspiring vision, but getting at least one book that teaches basic budgeting etc is essential! They're for different audiences, really, but both useful for fledglings smile

With a proper budget you stand a negligible chance of raising finance, without one you've no chance at all. Learn all about money and how it works, it's not glamorous, but the example I like to use is that you should know the difference between net and gross profit - if you don't, I'm paying your percentage out of net!
True.

My 30 books involve filmmaking, scriptwriting, lighting, makeup (don't laugh), acting, photography, autobios, visual fx, editing, sound engineering, hd cameras, finance, distribution and art.

And if you want to make a professional looking film, and avoid the 'low budget b movie' look - it would behove you to learn as much as you can. Anything you are lacking in later - you can just hire an expert to come in and do for you. Translation: Save $$!

(ex: I'm not going to pay $60/hr for a mechanic to do my oil change; but I'll pay him $60/hr to swap my engine).

No one said making a 90min movie was easy. smile

d
Posted: Fri, 16th May 2008, 4:39am

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Atom

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Rating: +1

Honestly, man, I couldn't have picked a better 3 books than the ones you already have for the average person to read and use practically in filmmaking.
Posted: Fri, 16th May 2008, 6:05am

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Bryce007

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ben3308 wrote:



Another great book (perhaps "the" book to get) is The Five C's of Cinematography by Joseph Mascelli.
I almost died from boredom reading that....


However, "Directing actors" is a great book.


Here's a few I'd recommend:

1. "How NOT to write a screenplay"

2. "Lighting for TV and Video"

3. "Sound for digital video"

4. "Cut by Cut"

5. "Save the cat"



And really, I basically refuse to read the books that tell you how to "MAKE A FEATURE FOR LESS THAN 10K!" or "GETTING YOUR FEATURE MADE FOR CHEAP!" "THE GUERILLA HANDBOOK FOR FILMMAKERS 9TH EDITION!"

...and the million variations on that theme. They all say the same vague crap that's rather impractical and usually outdated.

Another thing I avoid are books that focus more on the creative side of filmaking than the technical side. Which is the same reason I avoided film school. I don't need someone else telling me how I should make my film.
Posted: Fri, 16th May 2008, 10:46am

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EvilDonut

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Bryce007 wrote:

Which is the same reason I avoided film school. I don't need someone else telling me how I should make my film.
Word

Film Schools were great back in the days when they were the cheapest option to get your hands on 35/16mm film cameras, film stock and editing systems. When you're a farmboy in Idaho, you don't have too many other options.

Nowadays, film schools are nothing more than prep schools to get you ready to pull cables on movie sets. Majority of graduates in 10 years, are basically working on sets in some sort of occupation. The necessity of film school is greatly diminished in today's internet-savvy digital age.

Plus the reason you mentioned. You graduate from film school, and still find yourself typing "google good hd film camera", "google good NLE", and starting from the bottom like everyone else.

Speaking of, is there anyone here who's graduated from a film school ???

d
Posted: Sat, 17th May 2008, 3:38am

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VisualFXGuy

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Hard to narrow it down, I'm a sucker for a good book, but If I were to list my favorites, I'd have to say:
  • Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm by Mark Cotta Vaz.

    Fantastic book about the history of ILM and all the pioneering they did from the days of practical effects to their invention of Photoshop, morphing, and of course our more modern digital effects.

  • The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting by Mark Cotta Vaz.

    Name says it all, THE book if you are interested in matte paintings. No other book I've seen goes into as much detail as this one.

  • Disney Animation: The Illusions of Life by Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston.

    Details the history of Disney and Walt's "Nine Old Men" who created the laws of animation that are still in use in todays world of photoreal effects and animation.

  • Countless Cinefex journals.

  • Piles of 3D World magazines.

  • Many, many Learning Maya [Insert Version Number Here] books.

Those would be my favorites not including the hoards of "Making of.." books.
Posted: Sat, 17th May 2008, 9:26am

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Link123456

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100 Great Home Movie Techniques

It sounds kinda elementary, but some of the stuff in there is pretty professional.

And this one isn't mine, but I'm borrowing it:

THE ULTIMATE FILMMAKER'S GUIDE TO SHORT FILMS.

Again, this one is pretty professional also. it guides you through EVERY stage of film production.
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 7:32am

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Atom

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I know I'm late to the game once again but I simply cannot shake this comment.

EvilDonut wrote:

Bryce007 wrote:

Which is the same reason I avoided film school. I don't need someone else telling me how I should make my film.
Word

Film Schools were great back in the days when they were the cheapest option to get your hands on 35/16mm film cameras, film stock and editing systems. When you're a farmboy in Idaho, you don't have too many other options.

Nowadays, film schools are nothing more than prep schools to get you ready to pull cables on movie sets. Majority of graduates in 10 years, are basically working on sets in some sort of occupation. The necessity of film school is greatly diminished in today's internet-savvy digital age.

Plus the reason you mentioned. You graduate from film school, and still find yourself typing "google good hd film camera", "google good NLE", and starting from the bottom like everyone else.
Well, this is a curious thing. I was greatly upset and somewhat offended by such an in-depth and critical view on film school; likely from someone who has never been.

Well, I haven't entered into it yet, but I see and understand the reason for film school. The same reasoning I see for going to college: experience and rite-of-passage. I don't know where I may end up, but I believe film school will help me get there.

I'm not there to learn, I'm there to do and bridge connections, and I've worked hard throughout my highschool career and my filmmaking career so that I may go into such a tough-to-get-into and highly-acclaimed program. And so hopefully you can understand my resentment when someone diminishes these efforts to the being of dullards who are 'duped' into going to film school.

I'll concede, a large number of people entering film school- or any specified college major for that matter- are of the profile I just stated. But.......a large number aren't as well, and that includes me. So, I'm frustrated. Frustrated because I have someone telling me I'm dumb for choosing something they've never given a chance or had enough effort to make it into- and frustrated that you're so quick to diminish efforts of people like myself.


Granted, I don't disagree with some points of your statement- namely the internet part- but it isn't fair to make such large and narrow assumptions. It's almost as dumb as the argument on here several years ago of whether going to college was worth it any more. Dumb mostly because people work their asses off to get into college, to pay for college, and to stay in college; and it's ridiculous for someone unwilling to do any of that work- especially when they would've had the capacity for it- to condemn it out of laziness.

I hope you understand my grievances and can take them for what they're worth.

And Bryce, while I agree what you're saying; I'm sorry to say it's a little harsh to say the least. Film school is there to help you hone your craft; learn the rules (even if you don't follow them); and experiment with technique and storytelling. Ultimately, you're still doing things your way, you're still going to do things your way in the future. But maybe.....I don't know.....you'll learn something from it all and your style won't be any less yours, it'll just be more refined. People aren't telling you how to make your movie, they're giving you advice on it all. At least, that's my outlook on it.

Every movie you've ever seen that has influenced you in any way, that has made you the self-taught filmmaker you are today; all you're doing is learning how to make a movie from a different teacher: the cast and crew of the movie.

So please, guys, put things in perspective.
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 7:55am

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Bryce007

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I certainly wasn't making any generalized jabs at people who decide to go the film school route. I'm just saying that I personally don't want anyone telling me how to be creative. Because the technical side is easily self taught, The creative side is really the only determining factor for a film (In my opinion). Thus, I Could rack up some nice debts for the privilege of working with a student crew whilst making some films that will be graded based on a professors personal bias, but I just don't see that being an intelligent move for me, as I currently have a full time job directing music videos.


(And, yes, I do recognize that I've got a reasonably strong polarization against "school" and "public education" style authority, which is something I don't have with normal "Job/employer" style Authority, whom I enjoy working with.)
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 9:24am

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EvilDonut

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That's because I live in a city FULL of these film school graduates that post on craigslist all day, trying hard to get anyone to help them - while they have big student loans to deal with.

I guess if you're in Iowa, film school looks very tempting. Here, reality is far different.

Take a look at the stats - pretty depressing. Of course the onus is on you to do the due diligence on what you want out of it. If you don't - it's your own fault, not the schools.

d
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 10:01pm

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Atom

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EvilDonut wrote:

That's because I live in a city FULL of these film school graduates that post on craigslist all day, trying hard to get anyone to help them - while they have big student loans to deal with.
You know what I see in that? Someone who knows the meaning of 'work'. Don't knock people for having student loans or wanting help. Hell, I'll have student loans forever, and I know it. But this doesn't mean I'd simply skip out on film school. And frankly, it's kicking someone when they're down to be so harsh about people being in debt with this school stuff.

It isn't funny business, it isn't avoidable. The cost of college is great and there's really nothing any of us who graduate this year (quite a lot and several of the prominent members going into film school) can do about it. Don't get on us about having student loans. We took them on (and are taking them on) to do something admirable; advance our education.

So what are you trying to do? Tell us we're f*cked? That's not very nice.
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 10:29pm

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SilverDragon7

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A local guy started out and was at the point Atom is right now. He knew what he wanted to do, work in the film business. He went to film school, cinematography was is his main study (I believe), from school he went and worked around the states (possibly the world) with CNN, did other some other stuff and is now the cinematographer for a new HBO series. Film school is what started his career, it's possible it will do the same for Ben and Atom- who knows? It's also their choice, so I don't see how it would affect anyone but them (and their family).
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 10:44pm

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Mellifluous

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Going to filmschool and not going to filmschool are both equally hard work.

Many many successful filmmakers have graduated from film schools or film courses.

It's kind of like, why go to drama school, music school or the Royal College of Art? Are all organisations of that nature a waste of time? I think not.

If you decide to or not to go to film school, you're making the choice with the confidence that you can succeed with the option you take. You shouldn't diss other people's choices. Either direction requires investment in time, energy and money and dedication. Credit to anyone who succeeds, whatever their course.

Personally, I'm finishing at uni shortly and have a similar choice - do I spend lots of money making movies or do I spend lots of money applying to UCLA to study film. I'm going to try the former for a few months and see where that gets me I think.
Posted: Thu, 22nd May 2008, 10:57pm

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EvilDonut

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Current book I'm reading is by Larry Kaufman, director of the Troma films. I LOVE his flicks, and can't wait to one day make my own tribute to Troma.

d
Posted: Fri, 23rd May 2008, 3:45am

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Gibs

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I think it would be a really neat experience to go to film school, but I've opted not to go that route. The biggest reason for this is that I'm receiving a lot more in scholarship money to go to regular university and get a business degree. Everyone I've talked to who has any connection to the film or video industry has told me that film school is good, but if you learn and gain experience on your own, you can be prepared just as well. It really comes down to how much money you want to spend.

The way I see it, if you're going to get hired in the film industry, it's going to be based on your experience, not on your college degree. And as much as I love film, I figure there's a possibility that ten years down the road, I might want to change careers (especially if film doesn't provide enough to support a family!). If that happens, I'll be perfectly set up with a business degree. And even if that doesn't happen, having business skills will be useful in the film industry too.
Posted: Tue, 27th May 2008, 3:20pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Film School / Any industry centred educational course or establishment are a sort of - difficult issue with me.

I graduated from a Digital Arts course, though it wasn't really the degree or my work there which saw my entrance to the Visual Effects Industry. It was what I did in my spare time. My university course helped inspire that, but it did not gift those opportunities to me.

Too many people have the mindset that 'If I go *this course* I will be a great *this profession*' which is way, way off.

Sure, go to film school - but go so you can meet like minded people. be inspired to follow your dreams and improve your art. Lessons alone will NEVER be enough. You need to get involved and start working, mostly on an unpaid level. At the end of the day you need to show independence and initiative if you want to stand out from the other billion people graduating.

-Matt

p.s. I shouldn't really say this, though I recently worked at a company who also run VERY expensive Visual Effects courses. Around £10K for the 12 weeks training and a lot of the people there who had graduated from the course were too reliant on their training and didn't know things I had learnt through following £50 training DVDs and working unpaid with Independent film makers.
Posted: Tue, 27th May 2008, 4:08pm

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VisualFXGuy

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I'm not a filmmaker, but more centered in visual effects, however I would have to agree and disagree with what has been said.

Yes, I will agree that any course or program you will take will not make you the ultimate [Insert Profession Here]. However, with that being said, many many programs or courses will teach you little tid-bits here and there that you may never have thought of, or would have learned by yourself. Its these little details that seem to separate the amature from the professional. Theres only so much you can teach yourself, and probably much much more that someone more knowledgeable can teach you. Which is where forums like these DO shine in this day and age.

I'd also like to add in that many amatures teaching themselves tend to learn some bad habits that take forever to break (if at all). Coming from past experience, in a team environment it is very frustrating when one person is slowing the rest of the group down, especially with a looming deadline on the horizon, simply due to being self taught and not thinking twice about something as simple as naming conventions.

The above would be where a course or program can make a huge difference. They will teach you all the little things you wouldn't think twice about but is sometimes more important then the monumental big things. Although, not all courses are made equally. I've dropped out of digital arts program because it was absolutely terrible and just a money sink. I've also taken smaller programs with a handful of students getting one on one time with industry pros, and I'll have to say what I've learned there was more valuable (and a lot cheaper) then any main stream college.

In my opinion, it's your drive, willingness to always learn more, and how you apply what knowledge you've learned that really makes someone stand out of the crowd.

So that's my two cents.