Saturday, 27 February 2010

Great books for no-budget filmmakers

Mike Figgis - Digital Filmmaking

Mike Figgis has been a succesful film director for many years and he is a champion of digital video. In this book he talks about his love for the medium, it's future, and shares stories of films he's worked on as well as imparting some tips and advice on filmmaking and directing in general. A slim volume but a good read for anyone interested in filmmaking.

Amazon UK link

Rebel Without A Crew - Robert Rodriguez

This is Rodriguez' account of the time he spent making El Mariachi. Robert had grown up making short films with his brother and sisters, editing them with two VHS players wired together. He eventually decided to try and make a full length movie, doing all the crew work himself. He hired friends to help him make a film that he could release on the Mexican video market, just to see if he could do it. The film ended up being a worldwide hit. An inspirational book about a director with determination and a great attitude to DIY filmmaking. An entertaining read brimming with tips.

Amazon UK link

The DV Rebel's Guide - Stu Maschwitz 

True guerilla filmmaking (moreso than the Guerilla Filmmaker's Handbook, which was very industry based), teaching you how to get stuck in and do it yourself. Great tips on raising the production value of your shots to make them look professional and a huge selection of tips for working with special effects including the use of guns, shooting, models, CG mattes, and other assorted digital trickery. Written with a great DIY ethic that encourages you to be open, smart, and flexible. Packed with useful information and instructions.

Amazon UK link

Make Your Own Damn Movie! - Lloyd Kaufman

Lloyd Kaufman is the man behind Troma, the low-budget bad taste film studio that brought us classics such as the Toxic Avenger series and Poultrygeist. This is Lloyd's tome on filmmaking, replete with advice on staffing, budgets, special effects and directing. While Lloyd's tips on building a crew (hire hundreds of volunteers and treat them like crap) might be of little use to the go-it-alone filmmaker, his stories of film festivals, production, and the industry in general are deeply fascinating and highly motivational. He also shares tips on how to make a dummy head that can be blown up or ran over to gruesome effect. Kaufman is acidid, acerbic, and slightly nuts. A man who argues with his editor and co-founders even within the pages of his book. A great read!!

Amazon UK link

On Directing Film - David Mamet

Writer/Director David Mamet has experience of writing and directing both in theatre and on the big screen. He is an advocate of pure filmmaking and the power of drama. In this short book he brings his experience to bear in a series of chapters built like lectures and tutorials where he teaches us how to construct a scene and how to give power to drama while avoiding cliches and conventions. Useful and informative.

Amazon UK link

Bambi Vs Godzilla - David Mamet

Mamet again, this time raging against the machine of big industry filmmaking. Have you ever wondered why movies seem to be getting dumber? About how they are more about spectacle than substance? About how money rules the roost? This rip roaring assassination of the movie industry is an essential read to anyone interested in movies. Less informative for the no-budget filmmaker, but an enlightening book that really gets you fired up and glad you're not working for a studio.

Amazon UK link

Making Movies - Sidney Lumet

Few filmmakers have the kind of pedigree and experience that Lumet has. In this book Sidney muses about his time in Hollywood, about creative control, and about the multi-layered nuances of the film industry. Importantly, he also talks about his experience working directly with actors, and about the understanding that needs to exist between a director and his crew. He also talks about exactly what a film shoot consists of, which is revealing and insightful - while no-budget filmmakers will not be working with this kind of scale, it shows you the kind of things you need to think about, and for me, it made me happy that I would never be working with a studio, with producers, and with a huge crew. Lumet also discusses the power of editing, of lenses and setting up your scenes. Small things that as moviegoers we barely notice, but which coalesce together to ooze atmosphere and intention.

Amazon UK link

Digital Video - Collins Gem Guide

A basic introduction to digital video. If you're new to the medium, this is a pretty basic introduction with a few useful tips for the beginner. It will give you enough to get started and it fits in your pocket.

Amazon UK link

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