Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Giveaway Win Vintage Hand-Painted JHB CAT BUTTONS, Set of 2, Tweet4 @UrgentPODR Please Tweet Evenings Weekdays-CATS are Killed in the MORNING! or ALL DAY Weekends!




 Giveaway Win Vintage Hand-Painted JHB CAT BUTTONS, Set of 2, Tweet4 @UrgentPODR   The Link is to a Day OLD KITTEN that will be killed on Saturday July 27th without a FosterP arent, He has 3 one day old Siblings.

   Oh, ya I've come under escalated Police and Sheriff's HAZING &  had electronic documents misdone simply because I write. I've written about them for 25 years,  had some of the same people who are at this Sheriff's Department Investigated by the FDLE by the request of now deceased Governor Chiles and the FBI when I called them indicated they  knew this intimidation was going on and I should ignore it, that was 25 years ago. WHY I  WRITE, I have not had health care because of this in 25 years, I've had 1 attempted homicide as I was told by the Internal Affairs of a Foreign Country, because of this hazing. TAKE A  STAND STOP the KILLING IN your COMMUNITY that is SYMBOLIC, as well as that of people by demanding, NO KILL solutions be given a chance.

  1. The opinions expressed above are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  2. On July 4th I tweeted for a couple of hours for @URGENTPODR. I don't know them, they don't know me but I know the number of KITTENS dying for the lack of Foster homes and because of the shelter system in Manhattan/Brooklyn  is way too high.  I don't live there, things are not much better where I do live. But, the work of @URGENTPODR advocating for Kittens and Cats Scheduled to DIE the NEXT DAY is really wonderful, THE HORROR.  It gives me nightmares.
  3. It's July 25th. The Faces of KITTENS that are being put down every day in this system are being posted by @URGENTPODR every night. 
  4. This may be a ONE Time Giveaway but lets give it a go. The goal is to gain more CrossPosters for @UrgentPODR on Twitter, they start posting about 5-6:30 pm EST or earlier EVERY EVENING - 7 DAYS A WEEK. I am giving away one of my Vintage Sewing items.  It is pictured above. 
    1. The Prize is a VINTAGE Set of JHB International Hand Painted Buttons. Very Cute Still in the original package, from the 1990's? VINTAGE CAT BUTTONS MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR A SMALL CHILD, They are Vintage and may contain toxins. 
  5.  ENTRIES LIMITED TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES! I am fairly poor and will stick it in an envelope to mail it to you for 1 oz of postage, but only in the Continental US Please! This BLOGGER has NO SPONSORSHIP of any kind and has not made a dime from Ads on this SITE!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday Night July 31st, there are over 50 Cats and Kittens scheduled to Die Tomorrow in New York.
This is why you are Tweeting. I am tweeting because I'm an Idiot. Tonight beautiful NUSIA is on Death Row, she is pregnant so her kittens will die too. I rescued a Cat somewhat like NUSIA and thought it was a great idea to take her to a shelter. I had no idea that they killed Kittens or even Pregnant Mama's, nobody told me at that time. I almost went into foreclosure the week I picked her up and had no luck finding her a home on PetFinder.

 It happened within weeks of the death of my 20 year old Cat BooBoo. BooBoo was a victim of the 2007 recall, but because she had been feral and never acquired a taste for canned food she did not eat enough of it for it to kill her. It did almost break me financially to take care of her because my situation had been very bad.

Tonight, July 31st let's try to find NUSIA a safe place to have her kittens.  I know it isn't EZ as I have all I can handle with one family.

Tweet little birds TWEET!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Book Review: The CAT by Susan Little DVM Published by Elsevier

A Book Review: The CAT by Susan Little DVM Published by Elsevier

I review books for what they can do for someone learning alone, not in a classroom environment and based on what use it was to me.  The book is a compilation Edited by Susan Little, DVM, DABVP. As a compilation it covers all aspects of Cat Care Management with different "voices".   Chapters on Cat Colony Care and Internal Medicine have different learning curves. For example, the former are casually written Essays for caretakers and are easy to read. Internal Medicine requires prerequisites I didn't have in college. 

My Cat Care experience is limited to the care of a previous Cat family I rescued during my Title VII lawsuit against the NY Times.  I brought it pro se and in forma pauperis. Back then I was always walking to avoid the violence from cars that interactive technology had escalated. I was first to bring a lawsuit describing retaliation using technology.  I was walking 30 miles one day to the City of Tampa, where the Federal Courthouse was, and the next day running on a dark blvd which is where I found cats in the woods. I read all night, Federal Law, and had no time for Cat Care.  Preventive care was not a consideration I could afford and I was grateful to have Bonnie Sammons, a neighbor who had them spayed and neutered.

With a newly rescued cat family in 2011 I have an strong desire to take control of their Preventive Medicine and to change my daily grooming habits to include my new cat family. I'm planning a future of growing older with RA and Cats, by learning more about zootonic diseases and disease control, including simple things like cleaning. Also, I'm planing for a late life career that will include taking my cat family places where there is no Vet available.

If you are not pursuing some personal goal, Colony Management or Vet Medicine, you probably will not be motivated to read even part of this book.

The best parts of the book were the references to websites on the internet or to authorities on different issues footnoted at the end of chapters. It was heavily footnoted.
 The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management
 This Cat Manual's audience is meant to be Cat Vets and Technicians. It addresses problems of Feral Cats and Colonies. The entire section on giving fluids at home bears no resemblance to any session I had with the two cats I nursed at home after the 2007 pet food recall. I gather these are the ideal scenarios for Cat Care in a Vet's Office as well, but I've seen other methods work as well.

Reading this book has given me some courage to ask my Vet for some special care for the cats I have. 

The sections on dental care I skim read but it did improve my interaction with my cats by making me take action to ensure they are all using the toothbrushes I bought them. When reading the book the sections on cleaning and care to prevent and control zootonic diseases had many cleaning particulars I was not aware did and did not work.

I suppose if I had read this entire book before I ever owned a cat it would be frightening to adopt one.  Many diseases and illnesses I did not know about are detailed.  Although I have been told many times what the core vaccines were, the book clarified why they were so important.

I followed up on WHY Check the Chip was no longer in business, at least online, because they had attempted to run a business online by generating ad revenue. The last few years have been a bad time for that except for some tech sites that engage people in other ways, for instance gaming.

The essays that included Cat organization's online links were good for follow up research after returning the book to the Library: Alley Cat Allies  Neighborhood Cats Operation Catnip  Feral Cat Project 
Feral Cat Coalition were listed with internet links in the textbook. Links to online
articles and Vet organizations covering Dental Care and many other issues, allow you to continue
to research online.

Living in Florida the Chapter on poisons from snake bites to lilies was eye opening. I used to propagate lilies and did not know pollen could poison cats. My back yard is a haven for snakes, bees, frogs, now rats, squirrels and possums. The cats don't leave their patio.  I recently closed gaps in the metal patio with expanding foam spray - "Great stuff".

This is the first book I've read with information on Internal Medicine, it  was overwhelming. I'm starting a second book on Parasites, it was also my first experience with that information. Overall the text gave me a better idea of what I did not know.  I  wouldn't discourage any avid reader from reading or buying this text because they are not a Vet or a Tech. The text has been greatly discounted in downloadable form.

Feeding raw and the controversy surrounding it, had a chapter that didn't seem to touch on the real controversy but I will leave those comments up to Sweetie.
SWEETIE, do you want to give input now? I like my meat raw and wiggly mama!

Sweetie, firstborn - looks like a Maine Coon, and works with me. I will allow her more comments.


Say what? Have you seen Natalie Portman's rap segment for Saturday Night Live? I'm Sweetie - ya gonna kill a kitten, just cuz she ain't cool to your pettin! There are several controversial sections in this book that indicate a Feral Kitten should be killed if it cannot be adopted, she calls it humane. The F word belongs here.


My first instinct was to use the extremely well indexed back of the book to find information on SOUND and Cats,  very little in this book. It ignores behavioral issues connected to sound.

The first Chapter I read was the one on Nutrition. The Text, a compilation of many authors, warns against raw diets and recommends cooking all foods thoroughly. It treats the 2007 recall like it was an anomaly.  It has NO reference to reliance on imported products from China and stays strictly a-political on the issue. Other parts of the book that refer to pharmaceuticals, also rely too much on corporate literature and research. No mention of Alternatives to chemicals anywhere in the book. I believe the authors and editor are influenced strongly by the portion of corporate America that has invested heavily in providing medications for the Pet Industry. Principles of Research, ethics or research methods are not questioned analytically.  

Had all this information been included I would not be completely adverse to the chapter recommending psychotropic drugs be given to some cats. It appears uneducated.


I've read quite a few Focal Press Textbooks. Focal Press is published by ELSEVIER, the publisher of this textbook. ELSEVIER: Scientists signed a Petition in 2012  

Thousands of Scientists Vow to Boycott Elsevier to Protest Journal Prices http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/02/thousands-of-scientists-vow-to-b.htmlst 

Knowledge is power, when you control who can afford what, you can manipulate the general public.

Although highly referenced, the Textbook lacks references to alternative medicines or studies

on alternative medicines. 


Generally, good read in many parts for any educated and motivated individual. Greatly Discounted as a download.  This is my first really technical book so I can't rate it fairly.



The BookLi$t at The $tudio. Copyright Pamela Curry, All rights reserved


Editing is ongoing at this Studio!

This is a list of materials originally reviewed by Faux Film Studio Departments. The $tudio was a catch all for what didn't fit in any other department including: ART DIRECTION, PRODUCTION DESIGN, SCRIPT SUPERVISOR, SCREENWRITING, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, STORYBOARDING, DICTIONARIES, FILM HISTORY BOOKS & ACTING VIDEOS


"Research: Whatever the subject of the film, the Designer must spend many hours ensuring that the visual detail he will put into the screen images will be accurate...the Designer should know where to find out what he needs to know. He should be conversant with the collection of his local library as well as the libraries in the larger metropolitan centers...many Designers have their own reference libraries covering the decorative and applied arts, fine arts, and architecture running to a hundred volumes or more collected over the years."

Film Design, edited by Terence St. John Marner pg. 44 (1974).

This webmaster does not own stock and is not affiliated with any book stores but does suggest any aspiring art director or designer find a good bookstore that takes books for trade. For a variety of inexpensive books on the arts in Central Florida we still find BOOKTRADERS in Winter Haven has a large collection of old but good art books and new art magazines, cheap!!! They are picky about what they will take in trade but their payment is consistent.

If It's Purple Someone is Going to Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling by Patti Bellatoni, June 2005. Focal Press.

This is a very colorful and well illustrated 288 page Textbook. There is a concise review of this text at the Focal Press Website (Elsevier). That's not what I do here. Here I tell you that compared to other books on color theory, this text is an easy read, particularly if you have NO experience in color theory. Bellatoni gives practical suggestions like, fast forward through some films to identify various color theories. A simple but necessary exercise. I bristled at the fact the author spent more time giving a synopsis of a film, that exposing how and why a particular color theory was used. That's why this is for beginners.

I found no profound psychological rants, which can be tedious, but that also left the text lacking in depth about the relationship between color and how we see. As an experiment in the back of the book, she displays paintings completed by persons she chose, who completed the painting color based on an emotion. She concludes that rage is often red, simply put. This experiment neglected economic conditions and education relative to the subject matter of the art or of the film. These can evoke a reaction to the "subject matter" that totally negates all color theory. The moral of the book being, know your audience.

Generally, I took the time to fast forward through films I didn't actually like where she had included them in her book. That actually was a better way to raise a level of concentration on material I don't like enough to study.

Isolation and poverty create a difficult study environment, but that is why this Studio Reviews books the way it does! I gave this text 3 out of 5 chocolate chips cookies. Color theory books are not abundant, as many other divisions of filmmaking have dozens of textbooks written about them. It wouldn't hurt to read every book you find on color theory because so many departments of a film's production are changed by the use of color, from picking costume materials & dyes to lighting or building a set. 3 Hot Chocolate Cookies at Best!

What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design by Ward Preston, 1994. This is a non technical book that assumes you may be trying to break into the business but already have the required skills of drawing to scale, and a solid background in art. What the book does well is contrast and compare the role of the Art Director with that of the Set Decorator, and to a lesser degree the Production Director. Although many aspects of film production may now be handled on a laptop computer, the basic forms provided as a guide to budgeting for set construction appear to be helpful, Breakdowns. If you have an interest in the decisions behind set construction this is also good, offering tidbits such as "Painting and aging are really what art direction is all about" (pg 169) or "signs of protest are best done by amateurs". Mr. Preston did not attempt to pretend he had expertise in areas he did not, like in computer technology, thereby earning my respect. This short text gets "4" Musketeers Bars. I based part of on a Set Construction chapter.

Art Direction for Film & Video by Robert Olson, 2nd Edition. This is a short text book by a professional who has both taught and worked in the industry. It is a book about the basics of what is means to be a production designer and how to find a job. What it is not is a step by step guide to training for Production Design. By page 30 of this 144 page book it is clear this is a book the generally outlines a process and describes more what a Production Designer does than in detail how to be a Production Designer. For instance, Stephen H. Burum, ASC has an article online described as "Recommendations for equipping the ideal student sound stage". The article is available at the American Society of Cinematographer'sWebsite in "Resources", link to "Member's Advice". That article gave a detailed description of equipment needed to create a sound stage as opposed to Olson's 1/2 page description of a sound stage on page 20-21 of his book, which does not depict the details of equipment. A later chapter on set construction supervision is just as vague, not to mention that safety issues relative to construction seem to elude his job description. This book appears for beginners who want to see if this is their type of job, a job for which they will need many more years of study! One redeeming feature of this book are quotes Olson obtained from the Production Company of Meyer/Shyer:

Real production design means that you have designed the production. If it's on stage, you design the sets, costumes, and the lighting, and you're through. If it's a movie, you have to figure out what the camera is doing. The visual components are space, line, color, movement, and rhythm...The production designer has to understand what the movie is about. It's not the plot; it's what I like to call point of view-what you want the audience to feel about the movie. In Father of the Bride, we wanted the house to be a character in the movie. The house was not a backdrop; it was a part of the family like Steve Martin was...

Art Direction, Id. at Page 3

In Baby Boom the wall colors were based on Diane Keaton's complexion color and in Father of the Bride we keyed the wall colors to Steve Martin's complexion to help make the house a member of the family.

Art Direction, Id at Page 12 quoting Bruck Block. While Olson admits this is not meant to be a detailed textbook he fails at what he intends to do with the book, "how to begin". It has no addresses to write to for information. Olson fails to show other resources that can help someone who believes, after reading this book and deciding this is what they want to do, they need a better and more detailed understanding of color and color design or anything else! No Bibliography will get you 1 out of 5 chocolate bars at this Studio. (We at Film Studio Faux, the big studio we are, like to be told where we can steal more ideas, like the other big studios!).

By Design, Interviews with Film Production Designers LoBrutto. This is the second book of interviews I had read by LoBrutto and found he asks the right questions to discover tricks of the trade used to create the magic for hundreds of movies in Interview after Interview. I have a background in display arts, where I learned on the job, as my first weekly "art" gig, in my teens with other better trained artists. A book like this can be as powerful a tool as on the job experience if you apply their experience to your work, no matter what it is! 20 Production Designers are interviewed in this 1992 text!I'm on a diet but this definitely deserved chocolate!

Production Design in the Contemporary American Film: A Critical Study of 23 movies and their designers, by Beverly Heisner, 1997. This 171 page, barely illustrated, textbook lacks a proper analysis of "production design" and is not a "critical study". For instance, the text divides "the films" into five different sections: "Films with Realism Set in the Present...Stylized Films Set in the Present... Period Films...Period Films that move through several decades...Science fiction films and fantasy films". Under Science Fiction and Fantasy the author puts two films Aliens and Raiders of the Lost Ark. So much has been written already about the design of those two movies in "making of" the movie textbooks and in trade magazines that there was a huge volume of info to draw from for a true "critical study". This author did not feel that need, although her analysis of the mothership as a "character" in Aliens was correct, it was hardly "critical". There is no preface in any one of those sections depicting common elements in this division. The writer jumps right into describing the plot in a few or several movies in each section. The description of the storyline takes up most the writing and there is little to no relevant detail about the elements used to define the design of that film! In short, is not a "critical study". I've checked out children's books about the making of Dick Tracy that had more information about Richard Sylbert's design style than this text. A big disappointment, no chocolate.


Compiled by Terence St. John Marner & part of The London Film School Series, 1974. This 163 page book has about 57 pages with sketches, production designs and storyboards, and about 45 pages with photos. Some are of the completed set & can be compared to the original production sketch. It is also filled with quotes from production designers about how they planned designs or solved problems on a set, both from the Bond films and the Kubrick films. It gives lists of equipment needed for scouting locations, and a list of what to look for and what to avoid with examples from specific films in interiors. It describes the jobs of various persons that the production designer depends upon, from property makers to metal workers. There is an explanation and sample on how to set up a sketch from a Plan and Elevation, and how to set up a forced perspective sketch. Lastly, it has a simple illustrated chapter on special effects, matte painting & so forth with quotes from Ray Harryhausen.

For example under a sub-chapter entitled "dressing restricted sets": Much of A Clockwork Orange was shot in location interiors using wide angle lenses: In the cafe he [Kubrick] shot with very wide-angle lenses and this is one of the reasons why the film was shot in academy ratio-we had a much greater range of lenses. When using wide-angle lenses one has to be careful how one moves the camera because of the distortion factor. Luckily the operator was very good and did some excellent hand-held tracking shots." Jonathan Barry, supervising Art Director at M-G-M British Studios, designer on A Clockwork Orange. Film Design at page 75. This book is a keeper...lots of chocolate! The paperback was originally priced at $3.95 U.S. Now much older, if your search of used book stores goes bad it's $35 at Amazon


SCRIPT SUPERVISOR The Role of Script Supervision in Film and Television, A career guideby Shirley Ulmer and C.R. Sevilla, 1986. The first thing you see in this book is the introduction and recommendation of it by Billy Wilder. The book lives up to those great expectations. It details the job of the person who is the liaison between editor and director, and many other persons on the set relative to sound and film takes. The way paperwork on a set is filled out is detailed, like no other test book listed here, with samples from a specific film or two. The job of the Script Supervisor and protocol is detailed with anecdotal stories about real incidents on sets. The word "continuity" is seen over &over again in analysis of blocking, line of action, jewelry, hair, & wardrobe. Finally, the interviews with various editors and directors give an idea of how different approaches to working with the script supervisor can effect the overall production of the film, from shooting through editing. As an avid computer user and technology nut, I had one problem in this detailed description of set paperwork. I kept envisioning how a laptop could have saved tons of unneeded paper and made quicker revisions, especially on notes for the editor. I have also read that script software is in the works or is already available that is compatible with digital editing systems. Importantly, that fact will not make this textbook outdated material. I was greatly sympathetic with the interview with Peter Bogdonovich because I demand creative control in all my own endeavors. I had a hard time reading past the first 166 pages. She ragged on the skills of directors in some instances way too much but since I would never do this job I arranged with my ego to have some respect for it! The skills for this job require someone who can carry out tasks without questioning, like it or not those are exactly the skills least developed in a creative personality. I would give this text 1/2 a Godet Belgian White Chocolate Liqueur (chocolate and aged Cognac) and give the textbook below, Script Supervising and Film Continuity by Pat Miller, the other 1/2 for a total of 4 Belgium Bars!

Script Supervising and Film Continuity, 2nd Edition by Pat Miller (as of December 1998 this book comes out in a 3rd edition).This textbook's first eight chapters, 117 pages, and chapter 11 "Techniques of Matching" are written without anecdote or filmmaker's opinion. It is a simple, clear, straightforward listing of paperwork and actions that are the responsibility of the Script Supervisor. It was easy, as a self exercise, to pick up a blank script and follow this text to mark the script. It would be more efficient to read this text before the text by Ulmer & Sevilla above, but I would not miss the extra information in their textbook! For instance, Miller keeps stating when you should tell the director that coverage is missing or matching is not correct. Ulmer & Sevilla warn you more of the real life experiences that can cause conflict on the set when the script supervisor gives their opinion to a director! The information provided in this text on camera setup and motion is lame and can be just skimmed over, to gleam out tricks of the trade, compared to books by Steven Katz. I would give this text 1/2 a Godet Belgian White Chocolate Liqueur (chocolate and aged Cognac), and give the textbook The Role of Script Supervisor in Film and Television the other 1/2 for a total of 4 Bars! Perhaps the added liqueur can explain the Belgian method of audition, 1/2 & 1/2 =4 Belgium Bars.

Filmmakers on Filmmaking by Harry M. Geduld, 1970. More the literary twist of directing, this is a book of interviews with famous Directors. You only need one of these to know whatever you're in it for, as a Director you have to satisfy yourself, like Fellini is in it for the "passion". Hot chocolate, English Toffee Chocolate SCREENWRITING Screenwriting A,B.C.'s & other books at the E-script Virtual Q & A, Downloadable FAQ! The Studio Faux start was advanced! I have a background in literary studies including references and did serious literary reading in my teens.

1999, New technology and the Old School. A review comparing two recent texts on screenwriting by writers whose use of electronic text and/or online audio has changed the competitive learning process and the concept of worldwide "access" to training for screenwriters

Screenwright: The Craft of Screenwriting by Charles Deemer's. Professor Deemer's What's Knew created a Class Syllabus for his screenwriting course. Google it, this may still be online. Even if you cannot afford to take the online course, or you cannot afford the $35 to buy his self-guided study class, follow this link. At his syllabus page he has linked to over a dozen pages of free information on the internet on how to write, format and sell your screenplay. Mr. Deemer's own articles are amongst these links but you will also find a diverse group of articles and websites that are well worth checking out. Only one person is seeking payment for their advice, $7.50 for information on how to format a screenplay (I find this strange only because the writer states how he really want sto help other screenwriters but was being taken advantage of on the internet himself so he had to charge. Ya, well quite a few other websites are giving away more valuable information that this, including the Federation of American Scientists, for free!) THE UNFAIR COMPARISON! Deemer also employs online audio writing tips. This can also be found in his What's Knew archives, I believe. There is a certain dynamic to hearing and reading that doesn't happen when one is only reading a text. It facilitates the use of other senses and prolongs the memory of an event or in this case the lesson to be learned. The advantages of employing new technology to reinforce a lesson certainly include a more dynamic memory, although having only read the books below by Egri and Blacker I can also say you can learn just as much from a very well written book. Egri provides the basis, without the in depth analysis, for the lesson taught by Robert McKee's book about "Beats". McKee's in depth analysis of the relationships between people being built by the screenplay's dialogue and action if far better than than Deemer's but McKee's book fails to provide a good overall view of the screenwriting process and what to do with the screenplay once you've written it.

This fall I intended on reviewing Charles Deemer's electronic text on screenwriting while I was working on my screenplay. I was going to use it as a guide. Since my computer has crashed, I have not been able to finish his text. It is not fair to compare McKee's Book on Story to Deemer's text. Deemer's text gives a writer, who has not engaged in self-examination, tools to find out how and perhaps why they write they way they do. His electronic text also has a large list of examples from contemporary movies. I find examples of treatments, step outlines and other aspects of the Hollywood writing process to be very helpful. With the amount of information that I take in when reading several books every few months the more specific the information the better I can apply it to my own process of a total filmmaking training program. Deemer's use of examples in demonstrating the type of sentence structure used when writing action was of particular interest to me. A basic rhetoric or advanced grammar course would be very useful in understanding his illustrations because he assumes that knowledge in this course.

The most offensive thing in Charles Deemer's Screenwriting electronic book is that he is hoping for movies over the internet. Sounds terrible, literally!

Deemer adds Aristotle's Poetics as a part of his book, excerpted in the electronic text, while McKee adds it as a footnote in his Bibliography. I still have more reading in Deemer's book before a complete review but at this writing the overall design continues to be very useful while I myself am in the process of learning about screeenwriting. AUDIO ONLINE "Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee, Robert McKee does not himself offer free audio information at his own website. The Editor's Guild, because of the importance of McKee's Seminars, published an audio seminar, one hour of McKee's 3 day seminar. It was very helpful to hear the class interact and to hear the emphasis McKee put on language in this online Audio "class". It was a personal turning point for me, because I could not "get a clue" about how to create a "Beat".

STORY... Robert McKee's Book Story....This book is reviewed at the Editor's Guild. I highly recommend this book. It is comprehensive and provides excellent specific examples. Many texts on screenwriting do not provide enough examples for a beginning writer to comprehend the various aspects of screenwriting. For instance, when McKee explains the concept of "beats" he explains both what a beat in a screenplay is by definition and by example, then he explains what a "beat" in a dialogue is and how it is not to be confused with a beat in a scene. Some other writers fail to explain with simplicity these and many other aspects of writing a screenplay in their texts! McKee is an excellent teacher and the formatting of this book makes some subjects extremely clear, where other writers simply left me in a fog!

Mckee's Book is reviewed at the Editor's Guild website so why repeat the same old stuff? This is the best text that I have read concerning the concept of breaking down a scene into beats and why this skill is needed for writers, editors, and directors. The problem with McKee's text is the constant insertion of his own personal values (which I find disturbing) in his choice of examples. Ok, so the guy is sex obsessed. He also has personal biases that he uses to make assumptions. The problem here is some of those are used to interpret a "beat", changing human behavior. In one instance he writes about how the endings on film are too often "happy" endings because that is what they studios think people want. Then he compares the wants or desires of the average movie goer to survivors of the holocaust. He says that survivors of the holocaust enjoy unhappy endings because they have a catharsis. This is logical but where his logic fails is in understanding that the holocaust is over. When a holocaust survivor leaves the theater they are not going back to a camp. The daily problems of the average citizen are things they are leaving the theater to go home to today, after the film. Mr. McKee apparently hasn't experienced real life in America because there are many DAILY problems, from abuse of women to police brutality, that are serious threats. Some of those situations last years longer than the holocaust and have taken greater tolls over a longer length of time. McKee reviews the theme of Sullivan's Travels noting that the movie mogul in disguise understood from his brief time in prison that these prisoners did not need to be brought down by a film but that they needed to escape and be entertained. I found some of McKee's "opinions" so uneducated and insulting that it was difficult to learn the lesson about screenwriting.

This entire seminar is $500, get $30 to 50 dollars worth for FREE online! Although this studio doesn't usually concentrate on links to Screenwriting, because they are so abundant and other people are doing it better, today I will. Often when looking for links in CROSS TRAINING there are links in one area of film that cover two. The Editor's Guild has a RealPlayer Audio Seminar, a two and one half hour seminar, for free by Robert McKee a writer and director. The seminar is a practice lesson in HOW BEATS BUILD SCENES and TURNING POINTS. Although I've read several books with this information this was by far the best.

The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, 306 pgs. 1946.His breakdown of how dialogue in a scene should progress was so scrumptious, I lost count of the bars. Character development through dialogue progression is evaluated. There is an explanation of how and why to build dialogue. For example, Egri uses a sample of dialogue to show when both characters continue back and forth to make "points" in a dialogue the characters and script cannot move forward.White Chocolate Mousse, 5 big Easter Rabbit bars. But don't just read it here, see the high review at Amazon with the 2007 reprint. My review is of the original 1946 book, as are many reviews at this site of the original publication as dated in the review!

The Elements of Screenwriting, Stanley Blacker, 1986. Well known fact: he could teach. Apparently some famous persons were his students, and that does not mean the Mayflower Madame, however I can understand how she could be confused with some of his students. We all learn the basics somewhere. A text full of the oldest tricks in the business. No rabbit, but 5 Swiss Chocolate bars.

Making a Good Script Great, Linda Seger, 240 pgs, 1994.Since there is no real formula for bringing up baby in Hollywood, I'm not convinced that this would make every good script great. A basic analytical breakdown of components of a screenplay that must be there! Ms. Seger has a proven track record, but not on any films that I liked. 4 Milky Way Bars.

Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger237 pgs, 1990.Showingsamples of characters I forgot already? . Kiss your lucky stars this book does some analysis of minor characters and their relationship to the screenplay. That is worth taking time to analyze your own minor characters against. I suggest you chart this yourself.3 Milky Way Bars.

From Script to Screen: The Collaborative Art of Filmmaking, 1994 Seger/Whetmore. Publisher wanted you to write another book Linda? I learned, sign a contract before you collaborate. Ok, should I sign one saying I'm going to negotiate to possibly collaborate? Contracts 101 it isn't. 1 Chocolate bar.

Screenwriting, The Art Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing by Richard Walter, 224 pgs.,1988. If you live in L.A., take his course at U.C.L.A.. It probably is worth more chocolate bars than the book at 4 chocolate bars. Basic elements of screenwriting, a companion piece to the writing by Blacker. Blacker taught George Lucas amongst others. Had it not been for the brilliant visual effects I would never have watched Star Wars, the script alone sucks. Walter says what he learned best from Blacker was "he instilled in me the preference for a good movie over an important film." "...Screenwriters are urgently advised to consider the general disquietude essential to all films as plain, mean, straight-out violence" I reread that statement again, after 40 other textbooks and it had a new meaning. These quotes depict the manner in which Walter approaches teaching in this text. My first review of this book was not specific in why I made some fun of Mr. Walter, who probably has led a very dull life. But for those of you who have dedicated their life to taking risks or living on the edge, either mentally or physically, I say Mr. Walter appears himself to be quite bitter. In fact, he expresses characteristics of an academion who is isolated and/or of a filmmaker who is isolated from the world.. His advice in "The challenge for screenwriters is not to look it up but to make it up". At least that is his stand on research. He tells us that "life is saturated with tedium", most people lead boring lives, and a moviemakers goal should be to lie! His theory is directly opposed to what SCI-REAL is about. Some of the most interesting story ideas can be gleaned from technical research having to do with real life conflict and persons who have demanded to live interesting lives. Although he is correct in that writing is about choice. Deleting tedium and compressing time are well known elements of storytelling that can make a story based on true events a complete work of fiction! I fail to believe that one has to "make it all up" to write great scripts or stories. Then again, I was never a Speilberg fan until Shindler's List and Jurassic Park, and that was only because of elements of SCI-REAL. What 4, four Chocolate Bars!

How to Sell Your Screenplay: The Real Rules of Film & TV by Sautter,256 pgs, 1992. This book is on the American Film Institute's reading list. You should not cross the California State line with the intention of working in screenwriting without first reading the book, so they say. Ok, it does have some good insider information about how things should be written and what meetings about script ideas are like amongst other stuff. Although, I am tired of books where you have to read an entire text to get one good chapter of information YOU NEED to KNOW. 4 German Chocolate Black Forest Cake Bars!

Writing Short Scripts by Phillips.2 chocolate bars, enough written.

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field, 1982. 2 chocolate bars. Read a few screenwriting bulletin boards or newsgroups and you will find out that different screenwriting books approach the topic of formatting a screenplay differently. This book is sometimes mentioned there. The screenwriting site we like best here at Studio Faux tells you, if you're a smelly mountain hermit who is an incredible writer your minor formatting problems won't be a problem, neither will the smell. We strongly urge content studies over format studies!. This text is considered a classic, but look below because breaking the rules is more fun! As of 1999 Syd Field has a screenwriting seminar on Video Tape. It sells for about $75. Also, according to Daily Variety his screenwriting Software is hot, hot, hot in Europe. A quick search at Yahoo will help you locate this online. I haven't seen either.

Alternative Scriptwriting: Writing beyond the Rules by Rush and Dancyger, 212 pgs, 1991. This book has one chapter on, for example, what a genre should be, and another on how to stretch in that genre. This book has only 4 highly specialized chocolate bars because I was still hungry for more when I finished the book. Not more of the same. I was hungry for things that really stretched rules, danger, excitement! In case your are completely uncertain of what an alternative script might be, "Bladerunner" would have been considered an alternative script. 4 Pulakis Chocolate Sponge Pieces, melts in your mouth!

Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, "The Industry's Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay".According to the cover, this UCLA Professor's advanced screenwriting class is "The final word on screenwriting" quoting Richard Donner Director of Lethal Weapon. This text appears to be modeled after his course. This site doesn't concentrate on the review of screenwriter's materials because there are too many other places to get that information. A few things are worth noting about this "course" in a book.

I've read close to a dozen text about screenwriting, hardly anything, but would not consider any one of them the sole text you should read. This text might be good for beginning screenwriters who are ready for an advanced course. I found advice like "push" the limits if you are writing a spec play and don't consider the budget contrary to other advice in other texts, particularly if you want this screenplay produced. If you are solely using your spec screenplay as a calling card, I am not, it sounds like sound advice to write your best effort despite the cost to produce it. How to liven up particular situations with characters by expanding how you think when you write, turn the situation around 180 degrees for example, is an underlying theme in this book and the best reason to read this text.

I was not impressed with Mr. Hunter's stereotyped female character in his screenplay. A full screenplay is in this text and he uses it to set an example in his course.

Examples of other screenplays Mr. Hunter used in this text were not from films I found "models" for female writers wanting strong female characters. Two women who commit suicide on the run is not a sample of a plot with strong female characters. It's unfortunate woman have to be depicted as almost cartoonish (Zena warrior princess) in order to be considered strong female characters. Lew would more than likely kick me out of his class for the rest of what I had to say. Heh, but he said to push the limits because there is most certainly someone to "dull" down your characters. I found the fact that one of his students when told to push the limits put more overt sex in a screenplay a fullfillment of one of Mr. Hunter's fantasies.

Quoting from "The Last of the Independents", "Hunting Season is over...", The Pretenders.

Bring in the next course, DESERT


Storyboards "StoryBoarding for Film, TV and Animation" by John Hart is in publication by Focal Press as of 1999. A pencil and a piece of paper is an affordable tool for any aspiring filmmaker. This textbook is everything that I was looking for three years ago. The oversized text is full of storyboards from films, BUT they are drawn by Mr. Hart himself. It depicts the history of storyboarding.

Mr. Hart gives excellent methods of self-study even for someone who simply wants to make better stick figures. This analysis of how his own drawings took better shape and form is by far the best part of this text! His analysis of the storyboards place in making a film is simple and easy to understand. This book is particularly for beginners and self-starters. The exercises are placed at the end of chapters with useful methods for self-study!

The interviews were extremely weak, as was the Appendix. I would have opted out for more information on how sketches are used in production design, a subject even the American Cinematographer sometimes reviews! Mr. Hart's self-study course in a book gets 4 out of 5 chocolate bars.

HOW TO DRAW SERIES: It struck me when reading Hart's book that some of his instruction was similar to the How to Draw Series by Walter Foster Publishing. These are oversized books that show the basics of drawing. They can be found at all crafts stores and have titles like Buildings in Pencil, Trees, Cartoon Animation, Film Cartoons. They are solely about learning certain steps in order to draw that one partcular item better so StoryBoards for filmmaking should also be looked at! As of 1999 Focal Press is publishing a Second Edition of an earlier textbook about storyboards.

This site's reviews on TOYZ also has suggestions for storyboard practicing. The Empire Strikes Back Notebook, Edited by Diana Attias and Lindsay Smith. Complete script and selected storyboards with a few, very few, remarks by Lawrence Kasdan and Irvin Kershner. A very interesting feature, if you can read really small print and especially for persons interested in directing special effects films, are the tiny notes Kershner places under various storyboard frames indicating the shot is to be "on Location", "blue backing" or part of the scene is to be shot in the "Studio". Some storyboard frames contain directions for the number of cameras & their movement!

Michael Collins, Screenplay and Film Diary by Neil Jordon.This is the Director's diary of the shooting of the film in 85 pages and the rest is the screenplay. Jordon describes the use of stuntmen and large crowds in the filming in Ireland. Commenting on shooting car scenes on location Jordon writes: "...Now in the interests of realism, we have to drag the car through real streets on tracking vehicles of various kinds while the director sits up front with headphones and a video monitor and screams action above the screeching engines, and the actors mouth their lines inside...The absurd unreality of it all makes real acting impossible,..." Id. at 69-70See Katz on rigging a car! DICTIONARY This is a short list because I have a hard time reading an entire dictionary! The American Film Industry, A Historical Dictionary by Anthony Slide, 431 pgs., 1990. What it says. It has a brief amount of info under each alphabetical listing. It's an easy read & a quick history, "S" ! 1 Chocolate Bar or 2! Film Finance and Distribution, a dictionary of terms, 1992 by John W. Conesat $24.95 this is not cheap! This attorney/author says he makes his clients read this 566 page book! I personally would return the favor and bill him for my time. The favor would be that if you had read this book to begin with you may not have needed his services. Legal, filmmaking, and distribution terms are intermingled. They're taken from his interaction with industry professionals at seminars listed in six pages of acknowledgments. Mr. Cone's frankness about sometimes brutal business practices of the film industry is demonstrated with his inclusion of such terms as "blacklist","greylist" (applied to age discrimination & writers), & "greed". His descriptions of Studio Departments were in I will attempt to read this in detail at some later date but for now, after at least looking at every page, it gets a Film Producer's cut and a Fifty 50 Shake Exchange instant chocolate shake (50% of the profits go to diabetes research)!

CHEAP ALERT Cheap Alert: Haven Books & Collectibles on Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven, Florida recently sold me this book, which is still selling at Barnes & Noble for full price, for $4.00. That was their only copy, it was in perfect condition. This store, which is classified as "used & rare books", has a small but nice section of books on movies and celebrity biographies, and film industry people (like George Lucas); Illustrated Star Trek books; books on tape like star wars; and art books. Unless they are rare books, they even sell new books, their prices are 30-70 percent off the regular price. The books are in good condition. Considering the 4th class mail rates on books in the U.S., I don't know if they have a mail fee, it would be cheaper to buy books here than at full price! They do business by mail.

bASIC cINEMA rEFERENCES FOR CRASH TEST DUMMIeS! Crash test dummy links are for anyone who could not get up tomorrow morning and pass a test on the basic "history of" questions. They are adequate reference sources, but since this studio operates in the red they may not be the very best or most expensive reference source out there. The Story of Cinema: A complete narrative history from the beginnings to the present by David Shipman with a preface by Ingmar Bergman. 1,280 pages of film history by era with the names of key films in bold! A good index and sections about historic international directors (Bergman). Int'l & Illustrated!

The American Film Industryedited by Tino Balio from the University of Wisconsin Press. A sparsely illustrated 500+ page book concentrating on the history of the business with a complete bibliography and index.

Non-Fiction Film, A critical History by Richard Meran Barsam, 300+ pages with an index and a nice appendix of non-fiction films. bASICmUSICrEFERENCES FORCRASHTEST DUMMIeS! MISC. TECHNICAL DESIGN In their July 1997 issue American Cinematographer had a special insert with their Batman and Robin coverage. It was a pull out, 2 page "Lighting Design", like a Scenery Draft for "The Botanical Gardens where Poison Ivy throws a garish bash". To understand all the technical notes and scale I picked up the following workbook from the public library:

Drafting Scenery for Theater, Film and Television by Rich Rose (Associate professor of theater at U.C.L.A.). This is an actual workbook that gives simple directions on how to read or create Perspective Sketches, Elevations, Floor plans and staging plans. It also gives simple exercises & copies of plans actually used in film or theater.

There used to be an interesting Forums Page with a good "Threaded Discussions" started. Recommended: ASC CLUBHOUSE- Cinematographer's Log & Tricks of the Trade. (TOT) Books about FilmMaking Independent Filmmaking by L. Lipton. A classic, very technical information. Studio Faux has studies books with technical information about still photography and to move into moving film this is a must. Although the technical stuff has been outdated by computer technology, this information is still useful if you are making your own first no budget film, you do not want to use video, cannot afford computers, or have never worked with a film processing house. As of a few years ago (1994) it wason a west coast University reading list !

Budgets for Film & Video,1990 Revised by Michael Wiese. This is an easy to understand budget breakdown for different types of film productions from student projects to music video. 4 chocolate bars.

Rick Schimdt's "Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices", the revised edition.It is published by Penguin Books. Several websites recommend this book so I am going into a little more detail in my review of it. My conclusion is that this is book is 1) for beginners and 2) for persons not interested in banging heads with corporate America (My skull is cracked but does that stop me? Ha!). Although the forward contained an excellent interview on what is wrong with commercially motivated film critics, Mr. Schmidt's beginnings as a filmmaker read like a chapter from a book entitled "The boys club---a racquet". If Rick hadn't used his forward to make a big deal of how hard it was for him, money wise, and how he used his contacts, I might have been less hard on the book! Also, I don't believe his strong suit is ideas having gotten his first from True Confessions. That seems a little odd because the forward on criticism attacks shallowness in the media critics and the popular filmmaker's themselves. Well, touché there, huh? The real meat of this book is that it gives a little information about everything and a fairly detailed and illustrated example of doing post-production the old fashioned way. This makes it a good book for beginners who particularly are interested in the festival market, although I have to warn you even that is changing. For example, as of this year, 1998, Sumner Redstone bragged about the invasion of foreign markets by American big budget feature films because of a massive effort in the foreign markets in building motion picture theaters. The weakness in this book is that he tells you how to leave it up to a good sound technician to record sound and so on and so forth. I consider this a weakness because there is information everywhere on recording on the set and good technical skills need to be honed. Any filmmaker or aspiring filmmaker who wants to learn the technical aspects of filmmaking will want to read this only as an intro and move on to books like theFilm Editing Room Handbook, which is considerably more detailed. In fact, many books about feature film editing contain information about how to cut costs, both creative and practical. Being a scavenger at heart I have found in the 90's many things at prices that are much less than Mr. Schmidt states they were in the 80's? That is done by regularly scanning the going out of business sales, canvassing the streets on garage sale days and not being afraid of garbage can shopping. Rick finishes the book off with an introduction to new technologies and a comparison of the 16mm vs. video formats for beginners. I must state that this is outdated and offer the following information. Kodak has a booklet entitled "Creating better video with 16mm film" that is a very good intro to that format. This is free through the Kodak corporate office nearest you, dial the Kodak 1-800 line and ask about it. They also have a Video entitled "Feel it on Film". It is a rather cheesy but effective visual promotion for their 16mm film over digital video. It allows you to see the technical difference with your own eyes. This short video is free from Kodak. 1 or 2 scoops of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk at best. No Bovine Hormone treatment for the cows making their milk. Now they've settled their lawsuit in Illinois they can advertise it on their Ice Cream!

FILMMAKING, INTERACTIVE FILM SCHOOLS HOW TO MAKE YOUR MOVIE: an interactive film school on CD ROM Don't miss the trivia on the roll of hand towels in the bathroom! At about $90 plus shipping a purchaser should carefully consider how useful this will be. Total beginners and beginners especially with desktop editing might benefit greatly from the extra film and sound footage. Anyone past the beginner stage would want to see it for pure amusement. 3 CD Rom's in one cute little package, free 1-800 for tech assistance. As of this date the Studio Head has been awarded a "Special Diploma" by "How to Make Your Movie:an interactive film school". I only cheated once or twice by not watching the entire student film in its unedited versions. This program was created by Ohio University and Electronic Vision using Macromedia, Quick Time and in league with the "Kodak Worldwide Student Program". The program allows you to wander through 3 floors of an empty film school. Department by department you can read about each step of the filmmaking process, read papers by guest lecturers, do interactive exercises (very few) like match cutting a piece of film from the student movie or making your own sound mix (with limited results). This 3 CD computer program has a great deal of trivia and comic relief, as some reviewers have noted, but it misses many opportunities to build film vocabulary throughout the program but especially in sound. The resource lists of books that are recommended reading fail to include at least one of the most important resources for beginning filmmakers, in this Studio Head's opinion, Michael Rabiger's textbooks on Directing. This was published in 1998, therefore it missed the 1999 publication of Bob Koster's On Production Budget Book and Tomlinson Holman's Sound book, ok that's an excuse. Yet, this resource list still fails to list books about contracts by Mark Litwak, distribution by John Cones and licensing, period. The program skirts over issues like fund raising, sales and marketing and in that regard may be considered more of a preparation for film school itself than a taste of the "real" world. In our opinion, before you even read about making a motion picture you should read the books by Litwak and particularly by Cones that talk about the problems of making money in the industry. That is if you are at all interested in making money. If you simply want an outline on how to make your first year's school project, this would do. The school "tour" as it is for example in post-production includes two lectures by Editor Walter Murch, one on his "5-layer" rule, a brilliant addition even without the sound clips he probably had at the lecture, as was the short films demonstrating three different types of editing set-ups. Probably the best aspect of this 3 CD-Rom package, as I finished the school section in several sittings, is the addition of sound and film footage on the third CD Rom. Yet, one apparently needs to have some type of desktop editing system to practice with this. Well, I've practiced enough editing so I skipped this entirely.

In opposition to this program, I find that a great deal can be learned by watching films and doing exercises from Rabiger's books on Directing. This program suggests the only way you can learn by watching is to watch Hitchcock films. I find this a very wrong thing to instruct beginners. Some films are good to watch and "breakdown" in notes for entirely different reasons: sound, special effects, editing, dialogue. Not all parts of all films are worth taking this time but quite a bit more can be learned by learning from many small pieces of film than by just aimlessly shooting a mediocre film. This package is solely for beginners with no knowledge of the film process. Since this is the sole interactive film school project reviewed at this website, there isn't really a way to compare it to other similar materials. Since it costs that same as two very expensive books you can personally assess whether the investment was is worth not getting those other two books!


Classes on Tape, Video BBC Master Class Series, Acting in Film: An Actor's Take on Movie Making 60 Minute BBC Master Class with Michael Caine.Video. Michael Rabiger's book on directing recommends this video. Mr. Caine's direction of the actor's in this video is very interesting in that nuances of working in front of the camera, already known, appear to have a refreshingly intimate perspective. Quoting Mr. Caine, Acting for the theater is like surgery with a scalpel, acting for film is like surgery with a laser. In the States this is a close as you can get to free medical care.

Agents tell it like it is by Joel Asher Studio.This 50 minute video is one of a series. I personally found most of what was in this video could have been learned from a book, except for the insert of "agents at work". Jeannine Cosden's telephone conversation showed me some problems an agent might be confronted with that might help a client be more understanding of their agent. Further, Joel Asher did not ask really controversial questions, I know those questions exist. It appears his next video "Casting Directors Tell it like it is" might have more demonstrative material that I believe is necessary to make watching a video worthwhile. In comparison Mr. Caine is both controversial and demonstrative.

The Actors at Work Series by the Joel Asher Studio. This Video is 50 minutes in length. This is the second of two videos I have seen by the Joel Asher Studio and the better of the two. Most of the videos available as learning tools appear to come in series or sets by particular publishing groups or organizations like AFTRA. The better part of this video is dedicated to cold readings and the call back, how to read with a non-actor. This was interesting from the casting perspective but probably would require much more work for Actors. This website does not cover information for Acting unless it is related to the Directing or Producing process.




A Division of the STUDIO BOOKLI$T CAMERA, IT'S A DOG! Copyright 1998, Pamela Curry>

"VARIETY is the Spice of Life", but Hold Back the "Sugar... and everything Nice". On June 11th 1999 Daily Variety published a few articles about women in the film industry. With titles like "Integrated but unequal" & "Numbers not pretty for women in the biz", it's surprising the number of women in Cinematography went from 0% to 1% from last to this year! That was then this is now: In 2003 The Hollywood Reporter reported that although women are moving ahead as producers and in management, typical female type administrative jobs, they are going nowhere in editing, cinematography and directing!


Master Classes, Workshops with Master Cinematographers, Directors of Photography (D.P.).

These 8 workshops were taped at A.F.T.R.S., the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, with support from Kodak's Worldwide Student Program.

The information below is a critical review of what I consider an very important group of Training Tapes. Each could easily be viewed at least 4 times to take in all the details. At the American hotel chain the "Guest Quarters" they used to leave a box of Godiva Chocolate in your suite - works for me! 5 of 5 Chocolate Bars, O.D. on chocolate here!

On the First day of Xmas my true love gave to me: 1 BARK & BITE

These tapes may contain outdated lighting equipment. The tapes are most important for studying the variety of approaches that can be undertaken when presented with different lighting situations. Each tape contains similar elements: Well edited workshop footage (redundant translations are edited out and it is captioned where Sacha Vierny speaks in French) is cut into narration that shows a blueprint of the lighting set-up. It is usually cut in at the point of the shoot and after the Cinematographer has described the motivation for the lighting and/or blocking on the set. The Narrator includes information such as the millimeter of the lens used, the T-Stop, the type of Kodak film used and often why and about filters, and in the longer workshops changes in the lighting from one scene to the next.

Each tape includes the actual footage shot. If this was a comparative shoot with two cinematographers that footage is sometimes run simultaneously so a comparison can be made. This is more true in the 4 workshops shot simultaneously on the two (2) exact same studio sets (Studio Set: Deserted Australian Cafe at Xmas in the summer, with a cyclorama in the background).

and a Partridge in au pair tree. On the second day of Xmas my true love gave to me:

2 AUSTRALIAN OUTBACKS: A note about the A.F.T.R.S.: This is a hands on workshop for students. Students do the set ups and ask questions. There are moments when this adds something of interest to an understanding of methods used on a set. For instance, a master cinematographer tells one student to never use the video assist to determine whether an exposure or light set-up was correct on a set because it is deceptive, and another tells not to use the black and white split in the video assist to determine an exposure of black and white film because it is panchromatic.

Although, it seems simpler to have students shoot black and white still film in order to develop an eye for tones as opposed to colors? In one of the workshops a Master Cinematographer comments on how the student's cross-training, taking turns on different jobs each day, was a good idea. The most significant thing to take from the series is an analysis of how different cinematographers personal vision and approaches to lighting will effect the final look of a film.

and a Partridge in au pair tree. On the third day of Xmas my true love gave to me... 3 RABID DOGS

1) LOCATION LIGHTING with Geoff Burton, 29 minutes: Non-studio lighting with emphasis on making the best use of the equipment that your gaffer (electrician) has immediate access to in his truck, and problem solving on location (mixing light sources, holding back available light, using practicals). This was the best of the shorter workshops simply because it tackled issues that someone shooting in a low cost location lighting (studio rentals being expensive) could from draw from for future experience. It was easy to understand even for someone only with location lighting experience for still photography (houses & babes at the beach stuff).

2) LIGHTING DEAD POETS SOCIETY with John Seale, 28 minutes. Lighting used in a couple of scenes in one dorm room. Studio lighting situation. Interesting for lighting, creating ambiance, and shooting in a small, sparsely furnished space, with an exterior view or if you really liked this particular movie!

3) LIGHTING DANCES WITH WOLVES with Dean Semler, 29 minutes. Lighting a few teepee scenes inside to out or outside to inside action with firelight. A few different scenes with 2 - 4 persons setting around or standing near the fire inside the teepee, like in the film. A simulation of what was done on the movie set.

and a Partridge in au pair tree. On the 4th day of Xmas my true love gave to me.

4 AVID TRACKING CHIPS. Somehow all persons who use a camera to make a living find that their identity is revealed in their work, eventually each finding their own style that distinguishes them from the pack. Each of the Following Workshops are about 55 minutes. In all four of these workshops filming takes place on 2 studio sets simultaneously, each the same set: a deserted Australian Cafe at Xmas in the summer. Two different masters were asked to run a workshop with the same theme. The script contains no dialogue and is flexible to the style of the cinematographer. The scenes were directed by the school's Cinematography department head. The final footage did not have to cut together as a short film and some shots were static. In essence the entire package shows about 8 different ways to light & shoot a short on the same set.

Party of Four: The Critique, Beginner, Advanced, Intermediate? As instructional videos these workshops have been produced so that they could be used in an educational arena, but at what level? First, although the overhead diagram showing each lighting setup with a narrative was very good, it would have helped greatly to have had at least one point in the instructions with a labeled diagram of the interior. I found some difficulty when attempting to quickly make notations about the interior lighting setups when the unlabeled overhead diagram was turned! The bigger problem may be that lighting jargon and shortened names of lights were used. That was not as large a problem for me, but I've read over 70 textbooks on filmmaking. An advanced or intermediate student with access to lights should have no problem. This group of four videos actually showed more of the actual lights, gels and camera equipment than the others.

4) SHOOTING FOR REALISM with Allen Daviau, A.S.C. and Sacha Vierny Both Cinematographers light the scene for early day and then for a scene 8 hours later, sunset. Their approaches to lighting and staging the scenes are completely different. Daviau, who you might be familiar with not only because of his work on E.T. (and other early Speilberg productions) but also as host of the series on Silent Films, uses a strong, hot sunlight and filters. Vierny demonstrates a "sequence", one tracking shot covering a couple of scenes. Vierny's experience as a Cinematographer is very different than Daviau's Hollywood experience and this provides a twist.

Vierny speaks mainly in French, the video has english sub-titles where the translator has been edited out of the workshop. Since I've been personally looking for a tape of French film terms with an English translation, I found some of Vierny's workshops interesting for reasons that might bore someone else.

5) SHOOTING FOR BLACK AND WHITE with Allen Daviau, A.S.C. and Denis Lenoir. Lenoir was in three out of eight of the workshops, for him this is two workshops in one. He lights the set and shoots it in Black and White, and in Color. Parts of the color shoot are seen while he lectures. Cinematographers are not generally in front of the camera and one cannot expect this to be entertaining but Lenoir is amusing compared to Daviau. Daviau and Lenoir first encounter a problem in exposure after processing their first rolls. Daviau demonstrates a classic black and white shoot in the tradition of Hollywood Silent Films, with strong backlight and classic modeling. Daviau's lighting in this workshop is similar but not the same as in his workshop "Lighting for Reality".

Daviau lectures on some of the history of lighting for silent films. Lenoir chooses the opposite lighting with "hard bush lighting", remarking that the lighting of Black and white of Hollywood of th 40's is cliché he places his sun behind the camera, making this video a very interesting comparison. Lenoir then does something interesting when the students have difficulty on the timing of the tracking shot he wants, he takes control of the camera and shows them how to handle the camera during the shot. This is the sole time in any of these workshops there is a demonstration of this type. The problems of shooting black and white vs. color are discussed in several parts of this tape. Both the outside and inside of the Cafe are shot.

6) SHOOTING FOR DRAMA with Robby Muller (Paris, Texas...) and Peter James (Driving Miss Daisy...). This workshop was slightly different than the other three shot on similar sets in different studios. This appeared to have more narrative and less lectures. Muller set up a track that ran left to right and James a tracking shot that ran right to left. Two scenes, one for early day and then later day were shot. Muller's later day scene was near sunset and James was at twilight. James' day shot was on a hot and bright set where he added dust and wind and avoided shooting the cyclorama, while Muller shot the cyc. The narrator contrasts and compares the different sets ups. Muller does mostly independent films and low budget films and for personal reasons does not care for the commercial Hollywood system while James appears quite the opposite. James describes film as an "acceptable cheat". He may have cheated in making the short film but this training tape is no cheat.

I spent 5 to 7 hours on each 55 minute video to detail the lighting/filters, lens, T-stop and film used. The motivation for the use of light is carefully described in most of the workshops but particularly well in this tape. James lighting is slightly complex and it appears to me these tapes would be worth more training value if they were accompanied by a pop-up book of the sound studio with the Cafe and the light set up for each cinematographer. Ya, well, I guess I buy too many children's books!

7) SHOOTING FOR FANTASY with Sacha Vierny and Denis Lenoir. Lenoir carries a pocket book of notes he has made for himself since he started to learn cinematography. He divides it into technical and critical sections. He tells students not to be embarrassed to write things down and to track their own progress. This is a somewhat amusing account of what he wrote down in his early years. Lenoir also speaks about what he thinks the job of the cinematographer is comparing it to that of music or of subtext of the film. Commenting briefly that the lighting with meaning is very important.

The Fantasy part consists of snowfall falling in the Cafe and in the case of Vierny's shoot a ray of light appearing magically after a blackout. Both Fantasy shoots are shot from Dusk on until evening light, no day scenes. The setting up of a special effect on the set is part of the workshop. Besides the lighting set up some time is spent on metering the scene and deciding what changes needed to be made.

and a Partridge in au pair tree! Crazy Bird!

8) STUDIO LIGHTING: A COMPARATIVE WORKSHOP WITH DENIS LENOIR AND DONALD MCALPINE, A.S.C. one hour. This was the sole one hour workshop that shot two complete short films with some dialogue. I found this comparative shoot to be the most interesting of all the videos for the purpose of comparing two different approaches. It took place in two room, the actors passing through a hallway. Both Cinematographers took different approaches to working with practical lighting on the set and to staging the scenes. For instance, Denis Lenoir when having the actors pass through the hallway comments on how this shot is boring, so he adds a light on the hat rack in the hallway to make it slightly funny. Candlelight is used in a couple of different scenes when the actors play blind man's bluff.

ELECTRONIC FILMMAKING COURSE: HOW TO MAKE YOUR MOVIE: an interactive film school on CD ROM Don't miss the trivia on the roll of hand towels in the bathroom! At about $90 plus shipping a purchaser should carefully consider how useful this will be. Total beginners and beginners especially with desktop editing might benefit greatly from the extra film and sound footage. Anyone past the beginner stage would want to see it for pure amusement.

3 CD Rom's in one cute little package, free 1-800 for tech assistance. As of this date the Studio Head has been awarded a "Special Diploma" by "How to Make Your Movie:an interactive film school". I only cheated once or twice by not watching the entire student film in its unedited versions. This program was created by Ohio University and Electronic Vision using Macromedia, Quick Time and in league with the "Kodak Worldwide Student Program". The program allows you to wander through 3 floors of an empty film school. Department by department you can read about each step of the filmmaking process, read papers by guest lecturers, do interactive exercises (very few) like match cutting a piece of film from the student movie or making your own sound mix (with limited results). T

This 3 CD computer program has a great deal of trivia and comic relief, as some reviewers have noted, but it misses many opportunities to build film vocabulary throughout the program but especially in sound. Also, the resource lists of books that are recommended reading fail to include at least one of the most important resources for beginning filmmakers, in this Studio Head's opinion, Michael Rabiger's textbooks on Directing. This was published in 1998, therefore it missed the 1999 publication of Bob Koster's On Production Budget Book and Tomlinson Holman's Sound book, ok that's an excuse. Yet, this resource list still fails to list books about contracts by Mark Litwak, distribution by John Cones and licensing, period. The program skirts over issues like fund raising, sales and marketing and in that regard may be considered more of a preparation for film school itself than a taste of the "real" world. In our opinion, before you even read about making a motion picture you should read the books by Litwak and particularly by Cones that talk about the problems of making money in the industry. That is if you are at all interested in making money. If you simply want an outline on how to make your first year's school project, this would do. The school "tour" as it is for example in post-production includes two lectures by Editor Walter Murch, one on his "5-layer" rule, a brilliant addition even without the sound clips he probably had at the lecture, as was the short films demonstrating three different types of editing set-ups.

Probably the best aspect of this 3 CD-Rom package, as I finished the school section in several sittings, is the addition of sound and film footage on the third CD Rom. Yet, one apparently needs to have some type of desktop editing system to practice with this. I've practiced enough editing so I skipped this entirely. Additionally, in opposition to this program, I find that a great deal can be learned by watching films and doing exercises from Rabiger's books on Directing. This program suggests the only way you can learn by watching is to watch Hitchcock films. I find this a very wrong thing to instruct beginners. Some films are good to watch and "breakdown" in notes for entirely different reasons: sound, special effects, editing, dialogue. Not all parts of all films are worth taking this time but quite a bit more can be learned by learning from many small pieces of film than by just aimlessly shooting a mediocre film.

This package is solely for beginners with no knowledge of the film process. Since this is the sole interactive film school project reviewed at this website, there isn't really a way to compare it to other similar materials. Since it costs that same as two very expensive books you can personally assess whether the investment was is worth not getting those other two books!

CINEMATOGRAPHY, IMAGE MAKING FOR CINEMATOGRAPHERS, DIRECTORS AND VIDEOGRAPHERS BY BLAIN BROWN 2003. I made extensive notes after reading this textbook but lost them after cleaning this office to get the first film started. This book is reviewed at the Focal Press website, click on the "film/tv/video production" link on the left side of the page, after entering the U.S. site. Their review comments on the pretty pictures! My review is slightly more critical. First, Blain Brown was very accessible to answer questions about this textbook, which is unusual. I can honestly say most of my criticism was quelched when told me the publisher limited the number of pages, because of the cost of illustrating the text entirely in color. Significantly, Brown's delicate blending of aesthetic ideals and technique, used to obtain that film aesthetic, was the most outstanding feature of this textbook. Most cinematography texts are biased one way or the other: Entirely too technical, forgetting that technique is about creating the story, or in the other extreme just writing about shot sizes or dutch tilts to create pretty pictures. Brown Illustrates the front of this text with a shot from "The Third Man". There's a "Third Man" DVD available with commentary. I had a problem with the fact that after reading the book I was unable to reference back to some of the pages quickly because the book's "Indexing", which has some problems, which a next edition can fix. As soon as I find my notes, I will expand this review.

A text blending the technical and aesthetic aspects of cinematography is far easier for someone studying on their own to understand, this should be read before other more technical texts. 4 out of a possible 5 jars of Nutella for a chocolately smooth presentation.

A.S.C. Video Manual, newest Edition. Designed like a bible this manual is a few hundred pages. I read the first one hundred pages (while note taking). For example, it compares the grey scale to the video "chip chart" and a light meter in film to the video "waveform monitor". Information about filters should also be easy to understand. Nevertheless, I do not now nor have I ever had a video camera so much of this is not familiar. This is meant to be a hands on technical reference and as such some parts of it are not comprehensible without that experience. A basic history of video formats and their predicted future is useful. Topics such as "luminance", "color hue", "saturation color" and "contrast range" should be familiar to the digital artist as well as the still film artist. Across the board I rate this as a useful tool for self-learning during a transition and well worth the WHOA 39.95, if you can afford to pay that and still eat! But since you are near the end of this list you must notice by now, I'll read just about anything!

BOOKS IN CAMERA: GAFFERS (LIGHTS), CAMERAMEN, TECHNICIANS A Holey Ghost Production: The Father and Son made it. It appears most of the better texts in this category are by second generation filmmaking SONS. Douglas Hart being the most frank about this, I found his text more straightforward and informative than most texts by other experts in this industry. Well ladies, those old sheets with holes should be good for something this Halloween! Traditions Canne and should be changed. On Studio Faux's Necessary Evil List: Manuals, like dictionaries, you really should have at least one of because it is impossible to memorize this stuff!

"THE CAMERA ASSISTANT: A COMPLETE PROFESSIONAL HANDBOOK" by Douglas C. Hart. Mr. Hart's style of writing, which is more as a teacher than technician, made learning enjoyable. The read is slow for anyone who has no experience in motion picture filmmaking, but much of the information is completely understandable for persons, like myself, with previous technical experience as a still photographer. Reminding my readers, I had my own photographic darkroom as a teen and studied film as an art long before my short stint in photojournalism. That is perhaps what makes Mr. Hart's text appear easily understandable to me. Although Mr. Hart's style would probably enable even someone with basic photographic experience to understand the job of the Camera Assistant. Mr. Hart is a second generation industry professional. He makes it clear in this book his heroes in the industry are other people who are the same. He teaches at the Maine Photographic Workshops (I'm never going to Maine so I never pay attention to this workshop). In his intro he tells us that there are two types of thinking about passing on knowledge. One is that it took me 20 years to learn this so why should I help anyone else, and the second is Doug Hart's. I interpret his as this, the better educated people around you are, about the industry, the better you can do your own job as part of the team, and that you learn from your students. Unfortunately, I don't always believe that second generation people, in any industry, are the best persons to work with somewhat because I have a greater respect for persons who took the risk to explore themselves and have a career that was not passed on to them.

EASY TO UNDERSTAND FORMAT IN 16 CHAPTERS: A TEXTBOOK FOR THE CLASSROOM "For example", that is a phrase that is used repeatedly in this textbook. First, Hart defines what a topic is. Second, he tells you in other words what it means. After these 2 explanations, he frequently uses a "for example" to demonstrate or illustrate further. His "for examples" are done in layman's terminology, are straightforward and simple. If he tells you some formula needs to be calculated, he gives you a simple example of that calculation. A sample follows: Aspect Ratio [1.]...a rectangle that is the shape of the image when projected [2.] ration of the image with to the image height [3] 1.85:1 [is] for example, the image width is 1.85 times the image height. A screen ten feet high would have to be eighteen and one-half feet wide to properly show a 1.85:1 film. Id. at page 27.

Also, Mr. Hart does one other thing as a teacher that I liked a great deal! He does not just tell you how certain things are done. He tells you how he prefers to do something, then as many as one to two other ways other people do it. Then, he does not tell you to do it my way. He tell you to think logically and for yourself-which usually is doing things his way. That is the benefit of learning from someone who is second generation. Hearing the voice of reason, where many people do things just to impress other people in the industry. If you come on a set where someone does something different, from slating to film use, you will not be surprised.

The Chapters include: Intro; Responsibilities of the Camera Assistant; Film Formats & Aspect Ratios; The Camera Equipment Checkout; Shooting Tests During Checkout; Loading/Unloading; Lenses; Filters; Focus; SetUp & Maintenance; Shooting Procedures; Slates & Slating; Paperwork; Video Assist Systems; Tools & Supplies; Education & Work. THIS TEXT IS MEANT AS A MANUAL According to Hart, this textbook is meant as a manual to supplement the American Cinematographer's Manual. You cannot expect to remember everything in this book on the first read. It is a good judge of what you may not know. I also think that to say that this is useful only to prospective Camera Assistants is wrong. The Chapter on the Camera Equipment Checkout has a great deal of information of interest to the Production Department and the Director. I I left the Chapter on "The Camera Equipment Checkout" four times to start other chapters. This chapter was hard to read only because it was explained in detail. I have never seen most of this equipment but had to relate it to equipment I otherwise know about. Also, having done Densitometer tests I pretty much thought the Chapter on Tests, which details how to do the tests and which ones a Director of Photography might ask for and why, should just be skimmed through by a beginner. You need to see the tests.

OTHER READING RECOMMENDED FOR PERSPECTIVE Mr. Hart points out that some equipment, from the perspective of the Camera Assistant, can be a waste of time. For instance, although he states that the Video Assist has many good uses, including for special effects, he states the set-up time and time otherwise wasted with people not needing to look at it on the set, looking at it, makes it a Camera Assistant's nightmare. While in his Camera Assistant's Manual Douglas Hart tells one story about the technical problems when using "video assist", an entire chapter is devoted to video assists, Videonics has another story to tell. Check this link for supplemental reading about how the video assist can be used for creating special effects. One or Two quarts of Paul Newmann's own Chocolate Ice Cream, which is also Bovine Hormone Free. The profits from his products go to charity, very generous! A must have book for beginners.

LIGHTS, GRIPS, ACTION! SET LIGHTING TECHNICIAN'S HANDBOOK BY HARRY BOX, 2nd edition. This is a difficult book to rate for self-training so I've devised a new rating method: Level 1, NO EXPERIENCE in motion picture film lighting! (some experience with making some type of film still or moving but no experience in lighting) Not a book for you-1 chocolate bar for the one or two chapters that might be helpful; Level 2, SOME EXPERIENCE (limited experience in lighting for still film or lighting for motion picture film- 3 chocolate bars; Level 3, EXPERIENCE ON A FILM SET OR ALTERNATIVELY WITH TRAINING VIDEOS (experience on a motion picture film set with lighting or some experience in using lights for still film combined with video training tapes or other reading on lighting for motion picture film)- of 5 chocolate bars. This book is advertised as and probably is an excellent training manual for people working in the industry, but that is not what this website is about! This text is also on the SYLLABUS for film schools where there is also ready access to some film lighting equipment.

This is a "Handbook" in the traditional sense of the word. It could be used to carry around with you in the working world, where you should already be familiar with the book but make reference to it when needed.

The Kodak Cinematography Master Class series reviewed above actually gave me the courage to tackle a technical manual about motion picture film lighting. I did not complete the entire book but read the chapters that most made sense related to my experience and previous training. For instance, Box has a great sections about HMI's with a page of illustration about different types of HMI lights. Those were used in the Master Class series. I made note of what other experience I need to completely understand the technical aspects of the rest of this HANDBOOK. The reason that this book was so complicated to rate for ALTERNATIVE Training is, although it has several chapters like a training manual depicting tools of the trade and equipments lists and vocabulary, the one chapter on how to manipulate lights on the set didn't provide adequate specific information on how so many different lights and gels and accessories should or could be used. That is indeed hard to do in one book. There are many books on lighting for still photography that show only the specifics of how a shot was lit. In fact you need to come to this book with some knowledge of lighting or your comprehension level in reading this book will be low. Mr. Box's book has a good bibliography, a dictionary of terms, an excellent technical appendix and good sections on slang. For instance he has a page of drawings of hand signals in his Chapter on Set Electrician's Protocals, it didn't include the index finger hand signal we all know but I'm sure that is used on occasion as well! Slang terms and abbreviated slang are also available in this book. I found the section on Set Electronics unreadable, but then again I've blown an electronic appliance in just about every country where I've plugged one in and my poor brother-who has studied electronics-never tires of explaining which wire is the ground.

LIGHTING FOR ACTION: PROFESSIONAL TECHNIQUES FOR SHOOTING VIDEO AND FILM. by J. Hart,144 pgs., 1992.It is designed for still film artists looking to move on to video. As a still film artist, I found this too simple, nevertheless I learned some new things. Looking for light for many film artists is a lifetime project and requires constant practice, a point understated in this book (Masters of Light by Schaefer & Salvato). 2 chocolate mounds bars. GAFFERS, GRIPS & BEST BOYS. eric Taub,1994. 2 chocolate bars. If you don't know what each of these people do read this book. If you want find out what unions allows who to do what on the set this isn't the book for you! My mistake. As of 1997, Robert Koster's On Production Budget Book can be read for both a job description and a good idea of where these people fit into the budget!

THE GRIP BOOK: HOW TO BECOME A MOTION PICTURE FILM TECHNICIAN BY MICHAEL G. UVA, 1988. (This book is in a second edition as of 1997 in 336 pages!)This 185 page book at first looks like a product catalog from Chapman Studio Equipment and several other companies combined. I found it by perusing my local library shelves in the moviemaking section. Warning, as well as being a still photographer, I've assisted with location lighting for other photographers. Some of these products are similar to those used in that process, therefore easy for me to understand their purpose. It was somewhat better than a product catalog, which I also read, in that it told me specifically how to use some types of equipment, with "T.O.T." (tricks of the trade) tips, scantily few. The book explains in detail how to screw a 3/8 inch X 16 pitch bolt, with a flat washer, on a rented camera when you are mounting it. That is so you will not wreck the rented camera's thread. Page 152-153. The forward recommended this as a companion book to another text.

I recommend you read it with books by Taub, above, & by Steven Katz. It gives pictorial views of car mounts with "Required material for a mount/rig kit". Even if that material is dated, these 4 books combine materials you need to make a basic vehicle mount, with how to use them & a gaffer and how to plan & shoot your car sequence. 3 Kit Kat Bars! Ciao


John Fauer's website with excerpts
from the books and videos he has made for Arriflex. These are instructional

The Cinematography

this site has some good
downloads and a thread of some of the discussions. Read the threads before
joining the discussion group or it could be a waste of valuable time!

downloads for camera people

Operators Association

Cameras- Note: their Training Videos and Books can be bought separately
from the cameras. This is important to know since if you can't afford the
$60,000 for a camera you can buy a manual and 3 videos for about $78, according
to them!.




of Television Lighting Directors


BIZ, Books on the Business of Filmmaking

"Stan Laurel was probably a near genius as a comic and as an authority on what makes people laugh. He was also a total film-maker. Toward the end of his career, after great self-schooling, he had become one of the finest technicians in Hollywood, in comedy or drama...[Laurel & Hardy] They finished their careers almost penniless. They weren't good businessmen and had no corporate setup...Laurel and Hardy made a lot of money but kept little of it." Jerry Lewis, The Total Film-Maker, pages 183-185, 1971.

Costa-Gavras: State of Mind "H:Your first major success as a director was Z. How did that project get initiated?...We found some Algerians who would give me the money...The actors weren't paid, I wasn't paid, but we still made the movie. H:The film was a success? CG: Yes, but I made the mistake of letting the I talians distribute the film. They paid us only $60,000, and over the past few years they have made millions." Reel Conversations: Candid Interviews with Film's Foremost Directors and Critics by George Hickenlooper, 1991 (page 111).
Unfortunately, by concentrating most if not all of their time, energy and skill on the creative side of the film business equation as opposed to the business, many independent producers end up winning the "film" but losing the "deal". A comment on the notion that a good film is all that is needed to make money, John Cones, The Feature Film Distribution Deal, 1997.

The Feature Film Distribution Deal: A Critical Analysis of the Single Most Important Film Industry Agreement by John W. Cones, 1997. I found Cone's Film Finance and Distribution, a Dictionary of Terms (reviewed below) to be indispensable assistance in reading and understanding his text. In this 138 pages of text and 140 pages of sample agreements/contracts Cones starts by debunking many myths perpetuated by a large segment of the film industry. He systematically identifies quotes of prominent persons in the film industry or by attorneys writing about the industry, and goes on to justify just why what they are saying is not the whole truth. This might seem suspicious were it not for the fact that his information reads like a legal brief, highly footnoted, and he clearly identifies motives for keeping information secret even by members of his own profession. Practically speaking he continues with explanations of key negotiating points, chapter by chapter, and explains why producers fail to negotiate and continue to sign "take it or leave it" agreements. He states of about 135 points very few cannot be negotiated.
A warning from Studio Faux's Webmaster: the behavior in some parts of this book that Attorney Cones suggest an independent producer undertake, by demanding auditing rights or reserving litigation rights, is very much like that behavior which John W. Cones suggests in his Dictionary below can get one blacklisted in the studio system. Go figure? Why doesn't he warn you of this? The Securities and Entertainment Attorney John Cones answered this question at his now defunct Finance board at The Hollywood Network at Reference numbers 274 & 275 (although I always keep copies in my personal records!). Beware that so called "behaviors" of a producer in the film industry or in some other industries are not judged on the same level as in the normal, non-parnoid business community! That is a point his own book makes by judging the moral contracting standards of the film industry to be so low. Also, he recommends a book by Louise Levison, Filmmakers and Financing: Business Plan for Independents in one of his answers.
In "Terms of the Deal itself" Cones lists 25 different methods by which distributor's gross receipts exclusions actually substantiate his earlier comparison that ..."a more accurate description of the studio net profit scam would be grand theft". Apparently his purpose is to educate enough independent producers to organize them to stand up against industry practices only considered the norm because all of the distributor/studios engages in them, not because they're legal. News flash, my own lawsuit in discovery revealed clandestine practices as onerous, as this in the journalism community. Little wonder for the studio/media partnering! Don't miss different, newer and more expensive versions of this book at Amazon! Also, read a free article online. I can't get it to link, search Google: Cones & Five Most Common Film Finance/Distribution Scenarios.

Robert Koster's On Production Budget Book. This is a 207 page user's manual for the Movie Magic Budgeting Software, used by "90%" of the film industry. I read the library version, sans the computer disk. A "limited" (you can't save your work) version of Movie Magic Budgeting software comes with the book when you purchase it. This manual goes through each line of the budgeting including a 3 part breakdown of basic accounting principles for each category. It assumes a breakdown board has been completed! For someone completely untrained in the business, like myself, this is a top ten book. It replaces Taub's (Best Boys...reviewed in the Studio page) book in that it does describe line by line not only job titles but job descriptions. Koster excerpts some California State Statutes on child welfare and SAFETY reminding you that many budget items are directly tied to Set safety. Also, reminding one often that budget requirements change with locations. It incorporates information about Teamsters, DGA, and SAG union requirements that need to be considered when figuring the budget. Michael Weise Productions' book on Budgets does not compare to this book as it is not an accounting manual. Mr. Koster's personal antidotes from various projects do give a frame of reference for why a particular budget item is created in a category. Methodology is important and so is the small print. Do no miss the fact that the sample computer screens in the book, if you do not have the computer disk, contain extra information including film lab prices as of the publication of this book. Wisely Koster admits that he sought aid in devising the Post-Production Budget from a Star Wars veteran, that was not his area of expertise. A book to study as it also reminds you clearly of what you don't know but where you might find it out!
Five Big Hot Chocolate Donuts! The 2nd book linked here is a newer book that I have not reviewed and Amazon says the book starts with the phrase like Budgeting has changed...pick your poison! Read their reviews.

43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film, A Comprehensive Analysis of Film Finance by John Cones, 1995. I am reading this after Cone's Film Distribution and as such it is easier to read. This 192 page book has a breakdown of, yes, 43 ways to finance a film. About 2 to 7 pages outline the pros and cons of each form of financing, and 1 to 3 pages show where you can find more information about each form of financing. This type of bibliography is not easy to obtain. It does take alot of research, so I would say it is worth reading that in detail as well. In case the big FOOT on Film Studio Faux's cover page doesn't speak for itself: Often the most interesting and useful information is available in just a footnote or in this case a bibliography. Old news articles can be obtained at your local library or through an interlibrary loan service. Variety reported that Carolco Co., maker of The Terminator and other Blockbusters, went bankrupt because of their use of International presales to finance their films. If you read the trades or have other specific business questions you can keep in mind while reading , it could keep you from getting lackadaisical while studying this detailed but tedious book on various forms of business arrangements. Aspirin has been added to the list of items you need to read Studio Faux's Bookli$t.

Louis Levison's, Filmmakers and Financing: Business Plans for Independents. I first saw this book at Attorney Cone's website, credit given. (As of January 1998 this book is in a second edition) This is a simple and straightforward look at how to create a business plan. The written proposol for your film to attract investors. It is easy reading, even for those with a non-business background. Ms. Levison states her book may help you decide whether you want to be in business or just Direct for a Studio (by way of example). Many people simply do not have that choice. Whatever your goal is you should read this book. It's useful information even just to understand what your employer has to go through to obtain financing. It can aid you in evaluating your negotiating position. It surprised me somewhat that she recommended relying on industry journals and trade papers in order to obtain box office dollars for a movie comparison that you will use in your business plan to project your own figures. That contains numberous pitfalls besides unreliability of the trades themselves. It would be wise to read this book before reading Attorney Cone's books, which contain more detail about Security Regulations and methods by which a film can be financed. Levison does not detail the pitfalls and problems that are a natural part of the film industry today as does Attorney Cones. Her sample business plan for "Crazed Consultant Films International" at the end of her book will put a smile on your face as will the One Big German Chocolate Muffin Studio Faux gives her. Also, see her website Movie Money for a newer edition!

Film Finance and Distribution, a dictionary of terms, 1992 by John W. Cones at $24.95 this is not cheap! This attorney/author says he makes his clients read this 566 page book! I personally would return the favor and bill him for my time. The favor would be that if you had read this book to begin with you may not have needed his services. Legal, filmmaking, and distribution terms are intermingled. They're taken from his interaction with industry professionals at seminars listed in six pages of acknowledgements. Mr. Cone's frankness about sometimes brutal business practices of the film industry is demonstrated with his inclusion of such terms as "blacklist","greylist" (applied to age discrimination & writers), & "greed". His descriptions of Studio Departments were included in Studio Faux's Departments . I will attempt to read this in detail at some later date but for now, after at least looking at every page, it gets a Film Producer's cut and a Fifty 50 Shake Exchangeinstant chocolate shake (50% of the profits go to diabetes research)!
Cones uses "Blacklist" and "Blacklisting" as terms to define forms of retaliations for threatening to sue in the film industry. Defining a "Blacklist" as "A list of persons with whom business is not to be conducted or who are not to be hired" and further telling the reader to "see 'Discrimination', 'Problem Producer', and 'Sue Us'....'Buchwald Case' ". Buchwald, who did not make a living in the film industry, in a breach of contract suit, after winning,challenged Paramount's method of determining "net profits", paying their own entities first. Attorney Cones further suggests under "Sue Us" that independent film producers create associations to monitor unfair business practices (see "Lobbyists ")

Cheap Alert:

Haven Books & Collectibles on Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven,
Florida recently sold me this book, which is still selling at Barnes & Noble for full price, for $4.00. That was their only copy, it was in perfect condition. This store, which is classified as "used & rare books", has a small but nice section of books on movies and celebrity biographies, and film industry people (like George Lucas); Illustrated Star Trek books; books on tape like star wars; and art books. Unless they are rare books, they even sell new books, their prices are 30-70 percent off the regular price. The books are in good condition. Considering the 4th class mail rates on books in the U.S., I don't know if they have a mail fee, it's be cheaper to buy books here than at full price!

BUSINESS BIOGRAPHIES Contracts & Negotiations

They Can Kill you, But they can't eat you, Lessons from the front by Dawn Steel 1993, college drop-out, president of production of Paramount Pictures and president of Columbia Pictures in 1987. According to a recent search of the internet she is presently in production, a partner?, at "Atlas". The title meaning "they may destroy your job but they can't destroy you" (outside cover). When Dawn was first promoted at Paramount to production she admits to asking, What did you actually do in production? Id. at 122. On the motion picture film Flatliners: "The profit-to-cost ratio was huge, particularly because the back-end participation was virtually nonexistent...Except for Michael Douglas's gross participation as a producer, all the other players were net participants. And as I said earlier, according to David Mamet, "There is no net." We were able to put virtually all the profits in Columbia's pockets." Id. at 267. Her final exit from Columbia came about when one of the newly appointed Studio heads, former producers she had worked with Jon Peters and Peter Guber, canceled one of her projects and told her she reported to them. This despite the fact that her contract was negotiated so that "no one could be hired above me or below me without my approval...that is, unless the company was sold." Id. 238 & 270. It had been sold to Sony.

How to make it in Hollywood: All the right moves by Linda Buzzell. I thought this was going to be very interesting because it was by a female who was an ex-studio executive. 1 chocolate bar told the story.

Texts on Contracts,
Agents, Legal Stuff

Dealmaking in the Film & Television Industry: From Negotiations
Through Final Contracts 1994 Mark Litwak, Lawyer ,one of those Esquire type guys. Need to buy it if you can afford the $26.95, especially if you are not familiar with any industry contracts. It gives inside information on all segments of the industry from actors to directors including must know information and pitfalls to avoid. However, if you have ever been involved in serious litigation over contracts or artist's rights you would already know there is more one needs to know than what is in this book. Written so non-lawyers can read it but, in my opinion, to scare them into getting a lawyer & rightfully so! The guild and union rules & regulations are inserted in different segments but those in their totality can be mind boggling themselves.Like, a writer wrote that Writer's Guild Minimum Contract thing, eh? There is now a 2nd Ed. available at Amazon for less or a newer 3rd Ed as of 2009. Despite the extra price, with the law newer is better. I don't say that about all books here, tricks of the trade do not change that much, just the gear used to create the tricks changes.
5 Nestle's Crunch Bars, must have nuts!


CINEMA, Visual Effects and Making of Books

"Visual effects... are not the same as special effects. Special effects take place on the set...Visual effects...come alive in the quiet of postproduction, with film stock, computers, miniatures. Special effects people are into physics and like to play outdoors. Visual effects artists tend to be indoor types..." Page 43 from Dick Tracy, The Making of the Movie by Mike Bonifer.

June 12, 1997
Directors Guild President Jack Shea today released the Guild’s annual report on women and minority hiring, a report which graphically displays the lack of any real progress toward equality for both DGA women and DGA minorities.

The report indicates the percentage of total days worked by DGA women and minorities versus the number of total days worked by all DGA members in 1996, as well as in each preceding year since 1983, the first year that women and minority hiring statistics became available to the DGA from employers. In 1996, DGA women saw a slight decrease in their percentage of total days worked, from 22.76% to 22.63%. This marks the first time since 1993 that the women’s percentage declined...."Employment levels for DGA women and minorities are simply unacceptable," Shea commented. "The producers must find more effective ways to bring talented females and individuals with a diversity of ethnic backgrounds into our business." DGA First Vice President Martha Coolidge strongly endorsed Shea’s views. "These statistics are an embarrassment to our industry," Coolidge said. "It is bad enough to see how small the growth is in working days for minorities, but it is particularly disheartening to see the percentage of days worked by women actually dropping."

FX, How did they do that?

"Making" of Books

The same writers who write & publish CINEFEX, a quarterly magazine about special effects picking out particular movies for each issue, also publish "The making of..." books. They have also written other making of books including Congo, Dragonheart, and the Flinstones. Can't find Cinefex? It is often in the sci-fi section of the magazines at Barnes & Nobles, go figure! Some technical information on shooting special effects is also in Film Design reviewed in the STUDIO. Cinefex now offers a Digital Version Online or you can find a used copy cheap at Amazon.

The Making of Jurassic Park (Lost World), Don Shay and Jody Duncan.
I had seen the "making of" special on TV, taping it. This was still full of additional facts about where the scenes were shot (studios) and special arrangements for each studio shoot. There is also a detailed section on storyboards. You can compare that to the shoot and see how the shooting was changed from this early storyboard. Or, study their technique to build your own original boards! The storyboards are the main reason for 5 huge fund raising chocolate bars!

The Making of Terminator 2 (FAQ),Don Shay and Jody Duncan.
This had less technical and how too information than The Making of Jurassic Park, which I read first. It was particularly good for describing the shooting and special effects in two or three scenes and in depicting Stan Winston's work, but in specific details was disappointing. It mentioned safety issues in the shooting of dangerous scenes, important stuff. 3 chocolate covered cherry bars.

Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects by Thomas G. Smith
.If you're going to order this book from some interlibrary loan service and you will be paying the postage, beware this is a big coffee table book, very heavy. I fell asleep reading this book. Strange to report, I woke up in a Gorilla suit! Until the suit comes off, either the zipper is stuck or I've had too many Brandy filled chocolates, I can't finish this short review! Picture book, about one day's read unless you're eating liqueur filled chocolates, then it may take a month! Also, practical information like the formula for determining the proper camera speed when photographing a miniature is included in chapters that range from Stop and Go Motion to Matte Painting. If you look at the pictures in this book there is one name that you will never forget, Ralph McQuarrie. He designed the pre-production illustrations that convinced financial backers to come on board!

"From Star Wars to Indiana Jones, The Best of the Lucusfilm Archives"
208 pages, 1994. This is the efforts of a Cinefex Magazine contributor and a fine art exhibition coordinator in a beautiful coffee table picture book. This book's finest points, for those interested in film effects, are the storyboards formatted to shoot special effects on the stage with plates... or explosions. How to format the storyboard is of interest in itself. For example it contains a sample of a 7 piece storyboard sequence from when the "Shuttle docks with Death Star". Each board has a revision date, a "Description" such as "EXT., SPACE - SLOW TRUCK BACK", a short description of the action, a space for "Notes" to the right of that and a breakdown underneath of the "ELEMENTS" composing the shot with a graph layout to enable you to check one of these next to the ELEMENT: STAGE; ANIM; PLATE; MATTE; NON-ILM. Additionally there is space for "Shot and sequence", "FRM Count" and "Page #". This is recommended for anyone looking to do some reading or non-reading just that is fun!

Dick Tracy, The Making of the Movie, by Mike Bonifer 1990
In my quest for cheap books, from garage sales to booktrader's stores, I found this highly illustrated 112 page text on sale for .99 in the children's section of a book warehouse. This film based wardrobe and set design on a specific color theory. Vittoria Storaro's cinematography and his personal use of color theory in this film is given an entire color illustrated chapter. Behind the scenes makeup sessions are pictured, and floor plans for a meeting room are reproduced in a chapter on Production Design. As a picture book it worked better descriptively than either of the above two making of books, 3 Milky Way Bars.

Future Noir: The Making of Bladerunner- (FAQ) by P. Sammons
This was a decent making of book with information about preproduction problems and set fights: Everybody run out & buy a T-shirt that "makes a statement". If you view the movie at the same time it's easier to understand what did and did not work relative to trick film shots, or special & visual effects. Although this book has some illustration, it is not a picture book & is a good size text. The information on the building & shooting of miniatures was OK. 5 Reeses peanut butter cups. Although I like this film along with other Ridley Scott creations, I'm not a cult fan.

We are pleased to see that in November of 1998 a book entitled "Storyboarding for Film, TV, and Animation" will be published. Priced at 29.95 it will be some time, until it gets to the library, before we review it here! Meanwhile, it can be purchased from Focal Press.

Since the beginning of this Studio, under two years ago, I've been searching for books that describe how to format storyboards for action sequences. Although I do not have access to a fabulous university library, I have gone through many sources. Some of them show standard illustrations of storyboards drawn really neat in the frame. The better illustrations, such as from the Indiana Jones storyboards and the Making of Jurassic Park, show dynamic action by using the storyboard's edges and frames. This is a short description of what appears to work:

It appears better action storyboards use the edges of the storyboard to extend the action into and out of the frame. In other words, the figure moving out of the frame is drawn over the lines of the storyboard edges! Also, accompanying the frames are adequate "arrows" diagramming the direction of the action. The arrows will also move in and out of the frame, across the frame and around it sometimes with a brief description of the action in words attached. Frames can be used within frames to describe action. For example, a Medium Shot (MS) of Indiana Jones ended in a Close Up (CU) of his head as he was turning it on motivation with the action. The second head shot was framed within the first frame.

As a former still action photographer making a transition to motion picture filmmaking, I find this more dynamic use of storyboards to depict the action to be shot easy to understand. Black and white storyboards with red arrows appear to make better use of the arrows> to show someone not familiar with the blocking how the action will be carried out. A link to an article on Digital Storyboarding. Link to a computer program for electronic storyboarding, StoryBoard Artist.



Miniature Cinematography: The formula "needed to give miniature objects in motion the proper apparent mass". This is a basic starting point for testing:

24 X, D divided by d & the square root of that sum, equals f.

D=Dimensions in feet of reel object

d=Dimensions in feet of the miniature


f=Frames per second (camera frame rate)

For example: if you photographed a space ship supposed to be 20 feet long,

D=20, using a model 2 feet in length, d=2, the frame rate is:

24 x the square root of 20 divided by 2= f.
24 x the square root of 10 = f.
24 x 3.16 = f.
76 = f.
The frame rate for a tenth size miniature is 76 frames per second more than
3 times the normal speed.

Page 112, Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects by Thomas G. Smith.

On or about Miniatures in general: In the spirit of Studio Faux's love for old books we recently traded for Miniature Shops: How to Design and Make Them by Margaret B. Duda, 1977. This is a reference manual on how to make a miniature general store, 1899 Toy Shop, 1915 Confectionary (Bakery), a Victorian Millinery and a 1861 One-Room Schoolhouse.

If it's built to blow you need to build it as big as possible according to an article in the A.S.C. 6th (the 7th is presently out & I can't afford it) Cinematographer's Manual, in an article by Dennis Muren.

The miniature landslide in Dragonslayer was shot at 250 frames per second.

The miniature house in Poltergeist, when the home is destroyed by implosion, was shot at 360 frames per second with a shutter speed of about 1/720 seconds per frame. It was shot with a special camera. The lights were hot, hot, hot!

Explosions are shot generally at speeds in excess of 100 frames pers second at ILM.
Important, see the section below on Movie Magic notes on miniature pyrotechnics!
Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects by Thomas G. Smith.
By way of comparison, according to an interview with Mel Gibson, published on the DGA's site, in Braveheart he shot the slow motion on the horse in the scene at the beginning of the film, he rode in to give himself up after his wife's death,
at 96 frames per second.
To create a volcano eruption in Congo, I.L.M. ceated an implosion on a miniature volcano with a blue screen & blue volcano sides to compose with location footage of a real volcano. A crevice was created in the miniature volcano with black balloons covered in dust. Explosives collapse the crevice balloons creating the implosion. This collapse was shot with a high speed camera at 300 to 360 frames per second.
Excerpted from The Making of Congo, HBO special.

American Cinematographer, April 1997 has an article on Software Tools for Cinematographers, those tools can be used by other persons for previsualization.

Kodak pamphlet #S-42: 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, & 35mm running times

There are 792 frames of film per 50 feet, Pamphlet excerpt:
Projection Speed in Frames per Second 24
Inches per second 18.0 .
Film Length & Screen Time Min. Sec.
50 feet 0 33
100 feet 1 7
400 feet 4 27
900 feet 10 0

KODAK: Motion Picture & Audiovisual Market Division
Source Sample, Types of Kodak Film used to shoot:
Pelican Brief Kodak 5293, 5245, 5296
The Firm Kodak 5248, 5296


STUDIO NOTES: Video Toaster, Post or Post-Production Magazines,
American Cinematographer or Cinefex Excerpts.

ROBOCOP'S, the TV series, explosions & aircraft chases were created in post-
produciion with digital post equipment that included:

Video Toaster Screamer & warp engine accelerators, EGS
cards, Spectra paint, Picasso II cards, 24 frame scan
converters, TV paint, Retina Graphic Cards, Abekas digital
frame storer, Hardware: Amiga 4000. Video Toaster user Aug. '94


Magazines, Corporations, & Misc. articles.
Online article entitled: "The revolution is Them" A series of articles by Laurence Hooper on innovative individuals on the digital hollywood scene.
I've been on so many of them I forgot who they were and where, magazine sites that is!
Rapid 3D digitizers and software tools. Cyberware Laboratory Inc., 8 Harris Court 3D, Monterey, CA 93940. Whole human scanners.
Why won't Hercules die "like a good boy"? Animated Monsters.
LightwavePro, The Journal for Lightwave 3D Animators. An AMG Media, Inc. Publication, 1308 Orleans Drive, Sunnyvale, Ca 94089. Technical journal. 1-800-322-2843

MM, Excerpt from the segment on shooting miniature pyrotechnics.That segment focused on the shooting of the Helicopter crash sequence with Sylvester Stallone at the end of the movie Cliffhanger directed by Renny Harlan. Importantly, the person undertaking this had a first class pyrotechnics license from the California State Fire Marshall's Office & a degree in chemistry. The Helicopter was a 1/6 th scale model and was made at Boss. They emphasized the importance of testing as there is no hard and fast formula for determining film speed. Prima Cord, a wire like explosive, burns at 22,000 feet per second (that's what my notes say). A timing device in the helicopter set off the sequence: a smoke bomb is ignited, 3 seconds later a pelican hook releases the chopper to fall down the edge of the cliff at the same time activating an impact sensitive swith which activates the prima cord when the chopper hits the cliff; 8 inches of fine grain prima cord is used to cut the tail off, the prima cord mortars cut off the tail and blow out the front windows.
This was shot with two different cameras shooting at about 150 frames per second. Camera one is on a boom arm looking down as the helicopter hits the wall. Camera two straight on the chopper. They shot with a two hour window when the sun matched the live action shots. They said to expect to have a minimum of three takes 1 for mistakes, 1 for the camera, 1 for insurance!
Disclaimer: These notes are meant as a guide to beginning filmmakers for expanding budgeting and scheduling skills. They are not meant to be a comprehensive description of that particluar TV program. Excerted here for review purposes only. Did I spell it wrohg? Since I was listening and not reading these programs spelling accuracy is not a certainty.



AMAZON.COM until January 24th, 2010 is having a 50%
sale on some DVD's Amazon DVD Deals Event

How to Find a DVD Commentary Resource List:

I don't review anything Blu-Ray, as of now it is too expensive and the quality of what a filmmaker is passing on through their commentary is either there or not there no matter what format they are delivered in. This Studio is about cheap self-training!

1) Rate that Commentary List There used to be
a list entitled the DVD Commentary List, if I find where it went I will link to it here!

New Line Cinema's Platinum Edition DVD's (Criterion Collection) are full of Easter Eggs, Extras, and Multiple Commentaries. The CRITERION, Collection itself is digitizing hundreds, as of Fall 2007 400+, classic films adding interviews, commentaries, and some contemporary criticism. Your local library may carry some or all of these.

3) The Sundance Channel's "Anatomy of a Scene" has been replayed on several DVD's including: Memento (Special Edition - 2 disk); The Deep End; The Cat's Meow; Anniversary Party; Requiem for a Dream (Director's Cut, also with commentary by the Director of Photography); Frailty; The Believer; & Sidewalks of N.Y. This Sundance series; has simple camera moves or "tricks of the trade" that are valuable to low budget productions (or any production).
Specialty Publications online; offline:American Cinematographer Magazine, for example, publishes a DVD review in their monthly magazine. It's a good idea to search various professional "social" or organizational (union) websites for what they have about DVD Commentaries by their own colleagues, like the Editor's Guild, or the Writer's Guild.

4) Script scanner or Script to Screen is an interesting feature. Although it's not a commentary, it does allow the viewer to read the script on a split screen in sync with the film itself. It illustrates the pace of the action, not forgetting I work in isolation, this is very interesting to see in action film or action TV. It's available on "Lost" the first season pilot; the Alias Pilot, Season One; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; and several other DVD's.

The Studios have started to release two editions of DVD's, one for rental and one with Extended tracks or extra DVD's that are for sale only. This list is limited by my own lack of access to many of the later.

There were so many bad commentaries that only the best are listed. It's a very paltry list.

Commentary for Aspiring Directors

As Speilberg described in an Interview with Larry King the job of a Director is to figure out Where to Put the CAMERA, first and foremost. Much of the Commentary by Directors is generated by their Ego and not a desire to share information with eager students of film. They also appear to be really good at describing other people's jobs, but are terribly deficient (DeVoiD) at describing their own jobs. Kudos to Frank Oz for being one out of many that does a good job in commentary.

I recommend, if you're interested in TV, listen to all the commentary you can by Heroe's Allan Arkush - it's practical and could be applied in any production environment.

RESIDENT EVIL:APOCALYPSE, Writer & Producer Commentary by Paul Anderson and Jeremy Bolt.This is the best of the 3 commentaries on the 2 disc set. This is good learning material primarily for their discussion of the relationship between a game franchise and film, and their respective roles as writer and producer. Going to war against my government is all the gaming I can handle. I don't generally understand gaming, but after a 2nd listen I realized they had valuable information. Plus, I wanted to write this review just to say, they were taken by the person who charged them $15.00 for the Impact logo. A good sock on the jaw would have more impact! Gag me with a spoon and send me to the valley for even bothering to listen to the actor's commentary.

PANIC ROOM, Special Edition 3 Disks with an overwhelming amount of information about Pre-Production, Post-Production and shooting. This was a one location film, that is a good reason to study it. But, the Writer's commentary is particularly motivational. The outside sleeve states it is by David Koepp and a "Special Guest". I don't know if William Goldman has a trademark on his name, but I'll tell you he's the very "Special Guest". The conversation between these two writers about their writing habits, their interpretation of materials, and just listening to how Goldman thinks as a writer is worth the price of the DVD. I've read parts of Goldman's books for the same reason. You'll pay more to purchase a Podcast by a screenwriter at Amazon than I paid to buy this at Best Buy, it has much more information on these 3 discs. David Fincher is known for putting out DVD's that graciously give huge amounts of information about the making of a film. Buy it! It's an entire jar of Nutella worth of fun!

BRAZIL, Criterion Ed. , with extensive commentary. If you have ever made a film that failed, particularly if you were attempting to make an art film, the Criterion edition of Brazil is a must see. Do not, and I mean it, go ask around to find out what other people think. Go straight to this DVD and the extended Edition of Blade Runner, reviewed below. Analyze your own problems and don't waste time with peoples opinions!

COLLATERAL, Disc 2 - Making of, Michael Mann Director. Other than a personal fascination with night shooting and possibly the only performance of Tom Cruise with an interesting character, I found the drama didn't rise to the level of tension it could have. I compare practically all dramas whose action is restricted to driving a vehicle to Wages of Fear, a film I saw once when I was young and could never forget. City of Night, Disc 2 This is an interesting documentary on shooting at night, on how cab scenes were shot, plus a few other items. I've some personal prejudices about how Michael Mann is being marketed by the press. Never ceases to amaze me, the stupidity of an industry that engages in marketing using electronic data, or should I say duh. Someday the study of 20th and 21st century history will include how etymology was skewed by technology, or at least a screenplay I write will include it. [Mann, Nordic; An island off the Irish Sea; Da, reference Danish Slang; or Da, an Irish dad] On the just plain weird side the Contest Rules for the Post-It Notes contest I just entered tell me even if I win, the contest can be cancelled in the event of Public Enemies. Instead of chocolate, I giving this a cross and string of garlic!

BLADE RUNNER, THE FINAL CUT 2 disc special edition. 2007 Disc 2, Dangerous Days, Making Blade Runner. Documentary of the making of Blade Runner, very specific and varied commentary with detail, worth a Toblerone Bar. There are many versions of this classic,
but the point is paying more...for blue ray of another version isn't going to improve the quality of the information being passed on by the filmmakers. Either they do or do not deliver informative info for other filmmakers.

DISC 1 3 commentaries. 1) Ridley Scott, a commentary I abandoned as Mr. Scott continually excused and justified his actions in the making of the film. Although, I had read about problems on the set, until hearing this I could not imagine how bad they must have been. Apparently, all of his actions should be unquestionable, because he was the one being paid. Like Speilberg and other directors who knew what they were doing, the fact that he was the one paid to do the job justified any of his actions. That statement could use some finessing. I've turned down "payment" and jobs in the past made to me because of how I can creatively manipulate appearances, much like a director. Had I taken them I would have been the town whore, somewhat like Mister Scott.

"Superman never made any money For saving the world from Solomon Grundy And sometimes I despair the world will never see Another man like him." Lyrics, Crash Test Dummies (1991)

Not that I'm writing in support of Speilberg, because he has become the town whore as of late, but at very least he motivated much stronger storytelling with fewer resources in his first efforts.

2) The writer's commentary, snore. I would revisit this some other time.

3) The real reason for filmmakers to rent or buy this DVD: Commentary by Visual Futurist Syd Mead, Production Designer Lawrence G. Paull, Art Director David Snyder and Special Photographic Effects Supervisors Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer. As a film done with in camera effects this group of people offer invaluable information. Small details with comments on how and why certain in camera effects were used. There is also an attitude of mutual respect amongst this group of artists (that is certainly nothing I've ever heard amongst cameramen, where backstabbing is common).

INGMAR BERGMAN MAKES A MOVIE by Vilgot Sjoman. The link to the Criterion Collection further describes this documentary, a process I try not to duplicate here. It appears this was first only released in Sweden, English subtitles - slow going.

Highly recommended viewing for it's stimulating look at the artistic process, the one that happens in an artist's mind as opposed to a studio's backlot. Wild Strawberries was a snoozer. I received Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie one week after viewing it, I almost skipped viewing this documentary. Surprisingly, it was interesting. Particularly since I write about negative effects of new technologies on an artist's ability to be creative, often demonstrating how that ability is crippled or handicapped.

Until now, I had only known Bergman for The Seventh Seal. I'm isolated, poor and don't have access to many foreign films where I live now, although I did when I was younger. In the 80's I traveled and researched in Sweden. I was homeless and hungry, not having an opportunity to see film there either. In fact, all I saw were a couple of filmmakers at the train station in Stockholm.

This documentary was a candid and dark look at an artist's frailty. Had it been done today, when the electronic press uses churches and special interest groups to control who and what gets seen, these groups or the press would have used Bergman's candid and "naked" exposure of his fears as an artist, to belittle and destroy his ability to obtain funding or work. Bergman had just finished writing and was shooting a film criticizing the church of Sweden.

Bergman in this documentary was interviewed by a writer whose past included theatrical studies and writing as a critic. It's an intimate and uncritical analysis of his creative process from script to screen.

Today, the anti-competitive and destructive nature of the electronic media in criticizing the lives, motives, and talents of artists through the public, turns many artists into Deceptacons. The definition of that is entitled to an entire book, but I will describe what I mean by the anti-competitive electronic press.

Many contemporary DVD commentaries on the creative process are bogus, so guarded or coached in faux terminology that the Director appears insincere or simply there to please their fans, financiers, actors or studio.

Joss Whedan, whose work I admire, told fans on the Serenity Director's Commentary that now was not the time to offer criticism. Just keep your mouth shut if you don't like it? A Director demanding an audience react or not react because their utterance can be manipulated and used to shut down future financing, SHINY Browncoats!

Bergman professes: I don't believe a play or a film is a play or a film until it meets the audience. He elaborates on his own process as one who writes about what he believes is necessary and what he believes other people believe is necessary. But then, about being confronted with the fear of being judged silly or judged for not having made it correctly.

He's arrogant in a way that is expected of this talent, deservingly.

William Goldman in one of his books wrote, today even before a writer can come to fruition as a talent - perfecting their craft, they have to endure high levels of criticism by the press and public. Humiliation often comes to these new writers before their plays or film has the opportunity to be "born", in Bergman's view meeting their audience. The crippling of financing being the primary goal but also resulting in the aborting of the creative talent.

If you look to this documentary as history, you realize it's not only the church that repeats the mistakes of their past, repeating rituals despite a lack of spiritual faith, so do young artists. But in the later, it's a ritual of self preservation. At one point Bergman turns the interview around, asking if as a critic he had ever given harsh criticism. His answer was vaguely that he didn't have that type of courage. Bergman asks him, were you ever jealous of those critics who did? The young writer answers, yes.

In this I found Bergman's short interview of the writer more dispositive of Bergman's artistic temperament than any other part of this documentary, because certainly he would not have ever made a decision that he would later regret so much as to make him jealous of another's work.

This Interview/Documentary doesn't draw conclusions for us about Bergman's talent, confidence or arrogance. The interviewer wasn't out to get him or make him reveal something that would make him embarrass himself. Although I can't say that for Bergman. It allows you to draw your own conclusions while exploring Bergman's art of writing and shooting a film.

Lastly, having just viewed Scorcese's documentary on the films that influenced him as a Director, this is nothing like that. I wanted to comment on the fact that not all Directors come to film through the same influences and no particular school of thought prepares one more than the other. I've personally been more influenced to make film by ideas, writers, books, painters and my technical love of a cameras and film less than any film I've every seen. I've just deliberately been denied the tools.

If you're an action filmmaker more influenced by images than ideas, you might not benefit from this documentary, which is slow and often tedious. Choose how to waste your time wisely ;<). It's what makes a man a man.

SEVEN SAMURI by Akira Kurosawa, the Criterion Collection. The interviews of Kurasowa, in Japanese, require some reading, but it beats the hell out of reading a book. At a time when I really thought trying to learn anything from just watching a film was hopeless, this film awakened in me a renewed interest in the camera. Outstanding commentary in English by 3 scholars.

IKIRU by Akira Kurosawa, the Criterion Collection. The Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa is truly film school in a box material. Yes, you have to READ captions to understand the interviews but it's worth it!

MY VOYAGE TO ITALY, A Look at the Movies That Influenced a Filmmaker's Passion by Martin Scorcese, ISBN 0-7888-3626-9. This is the history of Italian film especially for people who don't appreciate film history class or old Italian filmmakers, that's me. Scorcese gives commentary through clips of his favorite Italian filmmakers, from his childhood.

THE SCORE: Director Frank Oz & his D.P. describe where they put the camera[s] and how that placement reflected his telling of the STORY. This is consistent throughout the DVD.

SPY KIDS II: Robert Rodriguez's commentary was very refreshing. I should point out that he reveals he's editing film on an Avid and Sound on Pro Tools system, not exactly indie budget items. Further, he learned part of what he knows from doing "time" somewhere at Lucas Arts. All I can say to that is, glad you did your time and you're free. I won't ask what you're offense was to get put there! What is refreshing is he speaks frankly about the sometimes silly things that are the subject of artistic inspiration. No matter how stupid write your ideas down when you have them and allow them to develop more fully later on. If you did not have the benefit of an artistic environment when you were growing up the vision to see that engaging in this exercise can lend to better ideas is often discouraged! In extreme situations unfortunately, it can be used against you in a commitment proceeding. Oh my God, if you don't think like other people we will have you put on drugs. Welcome to Florida!

In a very primitive way Rodriguez's commentary rings of more classical writings by Da Vinci or observations by Magritte. Observe what is around you, and see it in a way that it has not been seen before. Although, Rodriguez never approaches their level of observation, (the idea here is not to pass the psychological exam but to flunk it - because if you can just make "like a splinter is to wood" analogies you're too stupid to be an artist, try journalism) he makes a valuable contribution. He encourages all filmmakers sitting at home engaging in the digital filmmaking process to believe in themselves and their artistic observations, and to continue to explore their own ideas. From my perspective, this is always to be accompanied by the study of the classics. Here is where Rodriguez's own production hit the rocks.

This is not meant to be a review of Spy Kids II. It's sufficient to say that sometimes working with other artists, although the Director should have the final say, can provide badly needed critiques that are healthy to grow one's own artistic vision. The worst that can happen is you say I'm glad you helped me see that perspective but "were doing it my way" (a famous "tune" sung by Lucas and Scott in the very long past to get a great film made). Rodriguez claims creativity can overcome technical difficulty. This is somewhat true but pushed too far actually denies creativity it's full reign.

All this aside, the "Ten Minute" film school is a simple intro on how to do special effects on the cheap. His commentary during the actual film provided simple ways for anyone aspiring to make film to be a better filmmaker/creator. I haven't seen this done by anyone. Mostly I hear how working with the Studios is so hard and requires so much compromise anyone listening might want to just give up, because ONLY - I - ME - this great qualified director or writer that I am could do this. Most commentaries are so much bullshit!

INSOMNIA: Director Christopher Nolan's Commentary Track is delivered in the order of the "Shooting Script", by scene number. He tells you technical information about production breakdown, how and where scenes were shot, on stage or on location), it includes shooting and lighting information. This DVD also has short commentaries by the Production Designer, Director of Photography and by Hillary Swank but Nolan's
is the best.

Thelma and Louise, Special Edition: Ridley Scott's commentary gives some very useful detail on how the artistic details of several scenes were accomplished and some info on location shooting. Directors come from many different backgrounds, but as a matter of personal prejudice, those who come from a combination of the arts and commercials seem to have had the opportunity of working out problems on a schedule in other small artistic projects. This includes a storyboard/film comparison sequence that is also good. Here is where his expertise ended, Mr. Scott should have shut up about his motivations for wanting to direct this film. At one point he goes so far as to say or imply that he thinks women dream about living outlaw lives like these two women. Say What? Ridley, I was serious about starting that Annual Contest: The most effective way for Ridley Scott to Kill Himself Contest.

THE QUIET AMERICAN: Philip Noyce with his producers, actors and others join in this commentary together to give a nice short course on HOW TO produce an ADAPTION. Michael Caine is at his best and gives a short lecture on the difference between a "star" and an "actor". The DVD also included Sundance's "Anatomy of a Scene". They analyze the filming of a historically correct scene, a city bombing. A rant: I live in a small town, some Movie Rental stores chose not to get this in stock and others received as little as 5 copies. Although slow moving to start, this was a good film. As a character driven film, a love story entwined with issues of politics and the violence of war, it was more effective in both storytelling and in getting empathy for victims of war than "Tears of the Sun" which has dozens of copies on the rental shelves.

LORD OF THE RINGS, Special Extended DVD Editions for all three films: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Twin Towers; The Return of the King. These are already known as Film School in a Box material. This isn't a review of this material, but it is an affirmation that it has actual academic value. On the other hand, I stood in line at 4:30am to get a discount on the 3 disc version of Jackson's King Kong. That extended version was somewhat of a disappointment, although still packed with information of educational value.

Commentary By Writers

- Who the hell were they?

Whatever it is that leads Writers or Directors to think they should comment on whatever a viewer already Can See on the Screen, like describing the wardrobe or setting you're looking at, they should get over it. This is by far the worst form of Commentary, followed only by commentary that is Ass Kissing: Everybody was so wonderful to work with and so wonderful at their job. This is always annoying when it is a Producer or Director who appears desperate to work again with their Actor.

ED TV: It's rare that I ask, after listening to a writer's commentary, who were those writers (as in Who was that Asked man) Although Ron Howard's commentary track as Director was at least worth a listen, the writer's commentary was insightful. Despite an apparent irreverence at different times for everything and everyone, I vote them most likely to work again. They comment on what was cut from the script, what was rewritten, what was an ad lib by an actor, and how many family members Ron Howard used in the film.

PLEASANTVILLE: I've read essays at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in Geneva, Switzerland, that demonstrated that the words "Intellectual" and "Filmmaking" used together were an oxymoron. This writer rebuts that presumption. Because of the nature of the screenplay, everyone in Pleasantville undergoes some realization (change), the character development issues he discusses are worth a listen.

SPARTACUS: The Criterion Collection (2 Disc Set) This has a commentary on it by Dalton Trumbo that Kurt Douglas says should be required listening. I found it very interesting because despite his position in the industry, if you don't know frequent another website, he openly criticized this production and all additions or omissions to his script. I found his comments educational and not merely self-serving like many of the commentaries on most contemporary DVD's!


This is an list I have been looking for elsewhere but have not been able to find. This List is NOT a complete list. Notably two stand out, both contain commentary by college professors: SEVEN and the Director's Cut of BASIC INSTINCT. Neither of these are my favorite movies. The commentary in SEVEN is a must for any film student. A professor of film from Warwick, England interacts on the various commentary tracks with the technicians and artists keeping the discussions very professional and not banal. The explanation of "worldizing" is one example of how the Technician's soundtracks are designed for aspiring professionals or well educated movie fans. The Basic Instinct commentary tracks have some good information from the Director of Photography, with a second track by women's studies professor delineating the metaphors; myths (the whole men are afraid of getting sucked back into the womb debate-quite controversial) this film depends upon.



FREQUENCY - NEW LINE CINEMA, with a great commentary by Composer Michael Kaman and the 5.1 Isolated Music Track.




Commentary by composers is becoming more popular, for example "Frailty" had a Composer/Producer/Editor commentary, but commentary by a sound effects designers/editors are rare:

SEVEN - New Line Cinema. These multiple commentaries are hosted by a British Film Professor (good technical information)

CASTAWAY - Randy Thom with other technical commentaries


Cinematographer's/Directors of Photography
American Cinematographer's Magazine has a DVD Review that also will tell you when there is a Cinematographer's Commentary, or a Commentary about their work.

THE SUM OF ALL FEARS Cinematographer John Lindley and the Director. Good solely for an illustration and explanation of bleach by-pass processing.
Minimally useful for shot (steadicam use-in lieu of inserts) and lighting information but without details.

ARMAGEDDON, New Line Cinema Criterion Collection (Critique: Too many filmmaking so called "war stories" by Michael Bay and too little true technical information).

THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE, Interview with Roger Deakins (Although short, good technical detail)

There are beginning to be quite a few tracks with Production Designers, they are all worth a listen. I seem to have left out the excellent commentary on "From Hell".

INSOMNIA - Commentary on selected tracks only.


SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS This list would be by far the longest if I were to put a complete list here. Often the Director's commentary will be about Effects, the worst special and visual effects commentary is sometimes by the most highly competent Effects crews. For example the Effects commentary in "The Phantom Menace" in one word "sucks" and sounds like it was made by a bunch of "Valley Guys" (Read Cinefex or some other technical magazine if you're looking for accur 1ate information).


The Editor is ILL, He's also Color Blind, Do It Yourself Editing!

The Editor is ILL, He's also Color Blind,

Do It Yourself Editing!

TECHNICAL BOOKS, FILM EDITING: Editing has very few books. This I believe is something you have to learn by doing it and watching how other films are edited. Although, more Texts on how to utilize different editing programs might be added.

This manual for their basic digital course is one of the first books I read about motion picture film editing. It is strictly a technical manual on how to use their Media Composer. It really is not a bad idea altogether for someone with no editing experience to read this and the manual cutting methods above. There are symbols that can be memorized and making a mock keyboard with a poster board is not an entirely dumb idea! It helped me understand the teacher at an Avid seminar! The actual course would be better but it is tres cher! As you can imagine three Chers would cost
alot of money!@

THE AVID HANDBOOK by Steve Bayes, April 1998 (Focal Press) 1999 Focal Press is publishing an "updated" version.
This textbook is an actual manual for Avid users. Another version of this review has been merged with the former SIGGRAPH page, where I had a chance to speak with the author. Mr. Bayes credentials relative to this textbook are very impressive. He gives Avid Training Seminars, he designed the Master Editor's program, he has other Training credentials at Avid and he is a designer for the Media Composer.


Avid offers Certified Training courses, CD's for perfecting certain editing tricks and even a camp to learn to edit a film. These are linked below and are definitely preferable over just reading about it. Most of these options are expensive for persons still attempting to break into the industry or upgrading skills on a budget. Lastly, having been in training, if you really want to learn all that you can from any training course, skimming through this information for areas you may understand could only help you absorb more in an actual training class.

On the other hand, if you are isolated or dirt poor, there is plenty of information to be gained for free on the internet or in books. My review is meant for the dirt poor readers. I for one read many things not necessarily to learn what is in the book. Because I am interested in production and need to learn what it is I do and do not know, and how important it is to the overall production of a film, I read everything. Additionally, if I was producing a project and had hired an Avid Editor (on a budget) I would ask if they had read or even reviewed this text. The book shows many ways to avoid extra expense in production and identifies potential technical problems.

Having written all this, I say the best use of this book is for Avid Intermediate level users as Mr. Bayes suggests.

This book came to me via interlibrary loan from the Engineering Library of a University. This is very technical information that is even more difficult to learn without hands on experience.


I have devised my own method of learning technical issues. I identify one technical issue at a time and attempt to gain all the knowledge I can about
that issue. For instance, a few years ago I didn't know what OMFI (Open Media Framework Interchange) was so I ordered a free video about why it was important. The Avid Handbook has finally made it crystal clear why the OMFI is important. When I read this information the technical issues were somewhat clearer than other things I have never experienced myself (like making an EDL-Edit Decision List). Mr. Bayes shared an easy to understand example of how OMFI can be used for audio to enable the "Parallel processing of sound while the cutting continues", the transfer of audio to Digital Audio Workstations such as Audio Vision or Pro Tools being eased by OMFI.

The separate chapter on administration of the Avid should have parts that are familiar to anyone who has to tend to the basic needs of computers in an office environment. Even if sections allude you because of lack of experience or technical knowledge, once again it is better to know that you are lacking knowledge in a certain area.

The chapter on tips and tricks for intermediate users is useful for even beginners. Mr. Bayes says himself that once you have learned how to use the jog key to fine tune put it aside and learn the J-K-L option for trimming. Hitting L once moves the frames at 30 fps and twice moves it at 60 fps and so forth. The K is a space bar pause and the J moves the frames backwards.

In a chapter that is an "Introduction to Effects" Mr. Bayes shares knowledge of the limitations on the creation of special effects, as compared to effects by high end users, as well as highlights on how far this editing system has come in being a machine that
can be used to "finish" a project. I attempted to concentrate on learning new technical issues concerning graphics throughout the textbook. This bits and pieces approach may not work for someone whose ultimate goal is becoming a master editor.

This book is rates a big chocolate 5 for sharing
technical expertise. It was reviewed on 11/98 at a time when this studio is starting to incorporate little productions with the reviews. The alternative production review for those of you with speed and power will be at SPECIAL.HTM the real PARODY version!

Digital NonLinear Editing: New Approaches to Editing Film & Video, by Thomas Ohanian, (as of June 1998 this book has a second edition) 1993, 348 pages, 1st Edition.

The actual text is in 1 thin column per page flanked by pictures or drawings in much of the book. An easy read if you are already computer literate. A caveat, I've been computer literate for the last 20 years, since my teens when I trained other employees on the Avis Wizard. In the last two years I have worked on my own digital library project. I have constant access to computer technical assistance. In the last few years, when I was bed ridden because of severe sciatica, the Avid Corporation provided me with a Media Composer 101 Training Manual. I've already studied digital film editing in theory. My approach to learning digital editing has been backward. This book helped fill in gaps. It depicts the history of film editing. If you do not understand digital editing technical terminology continue reading, you will.

frames are independent (all the information to recreate them is in that frame) but now that I've learned MPEG compression consists of an I (independent frame), P (predictable frame) and B (a frame generated before the P frame with little to no information) I've been walking around reminding myself not to cut on the B frame! There is some information here on continuity and electronic systems. Although, this book is outdated already, there is some information that would also make it a good reference source. It gets
four chocolate DOVE hearts,which is kind of a LIE because I didn't read two chapters that were not about digital nonlinear editing. I recommend anyone not familiar with digital editing read the entire book .

the Film Editing Room Handbook, 2nd Edition by Norman Hollyn.This is a 448 page book by the Film Editor of Hair, Sophie's Choice, Fame, Network and The Equalizer that discusses in fair detail mechanics of the film editor's and assistant's job. It includes copies of filing systems and paperwork for editing on an upright Moviola and flatbed editing machine. Although there is no reference to any type of digital editing, here are the Top Ten reasons you need to read this book:

1) Although you are filthy stinking rich, you have just chosen to make a short film about a controversial topic. Every digital rental house closes their door or both Avid and Lightworks send you bad computers that have constant hard drive crashes. The topic, Hell's Kitchen, Not just where he grew up but
the Real name that Stallone gave to his Mom's Cooking.

2) Your film's editor, who was around long before digital editing, decides to reminisce about old times and refuses to drop dead in the middle of the contract so you can replace him! Bad news, some of these guys and gals go on for decades!

3) You are a digital editor and you still don't know why they call it the "trim" button!

4) You are the next Quentin Tarentino but your banker just thinks you're "Barbarella". You decide to do it yourself without sophisticated computers but with some salvaged film stock.

5) You still think "OP" is a character from an old tv show, Imagine?
(Optical Print)

6) Got another good reason?

Again, like most of the books here there are many "tot", tricks of the trade, that can be eked out of this text for persons without direct access to an experienced motion picture film editor, including the politics and role of the Director which he calls "adam". As an aspiring "eve"


Selected Takes:Film editors on Editing by Vincent LoBrutto, 1991. LoBrutto interviews 21 editors, I may have only skimmed through 3-4 and read the rest in detail. This is the third book that I have read by LoBrutto with interviews. I found it to be lacking the precision of questioning that he had in the other two books. In fact, considerable amounts of information about relationships and how that affected the editing process was in this text of interviews. As opposed to the first two textbooks reviewed at the which concentrated more on technical problem solving.
This may have been because the author was an editor (LoBrutto). One good
point ,if your are studying editing styles as well, is that he lists in
chronological order by dates the films each person has edited and any awards
or nominations.

Want to get outta here? FILM LYNX:

Click & Jump Ship

Motion Picture
Film Editor's Guild

Newsletters & Labor info Online! Search for yourself

EDITING SYSTEMS WEBSITES: Avid, Grass Valley, Cinesite, Quantel and more, these change often.

These sites have free .pdf files on basic editing terms and free manuals on how to use their systems. Also, look for pages of links that might also have free educational material. This changes fastly, as described below in some older information:

Home Page/ The really neat Lightworks Walkthrough is gone as of the Fall
1998! There are many downloadable PDF files that are technical in nature.
This site is beginner unfriendly. Also, as of Fall 1998 Teknotronics has
made an alliance with Avid to ease a transition, particularly in Europe
from Analog to Digital editing. That info can be found in a search of Press

Aug, 1999-a search of Lightworks at this website turned up 11,000 documents. This survival manual used to be easy to find...so search on if you want to find other stuff about lightworks using the teknotronics quick search. Good Luc!

Lightworks Assistant Survival Manual (NOW Links to GRASS VALLEY Home Page.



Director's Chair: Lethal Injection


Lethal Injection

The Director's Chair reviews materials/texts that enable a Director, or aspiring Director to make better choices. This website is coming to you from the State of Florida where Death Row inmates get their choice of the Electric Chair (So infamous for flame ups it became a Supreme Court case), or Lethal Injection. This is an appropriate metaphor for an industry that gives women, according to their own reports, extremely limited and poor (budgeting & material) choices as Directors.

Website, Copyright 1998, Pamela Jean Curry
Personal Training Website

Project by, A Rough Start Film Production.
A Studio based Independent Production Company

It is important to note texts are reviewed for what they help you learn yourself:


8 Departments, 2 Tiny Divisions
and one Independent Arm!

The Studio Dog

Electric Chair, Reviews of Electronic Training Material Video/Computer

Chair, A Lethal Injection for the 21st Century, an independent arm

A Business version of the BOOKLIST,
the "biz"


WOLF WATCH, a guide to Special
Effects books

Cheap Toyz Fur Training & Previsualization.
Catch this... good doggy!

it Yourself Editing!

TextBooks Alleging to Teach Film Directing

Directing Film Techniques and
Aesthetics by Michael Rabiger, 1989

Choc full of analytical exercises to reform your mind on how to view films, This is the #1 TEST I recommend for aspiring Directors, with no experience, studying on their own. Best self-help book for ideas, practicing on one's own.

Although Rabiger has many credentials, after reading the book, I could have done without them. Who cares what he did? It's what he helped me learn that matters! Unless you know shorthand, prepare to spend long hours in front of a video with a pen. I for one cannot breakdown what I saw and what I heard, on two sides of a piece of paper in writing, then divide what one hears into foley, dialogue and music points against what I saw, that fast. At the beginning 10 minutes of film took about 45+ minutes to breakdown. Grade yourself! There are so many suggestions for study I was able to make my own form to study TV shows while watching them. Design your own study.

It could have been Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for practical training exercises to improve editing & shooting skills. 5 chocolate bars out of 5.

As of November 1996 the 2nd Edition of this book is in print!

2nd Edition Reviewed.

Directing the Documentary by Michael Rabiger, 1992.

Similar textbook but geared more towards documentary filmmaking, again with lots of exercises. Not full of highly technical stuff, mostly analytical! Ok to study, but I hate documentary. Actually, the last time a Studio Faux film artist attempted a documentary someone was stabbed to death on the scene. Nobody told me that the ambulance was stolen from the scene, the victim appeared to be bleeding to death. In fact, besides asking me to identify the suspect with an old picture, the only other thing anyone told me was that a Sheriff's Deputy was stabbed the night before at a music concert or something with this same group of people! Of course, I don't speak spanish and I was there completely alone-growing up in tourism I did that alot! The assailant's brother testified that he had to pull his brother off the dead man before he would stop stabbing him! I testified that the assailant was beating him up really badly before the victim ever pulled any gun, which I did not stick around for. I went to get the security guards by my car. This guy according to this D.A., who got alot of so called facts incorrect (the young picker I spent the day with didn't seem to have friends there she told me alot about union wars and unfriendly people and how she took her children to the fields when she was picking), this assailant acted acted in self defense. The newspapers said I was one of a few witnesses, out of hundreds of spectators, willing to come forward. The Sheriff's Department's record prove that same fact.

Documentaries give me an eating disorder so I cannot objectively tell you how many chocolate bars it should have been. It is a portfolio essay of merit. It was still Godiva more than Reeses pieces!

Film Directing, Cinematic Motion a Workshop for Staging Scenes, 1992 (this book may have a 1997 edition). Film Directing: Shot by Shot, Visualizing from concept to screen, 1991 by Steven Katz

I had a studio in my basement too Steven! Ok, these 2 books are for women who when watching a scene from Due South where they are driving around in the car said, "This guy is good looking, how do I do that?", and you really meant shoot the scene! He doesn't show you how to make a removable back car seat and door to have a continuous shoot (done in a TV show in the 1996 season), but the basics of a car chase, as well as step by step how to shoot a scene with a crane, are demonstrated with drawings and details!

Cinematic Motion also demonstrates detailed camera setups for shooting in confined spaces. Both books have illustrations & instructions on storyboarding as well.Toblerone, 4 bars!

See the review of Michael Collin's Director's notes for more on shooting car
scenes below

The Film Director's Team: A Practical Guide to Organizing and Managing Film and Television
by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward.
"Indispensable for Production Managers and Assistant Directors-students as well as professionals". This 1983, 194 page, hardback textbook is dynamite.

Although this text is older, this is an excellent guide to how important industry forms, such as the production board, are created. It explains the methodology behind the creation of a film's budget. For instance, why a particular scene will be shot on a certain day in the production and how that related to budgeting and to union rules. This is important for screenwriters who would like to understand the process by which their screenplay will be broken down for filming. Reasoning behind 3 sample breakdowns is explained to clarify.

This is the first text I've read that gives details. Even if union rules or forms, being computerized, have changed, understanding the basic logic of the breakdown could help one readily assimilate changes. The text depicts in detail the jobs of the Unit Production Manager, 1st Assistant Director and 2nd Assistant. I personally would not take one of these jobs if my life depended upon it. Even if you have no desire to ever undertake one of these jobs, this text is excellent to show what planning is needed to get a screenplay on film. "A Panel Discussion" by nine D.G.A. members, unit production managers, dating back to 1983, recorded their interpretation of their jobs and of different positions like assistant director.

5 Chocolate hearts & top ten list!

Directing Television & Film, Armer 1990 An instructional text. Not a memorable read, but a decent instructional text. I did start with Rabiger first. Remember I rate the books based on what the exercises enable me to do myself!

A couple of chocolate bars, Hershey's.

"Directing for Film and Television"
Christopher Lukas (1985) is recommended for beginners only or for people desperate to learn anything new! The first thing he says is that you cannot learn to direct from a book. My reply to that would be most certainly not from his book! In comparison both texts by Armer and Rabiger, reviewed here, are much more detailed and instructional concerning how a student can take on exercises that will help directing skills to develop or be perfected. Nevertheless, it is always interesting to read stories about mistakes other directors have made (One of his quotes is in Studio Faux's Dept. under "Signs")!

After setting up for his 1st independent shoot, using company equipment on the sly, "We then discovered that the camera we had rented-a 35-mm Arriflex-was too light to weigh down the heavy hydraulic lift on the crab dolly". Different from some other industry books he does state that still photography is a possible starting point for aspiring directors. As other books have stated still photography is very different from cinematography, but I personally believe to develop decision making skills about lenses and film still photography is a good and cheap way to start. This 193 page paperback text is more an overview of the process than an instructive text. After reading Rabiger's Directing Textbook and using his exercises, it's hard to give this more than one chocolate bar.

Film Directing, Killer Style and Cutting Edge Technique by

Renee Harmon 1997, is a 221 page text on Directing published by Lone Eagle. In reading this book I concentrated more on the sections about how to direct actors which appear to have some interesting exercises. It is not that Harmon's book lacks substance, it simply lacks bringing anything new in this form. I recently read the introduction to a Film Dictionary where the Author outlines what has already been written in the field, previous dictionaries, and what is different about his book, which is excellent as a reference source. "Film Directing, Killer Style and Cutting Edge Technique" cannot compare in detail and expertise to Rabiger's book on Directing that this Studio so highly recommends! Harmon appears a good writer but does not have the effectiveness as a teacher in her writing as Michael Rabiger in his book on Directing. She tells you what it is you should see instead of how to observe on your own. Additionally, she does not provide graphics, a point which makes books by Steven Katz on Cinematic Motion so desirable, when depicting cinematic style and motion. Rabiger details much more precisely how to develop technical and artistic skills through exercises with video. Harmon says her book is targeted at persons who are already Directors. First, this approach appears to greatly limit her sales market and I find that move puts suspicions on her business ability. A broader target market might have improved her presentation. Although, she appears to believe that many Directors do not already know fundamentals of the process of filmmaking including artistic style. Artistic style is developed from personal vision and practice in your craft...not necessarily with film but with any art medium where skills can be transferred to filmmaking. Specifically, in describing three different ways a scene can be shot and giving sample dialog she does not further a Director's understanding of the process.

On the up side Ms. Harmon's
book has a couple of chapters on Directing Actors. This is apparently one of a few books this Actor/Director has written. She is what you might say is an Actor's Director, and based on my reading of her work not a skilled film artist. She in fact, in the style of Mimi Leder (who according to her Director's Guild interview knew nothing about special effects before directing Peacemaker and spends her spare time with her kid-ugh!) does not believe that being extremely skilled - knowing as much as the crew members - is an asset. No, you should trust to their judgment or else it could cause discordance on the set. I would like to say ONLY A WOMAN would write something this stupid but there are probably men somewhere who want more money for knowing less too!

The hype on the cover of this book gives false expectations that it contains new material not already available for aspiring Directors or Directors.

Film Studio Faux's Philosophy:The filmmaking process in it's entirety is the Director/Author's responsibilityand nobody else. To carry out a creative vision one must be not only able to understand the D.P.'s and special effects jobs but be able to carry them out to the extent that you understand safety and artistic considerations in their decisions. A true filmmaker/director uses that knowledge to lead and inspire and push the edges of what can be done with creative insight.

We don't need more mediocrity in filmmaking. What the hell was she thinking?
I don't have a clue!


Sound for Motion Picture Film

for Picture, SFX

To study particular films and/or
to understand how films are selected for the Motion Picture Academy's Sound
Effects Award read the following: 1) Search the
Oscar History
for the "Achievement in Sound Effects Editing" and study
the films that received this award and

2) Read, "The
at the Motion Picture Editor's Guild.

Sound on Film, Interviews
with Creators of Film Sound
by Vincent LoBrutto

"There is a very important rule in recording horses: you make a set" Frank Warner from page 31. These interviews were filled with awesome details of sound creation and methodology. That as reviewed by an admitted sound dummy! I suggest you try to memorize parts of thisbook and apply the problem solving to other film situations.

Sounds like redecorating tips
from hell! I saw this great white chocolate mousse cake roll with decorative oil rigs, the whole roll. LoBrutto's books are well worth the read because of the anectodal stories from the making of sound for particular films but other text are preferable for sound "basics".

Sound Effects, Radio,
TV, & Film by

Robert L. Mott, 1990.

Coming from a visual arts background
that included limited music training I found this book ineffectual as a self-training tool on sound effects, but informative as to the history
of the art. For instance, I took it upon myself to pour cornstarch into a bowl and envision how many different sounds of snow one could create.

However well the author, who went into descriptions of sound carts & basics of sound such as wavelength, pitch or timbre, detailed technical knowledge, that did not translate into an effective tool for self education by itself. Additionally, I skipped a couple of chapters for that same reason.

A Nestle's sweet success chocolate shake.

Magazines, Books, Videos

Mix Magazine, as of 2000, is creating an online archive of their articles, by month of publication.
Their search engine is some help but it only brings you to the page with the all the months for a particular year. You still have to search that
particular page, in Netscape the "Find in Page" feature under the Edit bar is useful
. The articles themselves are not online, so this remains
a mere research aid, a preferable aid over the Reader's Guide to Periodicals!

Sound for Picture: An Inside Look at Audio Production for Film and Television.

From the Editors of Mix, The World's Leading Recording Magazine. 1993. A series of articles in an outline depicting Film Theory/Film Applications & Television Theory/Television Applications. One question, why did they put 3/4 page pictures in a book about sound? Film Applications articles include: Terminator 2; Malcolm X; Beauty and the Beast; The Hunt
for Red October; The Player; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Abyss; and The Doors. Television Applications articles include: The Simpsons; Northern Exposure; The Wonder Years; Twin Peaks; The Arsenio Hall Show; and the Academy Awards. Although I read the entire book, and have never
read mix magazine, I found it easy to study the several productions that I was interested in. As such it would qualify as a text for a sound dummy! Comparisons of digital post formats, overviews of tv production time schedules, details about choice and use of sound
recording equipment, contrasts about how west coast production for sound differs from east coast were intertwined with how, when, where, and why specific sound effects or music were used in familiar film productions.
122 pages, none of it a waste but the motion picture film stills used instead of pictures of sound professionals & equipment! The Studio Faux webmaster is
dieting so I give it 5 paper
, digitally remastered!

TextBookswith CD

As of 1998 Focal Press has published several books either with a CD or that are only on CD ROM that are demonstrations with textbook materials for aspiring filmmakers. These publications with illustrative Audio CD or CD ROM's have been particularly in the areas of Film Sound & Film Lighting.

Practical Art of Motion Picture
Sound by David Yewdall, M.P.S.E., 1999, with Audio CD.
will probably be my most controversial review to date. I have been "desperately seeking" a well rounded textbook that gave a detailed
overall of the sound process, that included insider information and a CD that had
sounds on it to show how they were developed at different stages of the Film Sound process or how the sounds were created.

This text exceeded my expectations
encompassing artistic, technical, and business aspects of the many steps in the production of a motion picture soundtrack. Compared to this
book Tomlinson Holman's excellent book and CD are almost wholly technical.

I have yet to hear the CD because the library that lent this book would not send it and right
now I can't afford things I need, let alone this book. The Audio is recorded to illustrate How certain effects were recorded, What the manipulation of those effects sound like, Example of ADR so you can pretend to be in
a session, "Line up tones for your own use", and many more examples of how effects are layered. Cuts from the CD are cited throughout this text with explanations.

Chapters include: Custom Recording
Sound Effects; Sound Design; Dialog Editors; ADR and Group Walla; Foley;
Non-linear editing; Music Composer; ReRecording Stage; Predubbing and the
Final Mix; From Set to Laboratory; Spotting Pictures for Sound and Music;
Temp Dubs and Test Screenings: A Critical Objective View; The challenging
Battlefield of Production.

THE REVIEW: David Yewdall's apparent core work in this textbook is a personal gripe list that he has accumulated from decades
of experience in the film industry and what appears an apparent desire to see the process of apprenticeship rekindled.

This is clearly one of the better textbooks available
for Alternative learners. Yewdall's gripes

about industry practices, that slow down the entire
process and escalate budgets, are accompanied by specific examples of failures
and specific examples of how they could have been avoided.

The language of this book is simple and supported by
specific examples from motion picture film experiences, good and bad, that
do SHOW what he means within his explanation of how protocal should work
or how a transfer session should proceed or how the best quality work can
be created with more teamwork at critical stages of the sound track development

Fans of the film "Christine" will enjoy the many minute
details that Yewdall uses as illustration in this book from his own experience
in the creation of sound effects for that film.

He writes about all aspects of the process like detailing
what attention should be paid by the picture editor to the EDL list, cleaning
it up, before turning it over to the Sound Editor,

detailing the clean up process. He walks you through
a Foley Studio and tells you what to look for, what to avoid and why, then
gives specific examples from films about why he is telling you to do this.
He repeats information in this text only when needed and refers back to
other chapters of the text, where he detailed a form, when he mentions
its importance later in the textbook. This cross-referencing and repetition
is limited and ads to the clarity of this text.

For myself, with no Sound Editing or Recording experience
the most difficult parts to read were the sections where he describes the
technical process of how to use a ProTools session, detailing what windows
to open to accomplish specific tasks.


Yewdall suggests as career advice
to expect to take jobs that one does not like first, hmmm~!

I firmly believe, being reaffirmed
by recent events that show an ever present disregard for the rights of
women, that if women are brainwashed to take jobs they don't like and wait
for a chance to do what they really want they will more than likely never
get there, or when they get that job they will be so married to a system
of mediocrity the trip was not worth it. I have a list of women who
I believe did the later quite successfully.


Not every film is, nor should
it be, designed to be a blockbuster made to make money only.

Artistic Choices are those of the
Writers/Producers/Directors for very specific reasons, particularly if
this is an artistic endeavor. I found it quite appropriate for the character
in "Brimstone" to tell the Devil to "go to hell". This brings me to the
controversial part of this review. David Yewdall takes a stab at
the "careless use of blasphemy and profane dialog" in one page, part of
a Chapter on ADR and Group Walla, in a subtopic entitled "Appropriate use
of Language" stating unequivocally that it will "doom" your film.
Some of this page sounds like simple preaching others like "Pulp Fiction".
As an artist/advocate, I take particular offense in the part where he states
you may lose the Bible Belt dollars because they won't see the film. Having
lived in the Bible Belt David, I can truly say many people here are
to "Hell". I have traveled worldwide and find the corruption and
human rights abuses here equal in severity to some third world countries.
As an advocate I have wasted years of my life defending migrant workers,
and so on and so forth, because of extreme corruption. Any artistic production
I were ever to be involved in about this area would certainly reflect this
in language I would not apologize for. In fact there are many literary
reasons that profane dialog and blasphemy are an appropriate part of the
goal of catharsis in drama as traditionally debated by Plato and Aristotle.

differences aside, this book is a must have. It's on this Studio's TopTen

FOR FILM & TELEVISION by Tomlinson Holman
otherwise known as creator of THX sound systems, 1997. Textbook &
CD illustrating microphone characteristics. Did you know that "MAX HEADROOM"
really is a Big Dinosaur and not that guy in the Pepsi commercial? If you're
answer is no, and you are studying film sound, this book is for you! What
a review, huh? If you too are a sound dummy and you want more info about
this book, before ordering from the library or buying it take the time
to look at the special review page (218k).

Draft Review

Sonic CD is a book on CD ROM by a professor who really knows what
he is doing. He has a Ph.D. and is working in a program at NASA.
Unfortunately, that didn't translate to me knowing what he is doing.
The text is primarily theory and not a how to text. The sound examples
of changes in pitch and other sound elements that are built into
this multimedia textbook enrich the learning experience but these sparse
examples failed to make an admitted sound "technical dummy" like myself
truly understand the technical aspects of sound. Some examples that really
worked were from a Chapter where he creates sounds, then he has you write
down what you think they are. He then tells you what the sound was and
how it was created. For example, the crack of a whip (sound) was created
by recording the sound of a page of sheet music being turned, then the
pitch is changed. I could have used a couple of hundred of examples like
this in order for me to comprehend this! The exercise element of this book
was excellent but entirely too small. In case you haven't noticed we endorse
Michael Rabiger's book on Directing in large part because of the exercise
section that enables you to learn yourself. Many of our reviews are based
on this criteria, I hope I'm not beating this point into the ground!

for Movies & General Study

to Movies: A Film Lover's Guide to Film Music,
, 429 pgs. 1994.
for the breakdown of music, in particular movies like North by Northwest,
and the bio's of composers. It is intended to teach you how to listen
to the music in the movie and as such complements the book on directing
by Rabiger.
This made me pay particular attention to the work of once popular rock
groups like Oingo Boingo, Dead Man's Party, relative to their transition
to film work. A handy reference source showing how some screen music
builds on earlier role models, some music (voice, piano, dance) background
is helpful in understanding the breakdown in this textbook . A behind the
scenes surprise, some of these movie film composers did not play piano!

box of Russell Stover's chocolates, yes, yes, yes!

Art of Film Music by George Burt, 1994
text of music scores puts special emphasis on the scores of Hugo Friedhofer,
Alex North, David Raskin, Leonard Rosenman and others. This text is not
for music dummies as it combines film theory with music composer's notes
that Mr. Burt states can be simply skipped over by the non-composer.
Even then, I've found it essential to a full understanding of this text
to have access to the music as played in the musical scores that he has
reprinted in his book. I have not found much of this music at my
local library. For example, in his chapter on "Characterization",
which is about particular characters in the screenplay and how to create
music for that character he has the Main Titles Theme by Elmer Bernstein
from To Kill a Mockingbird. Consistent with the narration
by the attorney's young daughter "the thematic material occupies the range
on only an octave, the range of a child's voice". Even though I was
familiar with this music, the added musical CD by Bernstein to accompany
the readings had a permanent & long lasting effect.

It is unfortunate
that a text like this would have to overcome so many legal barriers to
be published with a CD or tape for study! Even though I am not an
aspiring composer, I have long had a fascination with matching musical
instruments for character development. His notes directed at music
composers are also interesting for the aspiring director. This
text was skim read by subject matter, but studied by bits and pieces relative
to my previous knowledge

and local access to the musical piece, or movie beat Burt was dissecting.

In New York that acess will
be better than in some isolated country town. What matters is that
you study what you do have access to in detail. Again, for
instance, Ennio Morricone's Anthology: A Fistful of Film Music,
a 2 CD case, was useful for Burt's analysis of "Contrapuntal ...[or] counterpoint".
A combination of two independent lines that when combined make a statement
of their own. Used dramatically the music interacts with the
"intrinsic meaning" of the sequence in a "Supra Reality". In
the film Mission (1986) "a hymn tune associated with the religious
spirit of the Peruvian culture" is played during a battle of the Peruvians
against the Spaniards. This music title is not even in the INDEX to this
book so at first glance you might not choose to gather it as a resource
in which to aid your study.

The Art of Film Music, Id.
at 6-7.

History of Music of the Western world 1100-1980
is a series of tapes that break down the history of music into specific
musical periods. I've only begun to go through them, but for aspiring directors
that like to break down your reasoning for all parts of the film, the details
in these courses on tape can ad inspiration to that task.


a 24-page color section on Instruments by Emanual Winternitz, Curator of
Musical Instruments, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A 720 page reference
that is illustrated with pictures and charts. Including: Signs and symbols
used in music, foreign terms and phrases used in music, abbreviations used
in music, famous names in music, a diagram by Sergei Eisenstein showing
the audio-visual correspondences of 17 measures of Prokofiev's score and
12 frames of the "Battle on Ice" sequence from Eisenstein's film Alexander

for Picture: Internet Links

My Favorite:

The Film
Sound Design Page, Articles about the Basics of Film Sound & a good
link to Articles about the Making of Sound and Sound Design for particular
Motion Picture Films run by a Swedish Professor.

Internet Site, its one million dollar database was designed primarily for
film and TV companies to do reserach. For example, know the words but not
the title of the tune?...this is your website for research! Source: Variety,
Friday, July 17, 1998 (page 4)


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This blog is built on filmmaker's alternative training materials. These reviews were part of FilmStudioFaux at geocities for over a decade. Everything FAT is reviewed on a scale of 1-5 chocolates, 5 being really FAT