Movie books

Filmmaking For Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts 2nd edition by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols (book review)

Looking at the title of Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols’ book, ‘Filmmaking For Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts 2nd edition’, I have to keep reminding myself that the ‘shorts’ they are speaking of are film shorts not clothes. Although from the title, this book is to instruct teen-agers how to make a 5 minute film, the knowledge must surely help adults understand the ropes as well. After all, I’m in neither of the two categories listed at the start of the book, but I do understand techniques I can apply elsewhere so it’s all learning curve. Their remarks about getting a film short right has parallels to writing fiction. It makes a lot more sense to learn how to write and complete a short story or three first before moving onto novel-length. The important thing that will make you a film-maker is to complete a film and get it seen and there are a lot of venues for that.

It would hardly be surprising if much of the information is similar to recent books I’ve reviewed on this subject, except for teens you have to work on developing your production team, reliability and keeping things in an even tighter budget. If anything your Associate Producer and Assistant Director are the ones who use a polite whip to keep people things running while you do the actual film directing. All of you really have to be people persons or you’d be stuck getting co-operation from anyone.

Something that the writers cover is what happens in the event of bad weather and you’re supposed to be filming outside. I think I would go one stage further and actually have a plan ready to adapt to work inside just in case up your sleeve and ready to go. When you consider that all your planning is for a three day shoot at a particular set time, you really should plan for everything. It’s also something the pros do in TV as well as the cinema.

It should hardly be surprising that there is a big focus on editing where you learn to match scenes and how to shed seconds to make the film stronger. Although it’s not said, I would add have an honest nitpicker looking over your cut from time to time as you edit as I’m sure they’ll spot inconsistencies. From all the information given in this book, this is one stage where you don’t want a yes man or woman who aren’t really helping you.

Looking at some of the photographs in this book, I had to remind myself that teen-age is a wide age range. Some of the information will help you even if you don’t live in the USA although finding certain things and persuading adults to help you would be an entirely different affair. There’s certainly enough to guide you in problem areas but it will always be up to you to get the work done.

GF Willmetts

December 2018

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 197 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: $20.95 (US), £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-932907-68-1)

check out website: www.mwp.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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