Shoot Like Tarantino by Christopher Kenworthy (book review).

Contrary to the picture on the cover, ‘Shoot Like Tarantino’ is not a book about what the director does at the target range but rather as the sub-title says’ ‘The Visual Secrets Of Dangerous Storytelling’. In other words, how Quintin T directs some scenes in his films. Author Christopher Kenworthy recommends that you watch Tarantino’s films before and after reading this book and certainly the scenes involved that he does a detailed analysis of. He only uses seven of the films with ‘Inglorious Basterds’ and ‘Django Unchained’ being used more than a few times.


Knowing Tarantino’s liking for comicbooks, the one thing I didn’t find too surprising when the scenes were broken down into film stills was how much they looked like he was following storyboards and something I wish Kenworthy could have done a comparison to. This doesn’t mean Tarantino followed them too religiously outside of camera placement and the example from ‘Jackie Brown’ where the two actors were allowed to do the scene their own way does suggest latitude is given. However, when he discusses a viewpoint of looking up at an actor in ‘Django Unchained’ to appear more menacing, then that’s very much a comicbook element.

With ‘Pulp Fiction’, there is a useful exercise in how to move closer to the actors by making the switch from a secondary character first to make the transition easier. Although I can understand the director getting in all the shots, I do wonder if Kenworthy considers how much the film editor contributes to getting everything just right from the footage filmed.

This is the first of several books that Kenworthy is writing and I’m covering in the months to come so I’m not really sure if my analysis will hold true to other directors. In many respects, they are quick reads and a lot of analysis afterwards. Kenworthy himself points out that he doesn’t want you to copy any of these techniques but only to learn more about the process to make yourselves better directors. Saying that, I can see some using this as maps to do take-offs of Tarantino’s style.

For the writers amongst you, understanding how to pull a film scene together can be something that can be applied in prose, especially in an otherwise static scene. For those purely into Tarantino, then this is another book for your collection.

GF Willmetts

July 2015

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 127 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.95 (US), £10.25 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-225-2)

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