Shooting Better Movies: The Student Filmmakers’ Guide by Paul Dudbridge (book review)

July 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

When I saw this book, ‘Shooting Better Movies: The Student Filmmakers’ Guide’ by Paul Dudbridge, I did wonder at the proximity of having another film production book from Michael Wiese Productions so soon after the last on the subject. Then again, like artbooks, you can never have too many which Dudbridge also asserts at the closing of the book.

Interestingly, Paul Dudbridge is British director and taught the subject and responsible for the Internet SF series ‘Horizon’ (2015-216) amongst his credits and has worked through all aspects of filming. Being British presents a different aspect to the subject and works in any country.

What makes this book stand out is the massive camera and lights chapter which is loaded with examples of what different camera lens lengths, apertures and filters do use and how it presents the actor and background. Even if you know some of this material, you will certainly take this to heart before getting on to how to light the scene. Added to this how to get the sound right can also help the holiday filmmaker to make the best of what they take in composing the material or for spontaneously how to quickly get the best angle. The camera angle material is also useful for comicbook artists looking how to improve their scene setting. I did wonder how LED light panels and wonder if, after Dudbridge’s comment about the green tint, as to whether they are available in natural light which adds a more blue tint. I also now know the difference between ‘Line’ and ‘Mic’ for sound, more so as the control will work regardless of having a microphone attached.

When it comes to directing, the parallels to comicbook panels come out through the storyboards although without the interaction with the actors. I like his comment that it is the actor’s job to ‘keep it fresh’ regardless of how many times they perform and that rehearsal gets things sorted out before going in front of the camera. His direction on how to get the emotional impact of the scene from the actor should be noted by all.

For editing, his explanation that having all the footage there and choosing the right bits to combine together will also keep the actors on their toes to continually give their best performances.

Dudbridge’s last lesson is that you can never stop learning how to film. I tend to think that applies to any artistic endeavour. He also goes onto say it also reflects in your attitude and dress and how you convey yourself to others. In other words, don’t go around like a slob because that’s what people will see you as.

For such a short book, Dudbridge packs in not only a lot of material but also a good page-turner that will be of use to do only developing filmmakers but any of the associated crafts. Don’t leave your camera without it.

GF Willmetts

July 2017

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 164 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $26.95 (US), £20.57 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-271-9)

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Category: Movie books

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About UncleGeoff

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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