Movie books

Visual Storytelling by Morgan Sandler (book review).

I’ve always maintained that comicbook artists can learn a lot from film-making techniques. The opening chapter of Morgan Sandler’s book, ‘Visual Storytelling’, is a must read for fiction writers as well as those who want to make films. The most telling point is the difference between an active and a passive protagonist and, having encountered a novel in the latter recently, shows the importance of having any lead character in the middle of the action than on the side-lines.

Obviously, the accent with this book is on film-making and Sandler’s background is in cinematography and teaching it at university, so you get the best of both worlds here. I do think he got muddled with his reference to Darth Vader as it wasn’t him but General Moff Tarkin who ordered the annihilation of a world, Alderaan in that case.

Although Sandler points out that his chapter on lighting could fill a book alone, what he explains here will give you the fundamentals. I’ve now learnt that the reflectors you see in behind-the-scenes footage of films is for the backlight. A lot of the lessons here can also apply to still photography. I can see applications for artists who photograph their models or scenery to get the most out of them, especially in the application of shadows and sorting out secondary lighting.

The final chapter on how to set up the scene should also be required reading for comicbook artists as well as film-makers. Sandler acknowledges there is an unspoken rule between film-maker and viewer that as long as some things are violated and moved between, then the latter will ignore the fact that you’re seeing through the lens of a camera and accept the reality that you’re watching.

This book is only meant to be seen as a primer so don’t expect to get every last detail here but the photographs showing what is right and wrong will definitely have an influence on your work, regardless of the medium.

GF Willmetts

October 2018

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 134 page oblong enlarged paperback. Price: $29.95 (US), £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-289-4)

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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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