Write! Shoot! Edit!: A Complete Guide To Teen Filmmakers by Deborah S. Patz (book review).

As the title, ‘Write! Shoot! Edit!: A Complete Guide To Teen Filmmakers’, suggests, Deborah S. Patz’ book is aimed at teen-agers who have a yen to become film-makers. Patz describes how she started that way herself so her lessons aren’t out of other books but her own experience.

The book is divided into three sections: writing, directing and editing but not necessarily the same person for all. So, if you have got two other people helping you in that regard, get them this book so they can understand their own roles in the proceedings. Indeed, she suggests a division of talent so each can spend the necessary time doing it and co-operating with each other. From my objectivity, you might also want to switch roles so you can get experience in each area of production so become aware of the pitfalls. She also advises not to do anything overtly complicated other than getting a story into the can.

A lot of the suggestions can even work for adults interested in film-making, too. For those intent on character making, I like Patz’ observation to work out from the character flaws as to what makes people different than potted histories. Objectively, that makes a lot of sense. Think of all the characters you’ve created that have similar backgrounds and how much time you then have to spend making them different. Doesn’t that make it harder to work out what makes them tick?

In terms of scene directing and editing, you definitely don’t need all the details for a scene and this also applies to prose writers as well. Unless it’s significant, who needs to see everyone assembling or preparing for a meal or leaving afterwards if it doesn’t move the plot along. Focus on what is important to come from a scene, the viewer’s imagination can fill in the gaps. It should go without saying that you can’t do people’s thoughts, well unless you post-sync a voice-over.

Something that I haven’t seen in other books on filming is for the director to leave some head room above the cast acting so it provides some focus and dead space for the eye to centre in on the action. The secrets of composing a film shot.

The information about post-production and editing brought up the problems of post-sync and the lack of background noises. Although Patz covers a lot of things, one thing I think she should have included is it would pay to make a track of background noises in case they are needed later. As she suggests using computer software for editing, having this available might save a lot of problems.

For such a light book there is so much information here for those who want to get into film-making whatever your age, although obviously it is aimed at the teen-ager. Although it doesn’t deal with the equipment involved, it does get into the mindset and the way you need to think to do anything. If you’re into film-making then you will want this book in your back pocket ready to refer to when needed while making your film.

GF Willmetts

June 2017

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 142 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: $23.95 (US), £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-264-1)

check out websites: www.mwp.com and www.debpatz.com

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