Customer Reviews: Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration
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on August 20, 2009
The first thing I did when I decided to make my feature film was to bring in a DP. Mike was a guy I worked with backstage on some musicals and a guy I knew who was a hard worker, easy to get a long with, didn't put up with crap and someone that I could trust. I also had a chance to work with a guy who had professional lights, professional equipment and was willing to "help out." Though this other guy was available, I went with Mike because I had relationship with him. And I'll be honest with you: He taught me more than I realize.

Ms. Frost book is about those relationships. Those "getting on the same page" moments that define the film-making process. When you think about it - you need to have EVERYONE on the same page - from the sound guy, to the actor, to the home owner whose home you're abusing in the process of making your film.

What Ms. Frost does in her extremely detailed book - is give the director all the tools he or she needs to find that common ground with the Cinematographer. To get on the same page. To recognize what it is that the Director of Photography (or the guy who showed up with the really nice camera) brings to the ENTIRE process. She takes you through everything from lens choices and film stock to cameras and aspect ratios so that you have some understanding of what is going on in your DP's head to create an environment of trust and understanding. To create the magic that is film-making.

What magic? When I made my film we were filming at night a poignant scene at the loudest cemetery in Washington State (in which we had no official permission to film). We were using a consumer Canon HV20 camera. My daughter, who was on pain meds and kind of drowsy, held up a box light we purchased from Ikea - power fed by a generator 20 feet away. We got the actors in place and Mike looked through the camera. Like a kid on Christmas morning he motioned me over: "Look at this!" The shot was beautiful. It was magical. It conveyed everything I could have ever wanted in the scene. Could I have got that shot myself? I highly doubt it.

Still...what makes Jacqueline Frost's book stand out is not only the great information that she provides, but the hundreds of quotes from cinematographers about all the aspects of cinematography. This is THE book that takes you into the mind of the cinematographer and helps you, the director, become better at your craft. Excellent.
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on October 3, 2009
Frost explains exactly what every director needs to know about cinematography.

She covers everything, including: creative collaboration, script, visual palettes (colors), lighting, genre films, lenses, and cameras. She also has a very useful chapter on classic creative collaborations in film.

As a freelance cinematographer, teacher and film industry insider, Frost knows exactly what she is talking about, and all her explanations are drawn from first-hand experience. She explains exactly how to forge a collaborative relationship between director, cinematographer and production designer. The history of film shows that this collaboration is the single best way to get the highest production value for any film. Absolutely essential information!

Although Cinematography for Directors is clearly written for professionals by a professional, Frost's explanations apply directly to low-budget films.

Any filmmaker--including documentary--can usefully use the chapters on Visual References and Color Palette. These chapters tell exactly how you can use specific color palettes to differentiate between characters or locations or time periods, to establish a specific tone or mood, or to maintain the stylistic mood of a genre.

When I asked Frost if it was possible to shoot a "decent" film with a small prosumer camera, she said "Absolutely. What really matters it is the way in which you use the camera. Shoot film style with carefully
selected shots and compositions, light it softer to avoid the harsher video look, and tell a good story. People generally don't care about format they care about story."

If I were ever to produce a film, I would make sure that my director, cinematographer and production designer all spent a day with Jacqui Frost.

Recommended for: film students, film teachers, independent filmmakers, directors, production designers, cinematographers, camera operators and anyone even remotely interested in producing an independent film.
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on March 18, 2012
Not since reading Making Movies by Sydney Lumet's have I found something that speaks to the real-world aspect of communicating with one's right hand: The Cinematographer. After having watched Cinematographers Style I was eager to find out more about the direct relationship. This book was at the right place at the right time. I kept nodding in agreement with a lot of the interview material that Ms. Frost put together. That coupled with little bridge paragraphs to clarify or expand was a unique way to get across the information.

An easy addictive read that I think is thoroughly accessible for the students and filmmakers who are starting out. A great resource to have.

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on November 4, 2013
This was one of the first books I read as I got into film making. I thought it was a great place for beginners, especially ones like me who have never been to film school. It goes though the basics of the cinematographers world, making it easier for the two collaborators to understand each other. I also recommend Shot by Shot. A must have for all directors and cinematographers.
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on June 6, 2016
Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration
The "Cinematography for Directors" book is written for the perspective of a "Director" who has ZERO film school experience and/or ZERO knowledge on the subject of film tools or methodology.

How is it even possible for anyone in the the last 40 years be selected to direct a film, or chose to do so, with ZERO knowledge of the craft?

I feel the direction the book takes is out of touch, is so basic as to be a waste of time, and a huge insult to creative teams.

For those who find the book helpful, please consider taking an introduction to film production class before working on a movie.

I purchased a used copy due to its mention on - which says something about misplaced attitudes towards Directors and creative teams.
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on May 3, 2016
The format runs between block quotes from established and worthy filmmakers and commentary by the author. This combination allows for some stunning insight. The problem is that it often becomes redundant and ultimately boring. The filmmakers quotes will repeat for pages and pages. So the one take away gets watered down and drowns you with multiple voices spewing the same concepts. Then, though perhaps for legitimate transitional fluidity, the author restates the same quote and prefaces the next one.
It could be an essential 120 page staple of any young filmmaker. Instead it's a 250 page insightful slog.
Sure, pick it up when it's on sale. Then do not hesitate to skim and skip as you read.
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on August 27, 2015
As an aspiring cinematographer I was recommended this book by some friends. Deciding to give it a glance I found myself learning or clarifying certain elements of cinematography that go beyond the director. This book is a great introduction to the soul of a cinematographer; not just the facts.
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on November 19, 2009
A revealing and instructive exploration of the delicate dance which inevitably takes place between cinematographer and director, greatly enriched by the inclusion of interviews with top cinematographers. Frost sheds much needed light on the rather mysterious issue of what a cinematographer actually does. Hint: it's more than just look through the camera- much more! Fascinating sections on such subjects as the colour palette of film, lighting for genre and the inside story of how to achieve "The Look" leave the reader vastly more educated about this key craft. This book will ease the trepidation of the first time director with tons of detailed technical information, nicely broken down into easily digestible chunks and lots of insight into how the technical can be applied toward better communication. At the same time, it will deepen the knowledge base of the experienced director leading to a better collaborative process. Without question, a real gem.
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on June 12, 2011
I love love love this book! If you're like me, as a director all the actors stuff I got down. However, the technical stuff not so much. I bought a DSLR camera with lenses to get an understand of photography and I have a hard time understanding exposer and how to use a light meter, DoF and how all those work together to get a great shot. I don't understand the language of a cinematographer. I've read the most complicated Cinematography books when I was in film school and this book was the first time it all just clicked for me. The author explains the information in a way that not only do I understand but I can take out into the field immediately. I can read a chapter about lenses and take my camera out and use what I've learned. That is so refreshing to do. I spent so much time with other material trying to understand some mathematical foreign language. Also it's a great resource to carry around and refer back to, but the information is so easy to understand that you will get it in your head quickly and use less of the book as a reference.
I feel a lot more technically savvy now thanks to this book.
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on September 3, 2009
"A cinematographer is a painter with light," writes cinematographer/producer/director/professor Jacqueline Frost. In this well-organized, well-written book, she sheds light on every phase of cinematography: From the pre-production phase when the professional connection begins between director and cinematographer through the production phase when the movie is filmed to the post production phase when the cinematographer oversees telecine, the lab, and the DI process to yield the final theater or broadcast ready show.

As a writer-editor who plans to produce her own documentary in the future, I appreciated her clear guidance from the aesthetic to the technical on lighting, blocking, film genres, and camera lenses, movements and types of cameras - film and digital - themselves. Stressing the importance of the creative collaboration between director and cinematographer, she steers the neophyte director as well as the experienced director to make the right choice in a cinematographer. Her interviews with illustrious cinematographers bolster her points.

A superb handbook from a seasoned pro who loves her calling and shares her knowledge with us via text, interviews, shots of equipment, movie frame grabs and, pictures of painting. I highly recommended this loaded book to anyone who wants to understand cinematography. Follow her guidance and you will achieve great movies.
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