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Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration Paperback – August 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932907556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907551
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By Matthew Terry on August 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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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.

=s=
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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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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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