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How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer Paperback – January 20, 2009


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How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer + The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film from Concept to Production (Aspiring Filmmaker's Library) + Writing Short Films: Structure and Content for Screenwriters
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Roberta Munroe is that rare person in the film world who can not only recognize an inspired, great film, but she can actually help you make one."—Mark Duplass, Sundance and SXSW award-winning filmmaker

"Roberta Munroe is brilliant. Her advice and insights on our project, The Tribe, from rough cut to completed film were instrumental and invaluable to its success. It is exciting to think that all filmmakers will have access to her incredible mind and experience through this book."—Tiffany Shlain, award-winning filmmaker

About the Author

Roberta Munroe was born and raised in Toronto. She was the Short Film Programmer at the Sundance Film Festival for 5 years. A filmmaker herself, Roberta's directorial debut, Dani and Alice, has played at over 120 festivals globally and received the PlanetOut Best Drama Award 2006. She is in production on a slate of 4 short films.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; First Edition edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401309542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401309541
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roberta Munroe is an author, writer/director, producer and head of her Los Angeles based film consulting company at www.robertamunroe.com. A former Sundance short film programmer (2002-2006), Roberta's book How Not To Make A Short Film: Secrets From A Sundance Programmer (Hyperion 2009) is available on Amazon.com.

As a writer/director, Roberta was invited into the Fox Searchlight Directors Program (foxsearchlab) and made 2 award winning short films Dani and Alice and Happy Birthday that have played at over 150 film festivals worldwide and gained distribution deals on iTunes, Logo and Wolfe Video. Roberta was commissioned to write, direct & produce two short films for the United Nations (UNFPA) highlighting their youth focused sexual rights initiatives.

She has worked on over 25 short films as the producer, story consultant or consulting producer. Some titles include: Suicide Canaries (SXSW 2010), The Procession (Starring Lily Tomlin & Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Tribeca 2012), The High Level Bridge (Sundance 2011) Debutante Hunters (Audience Award Winner Sundance 2012, Palm Springs 2011) The Thing (Sundance 2012) and My Night With Andrew Cunanan (Melbourne LGBT Film Festival 2012). And she has partnered with the South Carolina Film Commission, producing 6 short films a year.

Speaking engagements and Master Classes have included: Columbia University, Trident Technical College, NYC School of Visual Arts, Tokyo Short Film Festival, Palm Springs ShortFest, Atlantic Film Festival, St. John's Women's Film Festival, SXSW and several others.

You can find Roberta at www.robertamunroe.com or at a local old school bar sipping single malt scotch.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Rusty Nails on March 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
This title is at its best when it lives up to its name and talks about how NOT to make a short film. I especially liked the chapters on short film plots we've seen a million times and the list of 50 short film cliches (who knew that opening with a Japanese tea ceremony was a cliche?). The material on what festival programmers are looking for (and not looking for) is also valuable as is the list of festivals at the end.

However, most of the book is actually devoted to "how TO" make a short film citing the author's experience making two short films. Don't expect anything out of the ordinary here. There's some good information spliced into sections on directing, producing, budgeting and marketing. But Munroe's approach to filmmaking is strictly top-down, old-school, hire the best crew you can stuff with an emphasis on production value. The theme here is professionalism, not innovation. This book is a worthwhile read if you can accept it for what it is--a couple of great chapters and a catchy title padded with vanilla material on how to follow the traditional filmmaking process.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By gme111 on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book provides some valuable insight on how to make a short film for the film festival circuit (not the latest multi-media outlets or television) if you have access to a plentiful budget (rare). It is based on the author's experience as a programmer for Sundance and the few mediocre (at best) films that she has made on her own. Proceed with caution with the author's "consulting services" that she markets with the book.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By FreeRange on July 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was going to rate this book lower but decided I should read the other reviews first for a refresher and what might have been good. I've been reading a lot of books about filmmaking recently and thought I may be acting unfairly towards Munroe. Turns out, I was. I read this book shortly after finishing 'Shooting to Kill' by Christine Vachon. Compared to that book (which could use an updating, a point Munroe wins on), HNTMASF feels very "outsider looking in." That's my real complaint about this book. It feels mostly an appeal to authority to her friends rather than a first person, "This is how we did it" like Vachon's book. I couldn't tell you how many times her friend Steak House is quoted or how many times her website is listed ([...]) but, after a point, you might just wish you were reading their book and getting insight into their professional, first-person experiences.

As a standalone book, this isn't that bad. It only feels less significant when compared to another book but that's entirely unfair to do. Would I still sooner recommend 'Shooting to Kill'? Yes. Would I discourage someone from reading 'HNTMASF'? Not at all! This is like a lighter version from the perspective of someone who fully acknowledges that your best course of action is to surround yourself with people that know the details better. That's her advice for your crew and it's what she puts into practice for the book!

The book covers a ton of subjects and aspects about filmmaking and Munroe uses the people she knows that know that stuff better than she does to explain it all. I hope that made sense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rocko on September 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book will not tell you how to write, shoot, or be an artist. But it will give you some very very very good advice on what to and not to do so that you stand out in the film world and successfully shoot your short film. Reading this book feels like your listening to an insider tell you every little thing you need to know so that you don't ruin your first step into the world of cinema. Of course rules are meant to be broken, but reading this book will stop you from making that period piece with only $30k in your neighborhood park and let you know realistically what you can do to step into the festival circuit.

I've been shooting music videos and commercials for a while and wondered how in the world do people get their names and wind up doing bigger projects, and this book tells you exactly that. I read it in 3 days, I couldn't put it down. A cynical person would think of it as her just marketing her friends, but for most of the book she brings in experts on other things to inform filmmakers how to go about dealing with a cinematographer, editor, actor, crew, producer, etc.

If you have yet to have a short tour any festivals, pick this up. It's very affordable and invaluable, THE AUTHOR PROGRAMMED SUNDANCE SHORTS! she has seen over 14,000 movies. She knows a thing or two.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bronsonfive on March 6, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Munroe, an ex-Sundance programmer, writes such a compelling work about short filmmaking that anyone thinking about getting their own film off the ground should certainly give this a read. She provides a slew of helpful information (especially about the do's and do-not's of short film story) that should serve a proper primer before tackling that screenplay or showing up on set. There is a lot of information in here that some film schools might shy you away from (like creating the shortest opening credits possible) but, trust me, she is right. No programmer (or audience that doesn't consist of your friends) are going to care about a 60-second production company logo at the start of a 20-minute short. So, should you buy this book? Well, if you are interested in making short films on a more professional scale, then absolutely. This book contains a wealth of information for those of you looking to broaden your audience outside of your friends and family.
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