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THIS BOOK SHOULD BE BANNED! These are the really cool tricks and techniques of shooting that professional directors keep secret just for themselves to use. Why should they be given away for a few dollars? --John Badham, Director Saturday Night Fever, WarGames, Author, I'll be in My Trailer
Christopher Kenworthy worked as a screenwriter, director and producer for fourteen years. He directed a feature film called The Sculptor's Ritual, along with countless commercial projects. He's the author of the best-selling Master Shots Vol 1, 2 and 3. He's also the author of two well-reviewed novels and many short stories. His latest books are Shoot Like Tarantino, Shoot Like Spielberg and Shoot Like Scorsese.
For the beginner or occasional filmmaker, this is a great book. Essentially it is an encyclopedia of master shots, a hundred of them. Most are illustrated with stills from various films and with 3D models created in Poser 7.
The author provides details about how the shot is set up, the feeling the shot is intended to convey and pertinent information. Kenworthy deliberately stays away from things like lenses, equipment, lighting and so on.
His point is that the shots can be accomplished with any kind of camera. It is the point of view that matters and the action that establishes the meaning of the shot and advances the story.
Master Shots is definitely an aid to the beginning filmmaker or those who shoot only occasionally and could you a bit of assistance in visualizing how to tell their story.
For a very reasonable cost, you have a hundred classic master shots diagrammed and explained for you. Good deal.
I'm impressed with the basic idea behind this book, it is simple, focused, and opens the door to creativity. The author takes a focused look at camera shot solutions pros have used to convey the story to the viewer. It would make brilliant text for an intro film class because it makes you concentrate on how you are turning your written script into visual medium. When I first got it I thought it would be just a bunch of plug in stock shots that you could link together to make a movie, but the author describes each shot and the reasoning behind it so you end up borrowing, adjusting and adding to the examples to get what you need. It definitely does not kill creativity.
The examples are great. Each takes a scene from a well known movie (the Shining, Enemy at the Gate, Children of Men,) then breaks it down into a generic graphics showing camera angles and actions. This helps clarify how and why the director staged the shot in this way. Also each example has a paragraph that explains why this works for the viewer and how camera work adds to the scene.
The book seems well balanced, it covers everything from fights and chases to love scenes. Personally I am not looking to do any action films, so fighting and such was not that important, but the sections on shooting dialog and car shots were invaluable. I read through this book while storyboarding my project and whole scenes fell together. And most importantly, I didn't feel like I was painting by numbers. More like, the template shots planted seeds which grew to be very personalized and perfect for my story.
A great book for anyone new to or a student of film.
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Master Shots addresses the basics. The language is simple and jargon-free ... very accessible to young people. Moreover, the descriptions are succinct. No needless words. This text will appeal to both new film-makers and those who want to understand the film-making process (to better appreciate the art). (I use Van Sijll's text in my film courses for a quick student-refresher and plan to use this work for a similar purpose).
A minor critique: while the film examples are excellent, the computer renderings are bizarre and strangely distracting. I wonder if using a small panel of actors to acquire these tableaux-like moments wouldn't be a better choice. Likewise, some of the captured film-frames are a little too dark or (in some cases) too small.Read more ›
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I'm a film student (not the rich, fortunate, private school kind) and I was REALLY excited to receive a copy of this book. I realize this book is not about certain shots being limited to a particular example, but also giving you ideas to expand on. However, I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this book is still helpful, but I'm having a hard time understanding who this book is MAINLY targeted towards to.
First of all, even if you follow the "techniques", your low budget film will still look low budget if you don't have the proper equipments (and believable actors, lighting, script, and the list goes on....) That's reality. This book alone is not going to give you that "expensive look on your low-budget movie". That's just a marketing tool. Just be aware of that. (This is not the reason I'm giving it a 3 stars!) If you do have a dolly track, Steadicam, or crane, THAT will give you an "EXPENSIVE" *LOOK* -- however, if you're trying to convey a STORY using those tools, then there has to be a meaning to it or feel natural; or else the audience will feel disconnected. That's what this book is here to help you with. It's all about the e-MOTION. (Get it? The motion has to convey the emotion.)
The author mentions about using long/short lens, focus pull, dolly. etc, so you better really have that ability down first or know the basics. If you try to go hand held on a consumer camera, unless you're going for the Blair Witch/Cloverfield style, it's still going to look BAD.
As far as camera techniques go, it just uses the same, common, existing shots several times (it could just be a simple motionless long shot, or tracking/panning and coming to a halt; but just used in different examples). If you're looking for mindblowing innovation, this is not it.Read more ›