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Movie Speak: How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set Paperback – January 8, 2009
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Many film slang terms also reveal the way the sexes relate on a movie set (most technicians have historically been men), and the way the different social castes within the movie world interact (the Above the Line vs Below the Line people), as well as the pecking order within those castes. And it reveals the delicate proprieties that must be observed, and the proper decorum. It's been famously observed that good manners are the lubricant that allow the moving parts of a society to function. If you plan to direct or produce, ignore these realities at your peril, lest you antagonize a crew that can find an endless number of ways to cost you a lot of time and money.
The book is also a history lesson. Where it is known, Bill offers the etymology of the words and phrases, and sometimes even the name of the person who coined the term (or after whom it was named).
The author also breaks the dictionary up with several essays on his theories on writing and filmmaking, illustrated with personal anecdotes from a long and storied career. A great raconteur, we can only hope Tony Bill finds time to expand this material into a full length biography.
Tony Bill has written an entertaining and instructive guide to the arcane rituals of the movie set packed with definitions of such quirky terms as hair in the gate, gullysucker, five-dollar Friday, squash and stretch, video village, pork chop, gripology, Klieg eyes, etc., etc., etc.
Bill is an engaging writer. The brief essays scattered throughout the book are rich with anecdote and revelation, including reminiscences of his boyhood in San Diego, a chance encounter with a great movie star, his unlikely friendships with Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, and, as a director, an epic on-set clash of wills with an insubordinate ingénue that probably saved her career. And the piece entitled, "The Death of Acting" is a startling forecast of the future of film acting.
But the core of the book is the glossary of movie-set slang. Though I consider myself something of a buff, most of the terms were new to me. Bill illuminates them all with gentle wit and almost sociological precision, always extracting the humanity and humor.
The book's subtitle, "How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set," suggests it would benefit anyone trying to break into the business, and there's indeed plenty of advice to aspiring film makers. The section on the ingenious ways writers have gotten producers and stars to read their scripts is hilarious (Bill confesses he's a "sucker for an offbeat pitch") and his list of 12 things not to do when sending a script will be worth the price of admission to aspiring screen writers.
There are also sections on "setiquette" (surprise: movie sets are almost always models of civility--maybe because they have their own language), how to write a great script (no surprise: it's not easy) and even a recommended reading list.Read more ›
But that said, this book might be even better for those of us who do not work in the movies and just like them, because Movie Speak will make watching movies more fun. And at $8.95 it's priced right as a gift for anyone into film.
You get the feeling that Tony Bill has a great time in his job and more importantly for his readers, he enjoys sharing the best of his experience with us. Movie Speak is from the kind of guy who'd be rooting for you if you were in the film business. His book is fun, useful, smart and informative.
All in all, a great read, a fine reference and a cool little gem.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fun read. I can't tell you if it's accurate since all these words are new to me.
And I can't say for definitely but even if I didn't want to make movies OR learn the... Read more
There are more than a few helpful tips in this book as well.Published 10 months ago by Victor Ludorum
Bought this for my daughter's first assignment as a Production Assistant. She said it was 'extremely useful.'Published 13 months ago by Stephen Smith
Got this to talk film with my tv biz daughter and her film director boyfriend over Christmas. A whole lot of fun!Published 13 months ago by KewlDadiJ
As a long-time professional actress, I knew most of these terms. But it was a delight to find them all together in one place -- and in a tiny, charming volume~! Love it! Read morePublished 13 months ago by DC
It's got a lot of neat information and definitions, but it also has quite a bit of foul language, including multiple uses of the f-bomb, along with a few off-color tidbits. Read morePublished 18 months ago by John M Teravskis
Fun book for beginners... Loved it.
I bought this book for vocabulary for a book series I'm writing. I expected something along the lines of a dictionary. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Aisling D.