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Movie Speak: How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set Paperback – January 8, 2009


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Movie Speak: How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set + Getting it Done: The Ultimate Production Assistant Guide + The Production Assistant's Pocket Handbook
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Original edition (January 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761143599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761143598
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tony Bill started out in Hollywood as an actor, became an Oscar-winning producer (The Sting), and then a director for film (My Bodyguard, Five Corners, Untamed Heart, Flyboys, and more) and television (Truman Capote's "One Christmas," Harlan County War, Pictures of Hollis Woods). He teaches and lectures widely on film and lives with his family in the oldest house in Venice, California.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend his unique book as a gift.
Wendy J. Carrel
As with any book of this sort, there are bound to be countless readers who say, "You forgot ____!"
J. Dunn
It was informative, engaging, interesting and witty, and there was "never a dull moment".
A. Rosenfeld

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Rosenfeld on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish (or perhaps I should say from "Roll 'em!" to "Cut!"). It was informative, engaging, interesting and witty, and there was "never a dull moment". In short: anyone interested in any aspect of film making, or simply curious about the subject, should have a copy in their collection- and that's a wrap!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerald P. Owens on July 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Tony Bill's elegant little volume does indeed offer exactly what it says on the cover--it's a handy dictionary of the slang used by movie professionals, and if that's all you want, you need look no deeper. Buy it and enjoy. But in fact, it's also a little lesson on the culture of the movie business, and I mean that in the whole National Geographic sense of the word. Slang exists for two reasons: it's a shorthand way for people to communicate, but it also serves to exclude those who aren't part of the club (or tribe or social class or generation, for that matter). Many of the terms documented here are not in fact any shorter than the official terminology they replace, but they are understood only by those fellow shamens who share the same "secret knowledge."
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.
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By J.D. Boney on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
LITTLE GEM

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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Badger on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a screenwriter. Years of reading all the how to books and Tony Bill tells the reader to throw them all away. I love it. Great reading from beginning to end! The number one Bible sized book on the movies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much more than what it pretends to be, Movie Speak is not the mere nomenclature of moviemaking terminology its cover suggests. It's actually a very funny and well-written guide to movies and the devilish details in the lives of the people who make them. If you work in the movies this book will be a short-cut to years of accumulating the kind of inside knowledge you could never get without tuned ears, sharp eyes and top crews, packaged in a handy format small enough to hide in your favorite fishing vest or cargo pants.

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.
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