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Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts Paperback – April 1, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Teenagers can "stop dreaming and start creating" with this guide to making their first film. The authors, who teach filmmaking at an Austin, Tex., high school, suggest starting with a short-a five-minute film. They recommend that teens have a script before they begin, and be ready to take on many responsibilities: writer, producer, director and editor. Shooting should take place over the course of a long weekend, and filmmakers must set a deadline to have the film finished (aided by picking a festival or contest that has a submission deadline four to six weeks after they wrap). Lanier and Nichols urge budding moviemakers to use a digital camera and editing software, yet they caution readers not to blow all their savings. Spend money on equipment, they say, but scrounge for everything else. Throughout, they try to be chatty, with lines like "See you at Sundance." Chapters explain how to pick a subject (with exercises for doing so), write a script, pick the location for all the films' shots and deal with worst-case scenarios, such as no-shows, stormy weather and technical glitches. Lanier and Nichols's helpful crash course ensures that readers' first efforts don't resemble amateurish home videos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The filmmaking bible that every educator and aspriring filmmaker must have on his or her nightstand. -- Rosie Lambert & Derek Horne, Authors, Film School Expose

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932907041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,993,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy T. Hanke on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols teach filmmaking at a high school in Austin, Texas. Because they were never able to find a good textbook that effectively taught filmmaking while holding the ever-wandering attention of teens, they decided to write their own book. The result was Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts. By breaking down the complex process of creating and completing a short, the authors show that it is possible for anyone to make movies.


This is not your typical, mind-numbing textbook on how to make a movie; it simplifies the process of filmmaking by shortening the length of the project: just 5-6 minutes. Filmmaking for Teens gives you an idea of what to plan for when making a film by going over all of the essentials. As you read the book, you start to understand that this is pretty much the same process that all big-budget Hollywood films go through... just on a much smaller scale.

The writing is humorous in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek way (you know... the way high schoolers are), while at the same time not getting too ridiculous. It explains the technical side of moviemaking in language that both techie geeks and novices can understand and appreciate.

Depth of Information

For its (relatively) small size, this book packs a LOT of information in. Starting with brainstorming (or, as they call it, "brainshowering"), they walk the reader through writing, planning, filming, and finally editing the film. The authors give several guidelines and pointers for obtaining equipment, finding locations, organizing a cast and crew, and getting attention for the finished product.

The cool thing is they also emphasize creativity, professionalism, and responsibility with their teen audience.
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I read a article in MovieMaker Magazine about teen filmmakers and it mentioned this book. I checked out some websites and looked at some movies made by teens and it was great.

I'm a 22 year old filmmaker and I wanted to read this book. I may not be a teen, but it does not matter. This book explains things other books don't. You pretty much have to learn this stuff on your own. Like it talked a lot about getting good pictures and sound from your camera. Just great stuff.

Why didn't they write this book 7 years ago. I would have been making movies over and over again when I was 15 years old. They make the process so open. I read film books for adults and I couldn't understand that stuff at the time, so I waited until college.

This book is great for all ages.
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This would have been a great book entitled something like "Moving Beyond Home Video", but under its current title I found it oddly unbalanced. It opens with some good advice directed toward someone who has never written a screenplay, but then goes on to discuss assembling a crew including not only cast, but also an assistant producer and assitant director; the necessity of filming using manual focus; and mics with XLR connectors. If you have never tried to write a screenplay or finished a short film, you are not going to make your first foray into film with a large crew and a 3 chip camera, learning manual focus and lighting over your (recommended) 3 day shoot. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with trying out this kind of equipment, you have most likely tried your hand at screenplay writing before.

I would not recommend this book for a teen or anyone else trying to make their first attempt at filming a story of their own writing. It is, however, a fine book for those who have made a few home films with a sub $500 consumer camera and are looking to take the next step into a more sophisticated shoot with prosumer level equipment. In that light, it has very good overview material of the possiblities of equipment and accessories and has good advice on rehersals and crew.

I would welcome a recommendation from anyone who knows of a good book that is really aimed toward teens who really have never written or filmed anything and who are looking to try to put something together with a few friends with consumer level home equipment.
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Format: Paperback
Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts

by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols

Review by Pi Ware

Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts is a great gift for a young filmmaker. The book is concrete, fairly well organized, and written in a hip-and-now vernacular that will connect with the suburban teens of today (and sound utterly bizarre in about 7 years). The authors, Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols, have an in-depth knowledge of filmmaking and great ability to distill this knowledge down to its bare essentials, which is all a teen filmmaker wants or needs.

Not only is this a good book for teenagers, but it's a great book for any first time filmmaker. It may not be as exhaustive as Kim Adelman's instant classic, "The Ultimate Filmmaker's Guide to Short Films: Making it Big in Shorts", but for that high school kid in your life who wants to "get into the business"--or for anyone who wants to learn the gritty, Do-It-Yourself ethic of no-budget indie filmmaking--this manual is a great place to start.

Assuming (correctly) that many teen readers will only read the first ten pages of the book, Lanier and Nichols start with a quick summary of how to make your first short and how to keep the project do-able for a teenager. From there they take you through scripting, pre-production, production, and post, and then onto teen-themed festivals listed by deadline date. Lanier and Nichols teach the basics of filmmaking in an easy-to-follow manner, including how to compose a shot, how to write in screenplay format and how to edit the movie once it's shot. And the basics they teach are not lopsided opinions but, rather, they're the white hot core of filmmaking essentials. Though the book's style may be too slanged-up and peppered with "attitude" for the smarter teenage crew, Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts is a great how-to book for any ambitious movie geek.
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