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The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production Pap/DVD Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240809359
ISBN-10: 0240809351
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Editorial Reviews


"The key to Artis' style is his instant accessibility. He strives to give daunting, complicated technical and aesthetic concepts total and immediate clarity....he's as attentive to the subjective, intangible aspects of filmmaking (such as working with crews and interview subjects) as he is to the objective, technical ones....Most of this information is as applicable to fiction filmmakers as documentarians, making Artis' book a handy guide for a wide range of beginning independent directors and cameramen." - American Cinematographer

"Anthony Artis' "The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide" is a good primer for the entry-level documentary filmmaker, presented in a breezy, down-to-earth vernacular style."
-Thomas White, Editor of Documentary Magazine, a publication of the International Documentary Association.

"I vouch for this book...extremely helpful for the newborn documentary filmmaker." -Albert Maysles, Grey Gardens

"A superb addition to the 'how to' subsection of your library, Artis' tome is concise, while containing useful, accessible information on every aspect of documentary filmmaking, all with a doggedly hands-on attitude. Five stars." - Empire Magazine

"The book is a very easy, straightforward read with plenty of graphics to demonstrate proper and improper techniques.It is also extremely user friendly in its layout.. [It] will be helpful to you for many, many years to come." - Microfilmmaker Magazine

"The book has a luxury presentation that makes you feel like a successful filmmaker - or that you soon will be - from the word go...Carried out in full colour, which makes a relief from too many academic tomes, its 296 pages are chock-a-block with very useful illustrations. But the clincher seem to be the DVD which is all part of the package. You're a filmlmaker, after all. A visual artist. Why would you want to spend all your time reading when you can be watching and learning." - British Film Magazine

"Anthony Artis has consolidated years of practical, professional experience into the quintessential blueprint for documentary filmmakers. I have used the techniques in this book on my documentary and narrative film projects, knowing that budget should never stop a filmmaker from seeing his or her vision through. I highly recommend this book if you want to turn your limitations into assets. Now shut up and shoot!" -Pete Chatmon, Writer/Producer/Director PREMIUM and 761st

"Plain and simple, nuts and bolts on making documentary films. It's told in a conversational manner with no wasted or minced words and most importantly no BS! Few books of this type would mention how important it is to take care of your crew and how that can dramatically improve the outcome of your film. Definitely told from an insiders point of view with useful and practical info that won't go over your head." -Cliff Charles, DP, When the Levees Broke, ThePeoplesDP.com

"The practical approach promised in the title is delivered fully by the text. Artis exposes the pitfalls that can swallow a beginning filmmaker and offers straightforward advice to avoid them." -Jonathan Luskin, Flying Moose Pictures, San Francisco.

"The book is comprehensive and detailed. Indeed the most comprehensive practical (I do hate the word 'guerrilla', a filmmaker is surely at the end of the day just a filmmaker!) guide to documentary filmmaking I have ever come across! ... It has three principle outstanding qualities that you seldom find individually let alone together in the same book. The first is how comprehensive it is; the second is how intensely practical it is; and the third is how clear it is... But remember that this book will not tell you how to make a great film or indeed a good film. Or indeed even pretend to. But it will give you clear and practical guidance on how to make your film. And without such guidance it is hard to even get started. This book will help you do so much more than that!
-Nik Powell (Director of the National Film and Television School in London)

"...jam packed with useful information spelled out in a useful way. You can't ask for much more. This book gets a big recommend for aspiring documentarians and a solid recommend for other filmmakers, including aspiring narrative filmmakers, who will find plenty of the advice applies beyond documentaries." - Making the Movie

"While focused first and foremost on documentaries, this is an utterly indispensable resource for anyone who wants to get their films made, on any budget... Smart, fun, and on your side, Shut Up and Shoot is packed with good stuff you'll otherwise have to learn the hard way."

-Bill Camarda, from the December 2007 Barnes and Noble Newsletter

Mr. Artis sets us straight from the start: "this ain't your mamma's film book; this is a book for people who want to make documentary films". He makes it emphatically clear when he adds: "This book is for people who are done talking about the films they want to make and who are ready to shut up and shoot".

--Rob Goald, Film Festival Today, Online

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; Pap/DVD edition (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240809351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240809359
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Anthony Artis has created a very usable guide to making documentary films independently, which also happens to be the best guide I've encountered on what you really need to know to get started making independent films of any sort. The techniques he indicates that are designed for documentary filmmaking are essential skills for any independent filmmaker who wants things to stretch a limited budget without sacrificing filmmaking quality. The book is beautifully produced, well bound on high quality paper (as one might expect from Focal Press), and full of very useful illustrations and photos. It is also right on point -- this is designed as a usable guide and not as a book on history and theory -- though there are enough very quick tips and provocative pointers on the history and theory of documentary filmmaking to at least show that Mr. Artis knows his stuff -- this is not one of those books by someone who made a film or two that never made it anywhere and now pretends to be an expert on everything cinematic. Mr. Artis has made several documentary products for a wide range of venues and now works at NYU as an instructor and equipment manager -- he has the streed cred, the professional know-how and the academic training required to really pull of something like this tour-de-force of a usable guide. It reads quickly, with each minor topic covered in a few brief paragraphs with supplementary how-to guides, tips and pointers from professionals. It also covers everything, at least everything you could possibly digest until you have gotten some experience actually making a few films; at the same time he reminds budding filmmakers that there is always more to learn to supplement hands-on experience and points to a number of credible resources that would serve an amateur filmmaker very well.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
As a graduate of NYU Film School, I've had to read A LOT of books. Some were more interesting than others, but there were few that I would have sought out on my own merit. The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide is one that I've been searching for. It provides great reference sheets and quick tips as well as practical explanations in layman terms of how to achieve a desired effect for your project. I've also used this book in courses I have taught and it's a hit. Whether novice or professional, there is something in this book for everyone. Now go ahead and click that link!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading the reviews, I decided to purchase this book. My initial excitement quickly dissapated after I received the book and opened it to discover that it read more like a series of simple one page instructions that come with digital products. My initial thought was that the author had only a rudimentary grasp of the subject matter.

I was looking for a "how to" book that went into the depth of the subject of making movies with digital equipment. I need detail on how to light the scenes, how to construct sets, the use of blue and green chroma screen backgrounds, how to rig up cameras, how to direct, and etc. Instead, the book covered such mundane things as how to fold a blanket, the types of cameras used in video production, the models of cameras currently being sold to the public, how not to overload the circuit panel with your lights, doing your video as inexpensive as possible, elementary lighting, and more. Unfornately, the text appeared in a BOLD font which made it difficult and frustrating to read. Of course, readers who have difficulty reading the book can always look at the many pictures and diagrams.

This is the type of book that you can skim in 10 minutes and get 80% of the content. I would expect that this book would be very well received by 7th adnd 8th grade students studying digital movie making. Regardless, I returned it to Amazon.

I know that I am going to be "dinged" for this review by all of those individuals who thought the book was great. However, when reviewers write book reviews which do not accurately describe the content of the book, then other individuals such as myself will fall in to the trap of buying the book in reliance on the reviews only to return it for a refund. Inaccurate reviews cost everybody in the long run.
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Format: Paperback
Anthony Q. Artis has lovingly placed a complete video production course between the covers of a book. Here are all the things a conscientious film teacher tells his students, plus a DVD that shows, among other things, examples of good and bad sound along with interviews with prominent documentarians.

The book puts the focus on doing. Its tacit assumption is that everyone makes mistakes when they begin production, so you might as well get on with making them. Chapter one is titled Preproduction, and in fifty-two pages it covers everything from determining the goal of your documentary (What story do you want to tell and why?) to care and feeding of crew members (Don't skimp on food!).

By chapter two we're on location, and the book offers a lot of good advice about making a film in someone else's backyard. From then on it's all about getting it shot, getting good information, good images and good sound, planning for and conducting interviews, and the key to every successful documentary: editing and postproduction.

Do I love everything about this book? No. While it talks about guerilla filmmaking, in many ways it embraces a rather formal approach to making a documentary, which is to record interviews and shoot B-roll. While Artis says in chapter 6, "your B-roll is your A-roll," I find a bias here in favor of told evidence over visual evidence.

That said, there is a lot to like about "The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide." This book is so rich in so many ways that it is an excellent starting point for the beginning, wannabe documentary filmmaker as well as a handy resource for the rest of us who learned on the job, or learned our fundamentals so long ago that we can occasionally use a brush-up.
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