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101 Things I Learned in Film School

May 21, 2010

101 Things I Learned in Film School by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick
published by Grand Central Publishing May 20, 2010

Film making is essentially storytelling, and as a writing teacher and avid reader, it’s always fascinated me. I have been wanting to learn more about this storytelling process, and about the nuts and bolts of movie-making — including scriptwriting, camera angles, and editing — in a way that’s relatively quick and accessible. This little book, recommended by Trisha at Eclectic Eccentric, was perfect for me. It’s deceptively straightforward and simple but rich with information. It helped me grasp the process of film-making, which Neil Landau described as both “painstakingly deliberate and fortuitously experimental.” I am excited about looking for some of  techniques he described next time I watch an excellent movie.

Some aspects of movie making the author touches on:

  • The stages of film-making — from pre-production to post-production.
  • The nuts and bolts of screenplays — have you ever wondered how to format a screenplay or how long it should be? (hint: 1 screenplay page = 1 minute of screen time)
  • Writing and editing the screenplay — it includes some of the standard gems cherished by us writing teachers, like “show, don’t tell,” plus tips for plotting, advice on developing a compelling protagonist, and more.
  • Coming up with an effective movie title.
  • Creating believable dialogue.
  • How to pitch a screenplay to a film studio executive.
  • How to use lighting and various camera lenses and angles to tell your story and reveal important things about a character’s psychology.
  • Tips for casting.
  • Things the audience should experience during a movie, like catharsis.

This is a concise, intriguing overview of the art of film making, strewn with quotes from movie makers, actors, and writers, that I’ll be keeping on a side table in my T.V. room for future reference. Many of the ideas explored in this book, including plot development, creating characters, storytelling, themes, and imagery, will also help with reading or writing fiction. I highly recommend it to writers, film buffs, teachers, homeschoolers and anyone who is fascinated with the process of telling a compelling story.

Many thanks to Trisha at Eclectic Eccentric and Brianne Beers from Grand Central Publishing for hooking me up with a review copy of this book.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2010 10:47 pm

    This one sounds very neat. My son has been taking a film class lately. I’ll see if I can find it for him.

    Peace and Laughter!

  2. May 22, 2010 11:05 am

    I’ve been curious about this since Trisha reviewed it too. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!


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