Film School: How to Watch DVDs and Learn Everything About Filmmaking

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  1. Matthew Terry says
    17 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Great book on film study, March 20, 2008
    By 
    Matthew Terry (Seattle, WA USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Film School: How to Watch DVDs and Learn Everything About Filmmaking (Paperback)

    I have justified it many times to my friends. Why do I watch so MANY crappy Public Domain films? Well, first, they’re cheap. And, second, I learn things while watching them. Things that are important if you want to actually write and/or direct film. At least that’s the excuse I’m giving them.

    In reality, I learn far more from crappy films than I do from good films. From good films I’m drawn into the story, into the characters, into the themes. I often don’t think about the nuances of the film because I’m so involved in the story. But, heck, give me “Invasion of the Wasp Woman” and I spend most of the time ignoring the bad acting and marveling at how they got this shot or that shot. But, lately, I’ve been analyzing better films, classic films, peaking behind the curtain and exploring what elements were used to create the visual story.

    Richard Pepperman using mostly classic films and films of all genres and styles shows you how it’s done. Breaking films down into all their main elements (story, place, character) and then going one (or two or three) steps farther breaking those down into telling, structure, subplot (for story), light, setting, space (for place) and dialogue, reactions, subtext (for character) – and more.

    Pepperman does a great job of showing you how these directors and editors used all the elements at their disposal to create the stories you see. How dialogue influences character, how the sense of space comments on place, how the use of structure builds a story. And then he gives you detailed and exact places on the DVD to find what he is talking about.

    If I had any fault with the book, I would have liked visual examples from the various films – he wouldn’t have to do visuals for each film, but select a few – such as the sense of space in “High Noon” or the showing aspect of story in “Witness.” The only other issue I have with the book is that there is an assumption that the reader knows what an “establishing shot” is or a “medium two shot” or a “POV” shot. It would have been great if some examples could have been provided in the introduction, or throughout the book, just to give the reader a frame of reference to go back to.

    Still, Mr. Pepperman, using mostly classic films, breaks them apart in ways that teach the reader how films are put together on many different levels. I have always watched films and ended up analyzing them – Mr. Pepperman takes it to a whole other level. Amazing.

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  2. Jeffrey L. Armbruster says
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great book for screenwriters and filmmakers, July 8, 2008
    By 
    Jeffrey L. Armbruster (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA USA) –
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    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Film School: How to Watch DVDs and Learn Everything About Filmmaking (Paperback)

    The good professor is a bit cryptic in his writing: his writing voice sounds as if he’s been holding this conversation with you for a while. But if you stick with the book, you’ll “get it” and appreciate the material. Excellent author to learn from about making films and writing screenplays. His focus is on techniques for telling the story through film. But screenwriters will also find the techniques valuable.

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  3. Celeste Thoms "Moviemaker330" says
    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Save your tuition money, April 3, 2008
    By 
    Celeste Thoms “Moviemaker330” (Rochester,NY) –
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    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Film School: How to Watch DVDs and Learn Everything About Filmmaking (Paperback)

    I only had one problem with this book. He wrote on the back cover that you will save $40,000 in tuition. I don’t agree. I go to film school and after the cost of room and board, eating and tuition you can pay anywhere from $80,000 – $100,000 for a BFA, not including the cost of making your films.
    Ok, with that said I think watching movies is a great way to learn how to make movies. It was also Alfred Hitchcock’s suggestion. Obviously, it’s not the only way to learn how to make movies, but it’s one of the best. This book is a great teacher if you can’t or don’t want to go to a Film Evaluation class. This is also the cheapest way to do it. Spend the class money on this book, the suggested DVD’s, and some popcorn. Enjoy.

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