Book Review: Filmmaking Simplified by Flax Glor

Flimmaking SimplifiedTaking an idea from a screenplay to a finished film involves a lot of moving parts. For the beginning filmmaker, it can seem overwhelming to the point of not even starting a project. Flax Glor’s new book does exactly what it’s title promises: it simplifies the filmmaking process by offering up a clear outline of what is involved at every step of the journey to finished film. Do not let the small size of this book fool you into thinking it is light on information. Glor packs each chapter full of lists of resources, which are especially useful for a beginning filmmaker looking to build their library of resources.

My knowledge of filmmaking is limited, so I jumped into this book a novice. Glor’s style is easy to read. He does not rely heavily on industry jargon, which made it straightforward for someone like me. In the book’s introduction, Glor explains that he is, “a working Filmmaker without a fancy degree or powerful industry connections who has been a part of almost every department on every size Set imaginable.” This comes through in how thorough the book is, and it also shows how important it is for a filmmaker to understand every phase of the project.

Glor’s book is a glimpse into the technical side of being creative in the film industry, and this was perhaps the most fascinating part of this book for me. Making a movie is not as simple as writing a script, getting a camera and hiring a couple actors to act out your story. Even a small budget film requires securing financing, hiring a crew and planning for post-production. This book makes that process accessible to filmmakers at all levels.

In the chapter on screenwriting, Glor encourages new filmmakers to start small by writing a short film of only a few pages. This is an exercise to get comfortable with the format. He encourages beginning filmmakers to do the same to get used to shooting a film, even if it is simply following your pet around with a camera or shooting wildlife. Regardless of the subject matter, this will provide some footage that is perfect for practicing editing. You can even show the film to a few friends and get some practice using feedback to improve upon your short film. Stephen King once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I think something similar holds true for filmmaking. As Glor explains, “Become a Filmmaker the only way possible–by making a Film.” If you want to be a filmmaker, you need to be actively making films–even if it is short films for practice.

It would be easy to build a detailed project plan from this book, and that is perhaps where it succeeds the most. With so many steps and people involved, Filmmaking Simplified will help even veteran filmmakers to make sure they are accounting for every step as they plan, hire and map out the process of taking a story from page to screen.

Filmmaking Simplified is available from Amazon.

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My Favorite Movie is Book

DSbooks

“Hey, you want to watch something?”

“No, thanks. I’m watching book.”

Books are ruining TV and movies for me. Whenever I turn on the TV and start flipping through channels, I have a hard time finding anything that holds my attention for more than a few minutes. It is not an attention span thing because I am perfectly fine sitting for hours with a good book, only surfacing long enough to grab a snack.

The same holds true for movies. I was talking to some friends about the recent summer releases. Both of them were talking about the movies they liked, and I found myself repeatedly saying some variation of, “I didn’t really like that.” I would usually throw out something about the story being weak or nonexistent. When talk turned to Jurassic World, I pointed out that the story was full of holes so big that a whole herd of Indominus Rex could run through. I loved Michael Crichton’s original books in the franchise. To see how his story evolved into a vehicle that existed for the sole purpose of special effects was disappointing. One of my friends simply said, “Yeah, but the dinosaurs were awesome.” Hey, I’m not going to argue with that. They really were.

But, I am not content just to sit and enjoy the spectacle of special effects when there is no story to back them up. I do not need a deep, complex story to hold my interest, but I do need something to hold onto and follow as dinosaurs and explosions flash up on the screen. This is exactly why I liked the recent installment in the Mad Max franchise, Fury Road. It had just the right combination of action and story. The story was not terribly complex and could be enjoyed simply as a good action movie while also offering enough to think about for those who wanted to go deeper with the story.

Unfortunately, there are more movies and TV shows like Jurassic World and less like Fury Road. As much as I enjoy reading, I sometimes want to enjoy a good TV show or movie, but I am finding that harder and harder to do. While some of it can be blamed on the quality of what’s on, I think more of it has to do with the way a story evolves in a book. I suppose it really is not a bad problem to have. I quite enjoy my time in the book world.

My mom used to tell me she liked action movies because sometimes she just wanted to watch something where she didn’t have to think, and perhaps this accounts for the large success of things like Jurassic World and the Real Housewives. In the end, we just want an escape from the stresses of life. For some of us, that may mean TV and movies, but for me, that will mostly be the book world until another show like Parks and Recreation or Arrested Development comes along.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you find that reading has raised your expectations of TV and movies?