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by james macgregor |

Before You Shoot - by Helen Garvy

A Guide to Low Budget Film and Video Production


It is deeply disturbing to come across a book like this having just completed a low budget film. A sense of disjointed time, of regret at having missed out on something important, of frustration that the book you really could have done with before the shoot –the one everybody said had yet to be written- turns up the moment your shoot ends. It is the law of Sod that this should happen.

Helen Garvy, where have you been? Or more practically, where has your book been?

This is not a technical manual. It covers none of the technical aspects of making films except in the most general sense – and not being a film anorak, that is good enough for me. Nor does it cover scriptwriting and directing, except in the most general sense. The one thing that is missing is a word from the sub-title of the book, because it should be called A Producer’s Guide to Low Budget Film & Video. In fact, it is a producer’s pocket bible.

So, if it does not cover cinematography, script, direction, what’s left? Well, quite a lot actually. Particularly the crucial decision making and organisational side of film making, the things that keep your film on schedule and within budget.

As Garvy stresses, the producer’s job is not just making a film, but making a good film, using all the elements under the direct control of the producer and holding the whole thing together from start to finish. This book can help you do that.

The book is organised in clear sections; planning, pre-production, production and post production. No surprises there then, but each section is further broken down into manageable chunks and in concise, clear English. The kind that communicates well and is so simple to read. When you want to check or reference something, thumb through the appropriate section, or use the index and dive in.

This is not a book pitched solely at beginners. Seasoned filmmakers will find a great deal to interest and absorb them in this book. And those producers who have never worked low budget will find it revealing as well.

Helen Garvy is a partner in Shire Films, a two-partner low budget outfit that has produced over 22 films including dramatic features, children’s TV programmes, documentaries and short educational films. In addition she has hosted workshops and seminars. In fact the ideas outlined in the book are assembled from the teaching notes from her regular film classes.

The book is illustrated by Helen’s partner in Shire, Dan Bessie.

It is a snip at only US$12 and for another US8$ she will send you a complete pack of all those forms and stationary required on a film shoot. If it is nothing else, this book is practical and extremely good value. Get on-line and buy it. You’ll be glad you did if you have a shoot coming up and you’ll be mad you did, if it has just finished.

Before You Shoot
by Helen Garvy
A Guide to Low Budget Film and Video Production
Published by Shire Press US$12

Last Orders
The Hidden Fortress
Mulholland Drive
Back Against the Wall
The Bank
Dark Blue World
Beginners Luck
Gosford Park
The Pledge
The Center of the World
The Man Who Wasn't There
Baby Blues
The Score
The Circle
The Navigators
Mike Bassett:England Manager
George Washington

The Man Who Cried
Crime and Punishment in Suburbia

The Way of The Gun

Green Desert

Three Below Zero

Requiem For A Dream

The King is Alive

The House Of Mirth
The Luzhin Defence

One Day In September
There's Only One Jimmy Grimble
Miss Julie

Purely Belter
Ring 1
Ring 2
Dancer In The Dark

Angels of the Universe

The Exhibited

Billy Elliot

The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (2nd Edition)
The Filmmakers Handbook
Imagining Reality - the Faber Book of Documentary
Before You Shoot

American Beauty


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