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by james macgregor |

Filmmakers Handbook - by Steven Ascher & Edward Pinkus

A Comprehensive Guide For The Digital Age


If visualising your film means the picture you see in your mind’s eye from reading the script, you need this book. If, like me, you are not a tech-head and the thought of aspect ratios and their post implications is a mystery and you would not know a "B" winding from a pepper fresnel, this one’s for you.

Billed as the authoritative guide to filmmaking from fundraising to distribution, the book achieves this in clear, accessible language using current up-to date information. Unusually for an American publication, it recognises that there’s a big wide world outside the US of A, where films are also made and where sometimes things are done a differently. That’s a good indicator of the meticulous research and clear thinking that has gone into this publication and why it has a 20-year history as a filmmaker resource.

It’s clear the authors are practitioners; Steven Ascher is an award winning filmmaker, a Harvard graduate who taught filmmaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT film section was founded by Edward Pincus, a pioneer of the personal documentary, who taught filmmaking there and at Harvard.

Each of the eighteen chapters is a detailed guide to one aspect of film production, from camera to film image, through picture, dialogue and sound editing to a full exposition of what goes on in film labs and why. Each specialist chapter is a handbook in itself, with explanatory diagrams, photos and sketches that support the text and put it in a physical context for clear understanding. Nine short appendices form instant guides in a number of useful areas, easily accessible at the back of the book; to check on running times of different formats, synchronising rushes, cement splicing, splitting 16 and 35mm mag tracks prior to the mix and with quick reference depth-of-field and focal length tables included. A handy bibliography, a list of must-visit film websites are included and the index makes everything easy to find.

It is easy to see why a book like this has been a standard text in so many film schools. Hands-on learning will teach anyone the "hows" of shooting quickly, what it can’t teach successfully is the "whys". That is the void this handbook fills. This latest edition brings the handbook up to speed, with a guide to the different tape to film transfer systems and recognising that more and more filmmakers are choosing to originate on video, there’s a careful comparison of film formats from 8mm to IMAX and video formats from camcorders to HDTV.

This handbook is a gilt-edged investment for aspiring and beginning filmmakers and it would not be out of place in the libraries of experienced professionals either.

A Plume Book published by the Penguin Group


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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