SPARKS ~ the Power of Media to Ignite Change

SPARKS ~ the Power of Media to Ignite Change

02 Feb 2016 -

INTERVIEW QUOTES – excerpts below from the book Story Money Impact: Funding Media for Social Change, by Tracey Friesen   STORY Question: What to you are essential story ingredients for documentaries? Mark Achbar (The Corporation): I ask questions. Is it new? Are you telling me something I don’t already know? I’m always grateful for that. Are you…


Born for VFX

01 Dec 2015 -

By Ian Failes, author of Masters of FX     When director Paul Verhoeven looked to convince studio executives that a story about a war between mankind and vicious ‘Arachnid’ insects should be greenlit, he turned to Phil Tippett. The visual effects supervisor, known for his work on George Lucas’ Star Wars films and on…

Walt Disney Studios

Anne Zeiser on Star Wars Marketing for HuffPo

11 Nov 2015 -

Anne Zeiser was on The Huffington Post this week to discuss the runaway success of Transmedia Marketing of the Star Wars brand. They also quoted from Anne Zeiser’s seminal text, Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media. Many successful digital and viral entertainment marketing campaigns develop content that first, creates mystery around a passion…

Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese in 10 Scenes: Taxi Driver

27 Oct 2015 -

Excerpt from Martin Scorsese in 10 Scenes by Tim Grierson Focal Press, 2016 TAXI DRIVER, 1976 V. THE SHOOT-OUT The shoot-out scene is memorable not only for its violence, but also for a sense of ambiguity in it. This ambiguity pervades the whole movie, largely due to Schrader’s refusal to shine any solid light on…

Rosemary's Baby

Danny Draven’s Top 5 Horror Trailers of All Time

21 Oct 2015 -

Just in time for Halloween, Danny Draven, author of The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead, picked the creepiest Horror film trailers ever to grace the large or small screen. Whether you’ve seen these films or not, they are sure to delight and terrify.   5. THE ENTITY   4. ROSEMARY’S BABY   3. THE CHANGELING  …

shots and composition

Shots and Composition: A Breakdown

15 Sep 2015 -

A film is made up of a series of photographic images and each image in the film is commonly referred to as a frame. Each frame contains objects and shapes arranged in a composition. A sequence of frames together is commonly referred to as a shot. Visual productions, whether they are movies, television shows, music…


Sitcom Structure – Classic 2-act vs. Modern 3-act Structure

10 Sep 2015 -

THE IMPORTANCE OF STORY STRUCTURE Quite simply, structure is one of the most important elements of your script. It is the glue that holds your story together. Think of structure as how you choose to tell your story. What happens in each scene and what is the order in which it happens? Let me warn…


Tips for Screenwriters – Preparing for an Agent Meeting

08 Sep 2015 -

Finding the right agent or manager is like dating. You’re hoping to find someone who’s not only a creative and (in a way) spiritual partner, but someone who shares a vision for your work and career. If you see yourself as a genre writer, writing sci-fi and slasher films, but a manager sees you as…

Photo by Rob and Stephanie Levy

The Successful Showrunner Checklist

03 Sep 2015 -

*Remarks quoted are excerpts from the showrunner roundtable discussions sponsored by Variety and Hollywood Reporter (2013). According to my informal showrunner poll, the following are the most essential qualities and skills for the successful management of a scripted, episodic TV series: Staying on time and on budget: According to veteran showrunner, Jeff Melvoin (Early Edition,…

Fig. 3.4 Measuring 1/8th pages; first in inches, then in 1/8ths of a page.

The Mathematics of Your Script

01 Sep 2015 -

Scene Count Format the cells in the scene count column (at the right of the “Total” block) for plain numbers. This option is found in the Format menu. Go to Cells, then chose the category Number. This will prevent the program from turning your numbers into dates, decimals, etc. Add a 1 in the scene…


Film Grain in Postproduction – Bringing Texture Back

27 Aug 2015 -

A form of postproduction that can be applied to CinemaDNG files is film grain. For some, the idea of shooting in raw reflects in some ways an approach to filmmaking that harkens back to the days of working on film. What is lost in digital filmmaking involves the loss of texture. Film grain is one…


FREE eBook Excerpt – 7 Steps to Busting Writer’s Block

25 Aug 2015 -

An e-book excerpt from the soon to be published book Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success by Jeff Lyons. 7 Steps to Busting Writer’s Block There are scores of books in the marketplace telling you how to handle writer’s block, but none of them tell you…


BIG BRAINS – small budgets: Heather Donnell (Mom, Murder & Me)

20 Aug 2015 -

Heather Donnell wrote, directed, and produced the murder mystery comedy, MOM, MURDER & ME (, which was an official selection of several film festivals, including the California Independent Film Festival, Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival and the Bahamas International Film Festival. At the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema in January 2015, the film was…

Film Coverage

Cover Your Scene (and Your Butt)

18 Aug 2015 -

The term “coverage” refers to the variety of shots you use to visually tell your story. Think of it not just as covering your scene, but covering your butt in editing. Apart from just breaking up the monotony of a single, long camera shot, getting more shots or additional coverage will provide plenty of opportunities…

Atonement (2007), adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel by the same name and directed by Joe Wright

Interview with Tim Bevan of Working Title Films: What a film producer does

13 Aug 2015 -

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Tim Bevan featured in FilmCraft:Producing. In commercial terms, Working Title Films, the production company that Tim Bevan helped found and co-chairs, is the most successful UK outfit of its generation. From Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) to Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999), and…


Guiding Your Audience Through A Scene Without Distraction

11 Aug 2015 -

As each shot appears on the screen, the audience sees and hears it for the first time. In an instant, they have to interpret what the director has selected to put there. It is not surprising that viewers can occasionally become confused. Unless the director is careful, the audience may “look at the wrong thing”—that…

Photo by kainr

Making an Image or Action Crucial to the Scene

06 Aug 2015 -

Liking an image is not enough. No one cares what you want, what you like. They care if the story is pulling them forward, interesting them, confusing them in interesting ways. In my years of teaching screenwriting, the most frequent response given by a student to the question “Why did you do this or that?”…


Ten Reasons Not to Go to Film School

04 Aug 2015 -

This is an excerpt from Film School: A Practical Guide to an Impractical Decision and is a rebuttal to a previously posted excerpt – Ten Reasons to Go to Film School.  This rebuttal is by Ryan Koo, Filmmaker and Founder, No Film School. As the founder of the filmmaking website No Film School, I should…

sound design

Sound Rules To Live By

30 Jul 2015 -

Rule #1: Get the Mic as Close as Possible The most basic rule for recording dialogue is to get the mic as close to the action as possible without being in the shot. The closer the mic, the better the quality of the recording. This is why boom mics so often end up creeping into…


Ten Reasons to Go to Film School

28 Jul 2015 -

Ten Reasons to Go to Film School The following is an excerpt from Film School: A Practical Guide to an Impractical Decision. This book is an extended inquiry into film school, its value, and how to benefit most from your time there. This question has become more acute in our current era, when many film…


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MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Focal Press authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.