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No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash

COW Library : Indie Film & Documentary : Gary Belcher : No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash
CreativeCOW presents No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash -- Indie Film & Documentary Review


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Gary Belchér takes a look at No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash published by McGraw –Hill. Gary concludes his review with ''...the greater value of this book is as a general instruction guide and how to (or not to) tutorial.''


Click here to order this book from amazon.com If you’ve been in the video or filmmaking business for any length of time, you’ve probably already had intimate experience with low or no-budget projects (i.e., cashus interruptus). I certainly have, so I was looking forward to reading, reminiscing, and even picking up some useful tips I’ve missed along the journey from No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash (McGraw –Hill, 317 pages, ISBN0-07-141232-8).

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HUMOR

The first thing I discovered about this book was that I was going to have to adapt to the author’s quirky, dry, and simply odd sense of humor. It’s important to understand this because you’ll be constantly ambushed with, what is assumed to be, elements of injected humor. It is sometimes hard to distinguish intent. I mean, is he kidding or serious when he writes that one of the reasons why film is worth the expense is because, “the cameras look bigger and make you feel important?”

Still, some of the stories are actually funny -- especially when the author isn’t necessarily trying to be so and simply relates a story that lays out all of the blemishes that constitute his personal learning experiences. Many of these passages are well written and allow your “mind’s eye” to fill in the visuals. Reading about the shoot in the amusement park is not to be missed. It is truly a comedy of errors.

YELLOW BY ANY OTHER NAME

Early on you discover the author shares a great affection for the yellow pages (a suggested primary marketing tool) while he strings a common thread of endless fascination of what life in prison with a guy named “Fingers” must be like. It’s that humor thing. A brief bio of tape formats, rudimentary coverage of 1-chip verses 3-chip cameras, and the various types of videos you can pursue are covered in the first chapter. If you are a beginner, and unsure of the type of videos that have some money potential, there is some basic info here it would do you well to know.

The author spends a great deal of time recounting his experiences and includes a review after each story (peppered with his unique brand of humor). Though many of his stories are interesting, I had a hard time correlating some of them with the book title, No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash . At times it is unclear what this book wants to be; a guide to no-budget filmmaking or a brief instructional manual on lighting, gels, scaffolding, DVDs and the like. However, if you endure, you will find a few gems scattered throughout the book. It’s a little like panning for gold. If you find any gold at all, it is more likely to be small flakes than a nugget.

Beyond the eclectic humor references, which, by the way, if omitted could curb the length of this book by about a third (give or take), the perspective of the author’s advice sometimes “feels” a bit off. I found myself reading some of his tales and advice with a raised eyebrow. Suffice it to say he has a clear opinion and vision -- even when it seems to run contradictory, or at least not exactly in step, with popular impressions. To be fair, one of the things I like about this author is that he puts the good, bad, and ugly on display. A great way to learn is from other people’s mistakes. Speaking of mistakes: when on the topic of Internet use for the budding low-budget businessman, the author describes the Internet movie, “405: The Movie.” Now, I am among the thousands (or millions) of fans of this short production and greatly admire the work of it’s two creators, Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt. So my eyebrows were again raised when the author got virtually every detail of the plot wrong in his book. A minor flaw in the scheme of things, but revealing of one man’s perspective.

BEGINNER, STUDENT, OR THE BUDGET CHALLENGED WELCOME HERE

Pros can skip this book as a reference tool, but if you are a student or beginning videographer, then you will benefit from many parts of this book and the experience of it’s author. Some of the information does seem a bit dated (or lacks depth), while other topics are totally up-to-date. The author fails to touch on many low-cost tools available today that, if used effectively and creatively, can save you the most precious commodity you have, time. Even the beginning videographer will want to continue to explore other resources that will help along the way -- no matter what the budget is.




THE ENVELOPE PLEASE:
If I were to rate this book strictly on how it fulfills the title, it would be unfair to the author, and the student or beginners who would most benefit from the author’s experiences. While you will pick up some low or no-budget tips, the greater value of this book is as a general instruction guide and how to (or not to) tutorial. Therefore, with those criterion in mind, I give No-Budget Digital Filmmaking: How to Create Professional-Looking Video for Little or No Cash a rating of: 3 cows out of 5.




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