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Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker [Paperback]

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Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 7.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Silman-James Press
ISBN  1879505274  
EAN  9781879505278  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The first question that filmmakers ask themselves isn't "Is this brilliant?" but "Does this work?" Making Movies Work, a fascinating and accessible guide for both filmmakers and serious film fans, is about how filmmakers think about film. To this end, the author identifies three ways in which we, both filmmakers and audience, watch movies. Then, through practical examples, he demonstrates how, at any given moment, the way we watch dictates its own rules of time and space and demands its own set of film techniques to address them. Contains over 100 illustrations, which include film stills and storyboards.

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More About Jon Boorstin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jon Boorstin's first novel, Pay or Play, was called "the definitive send-up for Hollywood" by Publishers Weekly in a coveted starred review. His second, The Newsboys' Lodging-House, won the New York Society Library Award for Historical Fiction. Boorstin has also written the book of film theory, Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker, essential reading at the world's film schools. The work of an Academy Award -nominated documentary filmmaker and longtime screenwriter and producer, Mabel and Me is the culmination of Jon Boorstin's lifelong affair with the Movies. He lives in Los Angeles.

Jon Boorstin currently resides in Los Angeles. Jon Boorstin was born in 1946.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
an easy read with loads of insight into the nature of Hollywood Cinema  Aug 30, 2005
If you are looking for theory or for technical analysis of film, this is not the place. If your interest, instead, is insight into the thinking that goes into making (mostly mainstream) films this is an excellent starting point. Boorstin doesn't write like a movie critic or a professor of film; he writes like a very knowledgable and reflective craftsman who has insider experience on filmmaking and has been able to capture that experience into a series of analytic perspectives on the nature of "movies that work."

He breaks his analysis of the "working of movies" down into three perspectives that amount to the various levels at which the film needs to operate on or captivate its audience. A movie that "works" has to work on all three levels, though it may emphasize one over the others. First, it should appeal to the "voyeur" in the audience. We watch movies because we want to see, and a movie works at a voyeuristic level when it shows us something that we can both believe and be interested in. That sounds straightforward enough, but the voyeuristic perspective allows him to go into the "why" behind a wide range of cinematic techniques, and to introduce quite a bit of the vocabulary you'd find in another introduction to film but might not see why it was so important. Secondly, the film has to work at a "vicarious" level: we have to care about the characters in the film, and what they do has to be emotionally true. Under this heading Boorstin is able to discuss a range of topics, from Kuleshov's psychology experiments with film montage to what makes a film soundtrack work. The third level is the "visceral": films can work, not only because they are intriguing or make us feel something for the characters, but also because they make us feel something period. The rise of horror cinema is directly connected to this longing for a visceral experience: we don't just want to care about someone who is potentially being harmed but we want to feel their fear along with them. The book goes on to discuss combinations between these, the differences between narratives and films of other forms, and the difference between mainstream Hollywood cinema and avant garde or foreign cinema.

My only quibble with the book is that he doesn't address a fourth level at which films work -- maybe because it's hard to come up with a "V" word for what might be called the "reflective dimension" of film, and I believe that a discussion of this dimension would complement his other discussions and allow him to introduce in an unpretentious and insider fashion themes that are the subject of what film theorists call "ideology." Every film, at some level, has a theme -- has to have something it is "about" and this is a level that is not only of interest to film theorists but also to filmmakers. Sidney Lumet's wonderful "Making Movies" discusses this at length. For a film to work it has to have a theme and it has to somehow make sense of that theme. In some films, and not only foreign or avant-garde films, this "thematic" or "reflective" dimension is the dominant one. Take the success of the "Matrix" for example -- what makes it stunning is not only its superb visuals (voyeuristic level) or its strong narrative (such that we vicariously connect with Neo) or its tense mood (such that we have a visceral experience), but also that it forces us to think, raising interesting questions and posing tentative answers to those questions.

In the end, though, this is merely a quibble with what is still a very worthwhile book that I am glad I encountered. While the style is personal and the ideas are to some degree idiosyncratic to the author, it is a rare book that offers so much information and insight and is such an enjoyable read. (I would compare this book to other remarkable and insightful works by working filmmakers such as Lumet's Making Movies and Walter Murch's In the Blink of the Eye -- and if I had to choose which one to recommend of these three I would say that Boorstin's book is more comprehensive and can likely teach more about the nature of film and filmmaking than the others.)
Thinking Like a Filmmaker  May 9, 2001
For those people that just stumbled on this book and are not aspiring film makers, the insight and even the abundance of photographs from major scenes are worth the purchase price.

For the rest of us, everyone knows what makes a professional in any field is that little extra effort to be one step ahead of the next person. This book may be that next step.

A paragraph from the introduction says it all:

"How does a surgeon attack a tumor, a lawyer a murder case, or an architect a concert hall? When you learn a craft, or a profession, or an art (and film is all of these), you have to master a way of thinking as well as a set of skills. A way of approaching the problem that make techniques your tool."

The Ufa Story: A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company 1918-1945
I wish I could give 4 1/2  Mar 6, 2001
The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is, because it is not a smashing, shocking masterpiece. But it is still a VERY GOOD book. It gives one a great first taste on filmmaking, touching on almost every topic and field in the production process. It is also very well organized into a system of own logic, and contains quite a few funny and interesting anecdotes, which make it more like a personal friend instead of just "a book". The language is clear and "user-friendly" (which was quite important for me, English being only my second lang.), and Mr. Boorstin is like a smiling tour-guide that takes one around the various aspects of the craft. It is an excellent introduction to all people interested in film, and to all those who just want to have a good read about 'the film job' in general. Read it and You will like it, if it does not make You want to fall in love with film right away. If You already are: You will learn not just about the craft, but about creative processes and "Hollywood vs. World"-philosophy too, while You get to understand what actually makes a filmmaker. A definite 4 and 1/2.....
Slow start, great middle, good finish.  Jan 18, 2001
I've been doing some research into film making and I picked this book up from the bookstore because it looked okay. At first I was a bit let down, but after getting into it I found it truly great! The author gives an amazing amount of examples, and even though they're a little outdated, he gives them in such ways that you don't have to have seen the movies to learn from his examples.
Easy to understand and highly informative  Apr 16, 2000
"Making Movies Work" discusses films from three types of effects the shots have on the audience. Boorstein calls the "Voyeurs Eye" the eye we have for detail, consistency and the logic of a scene, where we gather information. "Vicarious Eye" concerns the techniques filmmakers use to relate feeling and the emotions of a scene. "Visceral Eye" appeals to the part of the brain that bypasses thinking, the 'gut' reaction. This book does not go into detail on setting up shots, but rather gives the reader a useful context in which to think about shot choice. It's purpose is to help identify the purpose of a shot or scene and why a shot gives the audience the feel that it does. I thought the book was fascinating, and it puts to direct application much of film theory.

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