Filmmaking for TeensComplications Ensue
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Steven Spielberg started his directing career when he was twelve by shooting a 9 minute Western on 8 mm film. He made films of crashing his train set, and sold tickets for 25 cents; his sister sold popcorn. I remember going to see DAY FOR NIGHT when I was 20, knowing this, and thinking, "If only I'd seen this when I was young, it would have got me started in the film business!"

Monkeying around with 8 mm was a pain in the ass. The film is 8mm wide, i.e. each frame is much smaller than your fingernail; imagine trying to splice a single frame into your edited work print in order to lengthen a shot. And then you have to synchronize that with your sound. But going up to 16mm meant you started burning money, fast, on each take.

Over the past decade or two it has got about a hundred times easier for any kid to make his or her own movie and show it to people. Consumer video cameras are quite good, and even near-pro-quality "prosumer" cameras are a couple of thousand bucks new. Digital editing is a breeze using Final Cut. And you can upload the whole schmeer to YouTube for free.

So why not start young? If there's one thing teenagers have a lot of, it's time.

Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols' FILMMAKING FOR TEENS: PULLING OFF YOUR SHORTS is a one-stop shop for how to make a short film with the resources your average teenager has: friends, a camera, no money and a long weekend. It covers everything from how to write a short script and how to edit it, to when to use handheld, to how to get people to see your minor opus. It has lots of ideas for how to mooch resources (who's not going to help a kid?) and what to watch out for (run your take back to make sure you got it) to what won't work (redubbing your audio because you didn't get it in the take).

I know there are kids out there making films, because I've heard from them from time to time. Buy this for your favorite budding filmmaker. Or, heck, see if this book can get your kid out of World of Warcraft.

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I really want an 8mm camera. They probably produce better quality footage than my shitty Panasonic. That thing has ADD I swear. It can't keep focus.

By Blogger GuhKnobKwi, at 10:17 PM  

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