Another home run hit from Candlewick Press, Movie Maker: Everything You Need to Know to Create Films on Your Cell Phone or Digital Camera! by Suridh Hassan, Tim Grabham, Clare Richards, Dan Reeve and illustrated by Garry Parsons definitely lives up to it's name. And what a better time to publish a book/kit like this! I'm sure there is a busload of little auteurs out there just waiting to yell "Cut!"
This kit really does come with everything, just like it says, and all of it fits nicely into the clapboard box, which you can use in your directorial debut. Four tab folders hold the things you will need for Premiere Night (tickets, awards and other punch-out goodies for a festive event), Sound Studio (a CD with 99 sound effects), Animation Studio and Props & Special Effects (more punch-out things.) The interior of the folder is also printed with text telling the movie maker how to use the contents. There is also a StoryBoard Book, not pictured above, that explains what a story board is, lists some terms used and provides a few unfinished story boards with ideas to get screenwriters and directors thinking. There are also blank pages for creating your own story board.
But, best of all, there is a Director's Handbook which is really full of fabulous information organized and written at a fourth or fifth grade reading level. As the illustration above notes, the four contributing authors are all film makers in their own rights and have been practicing their craft since they were the age of the intended readers of this book!
The Director's Handbook is divided into four sections: Making Movies, Fiction, Documentary and Animation. Making Movies goes over all the important aspects of planning and executing ideas. Equipment, sound, light, preproduction, location, rehearsals, wardrobe, movie design, and special effects and shots are discussed. Great illustrations break up the text and keep the book from being a dry tutorial. One feature that I love, each section contains at least one box with suggestions for movies to watch that demonstrate the concepts and techniques being discussed in each chapter. The Fiction section of the book talks about the different movie genres. Each section has a graphic that looks like film cells and is used to illustrate the ideas being discussed, a perfect visual for the sometimes abstract concepts in the book. What I especially love about The Director's Handbook is the chapter on documentaries, where I learned a few things I didn't know. I think that documentaries are such a great way to tell a story, a true story, and a wonderful way to communicate a personal experience, be it your own, someone else's or even an animal's, and share what it means to be alive in this world. Director's Notes in this chapter encourage filmmakers to choose a subject that they feel strongly about and to be inquisitive while you are filiming, among other things. There are instructions for filming wildlife and nature, sports, travelogues, observational, authored and biographical documentaries and wonderful suggestions for appropriate movies to watch.
Finally, there is a chapter on making animated movies, the most complex of the group. There are instructions on the cel and drawn technique, stop motion, computer animation and experimental. There is a handful of software on the market that can be used to help with movie making. A few years back my brother gave my son, now thirteen, who was really into clay animation at the time, iStopMotion, a software that let him make some really great movies with his clay creations. Now that Movie Maker: Everything You Need to Know to Create Films on Your Cell Phone or Digital Camera! is in our house, my six year old son has gone through the box and started filling out his story board. The roles have been cast and we start shooting on location over the winter vacation!
And, of course, there is a movie to go with the book...