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10/23/2008 - BOOK REVIEW: MASTER SHOTS ? 100 Advanced Camera Techniques

"BOOK REVIEW: MASTER SHOTS - 100 Advanced Camera Techniques to Get an Expensive Look on Your Low Budget Movie"
Author: Christopher Kenworthy
Book Review by Matthew Terry
Published by: Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN: 13:9781932907513

As many of you know who have read my reviews...I have been in the process of making my own low budget (read: no-budget) feature film. I finished principal photography at the end of September 2008, I'm having a "rough-cut" at the end of October 2008.
Why oh why did I not get this book until now? It would have come in VERY handy. Especially during the love-making scenes.
Mr. Kenworthy has written an EXCELLENT book on camera angles, camera tricks. You don't need to be an award winning cinematographer to fully grasp this book - each shot is explained in detail and then, for added benefit, there are screen shots and/or computer graphics to better explain the look.
Having seen thousands of movies over the years I approached my film with the visuals pretty much set in my head. I also wrote the script in a way that the visuals were actually limited. There was only one shot that I spelled out in the script - a silhouette shot that we weren't able to do as well as I would like anyway (see "no-budget" above). But where this book could have come in handy - would have been in helping me re-think the shots. Maybe I didn't need the silhouette - maybe I could have used the "Anticipating Motion" shot or the "Fearing The Character" shot that Kubrick used for "The Shining."
Now as I go through my film in the editing process I see those shots that I used (pull back to reveal, the circling shot) and think about shots that I possibly should have used.
Issues with the book? Well, I think my only real complaint is that I would have liked Mr. Kenworthy to use terms that are commonly used in Hollywood today. A "two shot" a "whip-pan" a "match-cut" a "point of view shot." This isn't to say he doesn't talk about these shots - I would have just liked a bit more of the lingo to go along with them. I would have also liked a list of films and what shots they used in particular. How would you describe the opening shot in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil?" What about the absurdity of the film "The Science of Sleep?" Or films that combine one, two, three different shots in a row.
All in all, though, Christopher Kenworthy's book gives you a basic, no holds barred - no shot forgotten, look at how films are made from the camera point of view. For anyone with a desire to understand how film is constructed - this book is for you.


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