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Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know [Paperback]

Jennifer Van Sijll
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
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Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know + Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen (Michael Wiese Productions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (1 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193290705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907056
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 27.8 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


How do directors use screen direction to suggest conflict? How do screenwriters exploit film space to show change? How does editing style determine emotional response? Many first-time writers and directors do not consider this. They forgo the huge creative resource of the film medium defaulting instead to dialog and narration to tell their screen story. Yet most movies are carried by sound and picture. What the industry's most successful writers and directors have in common is that they have mastered the cinematic conventions specific to the medium. They have harnessed non-dialog techniques to create some of the most cinematic moments in movie history. This book is intended to help writers and directors more fully exploit the medium's storytelling techniques. It contains 100 non-dialog techniques that have been used by the industry's top writers and directors. From "Metropolis" and "Citizen Kane" to "Dead Man" and "Kill Bill", the book illustrates - through 500 frame grabs and 75 script excerpts - how the inherent stortytelling devices specific to film were exploited. You can learn how non-dialogue film techniques can advance story.

You can discover how master screenwriters exploit cinematic conventions to create powerful scenarios. It is brilliantly illustrated throughout with 500 carefully chosen frame grabs from classic films of the past and present.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very clear and helpful book 21 April 2006
There is a huge amount of information in this book. It is very clearly and logically laid out with sections on, for example, space, framing, editing, locations, wardrobe, music, camera movement, editing, transitions. The key point is how all these elements can be used to support the story, and guide emotional responses.

I had already made two short films when I discovered this book, and it was a revelation to understand the logic behind many of the things I had done intuitively. It has also broadened my awareness of many other elements to consider in the cinematic storytelling process.

One of the great aspects of this comprehensive book is that it can be dipped into at will. There are a hundred different conventions, all illustrated with examples from real films, and often with the screenplay printed alongside. Every time I pick it up I learn something new. I recommend it to all directors who believe that a great story, cinematically told, is the end goal of all our filmmaking efforts.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting information 29 Jun 2008
I just finished the book, it has a lot of interesting information that I haven't seen in other books. it can get a bit boring at a time as it seems to reuse some movies a bit too much..
I have to agree with one of the other readers that the images could have been a bit better..
I had one problem with the book.. It misses the last 4 pages for some reason (it is a brand new copy), maybe even more, but item 99 and 100 are missing from my copy of the book..
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good written, bad images. 4 July 2007
The written content of the book itself is very useful, however, the quality of the stills taken from the films they are describing is terrible.
This is a book about film and yet all of the reference pictures are black and white (even when they are talking about colour) hard to see, bad quality.

The book should be reprinted with better quality photos. No doubt about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Tool for Directors AND Cinematographers 14 July 2011
It's just not enough to shoot a scene and say you did this way "because it just felt right." It is essential to great filmmaking to know WHY the shot works, WHEN to use it and WHAT impact it is going to have on the arc of the story. Van Sijll's book, CINEMATIC STORYTELLING is a must read for directors and cinematographers. The volume is a clear, concise and fabulous tool with great shot by shot explanations, including examples from the most important films. Buy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Guide to Cinematic Storytelling.. 8 April 2011
By Adash
If you have a basic appreciation that directors create their shots to help 'tell the story' but aren't quite sure about how they actually do it, then this book should make lot of sense. It contains examples of how to use directing techniques with cameras, lenses, props, sound and even wardrobe and more to tell the story cinematically.

Each technique includes real world examples and even screenplay extracts to help you understand the need for using the technique as well as how to apply it. But it doesn't waffle unnecessarily. Each example is concise and to the point.

I have found this to be like a 'Directors toolbox' of ideas and techniques and after just 10 minutes of reading I am already thinking of my own shots in a very different way. The concepts are simple, but very effective and easy to understand.

Some of the ideas are really quite interesting such as one example of an over dinner conversion between two parties who are about to start an affair. A tracking shot was used to shift from one side of the man's face to the other, essentially showing us his 'good side' then his 'bad side' as he shifts from happily married man to contemplating the affair. It's ideas like these that make this more than just a reference book - it's a fun, informative and inspiring read to anyone seeking to better understand the techniques used by professionals to tell stories cinematically.

This book covers a lot of essential ground such as composition, editing, pacing, sound effects, transitions, wardrobe, camera motion, lighting, colour, lens choices and so on.

Definitely recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 3 Jan 2010
The content in the book is excellent and presented in a concise and easily accessible manner. I had the entire book read quite quickly and I feel I will be constantly referring back to it over the years.

I would disagree with the previous comments on the poor image quality. The black and white images and their relatively small size is not sufficient for examining the colour composition of shots etc. However, I think the author intended for the reader to watch/rewatch the movies and make reference to the scenes as illustrated in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource 8 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone who is interested in film making, I found this book fascinating. It covers a wide range of techniques and provides multiple examples. Some I was already aware of, but some that I had not encountered before. It details concise information about each technique with illustrative examples. It is odd that the images are not in colour, especially as some of the techniques are about it. It did encourage me to revisit several films, appreciating them anew.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but it felt rushed towards the head 31 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a good book and I certainly learned a lot, but as others have commented, there is too many references to Citizen Kane and the like, I would also liked to have seen references to the very commercially but not necessarily critically successful films, these films deserve their attention from a cinematic point of view.

On the whole a good book, but it seemed rushed towards the end and a concluding chapter would have been nice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I Really Recommend This...
You can dwell with this book or you can dive in and out, which ensures that it's something always at your finger-tips if you're interested in film and starting out producing.
Published 27 days ago by Hugh Gatenby
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful but big
This is a weighty book and though recommended by a film school I went to, I could not carry it around for lessons. the content is good it is well laid out and info rich. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars Good content - annoying format
This book is really good at showing you the different devices used in film - clear and precise with good examples. Read more
Published 2 months ago by em
5.0 out of 5 stars see how the best filmmakers pull it off.
I bought this on kindle having been given a paperback copy as a gift. I wanted it easily to hand as I'm a self-study new filmmaker andthe information here is compelling. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jaxeeee
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A useful way of seeing how films are designed to reach the audience without the use of language. How visual conventions work.
Published 8 months ago by J. R. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation!
Firstly I would say that if you are a aspiring filmmaker, a student or have passionate interest in film just buy this book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Luke Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful film book
I'm a film maker so though I know a lot of the things mentioned in the book. I think this book is quite useful, its nice to have film terms and the reason and names for certain... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Julia
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant overview of film techniques
This book covers all film techniques I can think of and loads more! It discusses camera angles/positions/lenses, editing, framing and composition, sound effects, scene transitions,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jodie Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars great way too get your imagination a good kicking. FILM STUDENTS BUY...
If your a student studying film or media BUY THIS, loads of great ideas for different ways to film your shots


explains a lot of different shots and ways... Read more
Published 13 months ago by sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Most excellent
One of the best film production books I have read in a long time. Clearly explained basics of lighting, camera movement and the like. Absolutely brilliant.
Published 17 months ago by Laura
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