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on 5 March 2017
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on 23 October 2007
Hmmm. . . This is a good book, I certainly found it inspiring and it's full of illuminating little hints. However, it's also very short and lacking in detail. Not a 'how to', more of an 'I did'.
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on 15 April 2008
This is a truly inspiring book for any aspiring film-maker. Though it is by no means a "how to" manual it nonetheless equips the reader with a sense that there really is no barrier to creating a film with next to no budget and minimal equipment. Figgis points out that ideas, ingenuity and vision are the essential tools of the film director rather than expensive equipment and a professional crew. The style of the book is conversational and full of anecdotes (some useful and illuminating others simply reminiscences) from Figgis' own film-making experiences. For me the book is most useful on lighting, on which subject Figgis gives some really practical and surprising tips, and working with actors, where his insights into the motivations and insecurities of that profession could save the novice director a lot of grief! Altogether a useful and highly readable addition to the aspiring film-maker's bookshelf.
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on 14 January 2009
If you imagine having an informal chat in the pub with a successful director/producer, that's a good description of this book. There is always the chance of coming across a real nugget (or possibly two) of really useful information, to be fair I think that's the best you can hope for in this book, and that of course will depend on what you're shooting and your level of experience.

You will of course probably also have to listen to a fair degree of them on their soapbox (keep your camera lens clean), or reminiscing about the good old days (Super 8)! There is a fair bit of that in this small, brief (156 pages in a pocketbook format) book in fact you could probably remove the first 29 pages (chapters 1 & 2) without impacting the book, plus several sections in later chapters as well.

Bits of the book talk to those starting out and other bit's to those who are about to embark on large productions. That's common in books like this (particularly when written by people who now teach, like Figgis), and for me at least, it doesn't work all that well, no one book can be a one stop shop, they always come across as too general.

All that being said it's a quick read and pretty inexpensive, would I put it on my must read list, well probably not.
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2008
I really liked this book. It was very personal and most useful. There are loads of books out there about how to do this and that. What I wanted was some great advice. For starters know your equipment inside out, get a book and write notes about how your settings work, try different combinations. I thought that might be obvious to some but it was inspirational to me. Another great tip was treasure your equipment. Keep it immaculate, really clean especially the lens, otherwise big blobs appear on the big screen! Its got a lot of really good points which I found most useful.

I like the fact that he talks about his work, his passion, his attention to every detail. It's important and very useful. Without passion nothing get done to the highest levels.

Creator of the Beginner Tai Chi (DVD)
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on 16 August 2008
This book made me realise how easy it can be to make your own films and get involved with other peoples. It gave me the confidence to just go out and get my own first camera without panicking over whether it was 'the right one'. It has great tips for when you are working on a budget and is a great encouragement to just go out and give it a go.

It gives practical tips, interesting and inspirational advice and is a quick and easy read that can be carried around with you wherever you go. I loved it and often use it as a point of reference.
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on 6 July 2007
'When I was a young, aspiring, photographer, i read a book, in French, 'La photographie', by Edourd Boubard (i had just got A level french, so...) It was a simple book, that gave me enough courage to go out into the world, and take photographs.

I am now a professional film maker, and I wish I had read Mike Figgis's book before I started on that new adventure, because his book would have helped greatly.

if you are starting out, read this book, and 'In the blink of an eye', by Walter Murch
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on 7 February 2012
Watching Robert Llewellyn you tube channel carpool, has me thinking more about AV as a medium to get a message out. Not knowing much about AV I had gone through several books on DV this is the first that seem to have a similar attitude to Llewllyn. Basically that the story or conversation is more important than the technology.

This is an easy read, which gives a good idea of both how game changing digital video cameras and computer editing are.
He has thought a great deal about the simple mechanics of this revolution.

Some of his best advice is common sense and yet profoundly challenging. His favourite still camera is one he has had years. As he points out the equpment is not as important as the person operating it.
A great photographer will be able to take a good picture with even the most basic equipment. In a world where we are constantly being told that we have to have the best and newest this is good advice.
He really encourages one to have respect for what equipment you have and to really really get to know it very well.
In a age where it is easy to pick up good quality second hand equipment this is a real incentive to stay focused on what is important.
He loves his craft but is obviously is highly frustrated by a lot of what goes on in the media industry. He also has a fascination with doing things at the most basic. His discussion of lighting, musical under scoring and of editing are
particularly interesting.
Good book, will definitely focus on getting to know the digital cameras I have better and stop worrying about having the newest and best.
Good advice to on questioning why you are doing things, definitely he does not believe in over gilding the lilly. He I think must be a nightmare to work with if you are old school, but a delight if you are
learning the craft.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 September 2011
In one of those ironies of life, I finished this book while sitting around a large film set where as an observer I was able to see many of the points being made by Mike Figgis first hand - lack of understanding by the film crew as to what needed to happen and, major wastage of time and effort (and thus money) in how matters were handled when shooting did happen.

I have only just started to study filmmaking (Summer 2011). This easily read and short well writen set of chapters on the different aspects of filmmaking based on the experience of Figgis from novice photographer to Hollywood director and back based on pursuing his own interests and wishes is a more revolutionary read than one might suspect. Some of the criticisms made by other reviewers are because he has not shown them how to succeed under current rules - that I think misses the key point of this book. This is to dis-assemble and challenge that much of what exists is because that is the way it has always been done for many years due to industry practice and vested interests but to question will it remain so for much longer, given the digital filmmaking technology that is gathering apace.

Step by step Figgis dismantles why the status quo is at risk and while it may seem to be a long way off in some areas e.g. distribution, the rapid developments such as You Tube and Cloud Computing may have the same impact as the technology leaps in digital cameras that occurred across the last two decades and Figgis covers so well for a non-techno like myself.

At the same time this book is not just a manual making the case for change - it is also the sharing of ideas and experiences from a well travelled media professional. Figgis is interesting in that while he had an early childhood interest in photography, his early work experiences were first in music then live theatre before getting involved with films. His observations are simple and thought provoking, from the changing role of DoPs; how to manage teams and work with actors whether a small or large budget film; the critical control of the editing process and sound quality to delivering your final product, and the options for addition of original music to your movie whatever the budget.

In 156 pages Figgis cannot hope to deliver all the answers, but he certainly provokes a lot of thoughts as to what might be!
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on 16 October 2007
This is a genuinely great read for directors, film students or people who are just thinking about having a go. Figgis encourages you to go out and make a film regardless of your previous experience and his book is truly inspiring. Reading it made me itching to go and film something.

Simply put, encouraging and motivating this book is a must have for anyone interested in film making. And Mike Figgis' break from the traditional industry path is refreshing.
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