BIG BRAINS – small budgets: Jon Reiss (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry, Cleopatra’s Second Husband)

by Andy Siege (Series Editor)

Jon Reiss is an author and media strategist who helps filmmakers and companies navigate the new distribution and marketing landscape.  He has worked with and consulted for Paramount Pictures, Screen Australia, Film Independent, Creative Scotland, The South Australian Film Corporation and numerous film schools and festivals to devise ways to educate and help independent filmmakers…

Photo by Danielle A. Davey

Directing: The Similarities and Differences between Film and Theatre

by Lenore DeKoven

The general misconception held by most laypeople and some professionals seems to be that there must be a difference between the crafts of directing and acting in theatre and those in film. The belief is that there are stage actors and screen actors, film directors and theatre directors. I don’t agree with this. It is…


Understanding the Business of Entertainment – Some Thoughts About Development Hell

by Gregory Bernstein

Once a project finds its way to a studio, network, cable channel or other major production company, the development process moves forward as scripts are written, analyzed, commented on (called notes) and rewritten. Executives give notes and either the original writer or a new writer continues work on the script. These days in film, it’s…


FREE eBook Excerpt – Character Development: What They Don’t Teach You

by Jeff Lyons

An e-book excerpt from the soon to be published book Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success by Jeff Lyons. Character Development: What They Don’t Teach You All fictional supporting characters fall into three basic categories, and writers need to understand these categories BEFORE they start writing….

Photo by Kristaps B.

The Basics of Lighting

by Cathrine Kellison, Dustin Morrow & Kacey Morrow

Lighting is an essential tool for enhancing the video image. The subtle use of light creates atmosphere and mood, dimension, and texture. It can help to convey a plot line, enhance key elements such as set color or skin tone, and signals the difference between comedy and drama, reality and fantasy. Hard versus Soft All…

Photo by sylvrilyn

Character Driven vs. Plot Driven

by Guy Gallo

Character Driven vs. Plot Driven You will often hear films described as either character–driven or plot–driven. I think this is a false dichotomy. All films are character driven. All films have plot. These labels tell something, it’s true, about emphasis. And, for the most part, it’s become something of a commonplace that smaller, independent films…


Shot Transitions When Editing Dialogue Tracks: Basic Rules of Thumb

by John Purcell

Moving smoothly from shot to shot is what makes a scene believable. Managing noise is what makes a scene bearable. Keeping processing to a minimum is what makes a scene natural. Balance these competing interests and a scene will work. There are a few overarching principles that are common to all edits from one shot…


Green Screen on a Budget – DIY Light Kits on the Cheap

by Jeff Foster

I’ve seen dozens of strange lighting setups over the years, where people have had to cut corners and use what they had available (or what they could afford)—everything from clamp-on desk lamps to standing work lights and fluorescent light fixtures designed for a garage or workshop. Sure, you may be able to get away with…


Independent Film Financing – The Options

by Gregory Bernstein

DEVELOPMENT For those who want to make independent films, the beginning of development is comparatively easy–you do it yourself. Someone has an idea worth writing. That idea could be original, or perhaps based on a work in the public domain, or based on a pre-existing work. If the latter, the work will need to be…

Photo by SPDP

Top Ten Tips to Improve Your Cinematic Compositions

by Gustavo Mercado

Top Ten Tips from Gustavo Mercado to Improve Your Cinematic Compositions 1. Use a director’s viewfinder, a still camera, or any other instrument that allows you to create a frame to see the world around you. Good compositions work not only because of what is included in the frame, but also because of what is…

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about MasteringFilm

MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Focal Press authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.