we get a book that purports to be the end-all, be-all book on filmmaking here
at MFM, we tend to turn an exceptionally skeptical eye to it. In the case of The
Power Filmmaking Kit, while it doesn't claim to be the ultimate filmmaking
book, the name and logo (which features a pocket knife with all the production
tools as blades) makes you immediately think that author Jason J. Tomaric is positioning
it to be just this.
the director of four Indie films, has managed to win awards and secure distribution
for most of his films. While his longer features had larger budgets, he secured
international distribution for his Telly-award-winning historical drama, Time
and Again(2004), a sixty-minute film he shot for only $2,000. As such, his aim
in creating this book was to pass on the low-budget tricks he learned both in
shooting his own films and the filmmaking practices he learned working on Hollywood
sets to aid low-budget filmmakers in their filmmaking pursuits.
with that said, did he accomplish his goal and create a book that is actually
useful to low budget filmmakers or did he, instead, create a lot of hype for something
that simply doesn't deliver?
it would be unseemly to give that away so early in the review, you'll just have
to read on to find out. (Of course, some of you have probably already glanced
at the total score and made your own conclusions.)
Tomaric has an easy to understand writing style that makes this book pretty simple
to understand, even for complete novices. Additionally, besides the book itself,
he's included a DVD which has video tutorials and introductions to a number of
key elements of filmmaking, like writing, pre-production, production, and editing.
While he interviews other people in the filmmaking community for these sections,
he does a good portion of the talking himself. Fortunately, his delivery is polished
and easy to follow, allowing you to get the audio-visual understanding that tends
to work so well for so many filmmakers.
I read through the book, there were many times that it looked as though Mr. Tomaric
had glossed over an essential element of filmmaking and I would get ready to mark
down the book's score, only to discover that whatever was glossed over in one
section had an extremely in-depth section later in the book. As I concluded the
book, I was forced to admit that I personally haven't read a filmmaking book that
goes into more depth on more filmmaking topics than The Power Filmmaking Kit.
are times that the focus of the book gets a bit more into Hollywood methodology,
Tomaric does a good job of showing ways that truly low-budget filmmakers can learn
from this methodology without having to resort to Hollywood budgets.
only minor disagreement I could even find in the material was in the sheer impact
of audio on a film. (Tomaric holds that audio is 50% of a film, whereas I would
state that audio actually holds more like 80% of the impact for most viewers.
Just look at the popularity of The Blair Witch Project which had awful
visuals, but very polished audio. For a more recent example, The Bourne Supremacy
was a disaster of camerawork and lighting, but held a large audience because of
the excellent audio work.)
Filmmaking Kit holds your attention well, with anecdotes and industry stories
from time to time to help you feel more plugged in to the information. Of course,
due to the exhaustive nature of the tome, it would be unfair to say that you're
likely to sit down and read it all at once. More than likely, you'll familiarize
yourself with different areas of filmmaking as you prepare for your film. In that
sort of use, you won't find yourself getting too tired or overloaded.
I mentioned in the last section, you'll definitely be using different areas of
this book at different times in the first film you work on. Additionally, because
of the amount of information, you'll doubtless keep coming back to it in future
films. In addition to the other information on the DVD (and a copy of Time and
Again), you receive uncut video files from Time and Again which can allow you
to edit a scene together and practice editing. This is just another reusable element
to this great book.
of this magazine know that we're sticklers on the lowest price-point possible
for books, software, training, and gear for low-budget filmmakers. As such, normally
I would protest that $40 is too expensive for a filmmaking book, coming perilously
close to "college text-book" money. However, the fact that so much is
covered in this book and the fact that the DVD information is as useful as it
is makes me feel that the price is justified. With that said, I still think that
a $30 price point would be more in keeping with some top competitors, like The
$30 Film School.
my over-eager search for informational missteps as I was preparing for this review,
Mr. Tomaric has managed to write an exceptionally lucid and informative filmmaking
volume in The Power
Filmmaking Kit. As
such, I highly recommend this to any microfilmmakers who are just starting out
and want a good foundation. For filmmakers with more experience, this is still
a very detailed book on the art of filmmaking that would prove helpful on your