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   Book Review
   The Power Filmmaking Kit
   Author: Jason J. Tomaric
   Publisher: Focal Press
   Pages: 408 pgs.
   Topic: Low-budget film creation

   MSRP: $39.99

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   Expected Release: Available Now
   Review Date: May 1, 2008
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

Final Score:

Whenever 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.

Tomaric, 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.

Now, 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?

As 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.)

Mr. 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.

Depth of Information
As 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.

While there 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.

The 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.)

Interest Level
The Power 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.

As 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.

Value vs. Cost
Readers 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.

Overall Comment
Despite 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 production bookshelf.

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           
JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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