Summary: Why Wait ... Make Pro Films Now
Review: Why sulk around waiting for your million dollar film budget that will never come. Take your art into your own hands and make that leap into professional looking film without the million dollars or all the ties that come with the money. Michael Dean's $30 Film School is the must read book for those film makers ready and willing to take the leap and do not have the million dollars or do not want the ties that come with the million dollars. $30 Film School is Dean's knowledge of creating a do it yourself documentary, D.I.Y or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist, put to print, so we too can learn professional techniques without spending all the money. $30 Film School looks at everything related to film creation: Writing, Fundraising, production, cameras, directing, filming and recording techniques, computers, editing, DVD authoring and getting your work out there. Spend the money on the book and consider it an investment in your art -- heck if you make some money as a film director, you can write the book off as an expense in your taxes.
Summary: I wish I could give it 10 stars
Review: The bottom line belongs at the top:
If you're at all interested in making your own films, BUY THIS BOOK. Absorb its lessons. Share the lessons with your crew.
Without exaggeration, this is simply one of the best-written and helpful books I have ever read, period.
I first heard of $30 FILM SCHOOL when the guys on an online video-editing forum enthusiastically recommended it to a newbie looking for help. She said: "I want to make films, but I don't know where to start!" Everyone said, "Start with $30 FILM SCHOOL." Mind you, some of those guys are seasoned pros. They could recommend any book. $30 FILM SCHOOL got the nod.
Though a journeyman filmmaker myself, not a beginner, I was intrigued enough to order the book. Of the many thousands of dollars I've spent on filmmaking equipment and education, $30 FILM SCHOOL has given me the best return on investment.
It's worth fifty times what you pay for it. Believe me.
Someone once said, "There can be no real democratization of the filmmaking process until the equipment is affordable by everyone." Well, with the digital video / computer revolution and the advent of affordable gear, the time has come. Now anyone can make a film---even you.
But there's still a steep learning curve. There's a big difference between making a film, and making a GREAT film. $30 FILM SCHOOL walks you through the process of making great films. The book is an encouraging, "You-can-do-it!" celebration of the indie filmmaker lifestyle as much as it is a thorough manual of the nuts and bolts of putting a film together. Don't discount this. You need a strong spirit and a steady smile as much as you need to know which lens to use on a particular shot. More than that, you need to be as willing to help others, as to BE helped. Dean gives more than he gets, and encourages you to do the same thing. That way, everyone grows and some damned good films start getting produced.
Dean leaves no stone unturned. Everything from writing the script, getting funding, producing, working with people and equipment, directing, choosing the right computer and software on which to edit sound and video, the editing process itself, and burning your film to DVD is covered.
But probably the most important part, in my opinion, is the section on promoting and distributing your film. Too many artists concentrate only on the art and not on the marketing. They end up with a nice film no one has ever heard of, much less seen. Dean is a tireless marketer who knows what he's talking about from years of actually doing it the hard way---first as a musician, and now as a filmmaker / author.
There's also a very helpful and complete companion CD included with the book.
I bought $30 FILM SCHOOL with Dean's DVD "D.I.Y. Or Die: How To Survive As An Independent Artist." Though you don't need the DVD to benefit from the wealth of info in the book, I suggest you buy both. Each is a learning experience in its own right but together, they add up to much more than just a book and DVD. It's more like a total immersion into the psychology and methods of effective indie filmmaking.
If you can buy only one book on filmmaking, $30 FILM SCHOOL is the one to buy.
Summary: Movie lover
Review: Michael Dean's book isn't just for the film maker wannabe; it's a book that inspires anyone with a dream to run with it and enjoy the thrill of the ride and not constantly be worried about the destination. Drawing information from his own experiences and friendships, it's a refreshing break from books that name drop and talk over our heads. The author is a confident, no-nonsense person who will reach you at your own level because he does not look down at his readers. A must have for the beginning film maker and anyone who wants to see the world through the eyes of a real person who enjoys life on his own terms and enjoys giving back what life has given him. Beth
Summary: The BEST book on indie filmmaking, period.
Review: Michael Dean is a truly inspiring individual. After seeing his excellent documentary on how and why you should do art full-time (instead of having your job take over your creative life), "DIY OR DIE: BURN THIS DVD", I immediately set out to order this book. I am thoroughly pleased.
Michael Dean is a 40-year old punk who has the passion of a 14-year old just discovering great music and great film. He is wise and funny and knows a great deal about his craft. $30 Film School covers every aspect of indie filmmaking on digital video: what cameras to use, why 3-chip is better than 1-chip, how to get authentic film look, why miniDV is so much more cost-effective (and better-looking) than 8mm or 16mm film, angles for shots, lighting, software editing techniques (cuts, dissolves, whips, etc), DVD authoring, guerilla marketing and promotion, how to get people to act in your movie for cheap or free, what's wrong with Hollywood today and why many "indie" films are big-budget-big-star and not truly indie, how to tour with your movie and show it everywhere, plus several interviews with indie filmmakers, including Joshua Leonard of The Blair Witch Project. The interviews alone are worth the price of the book. There is not one part of this book that bores me or makes me skim a little. It is that awesome. Michael really does cover EVERYTHING. And I do mean everything.
In the last half of the book, Michael gets heavily into why art is so perfect and needed in society... art changes people. Art affects people. Music and great stories in films are what we should appreciate and worship. We should not be paying an insane amount of attention to some stupid entertainment magazine with some stuck-up celebrity interview. That is where the DIY ethic comes in... there are a great deal of indie films out there which have the power to touch your heart and make you think in the ways movies like The Fast And The Furious and Triple X never will. Michael stresses the importance of doing art for yourself, because you love it. He calls it "working for the Universe", and it makes perfect sense to anyone passionate enough about their art.
Michael is all about keeping it real... keeping the art of filmmaking, storytelling, music-making.... REAL. The first reviewer of this book mentioned he writes the book like he is talking to a good friend... and that's exactly how it comes across. Michael is a very intelligent, down-to-earth and hard-working person, and it shows clearly in this book, and his documentary "DIY OR DIE".
The CD-ROM that accompanies the book is great, too.. there's a funny goof-around DV movie called "I Left My Pants In San Diego" which explains a lot of techniques used in indie filmmaking and directing, and shows you examples of editing... it's really cool and funny. Michael and his crew totally come across as your good friends in this short film. The CD-ROM also has tons of extra stuff.. like sample contracts and demo software so you can get started right away, in making your own movie and creating your own DVD. Great stuff.
I just want Mr. Dean to know how much he inspires me... ever since finding that DVD and this book, I've been on the right track to getting all my projects done (I do a lot of projects from scoring local indie films to putting out my own poetry books and spoken word albums and much more), and for that I can't thank him enough. I was in a slump for months, not being able to complete any of my art..... getting distracted by the interweb and TV shows and my stupid day job.... then I saw DIY or DIE and bought this book and I'm back in the game. Thanks, Michael.
$30 Film School is the best freaking book on self-promotion and keeping it real and everything related to filmmaking I have ever read. This book is truly, truly a great read. You need to pick it up if you are serious about movies and making your own.. and not just movies, but if you're into doing things yourself when it comes to art, music, etc. (the "DIY" ethic)... this book covers every aspect on how to get out there and known for the art you make. So even if you're not that into film, the info in this book is priceless.
Please, do yourself a favor and buy it. And pick up "DIY OR DIE", the documentary by him. And then GO MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIE! :)
Summary: Not Just "How To" , but Also "Why You Should"...
Review: I sent the following letter to the author. I think it says a lot about how I feel about this book...
Dark Talisman wrote:
Dear Michael Dean-
I just wanted to thank you for your book $30 FILM SCHOOL. I have been shooting micro-budget (i.e. no budget) movies for nearly ten years now, and had recently been feeling the bashing from people asking "Well, if you make movies, why aren't you in Hollywood?" Or (and I love this one) "If your movies were any good, why can't I rent them at Blockbuster?" But I flipped through the book while looking through the screenplays section at *******, and it seemed important. I bought it, and read it very carefully. It wasn't the technical information that I needed to hear. (aside- the technical information in this book is great. If you are a beginner or new to digital video, I can't suggest a better learning aid. Not so technical that you'll get lost, but specific enough to help you out.) It was the philosophy. You're right, a world of creation is more compelling than a world of commercialism. I've only ever lost money on one movie, but here I was feeling like I couldn't continue to call myself a movie-maker (I'm a long-time video-user) if I didn't have some kind of big corporate sale. Scr*w that! Thanks so much for helping me get the perspective back. I make the movies I want to see, and always have. Except once, and wouldn't you know, that's the one I lost my shirt on! There's no reason to acknowledge this e-mail. I know you're busy. I just thought you might like to know, your book had a message for someone. In fact, I went back today, and bought the stores other copy to give to a friend who's been going through a similar "crisis of faith". I expect it will send an important message to them as well.
ps- I hung my $30 Film School diploma in my home-office today. Hell, I deserved it. I got the lesson!
If you want to read something that will help you stay focused on "Why You Should Make A Movie In The First Place", as well as give you lots of the information you need to actually succeed in making your movie, Michael Dean's book is the one you want.
Summary: Good info - but offensive content
Review: There is a lot of good information in this book - but it's overshadowed by one thing: I cannot get past Mr. Dean's arrogant attitude with regards to copyright infringement. He devotes a good couple of pages to the subject, and to me it destroys his credibility as an intelligent author. He basically takes the position that a) all Hollywood movies are crap, b) everyone working in the film and music industry is a fat cat, and c) because of these things, copywritten movies and music DESERVE to be illegally copied and disseminated over the internet. That movie studios and record companies just have to get used to it. That he is somehow entitled to see any movie that he wants for free, or listen to any CD he wants to for free, because the universe wants the free exchange of art and information. He mentions a friend of his who says something to the effect of "I'll stop copying software when they start selling it for $20 instead of $200" and "I'll stop copying DVDs when they sell them for cheaper". This is a destructive and narcissistic opinion, and it ignores the vast amounts of hard work and money needed for film and music production.
The truth is that when illegal copies of movies and music is made, it isn't really the executives that suffer. It's the artist (in the case of music) and it's the actors and skilled technicians (in the case of movies). Artists and actors receive royalties for every CD and DVD sold that they appear in. When a copy is made illegally and that CD or DVD isn't bought, the artist loses money. Not only do they lose money, but most industry artists' health benefits are tied to their income, so they get reduced health benefits as well. Ultimately, reduced income means that record companies can't represent as many artists, and movie studios can't make as many films. And ultimately that means that thousands of people lose their jobs. Not just a few fat cats that run the companies. Thousands of actors, writers, directors, cinematographers, editors, sound technicians, foley artists, production designers, musicians, digital compositors and so on lose work because of movie and music pirating.
And what is even more ironic is that Mr. Dean knows the kind of work involved in making films because he made one himself - and SOLD it on the internet! I wonder if he would feel the same way if he poured his life savings into his film, hoping to make it back, only to find that he couldn't sell any copies because someone had posted it online. I wonder how he would feel about people photocopying his book and posting it online in it's entirety, in lieu of buying the book. Perhaps he doesn't care because perhaps he got a nice advance from his publisher. But if he were depending on the sale of his book as a form of income, I would tend to think he wouldn't have the same smug attitude that he has now.
Summary: Learn why it is D.I.Y. or Die
Review: I have had an off-again/on-again relationship with the idea that I can make a film. I went to film school, then I had to leave. I tried to find a career. And then, the creative muse struck. I began to take an interest in film again.
This is the point where I came across Michael Dean's $30 Film School. The title intrigued me. I bought it, and read it. This book can be a life changing experience if you let it. If you aren't into punk, this book will show what these punk kids have been trying to say for years. If you are into punk, you'll get it right away. If you can't start a band, make a movie!
Dean's practical tips will show you all the basics of completely assembling a movie yourself on little to no budget. Technology has allowed this to happen, and the $30 Film School is a great guidebook to get started unleashing your creative self. Trust me. It helped me. It can help you.
Summary: Needed this book in 2001!
Review: Email I wrote to the author last month:
I'm a full-time actor in Atlanta (crazy but true considering the market) who has also made one dv feature, We Three Kings. (<http://www.elvisness.com). Conceived in 1998 and shot in 2001. When all was said and done by 2003 we had spent $35K (that price included 1K DVDs to sell). Though proud of the achievement, I wished your book had existed back then. (I remember hitting the bookstores weekly to find books on cheap dv filmmaking - maybe 2 or 3 were around then). Your info is great and detailed. I especially wish that I had had info on marketing - that's the area I still feel very weak in. Perhaps one day you will write a book pertaining to that subject alone.
To you, the potential buyer:
This book is about more than making money with your film, it is about ethics and artistic expression, so nomatter what your end goal is, Michael Dean will help you get there.
Summary: $30 Film School offers wealth of insight
Review: I am a bookseller at a local book retailer where I live, I see a lot of books on amateur filmmaking come and go. As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I read every one of them, but none have been as insightful or informative as Michael W. Dean's $30 Dollar Film School. This book has been not only a great tool for me, but for also the members of my team working on my film, Dreaming god. What makes this book so great is it cover EVERY aspect of making your own film, from brainstorming and writing, all the way to the marketing phase, how to really get your film out there and get it noticed. This is the key to every door that had previously slammed in the face of all of us prodigy no-name filmmakers. This book has something for all my team, camera techniques, editing, writing, marketing, IT'S All HERE!!! This is a great resource for everyone wanting to break into film. $30 Dollar film school is worth at least tuition to a very real film school, but you get to learn at your own leisure.
Dark Perceptions Enterprises
Summary: more than you bargained for
Review: $30 Film School is surely one of the best books that I have read about filmmaking thus far. It does focus a lot on why you should make digital indie films, but it also gives you a plethora of practical and useful information. What it does lack in the 'how to' is made up for by references to useful sites and texts with more specific information on the topic. This greatly helps to reduce the books already sizable girth to something that is a little bit more managable.
I am currently a freshman film major at an east coast school. This book has given me the encouragement to reach my goals; my instructors often overlook this aspect since film is on its way out of the door. I've learned more about financing and promotion through reading this book than I have through an entire first year of film school. If you buy it, consider your money well spent. Keep in mind that it is about being independent, perseverant, and dedicated to art. Making money is not the focus; making art is what's important. If you want to be a rich backstabbing Hollywood snob devoid of ethics and loyalty, don't buy $30 Film School.