Netribution Review

The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint
Guerilla movie maker Chris Jones has been at it again - and done it bigger and better than ever before. Authorship that is. Whilst his last feature production Urban Ghost Story, set in Glasgow, was gathering critical acclaim at Edinburgh International Film Festival a couple of years ago, Jones was gathering all his notes together as fresh material for this, his latest foray into authorship.

His Guerilla Film Makers Handbook explored new ground, but this is a far more generous portion of Jones expertise in creating features with little or no cash. This Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint does for low budget film what Gray did for human anatomy. It exposes completely the complexities and hidden conflicts that lie unseen beneath the film gloss and shows the aspiring filmmaker how to plot a safe course through them.

The book is not a blueprint for success. It is no fewer than 25 blueprints for success - and there’s one for every department, from production company start-up to sales and distribution, each section packed with essential information. The style is factual and informal, drawing on Jones’ own experience of helming two features and producing a third, but regularly pulls in other qualified opinion for snapshot advice alongside the main text. As you would expect from a film maker it is a rich visual experience, with detailed photographs, diagrams and graphs and tables laid out attractively. There’s a strong sense of designer vision as you browse through the book. Like any good film maker Jones relies on his crew to back him up. These particular film types seem two dimensional at first glance, but they have cleverly been given life by illustrator Jim Loomis. They are keen, dedicated and when the going gets tough, these guys raise smiles. I would be prepared to hire any of them.

Jones has profited from his earlier GFM Handbooks and not only because they became best sellers, but because he has an awareness of what he had not given sufficient coverage to. The resulting reshoot has not simply revisited previous ground, but also, superceded it, with much more detail than the earlier handbook format would allow. As a result, Movie Blueprint has become something of a paperback tome, its 600 pages packed with essential knowledge, but it weighs in as one point six six kilos of pure gold.

This amalgam of experience, distilled, revisited, re-ordered and patiently recounted is available to any filmmaker for just £25.

 

Camcorder User

Following on from ‘The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook’ comes this title from its co-author Chris Jones. Where ‘Guerilla Film Makers Handbook’ gave fascinating insight and personal reflections, the ‘Movie Blueprint’ goes one step further and details absolutely everything you are likely to need to get a low budget picture made.

Virtually every problem a film maker is likely to encounter is covered in depth, even as far as providing recipes for on set catering! It covers the roles of every essential person on set from grips to DOP’s and runners to directors. Differing shooting formats and equipment are also covered along with sample budgets, postproduction routes, concise technology explanations and sound mixing blueprints. Suffice to say, it’s all there, and in startling detail!

What is particularly refreshing is the informal manner in which the information is related. Whilst any body can pick this book up and understand it, its tone is never condescending. It’s also short of the overly confusing and unimportant technical jargon that can often plague a book of this nature and yet remains packed with the essential facts, tricks and techniques that can help you finally get that film you always dreamt of making off the starting blocks.

There are undoubtedly a plethora of books on the film making subject by authors that can talk the talk but Chris Jones has actually walked the walk. With three low budget films already under his belt you can rest assured that the techniques and knowledge described are both hard won and based in fact. The emphasis here is on empowerment, not through lottery grants or arts council handouts but by giving the reader the necessary knowledge to grab the bull by the horns and with little or no money simply go for it. At just shy of 600 pages it also represents fantastic value for money and is sure to become a handy resource manual should you make it to production.

If you are going to buy any book to guide you through the low budget film making process, this should probably be the one. For £25 you’re highly unlikely to find better or cheaper advice elsewhere. Essential reading for the wannabe film maker.

Ben Frain