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Monday, January 13, 2014

Learn to Speak Film, written by Michael Glassbourg. Design and illustrations by Jeff Kulak. Owlkids, 2013. $16.95 ages 10 and up

"You can learn so much about cinematography from taking photos. Taking photos not only helps you understand light, framing, and composing images, but it also helps you become a better storyteller. And that's what cinematographers do: we tell visual stories..."

This is the fourth, and last, book in the Learn to Speak series from Owlkids. As with the others which dealt with fashion, dance and music, this book takes a step-by-step look at the subject of film. It begins with inspiration and ends with the work it takes to get what you have worked so tirelessly at for a long time into someone else's hands, and to the public.

Michael Glassbourg does a great job of letting his audience know about the many separate parts of the process of making a film. He introduces himself, upping his credibility with young film enthusiasts who will now know that he is very involved in acting, directing, and writing. He explains that he loves to share that knowledge and goes on to do exactly that in 6 chapters that start with the stories we all have to tell, and end with getting the film you have made to an audience. In between, he engages his readers by providing all sorts of lively conversation about the pictures, the script, the process from pre- to post-production. 

There is much to learn about every stage of filmmaking. I was totally intrigued by the process. He shares his expertise with candor, breaking it down into its many steps and making it totally accessible to those who will read his book:

"OK, you've got your digital camera and you are itching to do something with it. First of all, get used to holding if. Get used to all the buttons because you'll have to find those without looking. It's useful to have something specific to accomplish while you are learning, so here are two things to try that will teach you a lot about visual storytelling and cinematography."  

It's hard work, but worthwhile. There is a lot to learn, and Mr. Glassbourg certainly sets readers on the right path. He makes great suggestions for movies to study, and even has other professional film makers add their ideas for readers. The design is clear, and attention getting. There are tip boxes, 'try this' suggestions, and 'film fest' ideas that suggest looking at the works of others and meant to inform the learning.

Quotes from noted leaders in the field add to the appeal. An appendix entitled 'Roll the Credits' breaks down the roles of the many who work on a film. It showcases a number of careers that are part of the film industry. There is much here to attract the attention of those who have an interest in film itself, or in the art that is movie making.      

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