Filmmaking: Direct Your Movie from Script to Screen Using Proven Hollywood Techniques

Paperback (Print)
Rent from
(Save 67%)
Est. Return Date: 08/28/2015
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $16.95
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 63%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $16.95   
  • New (5) from $33.48   
  • Used (8) from $16.95   


This is the complete resource kit for the legions of wanna-be filmmakers. Emmy-Award winning director Jason Tomaric reveals the tricks and secrets of making a quality movie for under $2000. The book contains: A complete and heavily illustrated guide that's a blueprint for making a low-budget film or video. Readers will learn the tricks of the trade for creating a professional-looking movie on a budget. The DVD contains: - An hour of behind-the-scenes demonstrations and tutorials on directing, editing, low-budget props and tools, and more - The author's award-winning film, shot for under $2,000! - Rough video footage, so readers can practice editing scenes—incredibly valuable material. - Useful forms, storyboards, legal releases, and contracts

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jason proves that top-notch production values are within the reach of anyone who has ever dreamt of making his own movie. Jason knows what he's talking about because he's actually done it! -Steve Skrovan, Executive Producer, "Everybody Loves Raymond"

There are no wasted words in Tomaric's tome, which concisely summarizes each facet of the director's craft. It's difficult to think of a step in the process that Tomaric fails to address. -Jim Hemphill, American Cinematographer magazine

"If you're a learning filmmaker, then this is the site for you! With courses on everything from screenwriting and production design to shooting techniques and directing, classes are taught by real, experienced filmmakers! Using film to teach film, Film Skills video courses are extremely appealing to visual artists. And, unlike a normal film school (where normally the price tag has several more zeroes than Film Skills), you can always go back and review what you've learned. With all these available classes taught by Hollywood professionals, and all for a small monthly fee, Film Skills is an opportunity no future filmmaker should miss."—

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240817002
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/30/2010
  • Pages: 532
  • Sales rank: 346,048
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Fourteen-time Emmy, Telly, and CINE award-winning filmmaker Jason J. Tomaric got his start producing an ultra low-budget independent film in Ohio that got picked up for distribution. He is now a Los Angeles-based director and cinematographer who has shot four features, dozens of national television commercials, and numerous documentaries in over 20 countries. He has taught at leading film schools such as UCLA and New York Film Academy and is bringing high-caliber multimedia filmmaking education to the web at

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


Direct Your Movie from Script to Screen Using Proven Hollywood Techniques

By Jason J. Tomaric

Elsevier Science

Copyright © 2011 Jason J. Tomaric
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-240-81701-9



The Script


The script is the blueprint for the story and contains dialog, character movements, and scene descriptions. Like the old adage says, "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage."

Every good movie is produced around a well-written script, and it doesn't matter how big the budget is, how good the actors are, how incredible the explosions are, or how dynamic the visual effects are if the story isn't moving, engaging, and believable. Films with high production values have been known to flop because the script was poorly written, and rarely has a bad script been made into a good movie. Writing a script is a craft that takes time to learn and requires a tremendous amount of discipline and understanding of story structure, psychology, human dynamics, and pacing.

Not only is writing a script is the most important aspect of making a movie; it's also the cheapest. Whereas Hollywood studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars on visual effects, great actors, explosions, and car chases, the materials involved in writing a script cost little more than a few dollars – the cost of a pencil and paper.

In embarking on the journey to the perfect script, there are three paths you can take. You can write the script yourself, you can option a script that has already been written, or you can hire a writer to write the script for you. This chapter will look at these three options and determine which may be the best choice for your production.


Writers tend to be stronger in either structure or dialog and character, so finding a writing partner who complements your skills can lead to a much better script. Finding a competent writing partner can be as easy as contacting local writing organizations, colleges, or university programs with writing courses or seeking writers online or through industry contacts. When looking for a good writing partner:

* Ask for a writing sample. Read through the writer's past works to see if his style, ability to write dialog, pacing, dramatic moments, structure, and plot twists are on par with the nature of the story. To get an idea of the writer's ability, read the first 20 pages of one of his previously written screenplays and see if the script engages you. If so, keep reading. If not, consider finding another partner.

* Find a partner whose strengths are your weaknesses. If you are good at structure, then find a writer who is good at dialog and characterization. A good writing partner will bring additional talents to the table and balance your skill set.

* Talk with your potential writing partner about the story and make sure she likes the genre, story, and characters before working with her. For example, if you are writing a romantic comedy, look for partners who specialize or have an interest in writing romantic comedies.

* Make sure your partner has the time and commitment to work on the script, especially if it's being written on spec (for free). It's difficult to complete a screenplay if your partner has to drop out in the middle of the project or has obligations that may interfere with his ability to work on the project. Write and sign a contract that outlines the details of your working relationship together. Understand that when working with a writer, you both own 50% of the script, so if any problems occur during the relationship, the project may go unproduced.

* Work out the credit your partner will receive as well as payment terms if the screenplay is sold, optioned, and/or produced. It's vital to work out the details of your business relationship before beginning work on a script, should any problems arise during or after the writing process.

Ultimately, a compatible partnership is as much about chemistry as it is about artistry: find a person with the same goals as yours, who compliments your vision but completes your skill set. A rewarding writing partner can be both inspiring and motivating, both traits that have a positive impact on the script.


Developing the Idea

The first step to writing a movie script is to have a solid idea, but before you settle on a concept for your film, it's important to decide what you want the project to do for you once it's finished. Are you going to make a movie for art's sake – to explore your vision and style, or maybe just to learn the process of filmmaking? Or are you looking to produce a commercially viable movie that can be sold and hopefully generate a profit?

Contrary to the popular belief of many filmmakers, these two options are almost always mutually exclusive. Most commercially produced movies tend to rely on a time-proven, revenue-generating formula designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. Because the marketing budget for most Hollywood movies is significantly higher than the production budget, the industry has to sell as many tickets as possible to cover not only the film's production and marketing costs, but also the costs of movies that fail to recoup their initial investment. Unfortunately, this commercialization tends to discriminate against artistic films that play to a smaller audience, leaving those productions to run, at best, in local art theaters and small film festivals.

Making a movie is an expensive and time-consuming process, so think smart when choosing the type of story to tell. Carefully consider what you want the movie to do for you:

* Do you want the movie to make money? Then develop a concept around the industry standard formula, with marketable actors, clearly defined genre, a tight three-act structure, and high production values. This can be the most expensive option.

* Do you want to make a movie for the educational experience? If you want to learn filmmaking or practice your craft, produce a short film and know that you won't recoup your investment.

* Do you want to make art? Producing an artistic film that defies traditional Hollywood convention is risky because distributors tend to shy away from films they can't easily describe explain to viewers. If picked up for distribution, most art films will find homes in small art theaters and possibly on home video, although the odds of generating a profit are slim.

The statistics are grim for filmmakers who produce feature films. I've read numbers that place the number of features produced in the United States every year at around 7,000. Less than 10% get picked up for distribution, and an even smaller percentage makes a profit. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of market research to determine the commercial viability of the film. Filmmakers often develop an idea and produce the movie without researching what distributors are looking for and what's selling in the international market, so they end up in massive debt with a movie that sits on the shelf.

The first real step of making a movie is to start at the end by contacting distributors and researching what types of productions DVD distributors and TV broadcasters are interested in buying. Find out what genres sell the best, the best format to shoot on, the ideal length, and which actors have the most international appeal.

Writing What You Know

When it comes to developing a story, I find that it always helps to write what you know. The best piece of advice I ever received was to write what I've seen, what I have experienced, and what I've lived in life. Filmmaking is about truth, and writing scenes and moments that truthfully resonate with the audience can be a difficult task unless you are personally familiar with the material you're exploring.

One way of doing this is to dedicate your life to experiencing a variety of situations, cultures, and people so that when it comes time to write, you have a broad range of life experiences from which to draw. Many legendary filmmakers are older men and women who have put their life experiences on film, resulting in real, engaging moments that ring true to the audience.

Ultimately, ideas are everywhere – just be open to finding one that resonates best with you:

* Look at real-life moments for inspiration: childhood memories; interesting happenings at work; relationships with family, friends, and love interests. Think of family conflicts, your first job or your freshman year in high school, moving out on your own for the first time, and college experiences. Drawing on personal experiences leads to strong material because you've lived and experienced it.

* Read the newspaper, listen to the radio, and watch news stories that may captivate your imagination. The old cliché says that truth is often stranger than fiction, and in many instances, it is!

* Keep a journal of interesting things that happen every day: an engaging conversation, a funny moment, an unusual or interesting person you may have encountered in public. These moments can be the seeds not only of good ideas, but also of engaging characters, moments, and lines of dialog in the movie.

* Brainstorm and write down anything and everything that comes to mind. You'd be surprised what comes out. Listen to inspirational music, turn off the lights, let your mind roam free, and be ready to capture ideas as they strike.

* Study political history and the lives of dictators, emperors, famous people, and serial killers. All these peoples' lives involved extraordinary circumstances that are full of drama and conflict.

* Be original and avoid copying concepts used in other forms of media, stories from movies or television shows, or major plot lines from popular books. Audiences want to see new, unique ideas, not rehashes of old ideas.

* Be careful not to infringe on copyrighted work. Copyright infringement can be an expensive mistake if the original owner of the stolen property chooses to sue.

* Surf the Internet. The knowledge of the world is at your fingertips and can provide outstanding ideas and motivation for a movie.

* Try reading the Yellow Pages, magazines, and even advertisements for inspiration.

* Get out of your house. Traveling to a new place, whether it's going out of town or visiting a local coffee shop, can help spur the imagination.

* Take breaks and don't force your imagination. A walk on the beach or through the woods can help clear your thoughts and open your mind to new ideas. I find that the less I think about my story, the more ideas pop into my mind.

* Write stories you're passionate about. Be excited and willing to explore the subject matter. Learn as much as you can about the world, people, and situations you're writing about.

* Ask "what if?" open-ended questions that help your mind wander – you may stumble onto a sharp idea.

* Read or reread classic literature and listen to operas. Stories of mythology, ancient romances, and tales of adventure and heroism are the root of storytelling. If in doubt, go back to see how authors of old tackled an idea.

* Research your idea by studying the time period, characters, customs, fashions, technologies, and values of the world in the story you're telling. Learning more about the actual events or motivation behind your story will help develop ideas.

* Learn from people who resemble or can provide insight into your character. If you're writing a crime drama, contact a local police station and ask to shadow an officer for a week. Listen to how she talks and acts, both casually and under pressure. Get a sense of the police environment so that when it comes time to create it into a script, you can write a realistic and believable world.

Concepts to Avoid

As you're developing the concept for your movie, be aware of several mistakes that independent writers often make:

* Avoid writing a sequel. Movie studios already own the rights to franchises like the Jason Bourne movies, Spiderman, and Die Hard, and develop sequels internally with staff writers. Studios will not even read your script if you choose to write a franchise-based story. You'll have a much better chance if you write an original idea, even on spec, and pitch it to production companies.

* Don't follow the next trend. Remember that movies take years to produce, and if you try to jump on the bandwagon of a hit movie by writing a similar script, odds are that another movie will become the next big thing before you finish your script.

Excerpted from Filmmaking by Jason J. Tomaric. Copyright © 2011 by Jason J. Tomaric. Excerpted by permission of Elsevier Science.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Script

Chapter 2: Pre-Production
Chapter 3: Budgeting
Chapter 4: Scheduling
Chapter 5: Insurance
Chapter 6: Locations
Chapter 7: Auditioning Actors
Chapter 8: The Crew
Chapter 9: Unions & Guilds
Chapter 10: Equipment
Chapter 11: Production Design

Chapter 12: Production
Chapter 13: Acting
Chapter 14: Directing
Chapter 15: Cinematography
Chapter 16: Audio Recording
Chapter 17: Hair & Make-Up
Chapter 18: Craft Services & Catering

Chapter 19: Editing
Chapter 20: Digital Effects
Chapter 21: Post-Production Audio
Chapter 22: Music
Chapter 23: Distribution

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)