The Digital Filmmaking Handbook by Mark Brindle – review

digital filmmaking handbook mark brindle, book review

If you’ve ever wanted a brief introduction to everything you could conceive of relating to digital filmmaking, this is the book for you. It doesn’t look big, but in the space of some 220 pages Mark Brindle has covered the full gamut of modern filmmaking, including what camera to choose, what software to edit in, how to write a convincing a story arch, tips for funding and how to distribute your film. Read it cover to cover and you’ll be able to convince any stranger you meet that you know how to make a film.

Will you actually be able to make a film, though? That’s up to  you. To my mind, there’s enough information here to get you started. The Digital Filmmaking Handbook is really a reference guide, and what you get out of it will depend on how you use it. For all the topics it covers, it is very much an introduction to each. It touches on some advanced filmmaking ideas and techniques (focus-pulling and frame-rate conversions, for instance), but, like an encyclopaedia, the  brief sections are a jumping-off point rather than a step-by-step guide. Which is unsurprising for a book that covers so much. Its true benefit, then, will be when used as a starting point for finding further information – if you wanted to find the right camera, for instance, you could quickly compile a list of necessary functions or reliable names to speed up your search. It is also valuable as a review to make sure you’re doing everything right in practice. Any budding filmmaker could benefit from having a copy of it with them onset, when trying to keep a lid on the chaos of a set. Or when performing a casting call, or even when reviewing their script.

Personally, my filmmaking rests more in the realms of scripwriting and video editing, and I found those sections in the guide acutely useful. It contains a very succinct analysis of the three-act structure and the classic 12-steps of a hero’s journey; in the space of 4 or 5 pages laying out the fundamentals that are required to make any screenwriter a success. And even without having a hand in every part of the filmmaking process, I found every section eminently readable and interesting.

This book is not just for the director who dreams of doing it all. It’s a brilliantly comprehensive introduction to every part of the film, up-to-date and relevant, which could benefit a reader at any stage of the production. Understanding the context of the jobs those around you do, after all, will heighten your own effectiveness. It also contains details on earlier, less commercial filmmaking, including family and wedding videos, so it’s not just for those aspiring to make feature films.

Whoever you are and whatever you’re doing with your camera, there’s something in here that you could learn; at the very least it contains the signals to point you in the right direction. What’s more, it’s also a beautiful little book, superbly, clearly illustrated, so even if you don’t read it it’ll look good loitering around. Convinced? You should be. Get it here.

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