"The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide" Book Review
Written by Anthony Q. Artis
2011, 362 pages, Non-Fiction
Released on December 5th, 2011
“Film school in a book” is a phrase often tossed around that doesn’t usually live up to its promise. Many how-to books are simply confusing because they either over-explain a topic or simply talk over the heads of the intended audience. The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide successfully educates in a manner that is easy to follow and comes equipped with several helpful photographs and diagrams to illustrate the point. Anthony Artis manages to cover a lot of ground at a brisk pace that informs without coming across as condescending.
The layout of the book follows a basic design that starts with a general overview of some simple terms that will apply throughout your experience behind the camera. Each chapter includes a brief aside titled “Been there, done that” written by a professional member of the relevant field, bringing additional information in an anecdotal format that reinforces the broad strokes of the piece as a whole. These essays are often paired with “hot tips” for troubleshooting along the way.
Chapter 1 starts with a look at various cameras, lenses and setup options within the menu. Artis discusses the pros and cons of specific cameras, provides a basic definition of Hi-Def vs. standard definition camera resolution and recommends carrying some basic make-up supplies as an added tool to making the talent look good. His arguments debating the selling points and weaknesses of each camera are quite balanced and it is not clear if he has a secret favorite.
Independent filmmakers who are sincere in their efforts quickly learn the adage that quality audio is more important than video. Audiences will forgive a shot that is slightly out of focus before they put up with crappy sound. Chapter 2 examines audio techniques and offers suggestions on how to select equipment by presenting a general overview of different types of microphones.
Next up, we get a lesson in lighting complete with the basic diagrams that demonstrate the 3-point lighting system and a guide to understanding breakers and general circuitry. There is also ample coverage on the proper workings of a green screen. Chapter 3 also focuses on the importance of safety above all else, as nothing on a set is more important than life and limb. What should be common sense is often overlooked within the urgency of getting a shot.
Chapters 4 through 7 discuss the specific aspects of getting your name out to the public by working on a variety of productions including corporate spots, music videos, weddings and live events. While not all of these may be the goal you aspire to reach, Artis points out the importance of keeping in practice and networking. The client mandate will vary from one project to the next, but there are certain aspects of any production that remain the same so it is best to keep your experience level high in many different positions.
Chapter 8 examines the process of creating a business, getting paying clients, defining your responsibilities on a job and setting payment rates for yourself and your crew. It is important to know how to talk to clients and fill them with confidence in your abilities, but also to be able to deliver everything you promise for the agreed price.
Anthony Artis has created a perfect companion piece to his highly regarded previous effort The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide with this new volume that limits the overlap of information to instances only when necessary. As if he didn’t provide enough guidelines within the pages of this book and you need additional help or suggestions, the author includes a link to his website that will benefit serious videophiles and casual hobbyists alike. Check it out.