The Master Course
Read the review at Script Magazine
If what you really always wanted to do is direct your own script, or understand how to write a script that is technically fluent, but you know little to nothing about the pragmatics and craft of doing so, you’ll find one heck of a teacher in the Hollywood Camera Work Master Course.
The course can be divided into two halves: what you see, and what you hear. What you see are 3D animated figures in 3D animated environments zooming around – a film school entirely in virtual reality.
What you hear is a female narrator (your teacher), who sounds like HAL’s twin sister on fast-forward. The course-makers purposely refrain from giving the narrator a personality, same as the expression-less “actors”, in order that the content is kind and the focus of every moment of every disc – no distractions. Moreover, the student benefits from the narrator’s gear-grinding pace, because she can cram more valuable information into the lesson, and , since it’s a DVD, remember you can always pause or rewind as needed, which you’ll definitely need to do if you’re taking notes (and you should).
Perhaps the course’s most confusing aspect occurs when the narrator blocks a theoretical scene, and within the scene pop up numerous green cameras all positioned, all shooting, all at the same time. The narrator describes cutting from one camera to another to another, and what each shot is called – with seven cameras, it can get fairly dizzying.
One of the course’s most interesting and enlightening aspects is how the narrator explains film theory, which predicates largely on audience psychology. For instance, did you know that the amount of space around a character in the frame determines audience intimacy with him? Think of the guarded, solitary cowboy riding across the wide, scorching plain. Furthermore, this principle applies to the space between two or more characters in the same shot. They don’t have to be hugging to convey intimacy; characters can stand or sit with a nominal amount of respective personal bubble, but the way in which the savvy director chooses to strategically angle the camera creates and subconsciously conveys a particular psychological impression to the audience.
Not for anyone interested in directing as a lark, the Hollywood Camera Work Master Course goes to great lengths to clinically and scientifically deconstruct the mysteries and techniques of filmmaking. If your passion to direct equals the immense knowledge necessary to be a master director, you won’t find a better training ground on DVD.
Review by Robert Piluso