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How Not to Make a Short Film

Secrets from a Sundance Programmer
Narrated by: Roberta Marie Munroe
Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Summary

Anyone can make a short film, right? Just grab some friends and your handheld and you can do it in a weekend or two before being accepted to a slew of film festivals, right?

Wrong.

Roberta Munroe screened short film submissions at Sundance for five years, and is an award-winning short filmmaker in her own right. So she knows a thing or two about how not to make a short film. From the first draft of your script to casting, production, editing, and distribution, this is your one-stop primer for breaking into the business. Featuring interviews with many of today's most talented writers, producers, and directors, as well as revealing stories (e.g., what to do when the skinhead crack addict next door begins screaming obscenities as soon as you call "action") from the sets of her own short films, Roberta walks you through the minefield of mistakes that an aspiring filmmaker can make - so that you don't have to make them yourself.

©2009 Roberta Marie Munroe (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Roberta Munroe is that rare person in the film world who can not only recognize an inspired, great film, but she can actually help you make one." (Mark Duplass, Sundance and SXSW award-winning filmmaker)
"Roberta Munroe is brilliant. Her advice and insights on our project, The Tribe, from rough cut to completed film were instrumental and invaluable to its success. It is exciting to think that all filmmakers will have access to her incredible mind and experience through this book." (Tiffany Shlain, award-winning filmmaker)

What listeners say about How Not to Make a Short Film

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informative, encouraging & welcoming

unlike a great amount of other books on the subject, the delight of this publication is that the author has no obvious agenda against or vitriol for the industry it concerns. roberta marie munroe not only clearly knows the ropes in terms of having made short films but also quite clearly wants to foster new talent & content from her position of working in the festival circuit, she also delivers the audiobook reading clearly, with animated (but not over the top) and warm confidence that never belittles, patronises or condescends. this piece has honestly helped me and made me look forward to tackling my current workload as a filmmaker.

2 people found this helpful

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A must read for short film makers

This is a really great guide and insight into the challenges and opportunities of short film making.
There is so much knowledge inside this to take in, and it really helps you understand how important it is to see short film is as it’s own art form, not just short versions of feature films.

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Good material and bad naration

A good material overall . Well ,a bit over complicated at times ,for the entertainment I guess ,like the bitchy voice ,also maybe an attempt at entertainment. I actually got angry that the good material in this book was wasted on the bad naration. Anyway.. she wanted to show us how to keep costs down. Good book for the aspiring movie artist.

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Great audio book for first time/new film makers.

Perfect for film students and anyone looking to become a director or producer. Roberta Munroe gives her great insight from her experience as a short film maker and festival programmer

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Marvelous

Grateful to the author, the content and the effort. Well done! I think it will...

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  • norman rogers
  • 06-05-15

picked up before a 48 hour film fest

While the book was an interesting stream of conciousness on the authors experiences the book was not helpful in a technical sense.

7 people found this helpful

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  • MovieGuy
  • 02-04-17

Misleading title, but VERY impressed by this book

I'm an independent filmmaker, having graduated from film school a couple years back. And my primary interest as a filmmaker is making independent short, narrative films, so I picked up this book, hoping to get a few practical pointers.

What I was expecting/fearing from this book, given the title, is an arrogant know-it-all type of author, without much credibility other than a lot of very strong opinions, telling me how everything I've done is wrong but without much to say about how to necessarily do it better.
Thankfully, the book is actually the exact opposite of this.

First off, the writer clearly knows her stuff, having made many successful short films, produced many other films, and been a programmer at film festivals. Also, she focuses mainly on the positives, not the negatives. Namely, what are the elements needed to make a successful and compelling short film. And she breaks down all the phases independently. The concept, the fund-raising, writing, putting together the production team, the talent, the post-production team, the planning, shooting, and post-production. Lots of stories and practical advice about all those areas. Then she spends the rest of the book talking about what comes next. Getting the film into festivals, distribution, local screenings and so forth, and how each thing can benefit the filmmakers and to what extent.

I loved the book from beginning to end. It now has a permanent spot on my bookcase, and I highly recommend it to all filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers that are trying to make a name for themselves through creation of short films.

3 people found this helpful

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  • NYC Viewer
  • 11-01-15

Awesome!

I read the book when it was first printed, but it was great to actually hear Ms. Munroe read the audio book herself. Nice voice over!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kenji
  • 18-10-15

Inspiring!

All I can say is I have learned a lot from this book and very thankful to the author for her wisdom.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dinh Dien
  • 13-10-15

SHE'S OUR FILM FEST SPY

So much insight to what I thought I already knew! Roberta has acted as a film festival spy for us filmmakers! Definitely will take the advice going forward! Thanks Roberta! I'm sure we'll be in touch soon.

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  • Dan Portnoy
  • 09-09-15

Crucial for any filmmaker

There's just too much info for someone to remember. Get your producer room team together, give them this incredible resource and make your film amazing!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vales Tales
  • 15-03-15

A great short book about a great big subject

this book exceeded my expectations.

It's both entertaining and informative. The author clearly knows her subject, has been both a film festival (Sundance!) Curator, And a short film maker herself.

She reads the book very entertainingly and again, is both interesting and often very funny.

This book goes by very quickly, and is worth listening to a lot more than once.

Lots of great tips, practical advice, suggestions and ideas both for making the film, and marketing.

I also have the text version on my Kindle for easy reference.

Highly recommended!

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  • Gheorghe
  • 05-02-15

Don't buy it

The most superficial filmmaking book I have ever read.

No inside advice and a very cocky attitude over nothing.

A

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-12-15

Outdated and irrelevant

What disappointed you about How Not to Make a Short Film?

The book reads more like a self-aggrandizing memoir than as helpful guidance to film makers. The author's experience in the early 2000's with film based production is almost irrelevant to today's digital production. With respect to film festival guidance it is contradictory and confusing. The author's/narrator's voice sounds as if it has been recorded while speaking into a bucket - tiring to listen to.

Would you be willing to try another one of Roberta Marie Munroe’s performances?

No

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from How Not to Make a Short Film?

References to personal experiences.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 17-01-20

Excellent!

Extremely informative book on how not to make a short film. The author provides great insight into the process of making a short film and some of the challenges filmmakers face throughout the process. She also provides pointers and guides the listener in the direction of what to do for best possible outcome. Excellent book, Roberta.