Smashcut is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process.

Concept and Theme
Start at the beginning -- thinking of your film in its acorn phase, and what it might mean thematically, as we examine the conceptual core of some of the greatest, and most original, films ever made.
Story Structure
You have an idea, a feeling, an image -- how to transform it into a full-length narrative, and end up with a story that fulfills your original inspiration? Here are the basics of what story structure is and why it matters.
Character, Dialogue and Voice
Here we look at how to give your film a life and voice of its own, and how to make your characters live in three dimensions, by way of cinema history’s most unforgettable personas.
Nonlinear Approaches and Experiments in Form
There are rules about making movie stories -- and rules are made to be broken. Here we take the license to go off the grid, and look at a myriad ways that filmmakers have transgressed the orthodox.
Documentary: Various Visual Modes and Why
An important genre all its own, documentaries need to be written, too, and we survey the non-fiction landscape, from cinema verite to investigative journalism to high art.
Outlines and Treatments
The basic principles and strategies of how to plan your story, whether in forms meant just to help your writing or to help you pitch your film to readers. The first and maybe most important steps.
Plot, Set-Up and Conflict
How to think up your story -- what happens, and why? What changes? What decisions do the characters have to make, and what are the consequences?
Who is your film about? Here we look at what makes memorable characters, and how the story doesn’t just happen to them but emanates from them.
Most films have three acts, and we dissect what they are, what they mean, how they’re shaped, and why you might decide not to use the classic three-act structure at all.
The lifeblood of most screenplays, dialogue can make the story unfold as it also reveals your characters’ inner lives. Here’s how it’s executed on the page, and how to decide what’s too much or too little.
Resonant Details and Clarity
How granular should you get? These are the fundamental principles behind thinking of screenplays as a written things, intended to guide the creation of something else. You’re the writer, so you tell them precisely what you want.
The ABCs of how screenplays are spaced on the page, how text pacing equals movie time, how to cue actors, and how to handle all kinds of storytelling questions.
Feature film stories are complex, and subplots are a rich and necessary part of their weave. Here you’ll find ideas about how they contribute, and how they can influence and deepen the larger story.
Secondary Characters and Environment
Don’t overlook the texture of the world around your characters and your story. To make it feel real and believable and urgent, you have to make the environment and the supporting cast vivid.
Shorts vs. Features
A short film is not necessarily a mini-feature -- in fact, it’s an untamed frontier, with almost no structural rules or narrative guidelines at all. Here’s what happens when you follow the orthodox storytelling rules, and when you don’t.
The Moving Camera
Looking at the rich legacy of camera movement through more than a century of filmmaking -- and how movement communicates to us, from quick pans to complex tracking shots that tell a whole story.
Composition and Depth
Where things are arranged in a shot, and how deeply, and why -- here we take a plunge into the expressive possibilities of shot composition, and visit some of the most memorable compositional achievements in movie history.
Light and Shadow
The basic DNA of movies is light and darkness, and filmmakers have always exploited their beauty and atmospherics to create new movie experiences, from the silent German Expressionists to
Making imagery look evocatively real is as much a style as making it look dreamlike and fantastic -- and the tradition stretches from silent film to the Italian Neo-Realists to today’s digital revolution.
Design and Color
There’s virtually no limit to how a film can be designed, and how it can use color, and here we explore some of the most vivid traditions and styles, evoking inner states, metaphoric ideas, and filmmakers’ views of the world.
Cinematic Language
A primer on the nuts and bolts of shot type, cinematographic lingo and procedural terminology, just enough to get you started.
Basic Camera Components
All of those buttons and meters and apps buttress some very fundamental camera functions, and here they’re all laid out clearly and simply,
Shoot Planning
Film shoots can be like runaway trains, and so the more planning you do beforehand, the better. Here’s what’s vital to do and to know before the crew shows up.
Lighting a shot is not as simple as you think, but here we explore the easy-to-learn core ideas and lighting schemes that are at the heart of every beautifully lit image.
The first steps toward understanding how camera moves are achieved, what equipment is available, and, most of all, what kind of impact each movement has on your audience.
Composition 1
The recipe ingredient list for great shots begins, from evergreen traditions of image-making that go back to ancient times, to how to best use weight and space to conjure three dimensions on a 2D screen.
Composition 2
We continue investigating the possibilities, and go to work on the psychology of facing space, the use of the frame’s limits, foreground objects, angles, and more.
Lenses and Focus
Here you get to know the frontline tool of all cinematography, the lens -- different types and what they can do, how they create depth of field, and how they shape the image.
Automatic settings can produce ordinary image exposures, and so every savvy cameraperson should know his or her f-stops, tonal ranges, gray scales, light meters, and bit depths.
With today’s cameras, it’s part of the cinematographer’s arsenal and responsibility: learning about microphones, pass filters, booming, ambient sound, and how to fix both echo chambers and dead zones.
Vision and Sensibility
Here we approach the big picture: what’s your movie really about, and how will it express your unique way of looking at the world? How have great directors crafted their particular universes, and brought us along with them?
Translating Script Pages into Scenes
A character, a location, a bit of business, described in sentences -- it’s a process of discovery, figuring out how to create a powerful film scene out of what’s written on the script page.
Actors: Faces, Eyes, Words and Bodies
The director is responsible for what the actors do and how they are captured on film. It can be just as creative as lighting or composition: coordinating their physical movements, coaching their readings, and shaping their presences as emotional beings.
Preparation: Experience, Reality and Research
Directing a film can be much more than what happens on the set -- here you investigate how masters have brought real-life experience and knowledge into their films, making them hum with authenticity, eloquence and acute observation.
Ways of Maximizing Your Story's Peak Moments
A good script can just fall flat unless the director knows how to capitalize on its potential and to inject its key scenes with intensity and force. We look at examples in which directors absolutely did that -- and some in which they didn’t.
Pre-production Planning
The toolbox intro to what you need to think about before the shoot begins, in order to make it go smoothly and productively.
The basic ideas behind of this helpful craft, and how it helps you think through your choices on the set, and deliver your ideas to your crew.
Directing Actors
Every actor-director relationship is different, but here are some basic tips toward handling actors and getting the performances you want.
Working with Cinematographers
Communicating with your DP is key to your film coming out the way you want. Here we offer suggestions on how to bridge the gap between the technical and the emotional.
Production Design and Style
Creating the world of your film before you turn the camera on, by way of sets, color, decor, and style ideas that bring their own meanings to the table.
Running a Set
It can be like setting up a small factory, and you’re in charge -- how to delegate, deputize, inspire and organize.
Coverage and Sequencing
Experienced directors shoot with an eye toward the editing room, by making sure they have multiple alternatives at almost every cut. Here we outline how to weigh getting enough coverage against the limits of your shooting schedule.
Blocking and Rehearsing
One inch away from shooting: pro tips on how to rehearse with both actors and camera, to ensure that you get the shot you need.
Casting and Auditioning
Welcome to the process of recruiting and trying out a cast that isn’t made up of your friends -- the real process and why it’s necessary.
Funding, Festivals and Distribution
The real world of filmmaking, before you start and after you finish. How to pitch and raise funds, and then how to get your completed film seen in ways that matter.
Editing Parallel Narrative Threads
We look at how filmmakers developed the editing tricks that make more than one thing happen in a movie at once -- although you can only see one at a time. An indispensable window on movie storytelling.
Action, Dialectics and Space
Editing the action scene: how to make the action snap, insure that the spatial relations are clear, and give the rush of images a startling urgency.
Montage for Thematic Force
Montage is a toolkit with a lot of options -- including creating sequences where the images create meaning beyond storytelling or action. We look at the greatest creative editing jobs in cinema history.
Pacing and Feeling
How a film is edited will dictate how it affects an audience -- nervously, calmly, sadly, buoyantly, like a ruminative dream or like an adrenaline jag. It all depends on the intention of the film.
Using Sound Expressively
The editor is ultimately responsible for the soundtrack -- and that includes a lot more creativity and nuance than simply using the sound recorded on set. We’ll watch, and listen, to some of movies’ most inspired audio achievements.
Editing Software
There’s a variety of editing tools available, and here we go over the possibilities, and the pros and cons, enough to get you going.
Basic Techniques
Walk before you run, looking at the rudimentary construction of shot-countershot, L cuts and J cuts, cutaways, and more.
Ingesting and Organizing Elements
The essential bookkeeping of the film editor: how to handle, safeguard and organize your material, so you know what you have to work with.
The art of sequencing&58; crafting the pace between establishing shots, medium shots, and various close-ups, in a way that feels fluid and organic.
We examine the variety of transitions available to you, and the each mean something different: hard cuts, dissolves, fades, wipes, match cuts, etc.
Editing Audio
A creative editor uses the set-recorded sound as a launching board -- here we look at the ways you can drop in or cut out sound to make a scene work.
Continuity and Timing
No movies can tell its story without an editor’s eagle-eyed attention to continuity flow from shot to shot, and to timing cuts around dialogue and movement.
Jump Cuts and Cutting on Action
The tricks of action editing, and crafting movie moments that grab you by the throat.
Directing the Eye
It’s a kind of emotional continuity -- editing a film so the audience’s eye flows effortlessly from one shot’s focal point to the next, carrying you through the movie.
Post Effects and Color
The look of a film can be radically influenced and altered in post-production -- shadows, color, tone, grain, focus, all of it can be manipulated for effect.

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