Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Story Telling with a Glance

Bad filmmakers rely on characters spelling out their feelings verbally.

Tony: My life is miserable without you, Sheila. I love you too much to leave you.
Sheila: You do? Then why did you leave me for ten years to be with Cindy?
Tony: That was a mistake. I've really only ever loved you.

We the audience--not to mention Sheila--should be very distrustful of Tony at this point. But, too often, these kinds of lame lines of dialog are all we get to see of the depth of a relationship. Filmmakers pass these moments off as creating a deep-emotional connection. And it's sad.

Far better to tell this stuff visually. If you have a character who is a lying, cheating, womanizer, how do you get the audience to believe he actually likes a girl "for real"? We can't trust what he says. So we switch to what film allows us to do: Visual Storytelling. We can, with a glance, tell more about our character than a thousand words would convey. By having him walk past a couple with arms around each other, we can have his look show the audience that he is missing out on that.

And it takes less than 15 frames to do it.

Missing a Relationship in a Glance

Granted, it can be difficult and time consuming to create these moments. They may require you to get outside your set, find some extras, take your production elsewhere. But it's so worth it. Your world gets bigger, your characters deeper, and your story stronger.

Tell your story with a glance, not a bunch of dialog.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Painful Edit: Closed Eyes

Editing is feelings based. A bad edit will be painful to watch. Not necessarily a slap-across-the-face kind of pain, but you will feel it. A good edit will slip past, unnoticed.

Yellow Flowers

Yesterday, while playing around with a little practice flick we were assembling, one edit wasn't feeling right. We were cutting from a shot of yellow flowers, but it didn't work. My editing partner suggested it was because the shot was too brief. But I felt the length was just right. The problem was what we cut back to...

Closed Eyes

When we cut to a person, we want to look into their eyes and see what they are thinking. The actor had his eyes closed for this part of the clip, and so the edit didn't work.


We added an extra shot of some fruit and the yellow flowers felt perfect.

The lesson: There are many elements that make an edit hurt. Duration of a clip can certainly be one of them. But pay attention to other things too, like blinks and camera motion and lighting changes and position. As you edit, ask yourself if any of the edits are painful. If so, you know you have a problem. The more you edit, the easier it will be for you to see the subtle things that make these edits not work.

Want to see the final product? Enjoy!

The Mysteries of Wildlife

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Fantastic Old-Fashioned Ideals

My favorite shot from The Avengers movie is when Captain America shields Black Widow from destruction raining down on them.

Captain America Shielding Black Widow

The screen grab is from the trailer, and my memory of the moment is different in the film. Perhaps I'm just mistaken, or maybe it happened twice. Whatever the case, I love this moment because it, in the briefest of glimpses, typifies Captain America's character. He serves and protects. He "lays his life on the wire" for others. He looks out for women and children, even if the women are more than capable of taking care of themselves. There's nothing chauvinistic about the Captain. He's not doing this because he feels superior or that his fellow teammates are inept. No, he simply vigilantly guards his friends from danger, focusing on women and children first.

In the movie, the term "old-fashioned" is used more than once in discussing Captain America and his ideals. I'm grateful for how the film handled these moments, and hope that they will inspire us all to step up and act selflessly. Inspiration and encouragement to be a better person: One of the best things about films.

As you work on your own projects, consider how the shots you choose help flesh out your character's inner ideals, especially if they are old-fashioned, uncommon, or unfamiliar to your audience.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor