Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Aside: How She Really Feels

I'm sure eventually Yamada will tell you how she feels. How could she not?

Then we hold on this shot for a moment, letting the irony sink in. See, this girl's been holding back her secret feelings from him for about as long as she's been alive.

Sometimes you gotta give you audience a chance to get it. Taking an uncomfortably long time to get to the next moment nudges your viewers to recognize what's going on underneath.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Bookend the Montage of Change

We know that with just a glance we can show the audience exactly what's going on in our character's head. We've also seen how alcohol can show a character's deepest hurts. But often we need to get a character (not to mention the audience) from one state of mind to another in a very brief amount of time. Enter the montage. These sequences of images and moments can cover a tremendous amount of ground in very little time. And if you want your audience to know that the character has changed, it's simple. Use a bookend to flip your character's development from one side to the opposite.


Have your character politely refuse a drink at the start of the sequence.


Run through stuff that shows she is getting caught up in this new life. Then, end with a shot of her and a glass of champagne.

The Start of the End

It's that simple.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


How Cardboard Can Save Your Shot

Cardboard "cookies" can help you produce some amazing lighting effects, like the photo I shared back in 2008:

A Light and a Cookie

Just as often you need large pieces of cardboard to block unwanted light. Back in my college days we used a box to block a window to make it look like night in the room:

Blocking Light from a Window

So I was a little surprised to see a shot from a 2013 film completely ruined by unwanted light. It took me a moment to figure out why the shot felt so odd. It was raining and the image was "off" somehow. What was it?


I've lived in Colorado long enough to have experienced sunshowers, but this wasn't one. The main character kept moving in an out of the shadow, causing the distracting harsh light to be all the more distracting. They could have "sold" the shot by simply getting a large piece of cardboard to cast a shadow where he was standing.

Or have him take four steps back into the shadows.

Remember: Simply spraying your actors with water does not "sell" rain. Watch for the little details and fix them. Sometimes it's as easy as getting a piece of cardboard.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor