Book Review: The Guerrilla Guide to Moviemaking

Film isn't rocket science

When you sign up for an introductory film course in college, you hardly expect to be purchasing a picture book for one of your required course readings. But for the last two fall semesters, students in Robert Sickels’ Introductory Film course at Whitman College have been doing just that. A Fulbright Scholar, Sickels is an accredited professor of film, teaching at Whitman since 1999. In the Fall of 2012, Sickels’ ordered The Guerrilla Guide to Moviemaking to bolster his established curriculum and he found the book to be useful not only to hisGuerrillaGuideCover students but to his instruction.

In reflecting on his use of the The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking Sickels noted, “What I really liked about it is there’s nothing else like it out there. It’s short, simple, to the point, accessible…some books get really complicated, but students were able to learn from [The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking] very quickly.”

Sickels used the Guide as an accompaniment to his established format for the course.

“I’ve been doing this for so long, that I’ve got a way [of teaching] that I’m really pleased with,” said Sickels. “I would give lectures and demonstrations and workshops on things like sound and lighting and photography—things the book covers, and then I would assign the chapter that has to do with [that subject]. We use a specific camera so I’m teaching to that equipment, but [the book] is still supplemental in a really positive way.”

Not only does The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking give students fundamental techniques and tricks for how to use editing, grip and lighting, cameras and sound, it gives them specific tips on how to build their own simple equipment and rigs.

“Its really helpful,” said Sickels, “because even though we have equipment, its still bare bones equipment and I expect [my students] to innovate. [The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking] gave them the opportunity to do that.”

With the power of simplicity and a little bit of laughter The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking gives students a learning experience providing not only the tools, but the know-how to cultivate a foundation of knowledge and filmmaking gumption to make great movies.

“Film isn’t rocket science,” said Sickels, “and it doesn’t need to be. [The Guerrilla Guide To Movie Making] allowed [students] to think about things in a simple way.”

The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking is included in the library of curriculum materials at guerrillafilmguide.com.