Lights, Camera, Action!

ImageLights! Camera! Action! How a Movie is Made

Written and Illustrated By: Gail Gibbons

Thomas Y. Crowell Publishing House, 1985, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 6-9

Genre: Non-Fiction

How We Discovered This Book:

My son is very interested in how movies and television is made. Some of this probably stems from the natural process of learning what is real, and what is not. However, he takes a distinct interest in “peeling back the curtain” and figuring out how things are accomplished. We have watched videos on movie makeup, special effects, puppetry, and techniques like green screens and stop motion animation, but I was in search of a good book to explain the big picture of making movies and television.

What I Liked About This Book:

Even though this book was published almost 30 years ago, it covers the broad process in such a way that it does not feel outdated. The whole process is covered from the writing of the script all the way to opening night. We get to see all of the preparation involved, and the many people needed to make a movie.

What Did My Son Aidan Think?

He enjoyed this book much better than several others we read, which were way too general or outdated. This book seemed to have just the right amount of detail without getting bogged down in it. After reading this book, my son wants to learn more. Any suggestions on this topic? I have my eye on a Klutz book on stop-motion animation, but I’d love any suggestions for picture books.

Resources:

Teaching Resources: This site has TONS of ideas for teaching kids about television and movies.

Write Your Own Activity Script: This site walks you through how to write a script with kids, and then mount a production. They base the script on Jon Sciezka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, so it sounds extra fun.

Revisiting the Classics

I was reading a message board the other day concerning classic picture books that make you wonder how they ever got published. Part of the discussion centered around how the children’s book market has changed over the years. The approach to children’s education and the state of the children’s book market was quite different seventy, fifty, or even twenty years ago. I wrote a previous blog post on some of the classics, and how they hold up.

Classic Books

What was most interesting to me about this discussion was not the different opinions about why classics are classics, and why some hold up throughout the years, and some do not. What I saw when I read each post was this: Everyone likes something different.

Several specific books were mentioned, especially Madeline. There were some pretty strong opinions on why they loved the book, or not.  Some loved it, some hated it. I myself don’t get the appeal of Madeline. The character strikes me as a spoiled brat who is put into a variety of unrealistic (but not fantasy) situations.

Regardless, I may not like it, but clearly others do. Some people may find several of my favorite books annoying or dated. But we all, as readers (children and adults alike) like something different.

Editors and publishers today may focus primarily on what will sell the most copies. They must analyze and assess the market of today, and what meets the needs of the bookstore, online, and school markets. I don’t envy them the challenge of trying to float a ship on the changing tides of pop culture and educational theory.

As I writer, I have had many arguments with myself (quietly, I promise) about whether to ditch the story I really love in favor of something more commercially viable. As I advance my craft, I strive to create stories that meet both my personal requirements and the needs of the current market.

But I must start at the beginning: writing what is in my heart. Perhaps what I write will be sellable someday (hopefully!). But if I don’t write what is in my heart, I believe it won’t speak the truth or touch my readers in any way. And if everyone likes something different, perhaps instead of trying to speak to everyone, I should strive to speak to someone.

So in the end, whether a story meets the technical requirements of today’s market or not, it must start in a personal place. And that’s good news.  The joy of writing down the stories that are begging me to be written, those that occupy a special place in my heart and mind, are why I write in the first place.