The Filmmaker’s Eye – Cinematic Elements of Film

The Filmmaker's Eye - Cinematic Elements of Film

When people sit through movie experiences they are unaware of the cinematic elements of film used in every shot. Every shot in every scene has gone through intense, detailed planning.

When I first started out as an independent filmmaker I was oblivious to the factors that contributed to composition to express tone, mood and theme.

The book we will be looking at today will open your eyes to vital cinematic details, taking your filmmaking to a whole new level…

Product: The Filmmaker’s Eye ( By Gustavo Mercado )

Subject: Cinematic Elements of Film

Publisher: Focal Press

Language: English

Price: $21.77

The Filmmaker’s Eye – Product Overview

The Filmmaker’s Eye, written by independent filmmaker – Gustavo Mercado, is an advanced resource on the how and why of each shot you take.

The book begins by covering the principles of composition and technical concepts that will be used throughout the publication.

The second section of the book looks into the cinematic elements of film involved with camera compositions including:

  • Close ups
  • The use of medium shots
  • The use of long shots
  • Establishing shot
  • Canted shot
  • Tilt shot

Throughout this section I counted over 25 different shot types that are studied in great detail. The shot types were also displayed with examples from major motion pictures giving the reader a better grasp of how and where they are to be used.

The Good & The Bad

The Pros:

  • Self-contained course in cinematic composition
  • An easy-to-reference guide
  • Technical advice on the equipment and techniques needed to achieve the shot
  • A unique look at when to break the rules
  • Contains a fantastic selection of images
  • It’s a user friendly read that does not feel overly-academic

The Cons:

  • Does not really cover the raw video formats available to filmmakers
  • Directed more at filmmaker students – some filmmakers feel it is a great book but maybe a little basic for their level

Who is This Book For?

This book is the perfect choice for student filmmakers looking into the subject of cinematic elements of film.

If you are looking for well laid out information on every type of shot and style of composition then this is the book for you! It’s easy to read and informative without being to dense and overpowering.

It’s perfect for beginners and makes a excellent reference book for those more experienced in the subject. It will provide you with a technical vocabulary of cinematography and the confidence to go on and use the techniques learned in your own productions.

Our Final Opinion on The Filmmaker’s Eye

Although I have a decent background in indie filmmaking I still found various examples of the technical vocabulary new to me.

I was impressed by the way the author used images/film stills every few pages. These stills were cleverly labeled with points of interest indicating impressive focal points and what they meant to the overall shot.

The Filmmaker’s Eye would fit nicely on any college or film school library shelf. It provides the reader with cinematic techniques that will inject emotion and meaning into their shots.

It’s well written and more importantly it’s easy enough to comprehend – it won’t scare off many newcomers to the subject. I think Gustavo Mercado has made the book even more accessible to beginners by dissecting popular films and using them as examples ( Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Matrix to name but a few ).

This simple to use reference guide will make you think twice about how to frame your shot. A great book whether you are a filmmaker or a film buff…

Take Action And Learn More About This Fantastic Filmmaker’s Guide by Simply Clicking The Relevant Link Below:

US Link – The Filmmaker’s Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition

UK Link – The Filmmaker’s Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition


  1. My sister is going to school and wants to work in film when she’s done. She’s even done some side jobs filming skating performances and events all with her own digital camera. But she’s really good at it. Would this book for advantageous for someone that’s more of a novice, and isn’t exactly developing full feature movies, but more small scale productions? She’s trying to soak up all she can and I’d like to help her with it. Maybe this book will be a good gift for her.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Your sister sounds like she’s quite a talented girl! Yeah this book is an excellent fit for anyone looking into cinematography – no matter what their learning level. It’s well laid out and it doesn’t bog you down in too much jargon ( most of the time! ).
      If you decide to try it out don’t forget to come back here and give us your ( or your sister’s ) views on it πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Chris,
    In this day and age most people look at the screen when watching movies and don’t realise or even think about what goes into composing every single scene. I have only used a video camera for personal use to shoot family, friends or places I have been and I know how difficult it can be and easy to get it wrong, so when you watch it back it looks awful compared to professionally shot footage. Does the book have useful tips for those real beginners who just want to shoot home movies? Nicely written article by the way. Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Neil,
      Yes the book is a great choice for newbies to the subject – it’s used in a lot of film schools for first year students ( reference etc ). If you are serious about cleaning up your home movies then this is a perfect first stepping stone!

  3. My cousin is looking to study film making at college next year – this book sounds like it could be right up her alley. Especially as you think it’s targeted at novices. I think the fact you say it contains great images and uses well known movies as examples, would appeal to her. Is the focus on modern fils or classics? This girl is 17 years old – she thinks Terminator 2 is old enough to be a black and white film :/

    • LOL – “she thinks Terminator 2 is old enough to be a black and white film” well that’s just made me feel VERY old!
      Hi SC, yes this film book would be a great choice for a teenager looking to get into the filmmaking side of the industry. Off the top of my head I don’t think it covers many films from about 2007 onward but I can’t be sure – this may prove a problem for her! But the techniques listed here are second to none – it’s well worth checking out!

  4. This sounds like a lovely book! At on stage, many years age I thought about getting involved with film. This looks like a book filled with great tips on how to take shots.
    My younger sister is in the media field and studied animation and various other media courses. She might love something like this. I remember she did a stop frame animation film during her course and it was great.

    • Hi Lynne,
      Sounds good – if she managed to get her head around stop frame animation she should think about taking the process further – this could be the book to get her there πŸ™‚

  5. I am really learning a lot from this website. your articles are great and very educative. i don’t know much about film making but you are always giving us an idea of how we can get involved and learn from this industry.

    This will surely be a great book to read. I will take a look at it. Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Fidel,
      It’s great to see you back here so often learning more and more stuff! I hope the filmmaking bug ends up catching up with you πŸ™‚
      Speak soon yeah?

  6. Hi Chris – Making films is such an art these days. we seem to have become en-scrolled in special effects laden multi-million dollar spectaculars.
    Despite this some of the best films are quite “cheaply” done using different camera shots to create atmosphere. I trust this book is more about how to acheieve this than effect than all the computer generated graphics.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Mark,
      Yes this is a slightly more traditional version of getting things right on screen – more to do with the cinematography side of things as opposed to the CGI effects etc!

  7. Hi Chris

    Great review. I am a real amateur, but love taking home video’s and using my Ipad to make trailers and mini movies for the family to watch.

    Is this book only catering towards students or the average person on the street who would like to know a little more?

    • Well both really Michel, it depends how far you want to go in the industry?
      It is aimed at ANYONE interested in learning more about cinematography πŸ™‚

  8. I’m glad I came across this. Mainly because I’m thinking of producing content in the future, and this short review has opened my eyes to the fact that it’s not a shoot then done concept. There is basically a whole lot of extra effort behind the scenes!!

    Thank you! I think I’ll be ordering this book very soon

    • Great stuff Raymond, make sure you come back here and leave your own opinions on the book after you’ve read it πŸ™‚

  9. hey this site will be great for my brother he is really motivated into filming and would find this film really usefull I will tell him about it and will also be checking your latest posts to check on your work, keep it up this site is really useful and by the way you explain things I can tell you are really knowledgable

    • Cheers Dannyboy!
      I hope your brother enjoys the content we have here as much as you did πŸ™‚

  10. Great Review!

    For starters, would you suggest that this book is more of an educational book for upcoming filmmakers or is it a book for an everyday reader???

    I am a huge movie buff, but I find this book would help me understand much more about the development of the movies I watch. I am sure there are many things I am not realizing while watching a movie.

    Another question, if I did start noticing all the little things about a film, would it be more interesting to watch still?

    Great Product review, I love watching movies though and would like to know if by reading this book would it ruin my movie experiences? (Would I not pay attention to the actual story-line from noticing little makings about the film).


    • Hi Chris,
      I would say this book is probably geared more towards the upcoming filmmakers really – it’s quite technical in places πŸ™‚

  11. I am still learning the art of filmmaking. Using images from real films every few pages sounds like a good idea to show what the shot should look like. This book looks like a great resource, thanks for the review. I will get this book. Does it go into camera movement, when and where to use it in the story?

    • Hi Michael,
      Yes it covers all cinematography techniques and aspects – it doesn’t miss a trick! πŸ™‚

  12. This is a great site and informative> I just put two friends of mine onto it since they are bigger into making films than myself. I know theyll definately be intrested in what you have to say here aswell as the section on a low budget horror movie. Nice work.

  13. Hello Chris. My nephew is crazy about filming, he has an old video recorder stuck to his face most of the time and his subjects are interesting.
    He is only 15, but so passionate, do you think he could benefit from this book? I think he has a big future ahead.

    • Definitely Janelle, he’s about the age where some of the more technical stuff should make sense! It’s a great cinematography manual at the end of the day πŸ™‚

  14. I love your website! No honestly I will keep in my favorites! I love movies and especially horror movies. I liked the article about Blairwitch project and Noroi (Japanese horror movies are my favorites ) I will keep a close look to your website because I haven’t seen all the ones in your top 10. Fun thing is me and some friends ‘made’ a horror movie when we were kids but you can imagine the quality of that thing, it was still on VHS and I wonder where that video might be lol … maybe if someone finds it , they might watch it and be cursed hahaha
    My personal favorites…? There are just TOO many but some favorites are The Shining, Pet Cemetery, The grudge and the Ring ( Japanese version) , the Night of the living dead ( a classic) , The Audition, Babadook, …
    Just too many! Looking forward to read more πŸ™‚

    • Hi Angelique,
      Great to hear you like the site so much! You’ve mentioned some pretty cool movie titles there – Night of The Living Dead is an absolute classic! πŸ™‚

  15. Sounds like a really interesting book. I’m not a filmmaker but I love taking photos and like to think I have an artistic eye so often watch films and appreciate how each scene is shot. There is a definite art to creating a cinematic effect and I am in awe of film makers who seem to effortlessly achieve this and always so disappointed with films that fail to achieve anything pleasing to the eye or mind. Sounds like you have a really solid background in this area too so I enjoyed reading your opinion on this. Thanks for the insight – you may have sparked my interest into an area that I hadn’t considered too much before!

  16. I’m always looking for good educational books on film making so I’m glad I stumbled onto your website.

    You say that this might be a little bit basic for some more advanced filmakers but I wonder how basic it is?

    I’m very new to the world of filmaking and so I am actually looking for good books that wouldn’t be way over my head.

    Would you recommend this book to beginners?


    • Oh definitely Robert – my partner tried her hand at it and loved it. ( she was a complete newcomer to the business! ).

  17. This sounds like a fascinating book. I’m not a film maker but I have always noticed how the use of camera angles in film has changed over the years. It is easy to tell what era a film was made in just by how they use the camera.

    Does this book go into any detail about how they use the camera to create certain moods and emotions?

    For example in the first image there is clearly a very sad feeling to it, which is made more apparent by camera through the glass and the colour blue representing sadness.


    • Yes Hannah it’s a very deep book on cinematography – I’ve read it three times now and I always pick up on something new!

  18. Hi Chris
    A book that covers details of over 25 different shot types already tells me that there is value here.

    I have heard of this book, but could not find a fair and honest review to steer me into the direction of wanting to purchase it, until I stumbled across your site.

    Thank you for easing my mind.

    I will check out the rest of your site, to see what other interesting articles there are.

    Take Care

    • Great to hear that you found the review fair Roopesh – I hope it fits what you are looking for! πŸ™‚

  19. There are millions of people watching movies just casually (not that it’s a bad thing) and really not paying attention to the amount of detail and meaning every single scene has in terms of cinematography.

    I really love these things, we used to make short, crappy movies with friends πŸ˜€

    Just a random thought, if you know about this stuff, you gotta know Roger Deakins. He’s the cinematographer behind Skyfall, Prisoners and more. I LOVE watching his movies and the beautiful camera work.

  20. Thank you for your article on this book for the film students in our lives, I am sure any student in the film studies would benefit very much from such a useful book.

    I never realized there was so much involved in making a film, this article has opened my eyes what is involved in making a high quality film for the audience.

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