Deborah S. Patz – Author

Author of film books for industry pros and youth

Black Production TShirt

Black Friday Christmas Gift Ideas for Teenage (or New) Filmmakers

Black Friday always makes me think about black production t-shirts (which I love!), and new filmmakers need all kinds of stuff to make their movies, especially teens without paying jobs. So, in the spirit of empowering black-clad filmmakers to experiment with and make better movies, here’s a gift idea list for the new filmmakers around you in time for Black Friday:

1. WRITE! SHOOT! EDIT! BOOK (approx $20 – $30) – I guess I have to start with my book, if you don’t already have it: a complete guide for teen filmmakers, useful for new filmmakers of any age because it distills the entire process down into a short, focused, entertaining book. It’s written for the reader to follow one of three paths: the Writer, Director/DOP, or Editor, so you could present each of the three key crew with a copy of the book to use from their own perspective. It’s available in paperback and eBook versions. For more into, see my book’s webpage: https://www.debpatz.com/book/write-shoot-edit/. If you want to shop straight from the publisher, the book’s even cheaper: http://mwp.com/product/write-shoot-edit-complete-guide-teen-filmmakers/

2. COLLAPSIBLE REFLECTOR (approx $20 – $30) – Even before buying any lighting, a reflector is essential. Useful outside and in, it can to bounce light and reduce shadows giving you the illusion of a fill light. Because it collapses, it’s wonderfully small and portable.

3. CLIP-ON UTILITY LIGHT (approx $20 – $30) plus LIGHT STAND (approx $30 – $40) – The next step from a reflector is an entry-level studio light (or two). The most affordable alternative has to be the clip-on utility light you can pick up at a hardware store and a light stand from a photography store. The stand gives the filmmaker the ability to light from any height and location – or use it to rig other objects (like curtains or other set pieces) for the film frame… which is why two stands are even better than one.

4. VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE (a huge ranges of prices, e.g. from $20 – $120) – You may have a free video editing software on the computer already, but new filmmakers will soon appreciate the extra tracks and features of a software that more closely emulates professional editing software. I personally use VideoPad by NCH (which apparently has a sale until the end of November), but honestly, that’s not the only one out there. PC Magazine did a survey of video editing software for 2017: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2397215,00.asp

5. GROCERY STORE GIFT CARD (whatever price you’d like!) – Sounds like a strange idea for a gift, but it’s for buying “craft service” supplies for set. Since new filmmakers are tapping into volunteers to make their movie, food is one of the largest expenses on a low-/no-budget production.

6. EXTERNAL MICROPHONE (huge price range, depending on quality and type of camera) – Improving sound quality greatly improves the movie experience, and so an external mic is the way to go. Best to chat with someone at the store about best choices when you know what the film camera is (a cell phone, Gopro, video camera, etc.).

7. BLACK PRODUCTION T-SHIRT (approx $18 – $25) – Hey, while we’re talking Black Friday and recognizing that black is THE colour to wear on set (not only because it’s cool, but because it doesn’t reflect light and show the crew’s presence in reflected surfaces), why not a black t-shirt of sweatshirt to wear on set? I’ve made some Write! Shoot! Edit! T’s, sweatshirts and hats on Cafepress for you. Admittedly, Cafepress doesn’t appear to have a Black Friday sale (sigh…), but you may just need one anyway: http://www.cafepress.com/debpatz

Now it’s over to you. Bring a smile to the new filmmaker in your life!

Cheers & shopping to you,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She’s worn many a black production t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket over the years.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Wed.Nov.22 – Graduate Reader – UBC Graduate Reading Event
Sat.Feb.17 – Author Participant – Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver, BC
Mar.26-28 – Instructor – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – VPL

Paperback or eBook: AmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Write Shoot Edit and Playmobil

Playing With Toys When Making A Movie

Write Shoot Edit and PlaymobilIf you know me, you know I love Playmobil. Having had two kids over a long span of years, I’ve had the excuse to collect and play with Playmobil long after the recommended age on the packaging.

Yesterday, however, I found a particularly fabulous piece: a teen with a cell phone and what at first thought was a plain, white book (it turned out to be a computer folded closed, but that’s just an e-book, isn’t it?). Well, I bought the figure, took it home and modified the ‘blank’ book cover with a mini-version of my book Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide for Teen Filmmakers.

Okay, so I’ve made the gal an obvious filmmaker by the modification. So what?

Here’s what…

I’ve worked on professional sets where the art department built models of their sets to the scale of Playmobil toys so they could place in the figures and let the director and DOP previsualize camera  angles and shots before committing to building full-scale sets or modifying locations. Sure a lot of previz happens on computer now, but why not use scale cardboard sets and Playmobil figures if that’s what you have access to on a low budget production?

Alternatively, if you don’t plan to (or can’t) build full-scale sets, but still love crafting models and playing with toys, design and construct model sets for toy figures and test out shots or sequences you want to film some day in the future. Still photos of each angle build an instant storyboard and visual shot list. Once assembled you can see your story coming closer into being. The point is: use what you have right now to experiment, create and learn (about the activity and about you)… right now!

This Playmobil figure I modified is a 3D representation of exactly that point, exactly what my book is aiming to inspire: whoever you are, start making their your stories with whatever technology is available to you right now!

And when you do, let me know what you’ve done; I love to hear your production, prep, previz and writing adventures.

All the best and great previz to you,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She has enough Playmobil to recreate the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in a fan fiction storyboard format… and has done so!

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Wed.Nov.22 – Graduate Reader – UBC Graduate Reading Event
Sat.Feb.17 – Author Participant – Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver, BC
Mar.26-28 – Instructor – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – VPL

Paperback or eBook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

FILM: Doing A Little Bit More… with Signage

I went to a local dog off leash park, and found probably the best location filming announcement ever:

Yup, one for the humans (“park users” / at human eye-level) and one for the dogs (at dog eye-level). Doubt you can read the dog announcement in the wide shot, but it goes like this: “Woof woof woof…”:

The signage is inspired! I mean, why just do you job when you can do you job with a little flare, making the job enjoyable and spreading a smile around to others at the same time? How can one not be more receptive to the disruption of a film set coming to town than by seeing such signage as this!

Way to go, guys. You inspire us in making movies, you inspire us in how we can approach work and school in our lives and make them more enjoyable.

Cheers & a great shoot to you,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of “Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide to Filmmaking for Teens” (new in 2017) and “Film Production Management 101” both published by MWP Books. She’s shot on some interesting locations when in production.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Feb.17 – Digital Media Youth Expo in North Vancouver, BC
(more events and appearances are being assembled)

“Write! Shoot! Edit!” was reviewed in:
(1) Montreal Gazette, and many other newspapers across Canada 
(2) SF Crowsnest (in the UK);
(3) Midwest Book Review Library Watch list (on the Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf)
(4) Donovan’s Bookshelf Recommended Reading / Prime Pick for August (need to search for “Write”)

Write! Shoot! Edit! Goes To The Libraries

My new book “Write! Shoot! Edit” is added to the collections at libraries all over the place. I’m thrilled that teens and young adults have the chance to borrow the book and try it out, making their first movies. Here’s a shout-out to just some of the libraries that I know already carry the book. Let me know of other libraries that carry it or should!

Once you can borrow the book, follow your path of choice: the path of the Writer, the path of the Director-DOP or the path of the Editor… and make your movie. Then tell me about it! I love to hear about your movie-making stories!

Deb’s Contact Page | Deb on Facebook | Deb on Twitter

(I’ll update this library list from time to time)


Andorra (Philadelphia) Library

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library

Chicago Public Library

Dallas Public Library
(they have multiple copies, so you can borrow with your friends and crew up together!)

Hennepin Country (Minneapolis) Public Library (it’s Teen Read Month in October!)

Las Vegas-Clark County Library
(they have multiple copies, so you can borrow with your friends and crew up together!)

Liverpool (NY) Public Library

Miami-Dade Public Library

San Francisco Public Library

Seattle Public Library


Burlington Public Library

Brock University: James A. Gibson Library (the first university library to carry the book!)

Coquitlam Public Library

Edmonton Public Library

Hamilton Public Library
http://www.hpl.ca/ or their Teen page: http://teens.hpl.ca/

Niagara Falls Public Library

Toronto Public Library
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/ or their Teen page: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/teens/
(they have multiple copies, so you can borrow with your friends and crew up together!)


Dublin Central Library

The British Library (National Library of England)


Auckland Council Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries

The Mentor Dies… Oh No!

How often do we see it in the movies? The mentor dies and so the protagonist has to take on the (powerful) antagonist alone. Not only that, but training is rarely complete! Well, the mentor usually thinks there’s enough training, but the protagonist sure doesn’t. At any rate, the mentor is right, and the protagonist goes on to save the day.


In my new book, “Write! Shoot! Edit!”, I position myself a mentor to new filmmakers (teens and young adults). BUT I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!

So here’s the deal: you can read the book, no problem. But when it comes to making your actual movie, I ask that at a strategic moment during the filmmaking process, you put the book down before reading the final chapter and finish making your movie. In that case, I – as mentor – will have left you alone on your shoot day and you can become the filmmaking hero you already know you are.

Save a mentor.

I’ll be every grateful. 🙂

Cheers & a good shoot to you,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of “Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide to Filmmaking for Teens” (new in 2017) and “Film Production Management 101” both published by MWP Books. She’s seen a lot of mentors die on-screen.

Her new book, “Write! Shoot! Edit!” was reviewed in:
(1) the Vancouver Sun and other papers across Canada, including the Montreal Gazette,  The Provincethe Ottawa Citizenthe Saskatoon Star Phoenixthe Windsor Star, on Canada.comand News Lockerand now also: the Edmonton Journal, the Calgary Herald
(2) SF Crowsnest (in the UK);
(3) the Midwest Book Review Library Watch list (on the Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf)

The Hollywood / Doowylloh Sign

Since I was a teen, I dreamed of walking behind the Hollywood sign. I wanted to see Hollywood with the word spelled backwards in front of me.

My first trip to LA (when I was a teen), I saw the sign from Mulholland Drive, which as you may know, is on the hill next to – but not really near – the sign. Still, there was the word, spelled out on the terrain – shining, white letters. What did they see every day while us millions look up at them, dreaming our fantasy of a life in the movies?

Many years later, I found the right set of hills and managed a hike toward it, but at the posted warning “no trespassing beyond this point” I turned back.

By now I’d be working in the movies for a considerable time. With permission I’d wandered the backlot of Universal “off tram,” attended a party in a Hollywood mansion, and had many other movie-life memories, but not of the view behind the Hollywood sign. I tried a hike from Griffith Observatory, but without a good map and enough water, it was another attempt aborted.

This summer it happened.

Map in hand, sufficient water, hat and supplies, solid footwear and family to support me, we did the hike – crazy that we are – at the heat of the day. The air was thick with heat, the sun burned down on us, unforgiving. The odd lattice-like shadows and a few cool zephyrs provided enough relief to keep us going. Well, that and my dream.

The dirt path led to a paved road that winds up, around and right behind the Hollywood sign. Sure, there’s a chain-link fence between you and the sign, but that’s no barrier for the eyes. A rocky outlook perches above the path and fence so you can have an unobstructed view. Up there is the best thing of all: a B&B… a b-ench and a b-reeze.

So here’s what the Hollywood sign sees of us every day:

I’m at a loss to describe the feeling, but will try. In that moment, I was a teenager again standing on that other hill gazing over here at the sign (and me), dreaming of the future. At the same time I was here, so many years later with established career in film and my family beside me – an incredible family I never imagined in that teenage dream.

I didn’t sit on the letters themselves (as I did in my dream), but I also didn’t need to. From up here, it looked like it would be ridiculously uncomfortable anyway. I know that now… because I’ve been there.

Funny thing about dreams: they often come in a slightly different form than when you first imagine them. You have to be flexible enough to accept them as they are and to celebrate them as they come true. You also can’t stop living life to try to achieve them – they happen along the way.

So, I’ve now made another life dream of mine come true! Here’s to making more dreams, and then making them come true… all life long!

Cheers to you and your dreams,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of “Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide to Filmmaking for Teens” (new in 2017) and “Film Poduction Management 101” both published by MWP Books. She does not recommend hiking hills and mountains at the heat of a summer day… unless you’re truly prepared for the weather.

Her new book, “Write! Shoot! Edit!” was reviewed in:
(1) the Vancouver Sun and other papers across Canada, including the Montreal Gazette,  The Province, the Ottawa Citizen, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, the Windsor Star, Canada.com, and News Locker;
(2) SF Crowsnest (in the UK);
(3) the Midwest Book Review Library August 2017 Watch list (on the Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf)