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Book Review: Cheap Scares – Author Greg Lamberson

Cheap Scares: Low Budget Filmmakers Share Their Secrets
By Greg Lamberson.

Most low budget filmmakers have a well-thumbed copy of “Rebel Without a Crew”; it has been the bible for independent filmmakers to get inspiration and information. No book had successfully tackled low budget horror movies the way the Robert Rodriguez’s book had with the low budget action genre. Horror moviemakers had to make do with magazine articles and film commentaries to try to learn from other filmmakers. Most books had been general at best and never seemed to show the sweat and blood that real low budget production people give to their movies.

Happily Greg Lamberson has written “Cheap Scares: Low Budget Horror Filmmakers Share Their Secrets” and given a font of information for the would-be directors, producers and writers. Rather than read any further run don’t walk to your local bookstore and buy a copy I will be waiting here for you to finish this review.

Okay, you have a copy, good, now I will walk you through why I think you need a copy of this book. The book covers all aspects of micro-budget filmmaking from people who have been really making films and have a love for scaring and thrilling their audience. If you are only thinking that a horror movie is easier for independents to make than any other gene and all you need is a formula, blood and bare breasts, then stop reading and go to the back of the class. The lessons given in “Cheap Scares” reveal the fact that filmmaking is not easy, and only a crazy person with a love of scary movies would ever try to make a horror movie. Making a horror movie that anyone wants to see is as hard as making a successful comedy or drama. You need to have passion for your subject.

The book covers preproduction, production, script writing, music, legal issues and a whole lot more. The cast of characters reads like a who’s who of low budget directors and writers: Larry Fessenden, JR Bookwalter, Roy Frumkes appear to name a few of the people interviewed for this book. There are stories from making of “Habit”, “Slime City”, “Shatter Dead” and many other cult classics. All the stories bring up important points to know and to work into your production. Did you spend enough time planning your effects or are you just hoping that it will all just work when you are shooting? Do you have permission to film at a location or are you “stealing” it and hoping you can get away with it? Are your actors and actresses your best friends and what will you do if they walk out or sue you?

The writing allows the reader to learn directly from the movies covered and gives them a realistic base to start from if they are planning a movie. Every filmmaker in the book had to work for their project, nothing was easy or given to them, but if you dream of vampires, zombies and creatures in new stories of your own then this is the place to start. Not every lesson will be easy but you will be glad you learned them. If you are serious about making a good microbudget film then you need to read Greg Lamberson’s book.

He writes about what he knows and he writes well. Even if you have a real budget you should be taking to heart the passion that is revealed in this book. Lamberson loves monsters and the movies and it shows in every word. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of “Cheap Scares: Low Budget Horror Filmmakers Share Their Secrets.”

The book is published by McFarland and Company Inc.

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