Lessons from the Set

A DIY Filmmaking Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters

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Pub Date Sep 20 2021 | Archive Date Aug 23 2022

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Lessons from the Set - A DIY Filmmaking Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters is a comprehensive filmmaking guide that takes a cinephile’s “Do It Yourself” approach to low-budget indie film production and distribution.

The book is peppered with filmmaking tips and tricks, as well as valuable, practical insight into the process of writing, directing, producing, and distributing commercial feature films on a low budget – whether you’re working with $1,000 or $1m.

You’ll learn how to write, direct, produce, and release your film to theaters, tackle festivals and handle press, create a marketing plan, get reviews, and approach the filmmaking process with both an artistic soul and an entrepreneurial mindset.

After releasing his debut feature film to wide acclaim, filmmaker Usher Morgan (Prego, Windblown, Pickings) decided to write a filmmaking book which detailed his approach to writing, directing, and producing his own work, as well as the steps he took to distribute and market his film, Pickings, and release it to theaters across the nation.

Lessons from the Set is the perfect gift to any aspiring filmmaker, it’s an essential guide for anyone who wants to tell stories and make movies for a living.

Lessons from the Set - A DIY Filmmaking Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters is a comprehensive filmmaking guide that takes a cinephile’s “Do It Yourself” approach to low-budget...

Advance Praise

"An enthusiastic and encouraging how-to for aspiring filmmakers." ~ Kirkus Reviews


"One of the most pleasant aspects to read in Morgan's book is his unfailing energy and the sheer amount of helpful tips, tricks, ideas and valuable learnings, which he shares willingly and freely with his readers. These are also compiled and curated in short and concise segments, crafted for immediate execution."  ~ CineD

"An enthusiastic and encouraging how-to for aspiring filmmakers." ~ Kirkus Reviews


"One of the most pleasant aspects to read in Morgan's book is his unfailing energy and the sheer amount of...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781956769029
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 11 members

Featured Reviews

Lessons from the Set is a filmmaking guide by award-winning screenwriter, film director, and producer, Usher Morgan. I’ve always been fascinated with the film industry. Lessons from the Set gives aspiring filmmakers, and curious movie lovers like me, a realistic look behind the scenes. Morgan shares his personal experiences with writing, directing, producing, marketing, and releasing his debut film.

Lessons from the Set is wonderfully written. Morgan is transparent and honest in detailing his experiences. This is a very well thought-out film guide for aspiring filmmakers and those who are curious about the industry. Morgan teaches newcomers to always improve, reinvent, and inspire. This was a great read and I highly recommend it! Thank you to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Fascinating, recommended for any movie fan who has ever been curious about what really goes on during the filming of a movie

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This is an amazing book! I'm a beginning filmmaker, with two finished shorts and one in the works, and I was looking for something to help me further my interest. This is the book I needed!!!

Far too many books about filmmaking are step-by-step blueprints that go from one topic to another, starting with how you format a screenplay and going from there. I've got a number of them, and I'm struggling to learn anything new.

This book, however, is exactly what it says - lessons. The author has made his own films, and he's sharing the things he's learned that you need to do, that you should do, and that you can do if you have the money for it. It's tips and tricks from someone who's made his own mistakes and is passing along what's he's learned.

Some of what he's saying I already know from my own movies and others, and other things he mentions are mistakes I've made or narrowly avoided without understanding what I was doing. If you are interested in making films, from beginning to end, this is the book for you.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Library Tales Publishing for a copy of this book on how to create, film and market your own independent films.

Movies have gone from silent to talkies, black and white to technicolor, 3D and Smell-a-vision, even film to digital, and now can be made on a cell phone. This opens up opportunitys for developing auteurs who have ideas, and wish to at least try to develope them into a film, or a short or something to even just show friends. How does one go about this. Where do you get cameras? How do you find a cast? How do you pay a cast? Permits, marketing. Heck even how to write a screenplay. There are a lot of things that one has to keep track of, and learn. Usher Morgan, filmmakers, writer, probably gaffer, best boy and craft services person, has written a book about his experiences developing and creating his own works, Lessons from the Set :A DIY Filmmaking Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters. This book is a mini Sundance, film school, and TED talk, and just fun and inspiring.

Morgan begins at the beginning with brief description of his shorts and films, and from here starts with the basics. Reading, watching films, listening to people, watch interviews not only with film directors, but screenwriters, cinematographers anyone that you can get ideas from. Then he starts on writing the screenplay, with a lot of helpful hints, ideas, and technology that would be good for just about any writer. Morgan then follows the path of making a movie, screenplay, getting backing, casting, paying cast, crew, permits, the importance of food. Along side this is lessons he learned either by chance, bad luck, or just observing that he passes along, in a very nice style. The book covers everything, even distribution, soundtrack, and legal items, that might save a filmmaker later.

The book is written in a very easy to read, yet incredibly helpful way. And not just helpful, but inspiring. About halfway I texted a friend and asked if she wanted to work on a movie, because the book is that motivating. Morgan has a very good style, showing what should be done, how to do it, and yet making is not seem daunting. Get permits, just call the mayor's office. Need locations, keep your eyes open, and start calling. Nothing seems like oh that's a lot of work, I don't know. The lesson is, yes it is work, and you will be working all the time, but hey, dreams are worth it. Do the work. This is a real gift for a writer. Plus he covers so much. Paying your crew, film festivals, renting equipment. Writing exercises. Film schools would charge hundreds of thousands and not even teach a quarter of what Morgan has written.

My favorite was a writing exercise, and a film exercise in directing. Find a screenplay of a movie you have not seen. Pick a scene and film it the way you think it would go. Watch the movie and compare your scene to the filmed scene. What is wrong, what is right. Lighting, performance, props. That is a real lesson. And one that could be done easily, and teach an aspiring writer and director quite a bit. The book is full of this kind of information. A real gift to aspiring filmmakers. Recommended for film students, film historians, filmmakers and everyone who has ever wanted to create something. This is a very inspiring, handy and necessary book.

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This book literally tells you what is involved when it comes to creating your own movie, from the scripting to the filming, producing and distributing no matter how much money you have to work with. I found this book totally fascinating.

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'Lessons from the Set' could be considered a guidance material for new DIY filmmakers, with concise and well-structured information about any topic related to making movies. I was expecting much more personal anecdotes or self-promotion, but all the information is on-topic, and in fact I found out some pieces of valuable advice. All in all, I think it is a good book to thumb through it when you need a ‘friendly nudge' in any step of the filmmaking process from writing a script to distribution.

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A very interesting and insightful book about how a movie set works. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the copy.

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You would expect a professional screenwriter to be able to write a good how to book, and the author doesn't disappoint. There are a lot of good tips and quotes in here, but the most important thing is who you know and how much determination you have.

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Well written and interesting book for an aspiring writer for Hollywood or Sundance. I reviewed this book for NetGalley with an interest as a middle school TV production teacher. Some of the ideas were easy to bring to the classroom. Others were clearly meant for a college/ adult audience. Overall very informative and useful.

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