Calling the Shots! How flim techniques can inspire brilliant creative writing. Plus author School visits

Nick's new book, "Calling the Shots!", helps children understand how film and TV use a variety of techniques to create stories. It then guides them through the process of using the same techniques in their creative writing. Visit:

From the age of ten, I dreamed of working in film or TV. School holidays were spent making short movies with friends using my dad's 8mm camera – and editing the shots together with evil-smelling glue. I quickly learned how to use a camera to amaze, amuse or terrify an audience; it was my first step towards becoming a professional storyteller. My passion for moving images came in really handy in creative writing at school because thinking in 'shots' helped bring stories to life on the page.

Film directors must be observant, imaginative and love using pictures and sound to tell stories. Writers need those qualities, too – but paint their pictures on the page instead of on the screen.

"Calling the Shots!", is a creative writing resource for primary schools (although many older children will find it useful, too). It explains how to think of stories as 'sequences' made up of different 'shots'. Each shot has a specific part to play in telling the story, developing characters, creating atmosphere and involving the audience at an emotional level. Thinking in 'shots' is a very good way of learning to 'see' before you write. Children will also discover how effective things like lighting, sound and special effects can be in the written word. The book comes with a DVD of specially-shot film dramas performed by professional actors and actresses (including Sarah Hadland, better known as Stevie from BBC ONE's "Miranda") for classes to translate from the screen to the page.

Why not mention "Calling the Shots!" to your literacy teacher? It's a fun and really effective learning experience that allows one major freedom denied to most TV and film producers: there are no budgets to worry about in creative writing! The only constraint is the author's own imagination (unless someone buys the film rights, of course!)

If teachers would like to contact me about possible school presentations and/or workshops, please use the e-mail contact link at the end of this site. It would be great to hear from you.

Nick Handel

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