Shoot from the Heart - Successful Filmmaking From A Sundance Rebel (Review) - Raindance

Shoot from the Heart is a book written by the award-winning director and writer Diane Bell. Her first feature Obselidia, produced by her production company Rebel Heart Film, premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2010 and won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and Cinematography Award. In 2011, Obselidia received two nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Her other films include Bleeding Heart (starring Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet) and Of Dust and Bones.



Shoot from the Heart functions as a handbook for the independent filmmaker and the journey from writing a script to the final distribution plan. Bell takes the reader through the essential steps of movie planning in 16 simple stages, and then specifically, the planning of the independent film. That’s what we’re all about that here at Raindance, as you know! Bell’s book is a quick but enlightening read, exploring the steps to completing a film, including examples drawn from Bell’s experiences of making her first film, Obselidia.

“The biggest advice I can give you for your shoot, if you want to make a standout film, is to be fully present in the moment when you are filming.” – Diane Bell

Bell stresses the significance of building a clear plan for the film, starting with a strong shell (the script), finding key crew members, and completing a business plan. Remember that a film is a business idea, and therefore, investors require reassurance in order to sign on. Within each section, she provides a handful of tips, tricks, and pointers to take into account. For instance, in the crowdfunding chapter, Bell outlines her favourite crowdfunding websites and strategies.

Shoot from the Heart establishes a firm foundation for anyone looking to realize their first independent feature film. Bell describes independent filmmaking in great detail (everything from concept trailer to crowdfunding) by letting the reader in on her personal quirks and methods. This technique enables her to speak to the reader on an easy to conceive level, leaving everyone inspired to fulfil their filmmaking dreams. Both inspirational and rational, she encourages the readers to pursue a vision, even when faced with the budget limitations of independent filmmaking.

At the end of each chapter, Bell provides a thoughtful reminder to her readers: “Be grateful for the journey you are on.”


For other filmmaking book reviews: 

Getting It Done: The Ultimate Production Assistant Guide (Review)

The Coffe Break Screenwriter Breaks the Rules: A Guide for the Rebel Writers (Review)

Visual Storytelling: How to Speak to Your Audience Without Saying a Word (Review)


Hedvig is a writer and actress currently interning at Raindance Film Festival. She is in the process of finalizing her BA in International Relations at the American University of Paris. She has previously completed a two-year conservatory program in method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York. She dreams of completing a feature script.