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Player Education

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Film school admissions tests have you running scared? First-year tuition got you down? Fear not, wannabe foot soldier of Hollywood, salvation awaits — and not necessarily in the hallowed halls of NYU. With all the extras on DVDs these days, picking up a few choice releases is a lot more economical than higher education (besides, there’s no final exam). So flip on a couple of these discs, soak up the supplemental materials, and go get that three-picture deal.

— Writer’s Block
(Thelma & Louise) As your would-be professors will tell you time and again, the key to a good movie is a good screenplay, and director Ridley Scott continuously gives credit where it’s due: to screenwriter Callie Khouri, whom he kept involved throughout production.

— Character Sketching
(The Talented Mr. Ripley) Writer-director Anthony Minghella’s commentary is 138 minutes of lyrically analytic deconstruction of the psychology of the murderous Tom Ripley, providing a master class in visual technique and story structure.

— Shooting Craps
(Hard Eight) Paul Thomas Anderson’s enthusiastic stories and boundless attention to the finer details of lighting and camera movement make his commentaries an education on, among other things, the do’s and don’ts of wielding a Steadicam.

— Cut and Paste
(Men in Black) Forget about that Steenbeck unit you were going to buy on eBay — this disc has a scene-editing workshop powered by your remote control. Pick and choose from several takes to create your own rough cut.

— The Bottom Line Approximate cost of one year at film school: $16,000. Approximate cost of four DVDs: $100.

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