Best books on Filmmaking

Recommending filmmaking books is problematic because it depends on your level and the type of films you want to make. I’ve tried to create a list of filmmaking books that will appeal to all film genres and suit different expertise levels. The list will open with the best filmmaking books for beginners and continue with the best books on filmmaking for more advanced filmmakers. The critical thing to remember is always to practice what you read (and learn). Don’t be one of those who learn and read and never do, cause eventually, the real learning will come from practicing.

Best Filmmaking Books for Beginners

The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting by Syd Field

Syd Field is an acclaimed writer and director in Hollywood, and his book, The Definitive Guide to Screen Writing, Is an excellent guide that will help you to find and fix problems and errors in your script. This book is all about building a strong story structure, writing effective dialogue and much more. The book is well written, it uses examples from known films and it’s also good for experienced writers that want to fix bad writing habbits. 

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing by Walter Murch

If I had to pick one which contains the best filmmaking advice, it would be this book. It’s a book about editing, but it will teach you so much about how to approach filmmaking in general.

Walter Murch, the video editor of films like The Conversation, American Graffiti, Julia, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather (parts II and III), writes the best book on film editing. Since he is a professional, it is also the most straightforward book on the subject. In The blink of an eye is not about the technical settings of particular software; it focuses on the video editor’s psychology. Walter Murch starts by asking the simple question with the complicated answer – Why do cuts work? And from that starting point, you will learn all the aesthetics and practical concerns when cutting a film. 

 

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to participate in the filmmaking industry, especially directors. Sidney Lumet is one of America’s most known directors with films such as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network( which you can learn a lot about filmmaking just from watching them), and much more. Making Movies is a beautiful summary of everything that makes Lumet’s films awesome. He mixes film theories with practical filmmaking. He does that in a very easy to read style- not too technical.

How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer

This is one of the best filmmaking books for beginners, as it touches the required fields of making a short film – it talks about how to write a good script, how to finance your film, and deal with the producer and the crew, how to cast, and much more. How Not to Make a Short Film also has an excellent section about post-production. But what makes this book a must-read for aspiring moviemakers is that it also talks about the film festival circuit. The book is written well and full of interviews with other filmmakers who have struggled with their films well. 

Best Books on filmmaking for Advanced Filmmakers

 

The Filmmaker’s Handbook By Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus

The Filmmaker’s Handbook is a very practical and technical guide book that is well-written and full of great tips and techniques about every step in developing a film. If you are making short films for a while, you’ll be amazed at how much you will learn from this book. This book will help you become a more professional filmmaker. It deals with shooting with DSLRs, video, film, and digital cinema cameras. It has a large section about lenses, lighting, sound recording, editing, and mixing. It also has a section about understanding formats, founding funding for your movie, distribution, and much more.

Poetics by Aristotle  

This book is recommended for anyone that wants to work in the business of storytelling. Every film school uses Poetics to teach correct scriptwriting since everything you watch, read, or listen to in western society is influenced by this work. In the book, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language, plot structure, and more by analyzing Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides’ plays. This is not a definitive guide, but I recommend reading it. Once you start reading it, you will find it to be an essential read for anyone interested in understanding western storytelling. 

Hollywood Producers Directory

This book is a must for every producer (or if you are producing your film). Instead of wasting time on Google, every time you need something, use this up-to-date contact information for every necessary resource you need for making a professional film.

Now, The Hollywood Producers Directory has more than just verified contact information for film distributors, sales agents, and producers. It also contains legal forms and legal details like state tax incentives and which state offers them to help you decide where to shoot, distribution deals, etc. If you want to take your producing business seriously, take this book!

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Okay, this is not a How to’ guide book, but I believe it is a must for every serious filmmaker, explaining the foundations on which modern-western films are made today in a fast and enjoyable way. Easy Rider, a low-budget bikers movie, created a new Hollywood era, with its success in 1969, that started in the late 60’s up until the early ’80s. Those movies destroyed the old studio system and introduced the rising young filmmakers such as Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, along with a new type of actors, such as De Niro, Pacino, Jack, and others. 

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is based on hundreds of interviews with the directors, the producers, the stars, the agents, the writers, the studio executives, and other influential members of the area.

Hitchcock by Truffaut

A book that is the ultimate film school is what you get when you put together two iconic filmmakers for a chat.  Hitchcock by Truffaut is a set of interviews of Alfred Hitchcock by François Truffaut. This is an excellent opportunity to get an incredible insight into how one of the greatest directors of all time made his beautiful films. 

They talk about Hitchcock’s inspirations, the art of creating fear and suspense, and much more! Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Hitchcock, you’ll enjoy the discussions about the techniques he employs to create different effects in his films. This is a book that every movie geek and filmmaker needs to have in their library!