Filmmaking is one such line of work where you get better with practice. However, with the rapidly changing times, there is always the possibility of broadening your perspectives and learning about all types of experiences that people who came before you have faced. Reading filmmaking books and film directing books can open up an entirely new world of information related to movies, the art of filmmaking, critiquing, and so many other interesting techniques associated with the world of films.
While there are a huge number of books written on filmmaking, here are the ten best books on filmmaking.
Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
One of the best books on filmmaking is just about that – how to make movies. This is an entire book on filmmaking. The author, Sydney Lumet, provides many valuable lessons and practical advice that are not only applicable to filmmaking but also to the television industry.
Lumet discusses the business of filmmaking, which is equally as important as the physical production process. Lumet is one of America’s most famous directors, and this book serves as the best guide to the art, craft, and entire business of making a movie. Lumet draws on over four decades of experience to explain the painstaking labor that goes on behind the scenes of a two-hour film.
This filmmaking book is a must-read for all those who are thinking of entering this industry.
The Filmmaker’s Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition by Gustavo Mercado
This is one of the best film directing books you can get your hands on, complete with examples and illustrations. The Filmmaker’s Eye takes you behind the lens of a filmmaker and shows how the many rules of what it takes to become a top visual narrator. This is the ideal handbook for anyone who wants to understand how to can that perfect shot as it combines both practical data with theoretical information. The book helps you determine the perfect setting for a scene, how to place the different elements, how to name a scene, and a detailed explanation of different shots, how they work, why they work, and the technical features behind the shot.
In The Filmmaker’s Eye, you can read a detailed explanation as to why a certain shot works and why a certain shot does not. These details help you understand and showcase your own story in the best way you want to. Mercado also puts in many tricks and tips into this book, including a unique trick on how to use butterflies in a shot to block out light and help actors from being overexposed on a sunny day while shooting. This is one book you will keep coming back to long after you have read it because of the great amount of wisdom and advice it contains.
The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner
This is one filmmaking book that is ideal for students and film and TV professionals who are currently working in the industry. For people who are production managers, line producers, assistant directors, production coordinators, or production supervisors, this book is the perfect go-to encyclopedia that you will ever need. The book has everything from forms, contracts, checklists, releases, and everything else that is required to set up and run a production. It even provides tips on how to find a production office to turn over the delivery elements.
And even if you already know what you are doing, it always helps to go over a refresher once. For those who are not already working in the field of film production and direction but want to enter this field, this is one of the best books on filmmaking to read. In fact, it will even help you decide if this career is right for you. If you do decide to pursue this path, the book prepares you well on what to expect so that you will always be ten steps ahead of everyone else who is just starting out with you.
Independent Feature Film Production: A Complete Guide from Concept Through Distribution by Gregory Goodell
Independent Feature Film Production is a vital filmmaking book for every filmmaker. The author Gregory Goodell addresses the nitty-gritty of making films and takes every interested and budding filmmaker through the process of the development phase of any movie. From the script, getting commitments from the actors and directors, and understanding the legal structure involved in how to raise money to make the film, everything is explained beautifully in this book.
This book is perfect for those who are interested in learning how to make a film, both on a large scale or even on a shoestring budget. This book will guide you through the complete process of how to develop a movie from end to end.
The Filmmaker’s Handbook by Steven Ascher & Edward Pincus
This is one of the best film directing books you will come across as it includes everything about making experimental or mass appeal movies, to feature films, and even documentaries. This book, written by a filmmaker for other filmmakers, addresses the small-small details that go into the different formats of filmmaking. You also get to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of these different formats. Right from the pre-production stage to the post-production stage, the book covers each step of the process that is filmmaking.
You get an up-close look at what a filmmaker’s job involves and what really goes on behind the scenes. And the best part is that the books are not only ideal for filmmakers, but it is also helpful for editors, camera operators, and even the technicians who work on a film set. Apart from the technical details that go into shooting a film, the book even covers the marketing and business part of filmmaking.
For those who are reading this book in 2022, some parts of this book might seem to be a bit outdated, especially when it comes to the technological part of filmmaking, but the book still remains very useful and important for filmmakers and everyone else attached to the making of a film.
From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film by Dov S-S Simens
From budgeting to marketing to even screenwriting, this book is the encyclopedia for filmmakers. It provides precise and creative instructions on how to transform your vision from your thoughts to the screen. Readers in 2022 will also find this book to serve as the holy book of filmmaking. The writing style is such that it will constantly motivate you to get up and learn how to make your film. One of the best chapters in the book is on how to find funding for your film.
Something Like an Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa
Something Like an Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa is an honest, absorbing, and compelling autobiography of one of the finest filmmakers the world has ever seen. This is the insightful look any budding filmmaker needs to get a close look into the mind of the finest filmmaker. From behind the walls of Hollywood, this book talks about the many experiences and influences Kurosawa had over the years, the decisions the filmmaker took, and how his journey was in the world of filmmaking.
Told in a humorous way, Kurosawa tells a tale of his life that is a sure-shot pageturner. After all, let us not forget that Kurosawa was a pioneer in using light, sound, and music in shots. The book explains well how he used different elements in his earlier films, all the way up to his famous movie Rashomon. The book will truly make you enter the mind of a filmmaker as diverse as Kurosawa.
Shooting to Kill by Christine Vachon
Shooting to Kill is all about learning the A to Z of production. This is one of the most widely recommended filmmaking books you will come across because it takes you through exactly what a producer does on every film, no matter the size of the film. The book also provides a bird’s eye view of what the structure looks like when you move up the ranks from being a ground-level content creator to a producer.
On Directing Film by David Mamet
This is a must-read for anyone who is working in the movie industry, and that too in any capacity. On Directing Film is written in a dialogue format based on the classes that Mamet used to teach at the Columbia University. The key takeaway from this book for any director is to learn how to think visually. This means to start thinking in images, not words. As per Mamet, you will find that the best movies are often those that convey a collective meaning and theme in the simplest manner possible.
The book explores several filmmaking ideas from Russian legends, and Mamet presents all these in an interactive and witty manner, which keeps the reader entertained as well. You won’t have any trouble understanding about each of the tools and techniques he discusses in the book.
Kazan on Directing by Elia Kazan
There is no doubt that Kazan was a controversial person in history. But the way he showcases his craft has become timeless not only on film but also through this book. Kazan was the most celebrated director on both screen and stage, and this book shows you why he was a master at what he did.
The main concept of the book revolves around how a film or theater script is much more about architecture rather than about literature. As per Kazan, as a director, one needs to understand that anything that goes wrong is your fault. This is why it is always better to be bold than careful so that whatever does go right will also be credited to you.
This is a remarkable book that is drawn from his letters, interviews, autobiography, and notebooks to reveal Kazan’s directing method – how he would uncover the core of each script and each character. The analysis of each piece in terms of his experience is what you get to learn from Kazan on Directing.
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