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Best Filmmaking Books

From directing to screenwriting, these are the must-read books for aspiring filmmakers, curated based on their popularity across reputable film literature sources.

Recommendations from 54 articles, Joe Rogan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Neil Gaiman and 49 others.
Best Filmmaking Books
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Rebel without a Crew book cover
Rebel without a Crew
Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
Robert Rodriguez - 1996-09-01 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the inspiring story of a renegade filmmaker who created a masterpiece on a shoestring budget in Rebel Without a Crew. In this guide, Robert Rodriguez shares his revolutionary techniques for making movies, including the strategies he used to create his debut film, El Mariachi. This book is a must-read for anyone with a passion for filmmaking and a desire to learn independent production, direction, and screenwriting. Included in the appendix is 'The Ten Minute Film Course,' a comprehensive guide that teaches you how to save thousands of dollars on film school and make your movie dreams a reality.
Recommended by
Edgar Wright
In the Blink of an Eye book cover
In the Blink of an Eye
A Perspective on Film Editing, 2nd Edition
Walter Murch - 2001-08-01 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
An expert essay on the art of film editing, exploring the aesthetics and practical concerns that make cuts work. The author offers unique insights on continuity, emotions, and technology in the second edition, making it an invaluable resource for film enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Making Movies book cover
Making Movies
Sidney Lumet - 1996-03-19 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Learn the secrets of the art, craft, and business of making movies from one of the most acclaimed directors in America. With 40 years of experience and movies like Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Verdict under his belt, this professional memoir and definitive guide is the perfect resource for anyone interested in the painstaking labor behind two hours of screen magic.
On Directing Film book cover
On Directing Film
David Mamet - 1992-01-01 (first published in 1991)
Goodreads Rating
Master the art of visual storytelling with a witty and practical guide by David Mamet. Based on his film classes at Columbia University, Mamet emphasizes the power of uninflected images and urges filmmakers to tell their stories through simple shots. He draws inspiration from Russian masters to present his ideas on directing, writing, and acting in an enlightening and engaging way. Get ready to revolutionize your approach to filmmaking with Mamet's insightful advice.
Recommended by
Ted Hope
Cinematography book cover
Theory and Practice
Blain Brown - 2002-10-09
Goodreads Rating
Learn about the latest tools, techniques, and technology that have revolutionized the art and craft of telling stories visually in the world of cinematography. Whether you are a student of filmmaking, a seasoned professional, or just breaking into the business, Cinematography: Theory and Practice covers both the artistry and craftsmanship of cinematography and visual storytelling. Explore topics such as cameras and digital sensors, exposure techniques for film and video, color, image control and grading, film lighting, and more with this essential guide from author and filmmaker Blain Brown.
Hitchcock book cover
Francois Truffaut - 1985-10-02 (first published in 1966)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the art, interests, and humor of Alfred Hitchcock as told through the eyes of fellow cinematic master Francois Truffaut. In this book-length interview, the two delve into each of Hitchcock's films, providing a storehouse of insight, technical know-how, and even humor. Originally published in 1967 and later revised to include Hitchcock's final years, this book is a must-read for any lover of film.
The Filmmaker's Handbook book cover
The Filmmaker's Handbook
Steven Ascher - 1999-03-01 (first published in 1984)
Goodreads Rating
A comprehensive and essential guide to all aspects of video and film production, The Filmmaker's Handbook is the go-to resource for professionals, students, and novices alike. Covering everything from shooting techniques with various cameras to digital editing and blending arts, this "bible" of production and distribution is now updated with the latest advancements. This guide also includes indispensable tips on funding, producing, and showcasing your creations in theaters, on TV, and on the web.
Discover the ultimate insider's guide to screenwriting secrets in this must-read book by a show biz veteran. If you want to sell your script, you need to "save the cat" - and this book will show you how!
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls book cover
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood
Peter Biskind - 1999-04-04 (first published in 1998)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the wild side of Hollywood in the 1970s with this entertaining book. Meet the groundbreaking filmmakers who changed American culture forever: Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg, Altman, and Beatty. Get ready for a down-and-dirty romp through cinematic history with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.
Recommended by
B.J. Novak
Directing Actors book cover
Directing Actors
Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television
Judith Weston - 1999-07-01 (first published in 1996)
Goodreads Rating
Learn the art of directing actors from an internationally-renowned coach with this insightful book. Discover how to create good performances, what actors want from a director, common mistakes directors make, effective script analysis and preparation, and more. Gain valuable insights into the important director/actor relationship and take your directing skills to the next level.
Recommended by
Ava DuVernay
Something Like An Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa
Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy
Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz
Shooting to Kill by Christine Vachon
Directing by Michael Rabiger
Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Story by Robert McKee
The Five C's of Cinematography by Joseph V Mascelli
The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler
Master Shots Volume 2 by Christopher Kenworthy
The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner
Painting With Light by John Alton
The Filmmaker's Eye by Gustavo Mercado
The Technique of Film and Video Editing by Ken Dancyger
How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck by Steve Stockman
Film Lighting by Kris Malkiewicz
If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die by Patti Bellantoni
Down and Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind
On Film-making by Alexander MacKendrick
Master Shots Vol 3 by Christopher Kenworthy
Notes on Directing by Frank Hauser
The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers by Thomas A. Crowell Esq.
Hello, He Lied & Other Tales from the Hollywood Trenches by Lynda Obst
Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay by Syd Field
The Hollywood Standard by Christopher Riley
Set Lighting Technician's Handbook by Harry Box
Color Correction Handbook by Alexis van Hurkman
From Reel to Deal by Dov S-S Simens
The Reel Truth by Reed Martin
Spike Lee's Gotta Have It by Spike Lee
The Independent Film Producer’s Survival Guide by Gunnargunnar Ericksonerickson
Writing for the Cut by Greg Loftin
The Guide to Managing Postproduction for Film, TV, and Digital Distribution by Barbara Clark
The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide by Anthony Q. Artis
Film & Video Budgets by Deke Simon
The DSLR Filmmaker's Handbook by Barry Andersson
Produce Your Own Damn Movie! by Lloyd Kaufman
Filmmaking For Dummies 2E by Bryan Michael Stoller
Shaking the Money Tree by Morrie Warshawski
The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Mark Polish
How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 by Bret Stern
How Not to Make a Short Film by Roberta Marie Munroe
Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson
This Is Orson Welles by Orson Welles
The Magic Lantern by Ingmar Bergman
The New Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson
Who the Devil Made It by Peter Bogdanovich
Shooting for the Mob by Alex Ferrari
The Grip Book by Michael G. Uva
The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris
Producing with Passion by Dorothy Fadiman, Levelle Tony
The Big Picture by Tom Reilly
FilmCraft by Mike Goodridge, Tim Grierson
Indie Film Producing by Suzanne Lyons
Reflections by Benjamin Bergery
French New Wave by Christopher Frayling
The Art of the Cinematographer by Leonard Maltin
Cinematography by Kris Malkiewicz
The Art of Immersion by Frank Rose
In Her Voice by Melissa Silverstein
Poetics by Aristotle
The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers by Mark T. Conard
Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes by John Pierson
Fans, Friends and Followers by Scott Kirsner
The Parades Gone By by Kevin Brownlow
On Writing by Stephen King
The Conversations by Michael Ondaatje
Film as a Subversive Art by Amos Vogel
Moviemakers' Master Class by Laurent Tirard
Lighting for Cinematography by David Landau
Reeling by Pauline Kael
Kazan on Directing by Elia Kazan
Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau
My Life and My Films by Jean Renoir
Complete Guide to Film Scoring by Richard Davis
The Movie Business by Kelly Crabb
Cutting Rhythms by Karen Pearlman
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer van Sijll
La Maison cinéma et le monde. I. Le Temps des Cahiers 1962-1981 by Serge Daney, Patrice Rollet
Mikio Naruse by Narboni Jean