The 20 Best Books on Filmmaking.
Over the years I have been steadily collecting the best books on filmmaking. Most of these titles have been thoughtfully recommended by friends and students. A few have been fortuitous purchases inspired by intriguing reviews found on Amazon. And, of course, there are some that have come to find a home on my bookshelf in other mysterious ways.
1. The Oxford History of World Cinema by Edward O’Neill
“This is NOT a Summer reading book. Over 800 pages and (4 pounds), this one is perfect for rainy afternoons while sipping coffee and dreaming away.”
2. In the Blink of an Eye Revised 2nd Edition by Walter Murch
“One of my favorite and most inspiring books. Anyone interested in video editing, sound design, directing or screenwriting should buy this book immediately.”
3. MasterShots 100 Advanced Camera Techniques to Get an Expensive Look on Your Low-Budget Movie by Christopher Kenworthy
“Effective camera techniques to increase the production value of your productions.”
4. The Filmmaker’s Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition by Gustavo Mercado
“Understanding the rules of cinematography and how to successfully break them.”
5. Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics by Michael Rabiger
“An interesting approach (from a director’s persepctive) to script analysis and development.”
6. The Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema by Alexis Van Hurkman
“Grading is such an important aspect of post-production that understanding the possibilities, and limitations, is key.”
7. The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice by Ken Dancyger
“A “precise look at the artistic and aesthetic principles and practices of editing for both picture and sound.””
8. Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez
“A true inspiration to “stop dreaming and start doing.””
9. Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit by Karen Pearlman
“There are so many ways to cut and present a story. Understanding the right “rhythm” of each story is an essential skill.”
10. The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje
“Would you pay $20 to hang out with the editor behind “American Graffiti” “The Conversation,” “Apocalypse Now,” “The Godfather,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and “The English Patient?”
Then buy this book.”
11. The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph V. Mascelli
“First published in 1965 this classic is now more relevant than ever. My go-to textbook on all my Filmmaking Workshops.”
12. Moviemakers’ Master Class: Private Lessons from the World’s Foremost Directors by Laurent Tirard
“Witness the thought process behind Almodovar, Bertolucci, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, John Woo and Woody Allen. Their processes are all very different and all very effective.”
13. Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions by Guillermo del Toro
“Guillermo del Toro’s notebook, the genius behind Hellboy, The Orphanage, and Pan’s Labyrinth. Foreword by James Cameron, afterword by Tom Cruise, and contributions from Neil Gaiman and John Landis, among others.”
14. Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers and Directors by Blain Brown
“Getting this book and Amazon’s Instant Video is like getting an MFA in Cinematography.”
15. The Big Picture: Filmmaking Lessons from a Life on the Set by Tom Reilly
“The book covers 50 short, to the point, extremely useful tips that have helped us save an incredibly amount of time and money on pre-production and production. This book is a fantastic resource.”
16. The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers by Mark T. Conard
“A book about the Coen Brothers. Enough said.”
17. Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television by Judith Weston
“Understanding the technical aspects of filmmaking is as important as learning how to communicate with the people you work with, especially when they are NOT professional actors.”
18. Hitchcock (Revised Edition) by Francois Truffaut
“Simply put, this is a book-length conversation between two of the best film directors in history.”
19. The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner
“Everything you need to know to set up and run a production. An essential resource if/when you need to work and communicate with much more experienced producers.”
To remain relevant and in demand in today’s visually driven world, image makers must learn to craft both still photographs and motion in order to attract clients. While there are many similarities between photography and cinematography, there are key aspects of shooting motion—such as sound and camera movement, to name just two—that are uncharted territory for most photographers.
These are books that I own, have read multiple times, truly enjoy, and highly recommend. My hope is that they help you sharpen your skills, improve your craft, and give you many hours of joy and wonder.
Here’s the complete list on Amazon.com: my top 20 favorite books on filmmaking.
Some of these books are available in audio, which I believe is a FANTASTIC way to learn while commuting. Clicking HERE gets you TWO audiobooks for FREE from Audible.