Books about Film and Filmmaking


We live in a time with unprecedented access to information. What once required formal schooling can now be self taught. While there is a great deal of information available on the internet, many people still prefer books when they wish to learn about a topic in depth.

I’ve been reading books about filmmaking for many years. These are a few of my favorites:


The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (All New American Edition)

This was one of the first filmmaking books I ever bought and I read it cover to cover many times. It’s basically a series of interviews with everyone from a casting director, to a DP, to an actor about what they do, what makes their job harder or easier, warnings for new filmmakers, etc.



Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business

David Mamet can be a bit sarcastic at times, but he has a lot of good ideas. This book is more academic as opposed to specific technical instruction, but I found it to be an interesting read.



Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

David Lynch is among the most distinctive filmmakers of his generation. He is known for movies like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man, Dune and the TV show Twin Peaks. This is his book about filmmaking and about the creative process in general. Quick but enlightening read.




Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

I have mixed feelings about this book, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s arguably one of the most influential books related to filmmaking. Sid Field was a screenwriter back in the day, but he’s better remembered as a guy that wrote about writing. More specifically he came up with a “formula” for what makes a “good” movie. It’s the same formula that all the major American studios still use today. In fact, most big studios won’t even consider a script unless it adheres to the formula Sid Field prescribes.

I’d take it all with a grain of salt, but it’s worth being aware of.



Film History: An Introduction, 3rd Edition

If you want to familiarize yourself with the history of film, this book is a good place to start. It’s used at a lot of universities, and Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell are considered authorities on many things film history.



Filmmaking For Dummies

A nice, quick reference to have. Has a little information about a lot of different areas of film.



The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video

This book is popular in film schools, and basically gives you a quick, simple run down, with diagrams, of whats what with cameras, camera lenses and fundamental camera settings like f stop and shutter speed.



The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film from Concept to Production (Aspiring Filmmaker’s Library)

This is another film school staple. It’s a well known fact that most  new filmmakers cut their teeth on shorts before they tackle their first feature. This is one of the few books on writing specifically for short films.





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Author: Owen Essen

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