March 6, 2017
FOR YOUR PRODUCTION BIBLE

30+ Free E-Books That Will Help You Master Filmmaking

filmmaking
These free online resources cover many aspects of filmmaking that you need to know, from screenwriting to post.

[Editor's Note: No Film School asked Soukaina El Gharbaoui to collect these resources because of her expertise working with filmmakers at Filestage.io.]

If you're reading this, I can only assume that you're here because you've made films or are interested in making films. Thus, I can also imagine that you know something about both the excitement and challenges that the process entails—including the cost. One way you might be able to save some of your budget is to avoiding purchasing the professional books that teach you different aspects of the craft. Not only are these expensive, but they are often outdated as technological development beats the speed of publishing.

Since I work at a startup that develops a tool for film producers, I know how tight your schedule is. Who wants to spend their precious time researching reliable sources? Fortunately, we’ve collected the best free guides and eBooks about filmmaking for you right here.

Storytelling & Screenwriting

You can have the most expensive special effects and the most talented actors, but without a great story, your movie won’t make a dime. A great story has the ability to educate and entertain, and make us laugh, cry, and rethink things.That’s the magic of movies. If no one cares about the characters or the plot, the whole movie is already lost. These eBooks will guide you through the art of storytelling and screenwriting. After all, a well-written script with meaningful lines can be the first step to a great movie that people will remember. 

Storytelling

Screenwriting

The Player
Hopefully, your script won't get you in trouble like in 'The Player'

Webinars

Scriptwriting Tools

Besides eBooks and webinars, there are some great tools that’ll help you organize your screenwriting process. 

  • Celtx is an all-in-one system for video and movie- planning. You can use it to write the script, prepare the shots, and guide your cast and crew into production.
  • Filestage is a multimedia platform, where you can share, review, and collaborate on files such as PDFs, videos, images, and audio files. Colleagues and clients can even comment according to frame.
  • Highland turns your words into a formatted screenplay, which you can export as an FDX or PDF.
  • Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers, which allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long, difficult documents.
  • Writer Duet by Screencraft is a collaborative screenwriting app for working with writing partners in real-time.

Production

No Film School covers different aspects of production every single day, but here are a few extra downloads for you to read when you’re offline.

The Production Assistant’s Pocket Handbook - MNFilmTV

Cinematography & Lighting

Cinematography is, of course, the cornerstone to your film's visuals, and there’s a good reason why people use the phrase “presenting something in a good light.” Lighting can play a huge role on how things are presented, and what kind of impression they make. A well-lit space is crucial to the atmosphere it’s exuding. Also, you have the power to experiment with how much lighting does or doesn’t fit into a scene.

Also, if you’re looking for handy templates and forms, this series of articles provides a huge list of insurance forms, budget sheets, storyboards, and shot-list templates. It’s split into forms for preproductionproduction, and postproduction. For every part of the process, there are several kinds of templates that you can use: 

Every Filmmaking Form You'll Ever Need in 99 Free Templates - No Film School

Sunset Blvd
'Sunset Blvd.' is one of the most classic films about filmmaking.

Post-production

Post-production covers every action after the movie has been filmed, which includes the editing, visual effects, color grading, and soundtrack. The guide below is general, and the other eBooks listed below handle specific aspects of the post-production process.

The Revolution in Cinematography, Post-Production and Distribution - Archive.org

Editing

You can’t carry every second of recording into the final cut. As we all know, many takes are necessary to get what you need, and then it all comes together in the editing process.

Color grading

It’s essential to set the right tone and color for the scenes in your film. Then you can determine the overall ambience. These two guides will show you how: 

Film scoring

Adding music to a film can be a challenging, but it’s also fun. Melodies have a huge impact on people’s feelings. Imagine how many possibilities there are! But that’s also what makes it so difficult. Composing the soundtrack to a film is an art in and of itself. These guides will help you understand the principles of film scoring:

Visual effects

These eBooks help you understand and use visual effects in your film. Unlike special effects (which are created during the filming), visual effects are added after the film has been recorded. Visual effects can include features like green screens, title animations, or CGI. 

Bonus: general resources

During my research, I found a lot of interesting ebooks, but some of them can’t be quite categorized because they’re about filmmaking in general. So I’ve compiled this broad list: 

This interesting list by The Black and Blue is a few years old now, but it also contains many resources tailored to filmmakers, including podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels.

In the age of the internet, there are tons of resources about any imaginable topic, but it can often be hard to determine which websites are actually helpful. The eBooks listed in this article are intended to provide you with a broad knowledge base in filmmaking basics. Also, some of the tools mentioned in our list can spare you a bunch of time during the filmmaking process, allowing you to focus on the creative part, rather than detaining yourself with complicated paperwork or sending emails back and forth. Of course, in the creative world, practice is your most valuable resource. Creativity can’t be taught without trying it out for yourself. If you meticulously foster your passion, you’ll gain expertise. So feel free to give those eBooks a read, and gather some inspiration for your next film!      

Filestage is a web app for filmmakers to efficiently share, review, and approve videos, images, and PDFs . Instead of sending emails back and forth, clients and coworkers can accurately comment online about files and frames. Revisions in Filestage are easy, efficient, and clearly documented.

Your Comment

10 Comments

The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction - Steve Hullfish
Link seems to be bad. Please do fix.
http://www.riku.muotoilijat.com/random/The%2520Art%2520and%2520Technique...

March 6, 2017 at 12:21PM

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Craig Seeman
Editor / Camera Operator
154

Thank you No Film School for sharing these free E-books which covers many facets of filmmaking that you need to distinguish, from screenwriting to post. I am sure these recommendation will help filmmaking learner students to whom I am providing UK essay writing with team of best UK essay writers at Quality Dissertation which is leading online academic writing help providing consultancy. This is best for those who are doing Master in Filmmaking.

March 11, 2017 at 12:33AM

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David Wright
Writer
8

The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction - Steve Hullfish
Link is bad. Please do fix.

March 6, 2017 at 12:22PM

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Craig Seeman
Editor / Camera Operator
154

Done!

March 6, 2017 at 3:10PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Thanks for gathering all of this! One note: The link "Cinematographer’s Field Guide - Kodak" seems to be broken for me.

March 6, 2017 at 12:28PM

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Chris Niswonger
Filmmaker
153

Should be fixed now!

March 6, 2017 at 3:08PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

A guide on how to write proposals and treatments plus promo videos (plus examples) would be also great.

March 7, 2017 at 3:34AM

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Anna Possberg
Cinematographer
81

Are you sure these books are distributed for free by the author and not pirated? The Color Correction Handbook is very much still for sale on Amazon in both physical and digital form. https://www.amazon.com/Color-Correction-Handbook-Professional-Techniques...

March 7, 2017 at 8:59AM

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I was wondering the same. I bought that book for a decent amount of money. Don't get me wrong, it's a worthy purchase.

March 7, 2017 at 1:34PM

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Matt Spade
Director / Editor
88

The Color Correction Handbook seems to skip Chapters 1-3. Was that intentional or there is another link? I started reading this book and find it fascinating.

Thanks for the great job at NFS!!!

March 21, 2017 at 2:53PM, Edited March 21, 2:54PM

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Students of media science https://www.assignmenthelponline.net/ learn from this blog post about their own film production.

April 24, 2017 at 7:54AM

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