Which Filmmaking Books Should Be on Your Essential Reading List?
How many of these books on filmmaking have you read?
There are many ways to learn the craft of filmmaking, not the least of which is good, old-fashioned book reading. But sifting through the massive titles to find ones that are any good can be a challenge, which is why this video from filmmaker JP Caldeano of Cinematic J is so helpful. In it, he lists five fantastic and well-received books that are definitely worth reading if you want to up your cinematography, screenwriting, or directing game. Check it out below:
Here are the books Caldeano names in the video:
- Cinematography: Theory and Practice by Blain Brown
- Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy
- Screenplay by Syd Field
- The Filmmaker's Eye by Gustavo Mercado
- Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz
Let's just get this out of the way right now—Syd Field's Screenplay—some of you hate it, some of you love it. Suffice it to say that some people learn a lot from the book while others don't. Let's leave it at that. (Jeez...screenplay book drama.)
Okay, back to the good stuff. I've read (or at least leafed through) all of the books on the list and they are, in my opinion, very helpful and informative. But like any good cinephilic book lover who watched the video, I was inspired to look over my own library of filmmaking literature to find my personal favorites. So here's my short list:
- Sight, Sound, Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics by Herbert Zettl: This is by far my favorite filmmaking book ever. If you want to learn about aesthetic theory and why audiences respond to different visual stimuli, read this thing cover to cover.
- In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch: Murch is a master of his craft and In the Blink of an Eye is essentially a playbook on how the Oscar winner edits films.
- Projected Fears by Kendall R. Phillips: This is one of the best books about the history of the horror genre I've ever read.
- Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky: Peer into the mind of the great Russian director.
- Hitchcock by François Truffaut: Two cinematic legends, Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut, talk about filmmaking, the history of cinema, and more in over 50 hours of interviews.
Aside from books on filmmaking, I also have a healthy collection of screenplays and stageplays (I read Samuel Beckett religiously) that I read to understand different elements of story. Chinatown taught me good structure, The Royal Tenenbaums funny dialog, and American Beauty visual style. I just got my hands on North by Northwest a few days ago, so I can't wait to dig in and learn what the most suspenseful moments look like on the page.
What are some of your favorite book on filmmaking? Jot down your list in the comments below!