Need a great book recommendation? Here are a bunch that will teach you everything from cinematography to editing.
There are books out there that cover every phase of filmmaking, from pre-production to marketing, but with so many titles out there, how do you know which ones are worth cracking open? I mean, you've got some that are highly rated by critics but not by actual filmmakers, some that are highly rated by filmmakers but not by critics, and some that may not even be on anyone's radar but is still an amazing, helpful book. In this video, Darious Britt of D4Darious shares six titles that should not only help you add to your library but help you add to your filmmaking repertoire as well.
Here are the books Britt mentions in the video:
- Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy
- Directing Actors by Judith Weston
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
- Story by Robert McKee
- In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
- 101 Things I Learned in Film School by Neil Landau and Matthew Frederick
Save for 101 Things, I've read all of these books and I have to say that I echo Britt's recommendations. Master Shots was one of the very first books I bought before I ever even decided to go to film school—back when I was the creep reading film books in the middle of an aisle at Borders and not buying shit—and though it might'be been a tad too much for me at the time (I literally knew nothing about filmmaking), it has come in handy time and time again since then.
I have also read a plethora of screenwriting books, from Snyder to McKee to Field to Trottier to Campbell to Truby to Aristotle's Poetics for Pete's sake and this is what they taught me: I needed to stop reading screenwriting books. This may not be true for you, but for me what helped was reading actual scripts, studying their structure, timing, dialogue, etc., and then watching the corresponding film to get a sense of how the page translates to the screen. That has been by far the best homework I've ever given myself as a screenwriter, so my advice would be to go out and buy as many scripts as you possibly can (or find them on the internet) and read them! Chinatown is a must-read. Casablanca is a must-read. Really, any film that you enjoy watching is fair game. (If you need help deciding on a title, you can't go wrong with the WGA's 101 Greatest Screenplays list.)
In the end though, it's important to keep in mind that reading a book to learn filmmaking is one thing, but going out and actually doing filmmaking is another. It will actually teach you a whole lot more about your particular craft—though I still suggest reading books written by pros who have spent their lives perfecting theirs.
What are your favorite filmmaking books? Share your recommendations down in the comments!