July 25, 2016 at 4:50AM


Top Ten Filmmaking Books You Need to Read

For years now I’ve been asked what books I would recommend to people interested in learning more about filmmaking. Many of the people who ask me are photographers moving into motion, DPs moving into directing, as well as every day people moving into some aspect of filmmaking, screenwriting and/or directing. Please feel free to share your own favorite books on these subjects in the comments section – a filmmaker can never learn too much!

So here's my Top Ten, Plus a few MUST READ bonus book!



I found these to be really, really worth the read (i.e. they taught me things I would likely not have learned so directly otherwise):

Story (McKee)
Back-issues Issues of DGA/ICG/etc.
Judith Weston's Directing Actors
Light: Science and Magic
Cinematic Storytelling

Each of those radically shifted the way I thought about filmmaking in general. Can't even cite specific things, more like an overall worldview shift.

There are some other books I've looked at for reference which were great but I don't think I really retained much info from them... 5 C's of Cinematography, and Uta Hagen's book on acting (don't remember what it's called). I wouldn't be surprised at all of those are on other people's top-ten, and maybe I'll revisit them one day and feel differently.

I tried to read Stanislavksi but just couldn't focus. I'm not looking to be an actor though, and I think what I did get from it gave more context to Judith Weston's book... so I'd say it's important to kinda know what he was about, but I'm not so sure reading his actual writing is necessary.

A few books I looked at but really turned me off were Painting with Light, Save the Cat, and a couple others that just rubbed me the wrong way (Painting with Light had lots of redeeming qualities... but I didn't like how it used so many lights for simple effects... I think part of that might be due to being from an era where they needed that for exposure. Save the Cat just really turned me off, it's like getting a cookbook so you can make a gourmet dinner for your fiance's family and it begins "pop the t.v. dinner in the microwave and flip it after 3 minutes"... but to each his own!)

July 31, 2016 at 7:22AM


All in all though, I'd say that there are so many other ways of learning in the "library", that might even overshadow these books

Want to learn composition/lighting? Study old art masters
Want to learn writing and character development? Study Shakespeare (or maybe Aristotle)
Want to learn how to direct actors? Study human behavior / psychology

Even at that, I'm not so sure the library is going to be as effective as getting out there, trying stuff out, experiencing the world... but who knows!

July 31, 2016 at 7:29AM


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