If you’re a filmmaker, there’s no doubt that you’re always looking for ways to improve your skills. One of the best ways to do that is to read up on the filmmaking process!
In this article, we’ll discuss 21+ of the best filmmaking books out there. As an independent filmmaker myself (who didn’t go to film school!), I know that I’ve benefited from learning the skills I’ve needed to make movies from books like these, along with courses and on-set training. Every indie filmmaker needs to learn a few skills before they will be able to make something great!
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been making films for years, these books on video and film production, screenwriting, and the entire movie-making process will teach you something new and help make you a better filmmaker.
So, if you’re looking for new reading material, check out this fantastic filmmaking book list!
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1. Rise of the Filmtrepreneur
Indie filmmakers are facing an uphill battle when it comes to making money off their projects – but help is out there!
Rise of the Filmtrepreneur brings a much-needed breath of fresh air to the film industry. In this book, Alex Ferrari shows indie filmmakers how to turn their films into profits by introducing new models and offering cutting-edge advice on creating a valuable business model.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned producer, this book will equip you with the tools that you need in order to tap into potential profits and help make your independent projects a success.
2. HOW THE HELL… Do I Get My Film Financed?
Getting content funded and produced is a process that many filmmakers find intimidating, which is why HOW THE HELL… Do I Get My Film Financed?: An Introduction To Film And TV Financing is the perfect book for anyone starting out making their first feature film or those needing to understand how investors and financiers select projects.
This essential guide explains industry financing structures in simple and easy-to-understand terms that break down barriers to success.
By providing readers with an understanding of what professionals look for in a project, this book will have readers ready to start presenting their film ideas, confident that they’re following tried and tested industry standards.
3. The Producer’s Business Handbook
If you’re a filmmaker looking for the best inspirational guidebook, The Producer’s Business Handbook: The Roadmap for the Balanced Film Producer should be your go-to resource.
This book covers all the necessary aspects of creating successful relationships in the motion picture industry. This book provides deep insight into managing domestic and foreign representation, production companies, crew members and talent, bank financing, completion guarantors, and private investors.
Alongside in-depth knowledge of how to set up production companies, producers are taught about the proper roles needed to work within these organizations. Lastly, readers will be exposed to helpful information beyond US borders related to producing films overseas.
Overall, this guidebook is focused on providing filmmakers with the foundation they need to succeed in their careers as film producers.
4. The Complete Film Production Handbook
The Complete Film Production Handbook is the ultimate guide for anyone working in the film and television industry, no matter their background or level of experience. It has everything from checklists to forms and contracts to ensure a successful feature film production—from the outset to the final delivery elements.
The new fourth edition expands on this by covering low-budget independent films, offering insight into television production and commercials, delving into the industry’s ‘go green’ initiative, and providing up-to-date information about current travel and shipping regulations.
This comprehensive resource is essential for anyone serious about working in the film industry and succeeding as a filmmaker!
5. The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age
The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age is a fantastic resource for film students and independent filmmakers.
Everything you need to know to create an engaging video or film – from production to post-production – is included in this definitive guide. Accessible and easy to understand, The Filmmaker’s Handbook offers advice on every area of movie making – from shooting with DSLRs and other cameras to casting the perfect actors and learning about the business aspects of filmmaking.
With its superb range of technical content, this book is ideal for film students, professionals, and talented young filmmakers alike, taking the process of filmmaking step-by-step and turning a passion into a career.
6. The Independent Film Producers Survival Guide
Are you an aspiring indie filmmaker looking for the right tools and resources to make your film shine on the big screen? Look no further because the Independent Film Producers Survival Guide has all the answers!
This invaluable resource provides guidance for following the necessary steps to make your cinematic dreams a reality, from script development to distribution.
A unique collaboration between three expert entertainment lawyers, it covers all the bases in no-nonsense ways that even non-lawyers can understand.
Whether you are a first-timer or an experienced filmmaker, this indispensable guide will help you navigate legalities of setting up production, hiring actors and directors, acquiring music licenses, calculating profits, cataloging digital media, and more – thus providing filmmakers with unparalleled assistance in creating a remarkable debut film.
7. Lights, Camera, Sell: Sales Techniques for Independent Filmmakers
Selling your film is an integral part of the filmmaking process, one that aspiring filmmakers may not have experience in. Thankfully, Lights, Camera, Sell provides all the resources an independent filmmaker needs to learn the ropes and succeed in sales.
Written by veteran film producer and sales consultant Alec Trachtenberg, this great book highlights successful sales techniques that cutting-edge tech startups employ. Each chapter takes you through all five sales process stages with thought-provoking examples you can learn from.
With this guide, you will gain insight into optioning a feature-length screenplay, developing a powerful pitch deck to entice financiers, demonstrating value when speaking with distributors, and even closing deals with non-union actors. Lights, Camera, Sell is an invaluable resource for ambitious filmmakers looking to progress their craft!
8. Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
Looking for inspiration in the world of filmmaking? Dive into the captivating journey of director Robert Rodriguez in his book “Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player“. Rodriguez unveils how he brought his film El Mariachi to the screen with a low budget of just $7,000!
This book isn’t just a behind-the-scenes tale—it’s packed with hands-on tips for movie buffs and aspiring directors. With gems like the ‘Ten Minute Film Course’, it’s a friendly guide that says, ‘Hey, you can do this too!’
A perfect read for film lovers and a heartwarming gift for anyone dreaming of their big screen moment.
9. What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to (Independent) Filmmaking
Have you ever wanted to bring your movie ideas to life? What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to (Independent) Filmmaking is the book for you!
Writing with experience from 30 years of film industry work, Emmy award-winning filmmaker Shane Stanley gives an insider’s comprehensive guide on how to create a movie.
Each chapter covers a different aspect of filmmaking, from pre-production advice on raising money and writing scripts to post-production guidelines on delivering the finished product.
This book is an especially useful resource if you’re considering attending a college or university film school; Stanley provides expertise that’ll prepare you to hit the ground running when it comes time for your shoot!
10. Transitions: A Director’s Journey and Motivational Handbook
If you’re an aspiring film director looking to sharpen your skills, “Transitions: A Director’s Journey and Motivational Handbook” by Pete Chatmon is a great book to check out. It’s packed with stories, worksheets, and resources to guide you, covering everything from practical filmmaking tips to motivational advice.
This book is all about giving you the confidence to turn your filmmaking dreams into a successful career. It walks you through the often unpredictable journey of becoming a film director.
11. The Steadicam® Operator’s Handbook
If you’re looking for the quintessential guide to capturing breathtaking and awe-inspiring shots with the Steadicam, look no further than The Steadicam® Operator’s Handbook.
As a filmmaker, this book provides you with the perfect mix of informational and inspirational insights into using this daring camera support system. Not only will you learn the intricate technical details involved in balancing and physics of operating Steadicam, but you’ll also delve into the creative aspects that bring life to a film scene.
From line dances and practice shots to how to buy your ideal rig and negotiate deals with producers, The Steadicam® Operator’s Handbook covers it all. So if you want innovative tips on obtaining that jaw-dropping shot, this is the ultimate guide for any filmmaker!
12. The Art Direction Handbook for Film & Television
The Art Direction Handbook for Film & Television is one of the best filmmaking books for any movie professional looking to excel in their art direction for a feature film.
Written by prominent author Michael Rizzo and expanded to include information about television, this comprehensive handbook has it all – from scouting for locations and executing design concepts to effective supervision techniques and a selection of essential forms and checklists.
A must-have for those wishing to make a name for themselves in the industry, the manual also includes interviews with renowned art directors that offer bonus insight into honing your craft.
13. Video Production Handbook
Crafting compelling video content is no easy feat, but the right guidance can go a long way.
The Video Production Handbook is the perfect tool to equip aspiring filmmakers with the knowledge they need to succeed with their next indie film. It takes readers step-by-step through the process of creating top-notch videos, from coming up with original ideas, and understanding new equipment and techniques to ensuring high-quality feature films.
Not only does this comprehensive full-color text provide in-depth explanations for each stage of production, but it’s also been updated to include tips on using DSLR and cinema cameras and LED lighting systems to ensure you have the latest information on making movies at your fingertips.
Plus, a supplementary website provides extra resources – making this one of the best books on filmmaking for video and film production!
14. Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook
If you are a filmmaker looking to get the most out of your lighting, you must pick up a copy of the Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook. It’s a one-stop shop for all the tricks of the trade that will take your film production to top-notch heights.
From learning how to best control LED lights and color science to taking on modern set protocol and wireless systems – it’s all in this friendly, hands-on training manual. Thanks to this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to tackle any task confidently; take it with you on set, and you’ll never be caught short on knowledge again!
15. The Video Editing Handbook: For Beginners
If you’re a budding filmmaker eager to take on the task of video and film editing, The Video Editing Handbook: For Beginners is the perfect addition to your newly-formed toolkit of film editing books.
This book will provide detailed instructions and visual explanations that empower you to step confidently into this new digital editing realm. You’ll be guided through the entire workflow process, from taking footage and organizing it to editing and sharing it. Moreover, the resources that this Handbook provides help solidify the foundations of getting started through access to exclusive video tutorials.
Make The Video Editing Handbook your first step in creating cinematic masterpieces!
16. Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
If you’re looking for the ultimate resource on screenwriting, look no further than the legendary book, Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need!
For over 15 years, this best-selling guide has enlightened filmmakers of all levels with its fun and witty narrative, providing helpful secrets and tips to make their scripts as marketable as possible. Blake Snyder gives it to you straight, paving the road toward creating a script that sells and is also totally satisfying.
This book is essential to any filmmaker’s library, providing invaluable advice for navigating the writing process for filmmaking.
To learn more about this methodology, check out my post on the Save The Cat Beat Sheet!
17. Screenwriting Tribe: Workshop Handbook for Writing and Polishing Film and TV Spec Scripts
Screenwriting Tribe Workshop Handbook is one of the best filmmaking books for aspiring or professional screenwriters looking to take their scriptwriting skills to the next level.
By providing a comprehensive overview of the industry, as well as easy-to-follow instructions on crafting and polishing a compelling screenplay, this guide is ideal for sharpening the skills of any budding writer.
With added insight into the history of television and film and guidance on advancing a career in scriptwriting, this book is truly an incredible resource for anyone hoping to craft a story worth telling.
18. The Essential Screenplay
The Essential Screenplay is the ultimate compilation of screenwriting books for filmmakers. It contains Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, the industry standard for script development, The Screenwriter’s Workbook, and The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver.
Whether you want to understand why the first ten pages of your script are essential or hone your dialogue writing skills, this book has something to offer every filmmaker. At the same time, it teaches readers how to adapt novels, plays, and articles into screenplays and offers advice on protecting their works from being stolen or mishandled.
The Essential Screenplay helps provide everything independent filmmakers need to craft a successful screenplay!
19. Stranger Things: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion
The Stranger Things Companion is the ideal book for filmmakers. If you were mesmerized by the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, this book has something for everyone.
It contains exclusive interviews with the show’s stars, insight into the Duffers’ creative process from the crew, and deep dives into references that inspired it – a must-read for any filmmaker looking to explore an alternate storytelling universe!
From original commentary and a foreword from Matt and Ross Duffer to the earlier drafts, pitches to Netflix, and casting calls, this book is full of content that will energize and motivate aspiring film students and filmmakers.
20. Young Frankenstein: The Story of the Making of the Film
Brimming with big laughs and outrageous wit, it’s no surprise that Mel Brooks’ ‘Young Frankenstein’ is one of the greatest comedy classics ever.
To anyone looking to explore the craftsmanship and experience of making a film like this, ‘Young Frankenstein: A Mel Brooks Book: The Story of the Making of the Film’ captures that exact feeling.
Broken down into wonderfully written commentary, hundreds of photos, and original interviews – all through Mr. Brook’s own words – this book puts audiences directly in the room with cast and crew during production in a way only Brooks can.
The creative energy radiating off every page offers readers an invaluable look at artistry, sincerity, and respect during filmmaking that will be enjoyed for decades.
Fun Books for Filmmakers!
21. Everyone’s A Critic 52-Week Movie Challenge
Are you a film buff looking to challenge yourself to watch and rate more movies? Then the ‘Everyone’s A Critic 52 Weeks Movie Challenge’ is the perfect book for you.
With two-page spreads dedicated to each challenge, it’s like having your own personal movie club! Pick a topic such as “A Film That Won ‘Best Picture,” “Low Budget, Big Box Office,” or “Adapted From a Book,” and get watching.
Once you watch a movie, rate it and analyze it – then record all specific details about the movie within the book (title, year released, rating, stars, etc.).
With questions for you to answer and bits of film trivia scattered throughout, this book is fun and educational!
22. An Illustrated History of Filmmaking
An Illustrated History of Filmmaking is an excellent choice for any burgeoning filmmaker looking to learn more about the craft.
Covering the people and technologies that have shaped cinema, this widescreen exploration offers readers a comprehensive look at film history.
The pages of this guide are full of captivating illustrations that bring each figure and era to life – including beloved Hollywood players over time, such as George Lucas, Jean Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Akira Kurosawa, and Stanley Kubrick – allowing filmmakers to feel connected to their precursors across time and geography.
If you’re seeking a comprehensive summary of film’s expansive history and its ongoing evolution into the digital age, An Illustrated History of Filmmaking is an essential read!
The best books on filmmaking on this list are great resources for any filmmaker, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been making films for years.
We hope you find these filmmaking books helpful in your journey to becoming a better film director, producer, editor, screenwriter, or film industry insider!
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