10 Best Filmmaking Books to Read in 2023

Satyam Maitrai
Satyam Maitrai
Content Writer
8 min reading·

One of the most important keys to success in the filmmaking industry is learning. Even the biggest filmmakers in the world keep learning. 

But, how do they do this? It’s simple. They observe each other and learn from them.

But that’s about the top filmmakers, what about you? How can ‘you’ learn especially if you are a newcomer to this industry? As we all know, finding a mentor is hard, so what’s next? Is there an easy way out?

Well, yes, there is. And, one of the best and time-tested ways is to try reading some of the books written by the big names in the film industry and gain insights from their experiences. Moreover, today, whether you are a budding filmmaker, anexperienced director, or just a movieenthusiast, there is something for everyone in the world of film-making books.

And, this is exactly why the article brings you the ten most popular filmmaking books you can read to get plenty of insight and inspiration. 

So, let’s start.

#1 How To Shoot A Feature Film For Under $ 10000 (And Not Go To Jail)

I am sure that title got you, didn’t it?

Written by Bret Stern, this book will give anyone who is starting out numerous critical tips on how to shoot their first film, even if it is going to be cheap.  

Stern is a wonderful writer and possesses the kind of wit that can turn a manual on filmmaking into a fun easy read. 

On top of that, the writing is so impressive that even if you are a beginner, you can follow the book as a guide to start your filmmaking journey. Of course, you will also need one of the best storyboarding software such as MakeStoryboard to proceed, as you will need to visualize your shots from start to finish, to make your work easy.

#2 Making Movies

Second to this list, we have Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. Now, as you know filmmaking is a wide, broad subject. And if we were asked to learn everything we can, we would probably age while doing it, right?

So isn’t it a good idea to learn from a world-renowned director, who decides to put his knowledge into just one book? And, this is exactly why we have this book on the list. 

In the book, Sidney puts in his ideas, anecdotes, and tips. Also, one of the most amazing tips he shares is ways of making a ‘lens plot’, where he beautifully states how a camera is equally involved in telling the story along with the dialogue and scenes. 

It is a small-volume book, but the knowledge that you will derive will serve you along your filmmaking journey. 

#3 On Directing Film

More on filmmaking and featuring at #3, we have On Directing Film by David Mamet.

In every movie, we have a group of people who directs the movie, from assembling the cast, checking the scripts, and cutting scenes to post-production work. And it is normal to be fascinated by the work they do. 

However, you will agree that being a director is more than just bossing a film crew. And this book, coming from an Oscar-nominated Pulitzer-prize winner will show you some of the most practical ways to direct films. 

David breaks down the directing process from the script to the cutting room, showing what all a director goes through before telling their story. Although you will feel David’s struggle in the book, you don’t have to hassle anymore. Now you can simply leverage the power of the internet and use one of the best filmmaking software MakeStoryboard to visualize, tweak, cut, and edit your scenes. 

The software has won numerous recognition and has been used by top filmmakers and many other production companies. So, why don’t you just give it a try?

#4 Steal Like An Artist

Another book to have on your bookshelf is Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon. The book is a self-help collection of anecdotes on how to take the idea you have and make something out of it. 

Moreover, ideas often come from life experiences, the books we read, the music we listen to, or even from some general discussion. And, this is where the book stands out. This book will show you that you don’t need to plagiarize ideas to make them work, rather you can just customize them to fit your needs and resources. 

In addition to that, it is a very witty book. You will finish it in one sitting and will come out feeling confident in your creativity. It is great for budding filmmakers because who knows your idea could be the next blockbuster.

#5 Hollywood Producers Directory

If you are a filmmaking enthusiast looking to get into the film business, then the two things that you will need handy are - a guide on pre-production and this book. Well, it’s more of a Rolodex of contacts than a book. It contains all the contact details, which are phone numbers, email, address and physical addresses of all the names of the filmmaking insiders. 

These individuals are the masterminds behind some of the most beloved films and television shows of all time. From big-budget showstoppers to small-time gems they are the ones who bring them to life.

So if you are looking to make it in the entertainment industry, this book is a great place to start. And you shouldn’t be concerned about the validity as the contacts are verified. You can contact one for advice, or even send them a script you have crafted. All you have to do is get this book, rifle through its pages and contact someone who can guide you.

#6 Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics

One more title to our filmmaking list ranking at #6 is this book written by Michael Rabiger. He has directed over 35 movies and very well knows what it takes to be successful at directing. If you do get the newly revised 6th edition, you will get a lot of advice on developing characters for TV shows, visual design, film promotion and distribution, stylistic design, genres, and many more. 

Moreover, you will get to learn how to work with actors and film crew members. Additionally, this book covers the methods, techniques, and judgments that a director will need to use throughout the fascinating process of movie-making.

You must be thinking that how could an individual cover all these in a go? Well, anyone can. Today MakeStoryboard can easily help you with much of your production process. And, most importantly, you can even collaborate with your teammates and receive feedback from them all live.

#7 Cinematography: Theory and Practice

Whether you are new to the world of filmmaking or an expert trying to update your skills, this book by Blain Brown provides both the artistic background of films and also the art of shooting film.

The book also includes information about the latest lighting and camera equipment, how to shoot on a budget, the decision-making art on what color and lighting equipment to use, concerns about power issues, and the safety and electrical supply needed for various types of lights.

Use this book to master the tools and techniques and take your filmmaking to a whole new level.

Book "Cinamatograpy Theory and practise"

#8 The Visual Story

Visual storytelling is one of the most powerful storytelling tools available today. And, this is exactly why you will need this bestseller The Visual Story: Creating Visual Structure of Film, TV, and Digital Media by Bruce Block.

This book illustrates the art of mastering the relationship between the script structure and the visual structure of the movie, video, animated video, or video game. You will equally learn how to carefully structure your visuals to invoke moods and emotions. 

Moreover, with this book, you will avoid the numerous visual problems that have haunted directors and producers since filmmaking was first introduced.

The visual story

#9 Rebel Without a Crew

The title of this book may make it seem like a fiction story. But for many aspiring filmmakers, it is the holy grail of advice. So if you have always wanted to make your own feature film, start with this book.

Written as a diary, it tells of the journey of Robert Rodrigues, a young filmmaker with no money and no connections, who makes his first feature film for only $7000. It is an inspiring story for anyone to make their filmmaking dreams a reality. 

And to make the book even more amazing, it contains a handy 10-minute Film Course, which gives you pointers to teach yourself filmmaking and save money on going to film school.

Book " Rebel without a crew"

#10 This Much Is True

And finally, we have This Much Is True: 14 Directors on Documentary Filmmaking by James Quinn.

As you all know, documentaries bring to light important issues that are often overlooked in the mainstream media. It comes as no surprise that documentary filmmakers are some of the most respected professionals in the filmmaking industry. 

With their unique ability to tell stories that are both entertaining and informative, they impact culture as it is.

However, have you ever wondered how documentaries come to life from seemingly mundane topics? Well, it is not simply the result of narration, visual photos, and videos. It’s more about how you take the interviews, the way you think in pictures, emotions, character-led filming, and a lot of editing. 

I know you are already feeling excited to know more. And if you are, well then this book is undoubtedly the best you can read.

Book "This much is true"

Wrapping Up.

Even if you were a complete novice about filmmaking when you started reading this article, I hope that your dreams of becoming a filmmaker seem achievable post-reading it. 

Also, as becoming a filmmaker will involve a ton of learning and a growth-driven attitude, it’s better to get on and buy yourself some of these books along with industry-renowned storyboarding software, and begin your filmmaking journey today.

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