Grammar of the Film Languageis quite simply the most useful filmmaking book I have ever read. It is an extremely detailed and substantial text that covers blocking, shot design, camera movement and many other practical aspects of directing. The concepts explained in this book are absolutely essential for serious filmmakers who want to take their technique up to the next level and direct truly compelling sequences that can be assembled coherently by the editor. One of the secrets of filmmaking is that the director must also be a highly sophisticated editor: the best filmmakers know how to design, block and frame shots in such a way that they can be edited together smoothly.
Directors who do not understand editing spend their entire careers fumbling in the dark, wondering why all the cool shots they filmed on location cannot be cut together to produce a decent sequence. If you take on board the concepts explained in this book, you will reduce your chances of being one of those mediocre directors!
Of all the filmmaking books I have read, this is the one that has taught me the most, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to the most ambitious filmmakers. Get it now →
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwritingis the classic text on writing screenplays and it is an absolute must for anyone who intends to develop real screenwriting skills. This book will teach you about the three-act structure of screenplays, which is the first thing you need to learn if you are serious about writing screenplays that actually work. This is the undisputed introduction to the art of screenwriting and should be your first port of call. Get it now →
How to Build a Great Screenplay: A Master Class in Storytelling for Filmis the book you should read after Syd Field’s introduction to writing screenplays (see above). This is a very substantial book — much longer than Syd Field’s book — and will teach you some more sophisticated and complex elements of truly successful screenplays. My advice to anyone reading this book is to have a notepad and pen with you at all times so that you can take notes, because this book is highly content-rich and you really need to take all of the key concepts on board; you cannot just read it, enjoy it and then forget about it.
Substantial, detailed and reverse-engineered from real screenplays: this is very much the “graduation” book for ambitious screenwriters. Get it now →
Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Playeris another must-read book for aspiring filmmakers. It’s the story of Robert Rodriguez (“Spy kids,” “Once upon a time in Mexico,”), who became a successful film director after making a very low-budget independent film (“El Mariachi”). The book is essentially a day-by-day diary of the pre-production, production, post-production and distribution process, and will shed a lot of light on practical aspects of making a feature-length film with only $7,000.
While the golden days of Hollywood depicted in this book are very much behind us, the book is still valuable because it is rich in technical filmmaking details that are absolutely timeless and always relevant. Highly recommended. Get it now →
Stanley Kubrick: A Biographyis very much the odd one out in this list because, unlike the other filmmaking books in this list, it will not teach you much about the practical aspects of filmmaking, unless you already have some filmmaking experience. I included it in this list because Stanley Kubrick’s life as an independent filmmaker — particularly before he became famous — is absolutely fascinating and adequately illustrates the type of personality that one requires to succeed in the film business. Stanley Kubrick’s adventures as an independent filmmaker before he became famous are at least as fascinating as any of his films.
Above all, it is truly inspirational and motivating, and for that reason alone it is absolutely worthwhile and highly recommended. Get it now →
This book is essential reading for anyone who is serious about writing a screenplay for the purpose of convincing someone to buy or produce it. The author was a professional screenplay reader and knows what he writes about. His advice is detailed, sound and extremely entertaining. Highly recommended. Get it now →