Every filmmaker has to start somewhere. Whether you attend university to learn your trade, take ad hoc classes, intern under a filmmaker, or are self-taught through online videos or trial and error, books on filmmaking can be powerful ‘go-to’ educational resources. Below we list five books…really filmmaking “bibles”… that you may find extremely helpful.
- Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know by Jennifer Van Sijll – Through explanation and movie examples, Van Sijll covers techniques and methods to compose a great story and to solve cinematic problems. The Chapters cover such elements as space, composition, time, editing techniques, sound effects, music, scene transitions, camera lenses, camera position and motion, lighting, locations, and more.
- Producing with Passion: Making Films that Change the World, by Dorothy Fadiman – Ms. Fadiman has been producing films for three decades. This book is less about the process of making a film, and more about finding and maintaining your passion, solving the problems that may deter you from your goal, then building the story in a way that it shares your vision. Yes, she discusses funding, planning, production, editing, screening, marketing and distribution, but she always comes back to what the filmmaker contributes to the story.
- Shaking the Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video Projects, by Morrie Warshawski – This book is now in its 3rd Edition, and it’s no wonder. A very helpful book that starts the filmmaker out by looking at his or her career, then walks through all the options for raising money for a film from individuals, the government, grants and crowdfunding. Warshawski covers fiscal sponsors, how to do proposals, how to make a pitch, thinking about distribution and more.
- Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide, by Anthony Q. Artis – This book boasts “Any Budget, Any Camera, Any Time,” and the book breaks down such diverse elements as creating a “film look,” to assembling a crew, and from how to handle two subjects with only one lavaliere, to use of different lenses. Don’t let the seemingly disjointed layout put you off…this book is a gem!
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee – If you want to get in to screenwriting, start with this book, which is the winner of the International Moving Image Book Award. Don’t let the thickness of this book put you off. It’s an easy read with fascinating information that breaks down the elements of good visual storytelling. It also incorporates scenes from movies to illustrate the concepts.
Got suggestions of other books you consider your “bibles” to filmmaking? Please share them in the comments!