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Film Books

By Edited Nov 15, 2013 1 2

Want to write your own movie but don't know where to start? Maybe you've started writing your own movie but have no clue how to go about finishing it... or making it interesting to anyone but you. the following books will help you write and produce your first feature film. Read them, study them, watch movies, and then go out and make one yourself. There is no other way to become a filmmaker than to make films!

Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Steven D. Katz

Although the book is becoming a little dated, the information inside is still immensely useful. Katz covers practically every shot possible, the dilemmas often encountered and how to troubleshoot on set. He also wrote another book call Film Directing Cinematic Motion, not as good as his first book, but offers interviews and advice from professional cinematographers.


Directing Actors by Judith Weston

An indispensable book that will have you thinking in action verbs instead of adjectives or adverbs. Don't know the difference? Think about how you would communicate with someone, you don't use adjectives or adverbs, and that's Weston's point. Written from years of experience, Directing Actors offers examples from Weston's career in addition to several script break downs to show the reader just how Hollywood directors approach scripts. Useful for writers, directors and actors, too, this book will both inspire and ignite your imagination.


The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age by Steven Ascher & Edward Pincus

The authors themselves declare that books of his sort were more useful in the pre-Internet age and that they are on the way out. Maybe, or maybe not. Simply put, film technology changes so fast and is so diverse that it's impossible to keep up with all of it. Most filmmakers will only need to master a few tools before they'll need the help of someone else anyway. Good book to help figure out what Beta SP really is, online VS offline, ADR, etc.


Story by Robert McKee

Excellent book. Read it twice the same summer I was trying to write my first feature (and humbly failed). Not a film business book but a story writing book. Makes references to many films that are apparently “great” examples, probably over a hundred of them. I was at first daunted by the task of viewing even a portion of them, thinking, have I ever seen what's considered to be a “good” movie other than The Godfather? Well, thinking about it, 100 movies is about 200-250 hours, a paltry amount of time when you consider you can watch them with your girl or boyfriend, while cleaning, or while doing your homework. Consider it your homework to watch the movies he recommends... but read the book first.


Raindance Producer's Lab Lo-to-No Budget Filmmaking by Elliot Grove

Grove runs the popular Raindance Film Festival in London, England. If there's one thing that makes London such a romantic place, it's the idea of that the city, for so long, has been the gathering place for artists and crafts persons alike. Grove continuously talks about how famous directors such as Christopher Nolan and Sacha Baron Cohen have all taken his courses. Despite that, this book offers a multitude of advice. You don't need any other book to learn about the film industry. That being said, after you come down from your giddy high of finding out how to make your great feature film, watch the doc Official Rejection to see how much more work you have to do to get your film seen. Happy and glad to see a film book that mentions Canada and its role in the film industry for once!


Raindance Writer's Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay by Elliot Grove

Another great book by Elliot Grove, runner of the Raindance Film Festival. Takes you through the necessary steps to create a script and how to sell it. Grove will be the first to admit, however, any rule he gives can and should be broken by great writers. That being the case, this is one of the more inspiring screenwriting books I've read. Be sure to check out the website raindance.co.uk for great articles on every aspect of making movies. They also have a newsletter which acts as an advertising mechanism and partially as a notice to other filmmaking activities.


From Reel to Deal: Everything you need to create a successful independent film by Dov S-S Simens

Apparently you can write a film in 3 weeks. It's not that hard, and yes, you can do it even if you have a job, kids, etc. But it will require 3 weeks of your time, dedicated, sweat and blood. But you can do it. The complication? You still need inspiration. You still need a good story. And, after 3 weeks of writing, it'll still just be a draft, and that means rewriting it all! Inspiring book, focuses on writing. Gives plenty of resources including many other books to read. Great advice on copyrighting and the legalities of writing a screenplay.


Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Full of attitude and contempt for the film industry's dog-eat-dog way of dealing with anyone and everyone who wants in, Blake Snyder breaks down how to write movies in an elegant and efficient manner. His advice consists of watching the great films, reading great scripts and, most of all, WRITE! The best piece of advice Snyder gives is to come up with a logline, a 25-50-word summary of your movie. If it doesn't sound interesting in that brief amount of time, then either rework it or drop it cause it won't make it on screen. Read it through once, then refer to it often as you write your own masterpiece.



Sep 24, 2012 10:33am
Cool article. I am actually a Drama Teacher at the moment and I love film. I mainly teach stage acting but we do a whole unit on film making and make our on mini movies. Great information. I love reading about directors and acting info.
Sep 26, 2012 9:07pm
Drama teacher? Someone told me one time that instead of writing a feature film first, write a theatrical play, produce it, get feedback, then develop it as a film. Have you ever thought of doing that?
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