Whether you’re new to filmmaking, or you’ve studied it for years, you may find that your cinematic knowledge has plateaued. So, now you seek some great filmmaking books to push your skills to the next level.

We’ve provided the best list of filmmaking books so that you can write, direct, film, finance, and complete your video projects – no matter what.


1. Hollywood Producers Directory

Author(s):  J. Douma & D. Perez

This is by far the most important book on this list for practical use. Every serious producer owns this book. It consolidates most of the necessary resources needed to make a professional film, show, or new media project.

Best Screenwriting and Filmmaking Books - Hollywood Producers Directory - StudioBinder

Hollywood Producers Directory

This book includes important information on vendors, permits, film financiers, production companies and more. When it comes to the best books about film, Hollywood Producers Directory is the go-to for producers, directors or anyone who wants to know more.


2. Making Movies

Author(s): Sidney Lumet

We’ve featured concepts from Making Movies  in many of our filmmaking videos, so it’s no surprise this book is on our list. Lumet gives away a ton of his secrets and techniques. And in great detail.

Best Filmmaking Books - The Filmmakers Handbook - Best Books about Film - Making Movies - Sidney Lumet - StudioBinder

Making Movies

He also goes into the business of film, which is just as important as the physical production in many cases. Below in our video, we go super in-depth on one of the main lessons found in Making Movies - The Lens Plot. This is a highly advanced lesson for filmmakers.

Advanced Cinematic Look.

Best Filmmaking Books - In The Blink Of An Eye - Walter Murch - Best Books On Film Editing - StudioBinder

In The Blink of an Eye

You’ll learn how to cut, recut, finish and send your edits to a music composer. Walter Murch also teaches his readers how to make a perfect “emotional cut”. Cue your Academy Award acceptance speech.

In the Blink of an Eye is one of the best books on film editing.


4. On Directing Film

On Directing Film helps explain the conception of ideas, how they move through the business pipeline and how to seize opportunities. Mamet goes over everything from how to approach a script and direct actors to properly communicating with cinematographers and producers.

He even touches on editing your own projects for maximum effectiveness. If you’re looking for a film production book on directing, look no further than On Directing Film.

Best Screenwriting Books - Film Direction Books - On Directing Film - David Mamet - Film Production Books - StudioBinder

On Directing Film

He shows you how to approach the script, how to direct actors, how to communicate with cinematographers, how to collaborate with producers, and how to edit your project for maximum effectiveness.

The book is based on classes Mamet taught at Columbia University.


5. Rebel Without A Crew

Author(s): Robert Rodriguez

This book takes you into one director’s journey to make a low budget, debut film. It is the perfect tool for someone looking to break into the filmmaking business.  And in my opinion, it provides more practical guidance for beginning filmmakers than any other book on this list.

Best Filmmaking Books - Rebel Without A Crew - Robert Rodriguez - Shooting On A Budget - StudioBinder

Rebel Without A Crew

Robert Rodriguez has never lost the well-earned chip on his shoulder, and he loves to help others benefit from his fearless ingenuity.


6. Something Like an Autobiography

Author(s):  Akira Kurosawa

You never want to miss an opportunity to learn from a true master, and that’s exactly what Something Like an Autobiography provides.

Akira Kurosawa is possibly the greatest filmmaker of all time. He elevated the art of filmmaking further than anyone alive. He used science, math and the language of cinema to completely alter the way humans view the universe. To fully understand his films, you need to read his book.

Best Filmmaking Books - The Filmmakers Handbook - Akira Kurosawa - Something Like An Autobiography - StudioBinder

Something Like an Autobiography

Kurosawa gives the reader insight into what it means to be a director. What it means to live that life beyond the business or the craft. How it changes you as a human being.

One of the greatest filmmakers. One of the greatest filmmaking books.


7. Taking It All In

Author(s): Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael was a film critic for the New Yorker and  remains a favorite of many elite Hollywood filmmakers,  including Quentin Tarantino. She was brutally honest about films and helped usher in the unique cinematic culture that existed in the 1970’s.

Best Filmmaking Books - Best Screenwriting Books - Taking It All In - Pauline Kael - StudioBinder

Taking It All In

Kael isn’t the end-all-be-all of critics, and her opinions are by no means gospel, but the lessons you learn from her book are invaluable. Especially when you disagree with them.


8. Master Shots Vol. 1, 2, 3

Author(s): Christopher Kenworthy

This book is a fantastic  visual aid that takes a deep dive into the emotional outcome of the greatest shots in filmmaking. Kenworthy shows you how framing, angles, and camera movement.

Best Filmmaking Books - Master Shots Vol 1 2 3 - Christopher Kenworthy - Film Production Books - StudioBinder

Master Shots 2nd Edition

I’ve known directors and cinematographers who carry this book with them on set, just in case they ever want to return to it for reference.

Cinematographers love this book because it’s all about the visuals.

Directors love this book because it improves  their camera literacy better than many other film production  books.


9. The Filmmakers's Handbook

Author(s): S. Ascher & E. Pincus

The filmmakers handbook tries to explain as much about filmmaking as it possibly can, and it does a pretty good job. They tackle lighting, finance, crew, cast, and they've even updated this version to take into consideration the shift from film to the digital age. 

Best Filmmaking Books - The Filmmakers Handbook - Stephen Ascher - Edward Pincus - StudioBinder

The Filmmaker’s Handbook

With a combination of classic lessons and modern techniques, it’s a film production book that you can rely on.

Directors, writers, producers, and production coordinators - everyone will learn something from The Filmmaker’s Handbook.


10. If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die

Author(s): Patti Bellatoni

If it's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die is a great read. It explains to filmmakers how they can go about making the correct  color selections for their scenes. The book is sectioned by six colors, and explains how each color generates a very specific emotional reaction within the viewer. These sections have examples, anecdotes, and tips for using or avoiding each color.

Best Screenwriting Books - Film Direction Books - If It's Purple Someone's Gonna Die by Patti Bellatoni - Film Production Books - StudioBinder

If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die

The book includes Roger Deakins and Ed Lachman interviews, and you can learn how your choice of color can amplify the effectiveness of your project. 


What Does a Producer Do?

You now know exactly which books will get you deeper film knowledge. Now that you know the best filmmaking books, it’s time to further improve your industry knowledge.

Check out our post on What Does a Producer Do: The Various Types of Producers in Film & TV, where we break down the jurisdiction of each producer, and explain why Hollywood created various producer roles.

Up Next: Types of Producers in Film & TV →
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  • SC Lannom is a screenwriter and director living in Los Angeles. He works as a writer, director, and content producer here at StudioBinder.

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