This post includes information from my previous post on what I’m reading, the Movie Edition. Â But this one organizes books by topic. Â It also includes only my favorites of the books I’ve read on making movies. Â Consider this my recommended reading list on various topics in movie making. Â This list may evolve over time as I find more books of interest.
Starting from the start of the process:
– Screenwriting 101 by Film Crit Hulk. Â Film Crit Hulk is an film critic who writes in the persona of the Incredible Hulk. Â From reading his stuff, it’s also clear that he works in the movie business in something related to screenwriting. Â In this book, available only as an e-book, he has put together a bunch of stuff from his blog, all about constructing stories and films. Â I really like his approach, which does not rely on formula.
– The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Â More about playwriting, but applicable to screenwriting as well. Â A nice solid approach to making sure that thereâ€™s drama in your dramas.
-Â Setting up your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Director Should Know, by Jeremy Vineyard. Â This does the best job of the various books I’ve seen on laying out the basic camera shots and moves – pans, tilts, dolly moves of various sorts, etc.
– Master Shots vols 1-3, and Master Shots the various iBooks versions, by Christopher Kenworthy. Â I absolutely loved these. Â Each of vols 1-3 look at 100 shots from various movies and discuss the effect they have and how to make the shot. Â Then the e-books are even better, though they don’t have as many shots – each one takes 25 of the shots from the other books, includes the information from the paper books, and then Kenworthy re-made the shots with actors. Â The iBooks versions includes the video of the shot, then includes a version of the video with Kenworthy providing voice-over commentary discussing it. Â All in all, consider this a set of cookbooks of useful shots. Â But even better, after going through these, you start to understand what makes for good shots. Â These books gave me a better understanding of setting up shots than anything else I’ve come across. Â Special bonus: I sent Kenworthy a question about this (his email is on his website) and he sent back a nice friendly note that answered my question. Â So special bonus.
– Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. Â Lumet directed a whole bunch of Hollywood pictures in a bunch of different genres. Â In this book, he takes you through all the steps he goes through in directing, from selecting a project to what he does to help market the movie. Â Really quite excellent on directing.
– Directing Actors by Judith Weston. Â A very nice book about how one should give direction to actors to get the best results from them. Â Iâ€™ve learned a lot from this.
-Â Light, Science, and MagicÂ by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, and Paul Fuqua. Â Strictly speaking this one’s about photography, not video. Â But it’s applicable, and excellent. Â For my way of learning (I prefer to go from theory to practice), this has been the best book on photography Iâ€™ve ever read. Â It explains how light behaves, then goes from that to detailed discussions of how to light and photograph different types of subjects. Â Absolutely terrific, and strongly recommended if you want to get serious about photography.
– Cinematography by Blain Brown. Â I loved this book. Â Itâ€™s a detailed description of the elements of cinematography, including detailed discussions of the technologies involved. Â I learned things here about photography that I didnâ€™t know. Â A bit dry at times, but amazingly informative.
– In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch. Â Wonderful philosophical stuff, a great theory of editing, lots of interesting stuff. Â A quick read as well. Â This was the only book about editing I came across, but it is a good one.
– Adventures in the Screen Trade Â by William Goldman. Â William Goldmanâ€™s an incredibly accomplished screenwriter whose works range from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to “Princess Bride.” Â This book gives a gossipy discussion of how Hollywood makes its movies, including detailed stories of the films heâ€™s made. Â Again, not much help for the actual making of movies, but quite entertaining.