Top Five Filmmaking Books

I can’t say I’ve ready every single filmmaking book in the history of literature but I do boast a very extensive personal collection and feel quite confident dispensing this advice. After reading an absurd amount on the subject, there are a few titles that stick out above the rest – seemingly impossible to improve upon. Enjoy!

1. Make Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

You may think I’m biased because Lloyd Kaufman is a good friend of ACEFEST. Wrong! He is a good friend of ACEFEST because we were huge fans of his books and films far before the film festival was even a twinkle in our eyes. This particular title, first in his “_______ Your Own Damn Movie” series, is nothing short of inspiring. Each chapter will have you itching to go out and make a movie more than the last. It is with complete and unchallengeable confidence I place this book at the top of my list.

2. Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez

A bit of a how-to guide to filmmaking by the genius behind such cult classics as ‘El Mariachi’, ‘Planet Terror’ and many others. Rodriguez uses his own shoe-string experiences to rev-up the reader into realizing he or she can make a good movie that people will love!

3. Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet made ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ so there is enough reason to go out and buy this book right now. In fact, stop reading this article and go buy it this minute! But seriously, in contrast to my first two picks, this title touches on the role of Director in the filmmaking process. Directing is a crucial and sensitive art form that tends to get diluted when one is focused on every other aspect of making a movie from fund raising to distribution.

4. Shot by Shot: A Practical Guide to Filmmaking by J. Cantine, S. Howard & B. Lewis

Some consider this book to be geared towards beginners and students. I, personally, see it as 4 years of film school condensed into a couple hundred pages. Think of it as saving yourself $50,000 in student loans (minus the $15 for the book). A collaborative effort by a whopping 3 authors, this title covers pretty much all the bases in terms of technical know-how, written in an engaging and digestible style.

5. How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

Reading this book was really as close as I ever got to pulling the trigger on my screenwriting career. The magnetic writing by Mr.Flinn will keep you turning pages as you learn every mistake you almost made in writing a script. If you have any desire to write, sell, option or shop a screenplay in the future, I cannot recommend this title enough. Get it before you make a fool out of yourself and wind up in a mesh garbage can in some studio intern’s office!

Books can’t replace real-world experience. Filmmaking is an art form and no amount of academic knowledge will allow you create a masterpiece. However, if you have the drive, desire and creativity to make a movie, the books above will certainly assist you in your journey.

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