Film School at Your Finger Tips: 7 Must Read Industry Books

Anyone in the film industry understands the value of continuously perfecting your craft. Attending workshops, conventions, and even reading books to help you keep up with the latest methods, technologies and industry standards is a must. Here are seven great resources to help propel your filmmaking career forward no matter what level you’re at now.


1. The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age

Written by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus, this book is considered by many to be the "bible" of film and video production. This handbook is up to date on all the latest technology and covers working with both, the high-definition and standard-definition formats. Whether you’re a seasoned filmmaker or a budding novice, this is the reference manual for all aspects of filmmaking. If you get just one of the books on this list, this is the one.

2. Rebel Without a Crew

In Rebel Without a Crew, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City 1 & 2, Spy Kids) details all the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating his first film, El Mariachi. This is a must read for anyone looking to take the independent route. Rodriguez discloses all the low budget tips and tricks he applied to the project that launched his career.

3. Robert McKee’s Story

I have yet to meet a screenwriter who hasn’t, not only read, but highly recommended Robert McKee’s Story as an absolute must read for anyone who wants to turn the art of storytelling into a career. McKee is well-known for his screenwriting workshops whose attendees have included big names such as: Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton and Quincy Jones to name a few. This book expands on the topics shared in his workshops.

4. Screenwriter’s Bible

David Trottier has put together one of the most authoritative books on screenwriting. It is used as a textbook in the classroom environment. It covers screenwriting basics, a formatting guide, a spec scriptwriting guide, it goes into marketing aspects and even offers a workbook to follow and get you going on your script. It has checklists, sample query letters, various examples, everything you need to create your scripts by industry standards. 

5. Make Your Own Damn Movie

Lloyd Kaufman, the creator of cult-classics like The Toxic Avenger and Tromeo and Juliet, put together this hilarious guide for aspiring low-budget filmmakers based on personal experience. This will give a very real perspective on what it takes to wear many hats while putting films together and making a name for yourself in the industry with very little to no money. It’s an entertaining read loaded with excellent advice.  

6. Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution & Marketing for the Digital Era.

Jon Reiss explains the art of film distribution in today’s digital world. It contains all of the latest marketing and distribution choices available to filmmakers explained step by step. Negotiation tactics, utilizing social media and crowdfunding are some of the concepts discussed. It demystifies the many options that allow filmmakers to have more control over how their film is sold. 

7. Deal Making in the Film & Television Industry

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This book by Mark Litwak, breaks down the legal jargon for us “regular folk” just trying to make movies. It discusses the common entertainment law practices and arms you with the knowledge needed to protect yourself against any “traps” that may pop up while maneuvering through the entertainment industry.

There are core essentials that will never change which every filmmaker must know to be successful, but so much is shifting and growing in this field at the same time. This is why it’s so important to be adaptable and willing to learn. You can never know too much about your industry, devour it all. Never stop learning.


Photo Credit: MorgueFile




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