Good Books

Hey everyone!

I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on good books to read related to filmmaking. I have some times where I would like to do some reading, and am interested in anything related to filmmaking, whether it be storytelling, lighting, sound design, or visual effects.

So if you have read anything that is interesting, informative, inspiring, etc on these topics, let me know! It  would also be great if the book is available on Amazon :)



  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited July 2019

    The DV Rebel's Guid. This. All the this. It's a bit older (about 15 years)  but is still one of the best books on low budget filmmaking available.

    Rebel without a Crew. Robert Rodriguez is a godfather of all low budget indie work.

    Make Your Own Damn Movie! There's a DVD set that goes with this, too. Lloyd Kaufman of Troma. Now, I'm a little hesitant to recommend this one to you. Lloyd's movies are famous at being on the extreme end of the exploitation genre. Lots of nudity  graphic sex, graphic violence and offensive humor. I think you're only about 13 so Lloyd might not be what your parents consider age appropriate (have them look up things like "The Toxic Avenger," "Troma's War," "Class of Nuke 'em High," and "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead" to see the subject matter of a Troma Film).

    Troma is still worth a look. It's an independent studio in New York that's been in business for 50 years. Troma has a catalog of over a thousand films. Almost all low budget, almost all terrible in a fantastic way. Just the fact Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz have stayed in business as long as they have makes Lloyd's insights valuable.

    Troma was a starting point of many of today's star writers/directors/producers. Eli Roth comes out of Troma. So does James Gunn. Heck, they both worked on "Toxic Avenger IV!"

    Fix it in Post. One nice thing about this book is it discusses what "low level" filters do. In this context, "low level" is discussing a powerful  generic filter instead of a specifically tuned one. My go-to example, as always, is Curves. Curves gives direct control over color channels, and can be used to correct color tints, adjust brightness and contrast, adjust gamma, invert colors, adjust alpha, create looks, etc. Curves can duplicate the functions of another dozen tools.

    Understanding what Curves does makes it easier to understand what those other tools do. Fix it in Post covers these type of essential filters, which is what makes it "software agnostic" (from the publishers description). Rather than focusing on specialized filters that may or may not be in a particular app, it looks at those basic, "low level" filters that are in every program.

    Finally  for now, Roger Corman's book. More for historical interest. If Robert Rodriguez is a godfather of indie films, Corman is the grandfather. In a long career of exploitation movies, Corman not only (like Lloyd Kaufman) mentored a lot of the greats (George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron all started with Corman), Corman pioneered a lot of standard practice. Corman may have been the first director to shoot out of sequence! If the beginning and end of a movie was in a certain location  then both scenes would be shot that day. Before Corman most movies would shoot the beginning, go shoot the rest of the movie, then go back to that location to shoot the end. Nope. Corman invented shooting out of sequence to save time and money.

    So, two books on production, one that's part of a multimedia film school (but maybe something to look at in a few more years), and two that are more memoirs with great tips. I think you're one of the people who'd really appreciate the Rodriguez and Corman books, while Fix it in Post and the DV Rebel's guide are two books that I reference heavily. A lot of my tips here or on Hit-U are cribbed from those two books.

    Oops, one more. The Sound Reinforcement Handbook. Old enough where it's focused on outboard gear in an age of plug ins, still a standard college textbook. Invaluable.

    Reference for molding and casting props  Predates 3D printing.

    Finally  really last this time, Special Effects in Television. Written by a head of the BBC Effects Department, this is a great reference for old-school practical effects. Indespensible! In fact, my copy was "stolen" (lent to someone who moved across country and changed contact info without returning it), and I think I'm going to get this one again for myself.

  • Thanks @Triem23.  Just ordered the "DV Rebel's Guide" from that link you posted.



  • make your own damn  movie - a good book, recommended to all 

  • Hmm, Daniel Keyses's Flowers for Algernon is one of my favourite. 

    • III. The Hollywood Standard. | ...
    • IV. On Directing Film. | David Mamet.
    • V. Hitchcock. | François Truffaut.
    • VI. Shooting to Kill. | Christine Vachon.
    • VII. Rebel Without a Crew. | Robert Rodriguez.
    • VIII. The War of Art. | Steven Pressfield.
    • IX. In the Blink of an Eye. | Walter Murch.
    • X. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. | Peter Biskind. And more good books in filmmaking in 2019 are here:
  • Just got and started reading The DV Rebel's Guide.............

    What a GREAT book.  Excellent information and very well written.   Thanks for the rec, @Triem23.



  • Complete with behind-the-scenes diary entries from the set of Vachon's best-known fillms, Shooting to Kill offers all the satisfaction of an intimate memoir from the frontlines of independent filmmakins, from one of its most successful agent provocateurs -

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @JBaymore DV Rebel's Guide might be the single best book on practical filmmaking I've ever read. Best discussion I've ever seen on matching plates for forced perspective or scale (i.e. Giants walking among buildings). 

  • I will use that concept at some point in the future to deal with generating some "full sized" X-Wings. 



  • Excellent information and very well written

  • edited October 2019

    I still stand by Save the Cat.

    I don't think enough young filmmakers pay attention to the story expectations of audiences; rather they only focus on the story that's been in their head for years, and assume everyone else sees it with the same importance and clarity.

    Save the Cat is vital in conveying how important complete storytelling is.

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited September 2019

    @bitcohen You post is relevant to the conversation but your link is SPAM.

    Here is a link to the actual book:


  • edited October 2019

    Below are the ten books that I reference the most in my filmmaker library:

    • "The Short Screenplay" by Dan Gurskis
    • "Film Directing: Shot by Shot" by Steve Katz
    • "The Hollywood Standard" by Christopher Riley
    • "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston
    • "Cinematography" by Kris Malkiewicz
    • "Cheap Movie Tricks" by Rickey Bird
    • "Setting Up Your Shots" by Jeremy Vineyard
    • "Clearance & Copyright" by Michael Donaldson 
    • "Producer to Producer" by Maureen Ryan
    • "The Filmmaker's Eye" by Gustavo Mercado
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