5 Great books for Student Filmmakers. Book Reviews

Books for student filmmakers

I have probably at some point read every book aimed at student filmmakers. I used to collect them, it was an easy go to christmas gift for me from friends and family. This is an updated post from a list I made last year. Regardless of time passed I still hold the classic books as the best. How many of these have you read? If you have suggestions of books I should check out then add below in the comments section.

FilmCraft: Directing

A book which focuses purely on directing by giving you examples from 22 successful directors. Including Guillermo del Toro, Terry Gilliam and Pedro Almodovar. 

The interviews with directors include, how they started making films, getting their first film jobs, how they personally direct actors, the struggles they have had with making films and their own tips for young directors.

I found it a very encouraging book, it made me forgot about the worries that come with making a film, money, finding equipment, wondering whether or not anyone will like your film when you’ve made it. It made me pick up a pen and start writing creatively.

 Buy Here £10.99 ($16)

The Guerilla FilmMakers Handbook

This is probably the most popular book on the list. It focuses in detail on the production process from script writing to distribution. If you’re just starting out in film then this book is worth a read since it covers everything in the production process.

The book works well as a reference book, if you need information on a certain topic (such as finding actors for your film) you can look up what you need easily. The book is 700 pages long; it is very detailed. The best sections in the book are the case studies with real film industry crew members, on how they got their jobs and what they do on set.

 Buy Here £20 ($30)

Rebel without a Crew

Robert Rodriguez’s famous book on how he made his first feature film ‘El Mariachi’ for $7,000 and found fame at the Sundance film festival. It is a very inspiring book, I bought it when I was 14 and it gave me a buzz to make films. If you want to be reminded how exciting filmmaking can be then this book is worth a read.

The book was written in the early 90s when video filmmaking was still happening and film reels still existed.  It’s worth noting that at the time of El Mariachi hundreds of films were entered into The Sundance film festival not near as many as the eleven thousand that was entered last year (only 200 of which were selected to be shown there).

Filmmaking is more competitive today but if you treat the book as an entertaining and inspirational read other than a definite approach to filmmaking then you will enjoy it.

 Buy Here £5 ($7)

Cinematic Storytelling

This book is a list of 100 examples of visual storytelling methods used in films. Frame size, montage, split screen, juxtaposition, Lens and camera movement are just some of them.

Every convention described in the book references to a film that has used this method, it includes screen grabs from the film to visually show how it was used. As well as including the page of script that was written for this particular scene alongside the screen images (so you can see how the film adapted from script to screen).

It is an interesting book especially if you are unsure of shot choices or want to learn more methods on how to tell a story visually and without dialogue.

 Buy Here £11.99 ($19)

Save the Cat

books for student filmmakers

The no frills attached screenwriting book. I love it because it’s so down to earth and treats screenwriting as a realistic business (rather expecting your first feature film script to win an Oscar). Although it focuses on how to write successful Hollywood films other than aiming at World cinema and independent film making; it most importantly tells you why the scripts you’ve been writing aren’t very good.

It has lists of writing formulas and tells you how to make your ideas marketable, how to write a winning log-line and how to draft your script like a pro.

 Buy Here £11.38 ($19)