16 Must Read Filmmaking Books to Enhance Your Skills
16 Must-Read Filmmaking Books

16 Must-Read Filmmaking Books to Enhance Your Skills

We’ve bought a list of the best filmmaking books to read in 2024. Explore each of the category to discover why these books are necessary for filmmakers.

Continuous learning is a key for successful filmmaking. Even though legends like Spielberg and Scorsese keep transforming in their ideas of filmmaking. Watching and examining how other filmmakers’ work is essential, but reading filmmaking books is most important. According to Paul Rand, “you will learn most things by looking, but reading gives understanding.” Spielberg also emphasized the value of reading, “Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.”

So, don’t worry about what you are going to read cause PLACING DREAMs has introduced some list of filmmaking, script writing and film editing books, although there are a lot to mentioned but you will get to know step by step from us. Filmmaking books cover a wide range of topics, including feature film production along with specific skills such as editing and writing, as well as narrative theory, documentary filmmaking, and film history. Here are the 16 best filmmaking books recommended by film students, teachers, independent filmmakers, acclaimed directors, and film editors.

Filmmakers on Filmmaking

  • ‘Making Movies by Sidney Lumet’: The master director, one of the most famous in America, tells all about filmmaking from start to completion. It’s like having an inside look at just how much hard work has been put into that final film on the silver screen.
  • ‘On Directing Film’ — David Mamet A Pulitzer Prize-winner shares personal experience in filmmaking from script to editing-room, dissecting diverse problems of directing with an acumen that will be valuable to fledgling directors.

Practical Guides

  • ‘Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon’ This is the requisite for creatives argument, wherein Kleon makes the case that all creative work is iterative and that filmmakers should study what it is they’re inspired by and use those influences to then make something different.


  • ‘If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die’ by Patti Bellantoni – In this book, Bellantoni explores color decisions in filmmaking—who, what emotion it is supposed to invoke. In her research, supplemented with interviews from industry professionals, she shows just how influential color can be in telling stories.

Video Production

  • ‘The Filmmaker’s Handbook’: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age Steven Ascher & Edward Pincus No wonder it has been referred to in video production as the “bible.” Clearly, this is a detailed overview of lessons to teach pretty much everything from shooting a wide range of different film styles to understanding lenses and lighting, editing, and finally, the business side of filmmaking.
  • ‘How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 by Bret Stern’ — This is the practical guide on how to make a feature film for the up-and-coming independent filmmaker who is working on a tight budget. Full of good information and an easy, enjoyable read.


  • ‘Draft No. 4’: On the Writing Process by John McPhee is a thriller collection of writings with very important tips that one could use while making decisions involving arrangement, diction, tone, and shape in work. His personal stories and grids further make it a better learning experience for readers.
  • ‘The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr’—”Learn the science of storytelling; a must for every filmmaker.” According to Storr, it explains what makes a story tick and how stories shape who we are. He draws from popular works like Harry Potter and Breaking Bad.

Books on Film Editing

  • ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ by Walter Murch: on Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part II shares with us his craft, film editing. He tries to answer such questions as “what makes a great cut?” and other editing tips.
  • ‘Cut to the Chase’: Forty-Five Years of Editing America’s Favorite Movies by Sam & Bobbie O’Steen Stories and lessons learned from legendary Hollywood editor Sam O’Steen, passed on by his daughter Bobbie. Interesting look into the world of film editing.
  • ‘Editing Rhythms by Karen Pearlman’ – This book of Pearlman defines what intuition in editing is and how this intuition is used to alter the pace, structure, and mood in a film. Any filmmaker will be able to develop his sense of rhythm and creativity while editing with her analysis.

Filmmaker Biographies

  • ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ by Robert Rodriguez Rodriguez translates in his diary, turned how-to manual, experience to make his first movie, El Mariachi for only $7,000. Also represented in the appendix is a “Ten Minute Film Course” which contains tips on production, directing and screenwriting.

Documentary Filmmaking

  • This Much Is True’: 15 Directors on Documentary Filmmaking by James Quinn These essays from some of the masters of documentary filmmaking give insight upon insight into questions of access, interview, thinking in pictures, emotions, character-led filmmaking, and editing.
  • ‘The Cinema of Werner Herzog’: Aesthetic Ecstasy and Truth by Brad Prager The author of this book, Prager, exposes how Werner Herzog strives for “ecstatic truth” in more than 35 of his movies. Since this text will help in taking a deeper look at Herzog’s style, influences, and themes, it shall be treasured by documentary film fanatics.

History of the Cinematography

  • The Oxford History of World Cinema —Geoffrey Nowell-Smith“: This is the wholly inclusive history of development and evolution of films in various parts of the world, together with examination of studio systems, the cultural influence of the cinema, and diversity shown in the films. It will help greatly whenever you want to understand the contemporary, international business of films.

Film Business: Finances & Distribution

  • ‘The Business of Film’: A Practical Introduction, by Paula Landry and Stephen R. Greenwald: Prospective authors—if anything—Landry and Greenwald give practical orientation with respect to the business of filmmaking from the development stage through production to financing, distribution, marketing, and accounting. This is the second, fully revised edition where such platforms as Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Vimeo have been drastically reviewed.
Wrapping Up

These are just 16 books about filmmaking to get you started and many more good deal out there. However, these  are the most recommended books from film students and professionals in the field. Being a filmmaker means giving oneself the vow of lifelong learning. Reading those books will help you improve your skills and give you mastery over the filmmaker’s craft.


Que: How do I start filmmaking for beginners?
You can start filmmaking by understanding the fundamental concepts of filmmaking, including scriptwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, and sound design. Placing Dreams offers all these courses, and books to help you get started.

Que: Is 25 too old to start filmmaking?
No, 25 is not too old to start filmmaking. Many successful filmmakers began their careers later in life. But don’t worry cause PLACING DREAMs Institute will help you to achieve your dream.

Que: How do most filmmakers start out?
Filmmaking requires a mix of education, practical experience and a passion for storytelling. Most of the filmmaker start their careers by self-taught, using online resources, tutorials, and books to learn the craft. They practice by creating their own projects and continuously improving their skills.  With dedication and perseverance, anyone can become a filmmaker.

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