Best Books Written by Filmmakers That You Should Own
Let’s Get Into Our Favorite Film Books Penned by Some of the Most Respected Filmmakers in the Industry
Are you a film student looking to expand your film book collection? You’ve come to the right corner of the internet for all your movie and entertainment needs. We’ve curated a list of books written by filmmakers with years of experience and wisdom that will guide anyone who is curious about the craft. Even if you’ve stumbled upon our post and aren’t a film student, this list includes our favorite books that any moviegoer can enjoy.
The Best Film Books By Filmmakers (here we go!)
Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino
Goodreads review for Cinema Speculation
We’ll kick things off with the master filmmaker who’s been making films for more than three decades. A master of stylized violence and dark humor, Quentin Tarantino broke into the movie scene with his crime film, Reservoir Dogs (1992). His follow-up film, Pulp Fiction (1994), became a major success and career highlight for QT. For years, Tarantino hinted at penning his own books about filmmaking. Now, the time has come for his diehard fans to enjoy his work in a new medium. With his newly released book on film, Tarantino gives a rare perspective on cinema and shares how he turned his childhood obsession into a full-blown career.
Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez
Goodreads review for Rebel Without a Crew
The subtitle of this book says it all; “Or How a 23-year-old filmmaker with $7,000 became a Hollywood player.” This is a classic rags-to-riches tale of a young filmmaker who was on a lone mission to make his first film on a shoestring budget. Rodriguez documents the process of making his first film influential film, El Mariachi, and unveils the process behind making and promoting a low-budget film. There is also a handy appendix, “The Ten Minute Film Course,” which covers the basics of film production, directing and screenwriting.
Gotta Have It: Guerilla Filmmaking by Spike Lee
Goodreads review for Gotta Have It
Spike Lee is one of the most prominent Black American filmmakers in modern history. He gained recognition in the late ‘80s with his feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It, which was made on a $175,000 budget. Lee’s third film Do The Right Thing earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. With more than three decades of filmmaking experience, we knew Spike Lee deserves a spot on this list. His book “Gotta Have It: Inside Guerilla Filmmaking” is his journal into the making of She’s Gotta Have It. Lee maps out the entire creative and production process and includes early notes from being on set. Spike Lee has earned his GOAT status in the film industry, and we highly recommend film students study his work.
I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
Goodreads review for I Remember Nothing
This essay book by the late Nora Ephron includes poignant anecdotes and reflections on life. It is one of the many published books Nora Ephron wrote throughout her life and a great addition to your bookshelf as a creative storyteller and filmmaker. Ephron reflects on the early days of her career and provides funny personal stories of starting out as a mail girl at Newsweek and eventually moving into filmmaking.
Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
Goodreads review for Making Movies
Like the other film book recommendations on our list, “Making Movies” is both a professional memoir and a definitive guide to filmmaking. Available at The L.A. Film School library, it’s a must-read book that includes advice from the veteran filmmaker, Sidney Lumet. Since it was published in 1995 and Sidney Lumet has passed away, the book is frozen in time in terms of technology, but the art of storytelling hasn’t changed. Some of the invaluable insights readers can expect are the reasons behind certain scripts getting picked up, how to keep actors fresh and truthful through take after take, and keeping studio honchos happy while pursuing your own vision.
Heat 2 by Michael Mann
This is what we’ll call a “bonus book” on our best film book list. Heat 2 is actually a crime novel based on its prequel 1995 film Heat, directed by Michael Mann. For the film, Mann famously shot across 95 Los Angeles locations, fully embracing the city’s sprawl as a backdrop. While budget and time restraints may have been the hold up for a film sequel, Heat 2 is still as stylized as ever and showcases Mann’s talents in a radically different medium. We think Heat 2 deserves a spot on the list because it shows the flexibility and opportunity among different creative outlets in the industry.