Whether or not you feel like you want to go to film school, there's a lot to be learned about the art of filmmaking on and offset. One way to learn what film students are learning but cut your costs by almost 99% is by reading their textbooks. So depending on the area of filmmaking that interests you, you might want to check out some of these books I read during film school.
...And no, these aren’t all the books I read, but these are definitely the most notable.
7 Books I Read for Class...
1. Hollywood Film History by Kevin Sandler
One of the first classes I had to take was Film History - this was the textbook for that class. If you’re interested in learning about the early times of cinema and read all about the films that paved the way, this is a great book to pick up.
2. Filmmaking: Direct Your Movie From Script to Screen Using Proven Hollywood Techniques by Jason Tomaric
This book is basically a Filmmaking 101 class from cover to cover. If you want to get a well-rounded idea of what it takes to make a movie, who does what, and probably other answers to your questions, this is a good book to store on the shelf.
I’m pretty sure this book was for an Intro to Film class and it definitely is just that.
3. The Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide To Writing, Formatting, And Selling Your Script by David Trottier
While bulky and long, this book is filled up with great info for aspiring screenwriters. If you’re wanting to get started on your first script and either no idea or some idea on how to get started, this book will definitely give you the tools to start typing.
It tells you exactly what to expect in the title, “..writing, formatting, and selling your script”. So if any of that interests you, give this book a look for some Screenwriting 101.
I read the 4th edition, but there have since been 2 new editions.
4. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Rober McKee
If you know the mechanics and have already written a few short scripts from the help of The Screenwriter’s Bible, then it’s probably time to graduate up to Screenwriting 202 with Story. This book will focus more on writing a better story by showing you the different principles and aspects of a script that can drastically improve your writing.
5. Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video by Gael Chandler
Editors, this one is for you. Cut by Cut breaks down a lot of editing techniques in filmmaking and walks you through step-by-step of the post-production process for film or other types of videos.
6. Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know by Gael Chandler
This book shows you several examples of awesome editing for scene transitions to better tell the story. It walks you through every type of cut and transition possible, using stills from famous films.
Whether you are an editor or a director, I highly recommend this book. It gives the reader a complete visual reference guide for scene transitions that you can use in your own films.
7. The Complete Animation Course: The Principles, Practices, and Techniques of Successful Animation by Chris Patmore
I love animation and during my time in college, I took an intro to animation class. This book teaches you all the principles of animation, from every type of animation style you can think of. If you’re interested in animation, motion graphics, or just want a fun book to read, this is a great introduction to the world of animation - complete with images, sketches, and more.
3 Books I Read On My Own...
In my film program, there wasn’t a ton of producing classes available, and the ones that were available, I was only able to take them as an upperclassman. So during my freshman and sophomore year, I read these books trying to prepare for the fundraising and production of a feature-length documentary.
8. Producer to Producer: A Step By Step Guide To Low Budget Independent Film Producing by Maureen Ryan
If your goal is to produce, then it’s likely you’ll start off producing low budget films. This book is a great guide on producing those exact films, walking you through development, script breakdowns, budgeting, casting, all the way to publicity and distribution.
9. Crowdfunding For Filmmakers: The Way To Successful Film Campaign by John T. Trigonis
If you want to create an Indiegogo or Kickstarter for a film and you’ve never done it before, this is a great book to read. It’s a quick read and it breaks down how to create a crowdfunding campaign that attracts people to participate.
10. The Art of Film Funding by Carole Lee Dean
Hand in hand with Crowdfunding For Filmmakers, this book gives you other ideas and perspectives on raising money for your passion projects other than crowdfunding. It's a great look at the independent world of financing and distributing a film.