4 Books That Will Make You A Better Filmmaker

If you want to know how to make movies you gotta get out there and shoot, get some experience and learn through your failures — BUT, I also recommend you read. 

Besides the incredible health and life benefits reading gives you, which you can read about here, there’s also a lot of great books that can inspire you in your filmmaking journey. 

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s a sampling of the awesome information that’s out there for you and why I think it should be added to your reading lists. 

1. The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age 4th Edition

Known affectionately as the Filmmakers Bible, this ginormous book covers everything from what goes into producing a film, into the nitty-gritty of all the amazing technology we have at our fingertips. While I don’t recommend you sit there and read it from cover to cover, it’s a great resource when you need to figure out a part of the process that’s still a bit fuzzy to you. One thing I found interesting about the book was how it went into such incredible detail about sound and how a microphone picks it up. 

2. Save The Cat

Probably one of my favourite books when it comes to writing a screenplay. This book by Blake Snyder gives the reader a good understanding of story. It’s full of fun tricks and practical tools. My favourite aspect of it came from the trick used in the title. By giving your character a save the cat moment, you can endear the audience to them even if they’re a huge jerk. 

3. On Writing

While Stephen King’s book isn’t specifically about filmmaking, the man has written incredible stories that have been turned into some of the most famous popular movies, mini-series, and more. I counted over 50 films alone! So it’s a good idea to take a leaf out of his book and learn from a master storyteller. The book itself reads more like a biography, however, it’s full of practical application and even an opportunity to send some of your own written work to the man himself! 

4. The Warner Loughlin Technique

This is a newer favourite of mine, written by actress and acting coach Warner Loughlin, the book focuses on how to create a living, breathing character from a healthy mindset. And while it’s an INCREDIBLE resource for both aspiring actors and accomplished actors, it’s also a great read for those aspiring directors and writers. I loved how it took psychology into consideration for building imaginary characters, especially through the use of Warner’s Emotion With Detail. I won’t go into detail about it, because I want you to read the book, but I will say what comes out of this exercise is absolutely awesome. 

These books have been helpful tools as I’ve pursued a life as an independent filmmaker, actress, and author. I highly recommend you read them and then get out there and make some movies. 

Do you have a book that has helped you as a filmmaker? Sound off in the comments below and share why it’s your favourite. This is a great way to encourage your fellow independent filmmakers and build community.

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  • Charis Joy Jackson

    Producer, Director, Writer, Actress

    Charis Joy Jackson is a writer, director, producer and teacher working with The Initiative Production Company. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time writes short stories and novel. She's a self-proclaimed nerd who wishes she could live in Hobbiton. You can follow her on Instagram @charisjoyjackson

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