There are few directors who have written books on film directing, and in this video and article I’m happy to present 13 books written by directors (with some exceptions) for directors, on the subject of filmmaking.

First, here’s the full video

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Update: I have finished reading a few books and have updated the order in which it was presented in the video.

Here are the books in the new order:

13

Rebel Without a Crew, by Robert Rodriguez

Why you should read it:

Most filmmakers starting out have no money, and it’s music to the ears to learn you can still make it big if you’re going the indie route.

Where this book is dangerous though, is when young and lazy filmmakers use this as an excuse to produce shoddy work. If you can keep a level head, then it’s still a great read.

12

Spike Lee’s Gotta Have It, by Spike Lee

Why you should read it:

It’s another account of how a low budget hit was created, but the movie is definitely better. I’ve ordered this book and will be reading it soon. Please check back to see if it retains its place!

Update: I’ve finished reading it. It’s a great book in three parts: An interview, Spike Lee’s notes on raising funds and writing the script, and the script itself. I feel it ended too abruptly because there are no notes on the filming of She’s Gotta Have It, but most of it is his fight for funding and how the story and script evolved. Definitely worth it.

11

The Name above the Title, by Frank Capra

Why you should read it:

Haven’t read it yet, but Frank Capra is one of the great directors.

10

The Magic Lantern, by Ingmar Bergman

Why you should read it:

It’s Ingmar Bergman! I will be reading this after I read the Spike Lee book, so check back!

9

Something Like an Autobiography, by Akira Kurosawa

Why you should read it:

It documents Kurosawa’s formative years, from crybaby to director of Rashomon. You can’t skip this one!

Link mentioned in the video: Film directors and the number 8

8

Something to Do with Death, by Christopher Frayling

Why you should read it:

Not written by the director, but probably the closest account we will have of his methods and conduct on set. Beware, you might end up losing respect for him by the end.

7

Sculpting in Time, by Andrey Tarkovsky

Why you should read it:

It’s his vision, poetry, pain, philosophy and craft – in his own words.

6

Speaking of Films, by Satyajit Ray

Why you should read it:

This is Satyajit Ray’s version of film school in a nutshell. Translated to English.

5

Entirely Up to You, Darling, by Richard Attenborough

Why you should read it:

The making of Gandhi and Chaplin.

4

Hitchcock, by Francois Truffaut

Why you should read it:

It’s one great director interviewing another great director – on the subjects that matter.

Link to the free audio.

3

This Is Orson Welles, by Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum

Why you should read it:

Because it is Orson Welles discussing filmmaking!!

Update: I have read it, it is amazing! Really, it is the single best resource on Orson Welles you’ll find anywhere. Not only does Peter Bogdanovich pry out the details behind Welles’ filmmaking decisions, you also learn what he thought of his peers, and his struggle with financing. Must read.

2

Making Movies, by Sidney Lumet

Why you should read it:

The best filmmaking book for directors by a director (or otherwise). Period.

1

My Autobiography, by Charles Chaplin

Why you should read it:

Sheer inspiration. If his rags to riches story doesn’t inspire you nothing will.

If you know of any film books by directors, please let me know in the comments below.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free cheatsheet (with examples) of tried and tested ways to cover a scene or action that will save your skin when your mind goes blank (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).

12 replies on “13 Books for Directors, by Directors”

  1. I like “The Film Director” by Richard L. Bare- great stories and guidance.

    (P.S.- Love your work!)

  2. Cassavetes on Cassavetes by Ray Carney. And Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson. 2 of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read, period.

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