Filmmaking Books of Interest

People often ask me which books I’d recommend for learning about the language of film. There are so many to choose from, so here are a few of my favourites at present. I’ll maybe update this every now and again with new books as I come across them. Do drop me a line if there’s something specific that you’re wanting to explore and I’ll see what I can recommend.

Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer Van Sijll

My mate Ailie had this book, back when I was starting to think about teaching film things. It’s got a really clear structure, is easy to follow and makes very understandable points. It’s a book I come back to regularly.

Available on Ebay amongst other places.

On Filmmaking – Alexander Mackendrick

Mackendrick was an absolute master in the world of filmmaking and teaching. His films live on long after he has passed. His approaches to filmmaking have inspired generations of filmmakers ever since. This book lays down the fundamentals of his approaches. It’s a vital book to have in your collection.
See also this youtube clip about shooting on the longest axis featuring Mackendrick. That will sell you on the book for sure!

Available from amongst other places.

In the Blink of An Eye – Walter Murch

This is a cracking book. It explores editing and the subconscious impulses behind editing choices. It gets to the heart of why filmmaking is a deeply personal and individual art form. I absolutely love it and must get back to reading it again! My pal Seth, from whom I’ve learnt so much, recommended this to me, for which I am ever grateful.

Available on Ebay and many other places

The Visual Story – Bruce Block

This book is about how still and dynamic, moving images work. How composition affects us, what we see and feel. Well worth your time.

Available from and other places, too.

Filmish – Edward Ross

Filmish is a graphic novel which exolores the history and language of cinema. It’s great fun and accessible for all. My son read it when he was 9 and loved it. I still read it and I’m nearly 45. I’ve got a signed copy with a drawing of Hal 9000 on it, too! It’s really rigrous, too, so there’s lots to find in it reading after reading.

Available from and other sources.

Making Movies – Sidney Lumet

Lumet was a very fine director who started his career in theatre. In this book he outlines his process, breaking things down into really concise sections. The section on lenses is very useful indeed and one I still think back to on a regular basis. He also talks about working with actors in a way that few others I’ve read do. Very much worth your time. I listened to it as an audio book and it was both compelling and informative.

Available from and an abundance of other sources.

The Story of Film – Mark Cousins

You’ll want this book. Trust me, you’ll really want this book. If you’ve got 15 hours and 15 minutes to spare, you’ll also want to see the series that follows the book. “She dies…”

Available from and all other good bookshops.

Conclusions – John Boorman

Just reading this book at the moment and absolutely loving it. Honed from a lifetime’s practice in filmmaking it offers very concise points of view, clearly expressed. Boorman is one of my favourite filmmakers, I love his storytelling. If you’ve not seen any of his films, do seek them out, there’s something to relish in all of them, yes, even the mighty Zardoz.

Available from and all other booksellers of repute.

30 Second Cinema – Pamela Hutchinson ed.

This is a cracking book, a whistlestop tour around the world of film. It’s great for all ages, too. I absolutely love it. Thank you to my good friend Nic for introducing this one to me!

Available from and other sources.

There’s loads of other books on animation and other things I’d recommend too, but they’re perhaps for a separate blog post another day.
Thanks for dropping by!

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