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Film Production Books You Need to Read – Top 11 List 2021

1) Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Independent Film into a Profitable Business

It’s harder today than ever before for independent filmmakers to make money with their films. From predatory film distributors ripping them off to huckster film aggregators who prey upon them, the odds are stacked against the indie filmmaker. The old distribution model for making money with indie film is broken and there needs to be a change. The future of independent filmmaking is the entrepreneurial filmmaker or the Filmtrepreneur.

In Rise of the Filmtrepreneur author and filmmaker Alex Ferrari breaks down how to actually make money with independent film projects and shows filmmakers how to turn their indie films into profitable businesses. This is not all theory, Alex uses multiple real-world case studies to illustrate each part of his method. This book shows you the step by step way to turn your filmmaking passion into a profitable career. If you are making a feature film, series or any kind of video content, The Filmtrepreneur Method will set you up for success. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

2) Indie Film Production: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking

Indie Film Production explains the simple, basic, clear cut role of the independent film producer. Raising funds to do your dream project, producing award-winning films with a low budget, putting name actors on your indie film-it’s all doable, and this book guides you through the entire process of being a successful producer with bonus tips on how to effortlessly maneuver through the sphere of social media marketing and fundraising tactics. One of the best film production books I’ve read. Also check out: Suzanne Lyon’s Film Producing – Podcast Interview

 

3) The Reel Truth: Everything You Didn’t Know You Need to Know About Making an Independent Film

The Reel Truth details the pitfalls, snares, and roadblocks that aspiring filmmakers encounter. Reed Martin interviewed more than one hundred luminaries from the independent film world to discuss the near misses that almost derailed their first and second films and identify the close shaves that could have cut their careers short. Other books may tell you the best way to make your independent film or online short, but no other book describes so candidly how to spot and avoid such issues and obstacles as equipment problems, shooting-day snafus, and dozens of other commonly made missteps, including the top fifty mistakes every filmmaker makes. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

4) So You Want to Be a Producer

Few jobs in Hollywood are as shrouded in mystery as the role of the producer. What goes into film producing, how does one get started, and what on earth does one actually do? In So You Want to Be a Producer Lawrence Turman, the producer of more than forty films, including The GraduateThe River WildShort Circuit, and American History X, and Endowed Chair of the famed Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California, answers these questions and many more. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

5) Produce Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

When it comes to producing, no one speaks with more authority than Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the longest-running independent film studio, Troma Entertainment. He reveals the best ways to seek out investors, scout locations, hire the film crew and cast talent, navigate legalities, and stay within your budget. One of the most entertaining film production books out there.

Also check out: Lloyd Kaufman’s Interview Podcast

6) Independent Film Producing: How to Produce a Low-Budget Feature Film

The number of independent films produced each year has almost doubled in the past decade, yet only a fraction will succeed. If, like many filmmakers, you have no industry connections, little to no experience, and a low or ultra-low budget, this outsider’s guide will teach you what you need to know to produce a standout, high-quality film and get it into the right hands. Written by an entertainment lawyer and experienced director and producer, this handbook covers all the most essential business, legal, and practical aspects of indie film production. One of the best film production books on the market. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

7) The Producer’s Business Handbook: The Roadmap for the Balanced Film Producer

With The Producer’s Business Handbook as a film production guide, you’ll learn to create the relationships that the most successful producers have with the various participants in the motion picture industry-this guide provides a global view of how producers direct their relationships with domestic and foreign studios, agencies, attorneys, talent, completion guarantors, banks, and private investors. You’ll also become familiar with the team roles needed to operate these companies and learn how to attach and direct them. For those outside the US, also included is information on how to produce successful films without government funding. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

8) Producing for Profit: A Practical Guide to Making Independent and Studio Films

In Producing for Profit: A Practical Guide to Making Independent and Studio Films, Andrew Stevens provides real-world examples and his own proven techniques for success that can turn passion into profit. Far more than just theory, the book outlines practical applications that filmmakers of all levels can use to succeed in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Readers will learn how to develop screenplays that are commercial, and how to negotiate, finance, cast, produce, sell, distribute, and market a film that will make a profit. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

9) The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Michael Polish

Less than a decade since they began working in the movies, Mark and Michael Polish have established themselves as critically acclaimed, award-winning independent filmmakers. Their innovative approach to art direction, use of digital photography, and ability to attract stellar talent to their modestly budgeted films sprang from necessity; now these aesthetics have become admired trademarks of their work.  Also check out: Michael Polish’s Podcast Interview

10) The Complete Film Production Handbook

This book is for working film/TV professionals and students alike. If you’re a line producer, production manager, production supervisor, assistant director or production coordinator–the book has everything you’ll need (including all the forms, contracts, releases and checklists) to set up and run a production–from finding a production office to turning over delivery elements. Even if you know what you’re doing, you will be thrilled to find everything you need in one place. If you’re not already working in film production, but think you’d like to be, read the book — and then decide. One of the best film production books out there.

11) Producer to Producer: A Step-By-Step Guide to Low Budgets Independent Film Production

Maureen Ryan’s Producer to Producer is a clear, concise, and complete guide to independent film production, full of excellent practical advice for both newcomers and experienced producers. I have produced ten independent features, and have often been asked to recommend a book to teach people about what I do. This book will now be my immediate first choice. So many how-to guides to producing get far more details wrong than right– Producer to Producer is as accurate a guide to the current independent producing process as I have seen to date. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

Filmmaking Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

1) Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez

This is one of the first filmmaking books I read at film school and is still one of the best ever written. In Rebel Without a Crew, famed independent screenwriter and director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Sin City 2, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids) discloses all the unique strategies and original techniques he used to make his remarkable debut film, El Mariachi, on a micro-budget. This is both one filmmaker’s remarkable story and an essential guide for anyone who has a celluloid story to tell and the dreams and determination to see it through.  Part production diary, part how-to manual, Rodriguez unveils how he was able to make his influential first film on only a $7,000 budget.

2) Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Story)

A bipolar gangster, a naive, young film director, and Batman. What could go wrong? Alex Ferrari is a first-time film director who just got hired to direct a $20 million feature film, the only problem is the film is about Jimmy, an egomaniacal gangster who wants the film to be about his life in the mob. From the backwater towns of Louisiana to the Hollywood Hills, Alex is taken on a crazy misadventure through the world of the mafia and Hollywood.

Huge movie stars, billion-dollar producers, studio heads and, of course, a few gangsters, populate this unbelievable journey down the rabbit hole of chasing your dream. Would you sell your soul to the devil to make your dream come true? By the way, did we mention that this story is based on true events? no, seriously it is.

Listen to the Podcast Interview

3) The Independent Film Producer’s Survival Guide

In this comprehensive guidebook, three very experienced entertainment lawyers disclose everything you need to know to produce, market and sell an independent film. From the development process to deal making, financing, setting up the production, hiring directors and actors, securing location rights, acquiring music, calculating profits, digital moving making, distribution, and marketing your movie. Highly recommended. This all-new second edition has been completed updated. 

4) In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch

In the Blink of an Eye is celebrated film editor Walter Murch’s vivid, multifaceted, thought — provoking essay on film editing. Starting with what might be the most basic editing question — Why do cuts work? — Murch treats the reader to a wonderful ride through the aesthetics and practical concerns of cutting film.

Along the way, he offers his unique insights on such subjects as continuity and discontinuity in editing, dreaming, and reality; criteria for a good cut; the blink of the eye as an emotional cue; digital editing; and much more.

5) Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

From one of America’s most acclaimed directors comes one of the best filmmaking books that is both a professional memoir and a definitive guide to the art, craft, and business of the motion picture. Drawing on 40 years of experience on movies ranging from Long Day’s Journey Into Night to The Verdict, Lumet explains the painstaking labor that results in two hours of screen magic.

6) Produce Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

When it comes to producing, no one speaks with more authority than Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the longest-running independent film studio, Troma Entertainment. He reveals the best ways to seek out investors, scout locations, hire crew and cast talent, navigate legalities, and stay within your budget.

Also check out: Lloyd Kaufman’s Interview Podcast

7) From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film

Dov Simens was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast and has become easily one of my most popular. From screenwriting & budgeting to marketing, Dov Simens provides encyclopedic, precise, & creative instruction for putting your vision up on the screen. With his aggressive and no bullsh*t approach, you’ll learn everything you need to know to create a successful indie film.

Also check out: Dov Simens Producing Master Class Podcast

8) The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age

A staple of indie filmmaker’s bookshelves for well over a decade, the latest edition of The Filmmaker’s Handbook has revitalized all of the essential knowledge which it has become known for and brought it right up to date. Widely acknowledged as the “bible” of video and film production, and used in courses around the world, The Filmmaker’s Handbook is now updated with the latest advances in HD and new digital formats. For students and teachers, professionals and novices, this indispensable handbook covers all aspects of movie making.

9) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

10) The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Michael Polish

Less than a decade since they began working in the movies, Mark and Michael Polish have established themselves as critically acclaimed, award-winning independent filmmakers. Their innovative approach to art direction, use of digital photography, and ability to attract stellar talent to their modestly budgeted films sprang from necessity; now these aesthetics have become admired trademarks of their work.  Also check out: Michael Polish’s Podcast Interview

11) Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking

Indie Film Producing explains the simple, basic, clear cut role of the independent film producer. Raising funds to do your dream project, producing award-winning films with a low budget, putting name actors on your indie film-it’s all doable, and this book guides you through the entire process of being a successful producer with bonus tips on how to effortlessly maneuver through the sphere of social media marketing and fundraising tactics. Also check out: Suzanne Lyon’s Producing Podcast Interview

BONUS: Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film

A critical analysis of the rise of independent filmmakers examines Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, the success of Miramax, and the careers of independent filmmakers whose work has transformed Hollywood and the film industry.

BONUS: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

When the low-budget biker movie Easy Rider shocked Hollywood with its success in 1969, a new Hollywood era was born. This was an age when talented young filmmakers such as Scorsese, Coppola, and Spielberg, along with a new breed of actors, including De Niro, Pacino, and Nicholson, became the powerful figures who would make such modern classics as The Godfather, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Jaws. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls follows the wild ride that was Hollywood in the ’70s.

BONUS: Spike Mike Reloaded : A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema

Pierson’s name may not be a household one, but the filmmakers he’s been associated with – Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Jim Jarmusch – are well known to fans of independent films. Pierson has been friend, investor, and, most importantly, business agent to these and lesser talents and has been a fixture on the festival scene for over a decade. Go behind the scenes & see John Pierson’s pivotal role in the launching of such films as Stranger than Paradise, Clerks, She’s Gotta Have It, and Roger and Me.

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