Life’s too short to finish a book you don’t like.

Here at Lunacy we always like keep this bit of wisdom in mind when starting a new book. As filmmakers we are always trying to expand our knowledge base, so we reached out to our industry colleagues for summer reading suggestions. Our multi-disciplined, global network didn’t disappoint! We accumulated more than 100 great titles which we then incorporated into a poll.

Here are the results, organized by subject. We hope you find them useful in the quest for your next inspirational, film-centric book!


Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
Lumet’s memoir of 40 years in the director’s chair is an engaging mix of behind-the-scenes anecdotes from classic films and behind-the-camera insights from one of the great actor’s directors.

Also check out:
Sculpting In Time by Andrey Tarkovsky
Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed by Werner Herzog & Paul Cronin



The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier
One of the most comprehensive screenwriting books out there. The sheer size of The Screenwriter’s Bible might seem intimidating, but the first two ‘books’ form a clear and concise roadmap for first-time writers and grizzled vets alike.

Also check out:
Story by Robert McKee
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler



Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Have you ever seen a Pixar movie you didn’t enjoy? Didn’t think so. Forget for a moment they make animated films and focus instead on the storytelling which is as good as it gets. Want some insight into how they do it? Read this book.

Also check out:
Dealmaking in the Film & Television Industry: From Negotiations to Final Contracts by Mark Litwak
Filmmakers and Financing: Business Plans for Independents by Louise Levison
Independent Film Producing: How to Produce a Low-Budget Feature Film by Paul Battista



Film Directing Shot By Shot by Steven D. Katz
An invaluable resource on visual storytelling for novices trying to learn the ropes or veterans who want to brush up on their principles. Katz gives practical advice on storyboarding, blocking, camera movement, and more, complete with illustrations and examples from cinema classics.

Also check out:
Painting With Light by John Alton
Shot By Shot by John Cantine, Susan Howard & Brady Lewis



In the Blink of An Eye by Walter Murch
Walter Murch packs his brief masterpiece with insightful observations about the filmmaking process, tackling the mysteries of editing, sound design, and storytelling in general.

Also check out:
The Conversations by Walter Murch & Michael Ondaatje
First Cut: Conversations With Film Editors by Gabriella Oldham



The Foley Grail by Vanessa Theme Ament
An exhaustive compendium of all things foley, Ament’s book features historical background on the art of creating movie sounds, interviews with accomplished foley artists, and practical lessons in foley performance and recording, all supplemented by an online component.

Also check out:
Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound by David Lewis Yewdall
Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema by David Sonnenschien



Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
Decried as a hatchet-job by its subjects, Biskind’s wild chronicle of ‘New Hollywood’ in the 1970s is nonetheless entertaining from cover to cover.

Also check out:
Hitchcock by François Truffaut
Film History by Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell



Voice and Vision: A Creative Approach to Narrative Film and DV Production by Mick Hurbis-Cherrier
The entry level text at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts that no one reads but is nonetheless chock full of great stuff.

Also check out:
The Lean Forward Moment: Create Compelling Stories for Film, TV, and the Web by Norman Hollyn
Practical Moviemaking: A Handbook for the Real World by Joe Wallenstein

Did we miss any of your favorites? Click here to leave a comment!