1. Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices by Rick Schmidt is the quintessential DIY, independent, renegade filmmaking handbook. Other books (even within this list) will drop the renegade adjective, and these individuals are often renegades. However, Rick Schmidt is the true renegade of filmmaking authors.
Growing up, if you did not know of this book, you
didn't really want to be a filmmaker.
The book is definitely dated in some ways, and
Schmidt has released a newer book called Extreme DV. However, Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices' style of old-school filmmaking remains highly important and exciting.
illuminates processes rarely taught in most modern-day film
schools (certainly not mine). For example, the book teachers readers how to building a celluloid film editing bay. While I have never built one, I want to dammit, and this is simply valuable information that filmmakers of all kinds should carry with them in order to help carry the torch.
As far as the UTDF Film School is concerned, Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices is the starter's Bible to filmmaking (Kevin Smith would agree.) To the best of my
knowledge, this book is out of print, but you can click the cover to find it used! If there are "classic" filmmaking books, this one is at the top of the list.
2. The Elements of Screenwriting by Irwin R Blacker is a great starting point for learning screenplay writing.
The book covers all of the basic foundations of screenwriting, such as formatting, pacing, structure, storytelling, developing ideas, creating characters, and so much more. The book is easy to understand, but provides advanced insight into learning the craft of screenwriting.
In my opinion, if you really want to be a screenwriter but know nothing about screenwriting, you should start with this book.
Nonetheless, Lloyd Kaufman is also worthy of the title. I am not a big fan of many Troma movies, but I am a huge fan and I have always been inspired by Troma Entertainment as a production company, Lloyd Kaufman, and this book.
Make Your Own Damn Movie is funny and enjoyable. Kaufman breaks down key crew roles and production elements to their rawest form, so filmmakers can explore the basic components of production in order to make their own damn movie.
And there is no better way to learn about making films than to start making films!
Postscript: I noticed recently that Kaufman also released Make Your Own Damn Movie DVDs some time ago. While I have never seen them, Volume 1 is free streaming with an Amazon Prime Membership! I will be watching it ASAP.
Every so often we will provide a reading list such as the reading list featured in this post. Each list will have three books that at least one staff member has read. Many of these books can be found at used bookstores, libraries, and/or online. Read these books. Use the comments section below and let us know what you think or if you have any questions. While we're not guaranteeing we will reply to all questions and comments, we would certainly like to hear from you. Also please do not hesitate to comment with suggestions for the film school. Class has just started, and it can always be better. Thanks for reading.