100 books like On Film-Making

By Alexander Mackendrick,

Here are 100 books that On Film-Making fans have personally recommended if you like On Film-Making. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Elements of Style

Randall H. Duckett Author Of Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing: 41 How-To Tips for Creators

From my list on learning how to write effectively.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love language and its power to inform, inspire, and influence. As I wrote Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing, I researched what others have said about writing well and honed it down to these resources, which I quote. During my decades as a journalist and marketer, I developed and edited scores of publications, books, and websites. I also co-wrote two travel guides—100 Secrets of the Smokies and 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. I’ve written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler and AARP: The Magazine. A father of three women, I live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Randall's book list on learning how to write effectively

Randall H. Duckett Why did Randall love this book?

This book is old, like early 1900s. It was first drafted by William Strunk, Jr., who distributed a version to his students at Columbia University in 1919. E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web) modernized it in the ’50s. It went on to sell millions of copies and become one of the most influential guides to English. Why the history lesson? Because it’s remarkable how relevant it remains in 2022. It can feel dusty and literary, but it offers nuggets of wisdom like “omit needless words” that influence writers like me today. I shamelessly ripped off the concept of “elements” for my book. The “little book” is short—the fourth edition is 42 pages—but mighty. It deserves a spot on your physical or virtual bookshelf.    

By William Strunk, E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Elements of Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book's unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of "the little book" to make a big impact with writing.

Book cover of Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Graham Rawle Author Of Woman's World: A Novel

From my list on storytelling and what makes great stories great.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an artist, designer, writer. I usually work in collage. I enjoy how the constraints of collage generate more inventive thinking, forcing me to come up with unexpected solutions. I also like how the found material retains traces of its original context. I’ve always been interested in the interplay between words and images – for 15 years I did the weekly Lost Consonants series in the Weekend Guardian – and that gradually led me to writing fiction. All my books have visual or structural elements designed to bring an additional narrative dimension to the story. Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by what makes great stories great. Hence this list.

Graham's book list on storytelling and what makes great stories great

Graham Rawle Why did Graham love this book?

Syd Field is revered as the original master of screenplay story structure, and this guide continues to be the industry's gold standard for learning the foundations of screenwriting. Even if you’re not writing a screenplay, read this book.

I have learned over the years that the principles of three-act structure can be recognised in, or applied to, almost every form of storytelling, whether you are making a film; telling a joke; designing a firework display; writing a novel, a play, a song; performing a magic act or making a speech. No one explains 3-act structure more clearly than Syd Field. He doesn’t offer it as a failsafe formula, but I have found his paradigm invaluable as both a writer and a teacher, especially for identifying narrative flaws in a story that is not working. (Usually mine).

By Syd Field,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Screenplay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood's script guru teaches you how to write a screenplay in "the 'bible' of screenwriting" (The New York Times)—now celebrating forty years of screenwriting success!

Syd Field's books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979. In this revised edition of his premiere guide, the underpinnings of successful onscreen narratives are revealed in clear and encouraging language that will remain wise and practical as long as audiences watch stories unfold visually—from hand-held devices to IMAX to virtual reality . . . and whatever comes next.

As the first person to…

Book cover of If You Want to Write

Cathy Pickens Author Of Create! Developing Your Creative Process

From my list on to feed your creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

Creativity is a practical, problem-solving, risk-taking endeavor, something we all do, whether we claim it or not. After working for many years with groups of graduate business students, artists, writers, business professionals, women in recovery, men in prison, with those just discovering their creative ability—and with myself and my own creative journey, I realize the question isn’t “Am I creative?” The question is “Am I using it?” or “Am I continuing to grow?” Nothing is more exciting than watching others as they realize just how creative they are.

Cathy's book list on to feed your creativity

Cathy Pickens Why did Cathy love this book?

Many of us are a bit afraid of stepping out and trying something new. That applies especially with creative work. “I’m just not that good,” we tell ourselves—or voices from our past tell us. Brenda Ueland was a long-time Chicago creative writing instructor, and her little book is strong encouragement (and a bit of a kick in the pants) about risk-taking and learning about our super-powers in the process.

By Brenda Ueland,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked If You Want to Write as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1938, this classic by Brenda Ueland is considered by many to be one of the best books ever written on how to be a writer. Part a lesson on writing and part a philosophy on life, Ueland believed that anyone could be a writer and everyone had something important to say. Heavily influenced by the ideas of William Blake, Ueland outlines 12 points to keep in mind while writing and encourages writers to find their true, authentic selves and write from there. Born in Minneapolis in 1891 to a progressive household, Ueland’s father was a lawyer and…

Book cover of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Tyler Fisher Author Of The Artist's Drawing Book: Learn How to Draw, Sketch, Shade, and More with Easy Lessons and Practice Pages

From my list on unleashing your creative potential.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, art is a journey of relentless questioning, exploring, and introspection. As an artist, author, and educator, I have relied on each book in this collection to further my creative journey. The titles that I've selected offer unique perspectives on the transformative power of art and have had the biggest effect on my students, my peers, and my own artistic growth. I believe that art is a language that is and should be for everyone, providing a conduit for individual expression, problem-solving, and innovation. Each of these titles has offered pivotal "aha" moments while igniting my passion, and I hope they allow you to unlock your creative potential.

Tyler's book list on unleashing your creative potential

Tyler Fisher Why did Tyler love this book?

This one may surprise you, but I assure you that Understanding Comics is an absolute gem!

McCloud has crafted an intellectual yet accessible guide that is not just a study of comics but a masterclass in communication and the art of storytelling. This book provides a rich fusion of insightful theory and practical advice, all conveyed through the very medium it discusses, making it a uniquely immersive experience. 

McCloud’s engaging style and profound understanding of the mechanics of comics didn't just educate me;  they enchanted me. His deep dives into the psychology behind why we connect with comics pair perfectly with his diegetic examples of framing, composition, and visual motivation. It’s a journey through the mechanics of comics that turns into a deeper exploration of visual expression and human perception.

Art is, in essence, a storytelling medium, making this book as invaluable for artists and writers as it is for…

By Scott McCloud,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Understanding Comics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling international classic on storytelling and visual communication "You must read this book." - Neil Gaiman Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.

Book cover of Zeroville

Tyler Schwanke Author Of Breaking In

From my list on movie lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tyler Schwanke is a writer and a filmmaker. He holds an MFA from Hamline University, and his short stories have been widely published in online journals and literary magazines, including Chaotic Merge, Havik, and Fiction Southeast. He is also a graduate of the New York Film Academy and Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he was awarded a Minnesota Film and TV Grant. Several of his award-winning short films have played at festivals across the country. Tyler lives in the Minneapolis with his wife and their dog. Breaking In is his debut novel.

Tyler's book list on movie lovers

Tyler Schwanke Why did Tyler love this book?

Possibly my favorite book ever (only time will tell) this novel is a fever dream of Ike “Vikar” Jerome’s journey into Hollywood starting in 1969 and expanding over a decade.

With a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor from A Place in the Sun on his bald head, this novel reads like Forrest Gump in the way that Vikar shows up at historical moments in Hollywood’s golden age, making friends with thinly veiled Hollywood titans as they get their start in the film industry. 

By Steve Erickson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zeroville as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Erickson, Steve

Book cover of Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration

Thomas S. Hischak Author Of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

From my list on 1939 Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

Thomas' book list on 1939 Hollywood

Thomas S. Hischak Why did Thomas love this book?

Ted Sennett is one of the most prolific and widely-read writers about Hollywood and this book on 1939 is one of his very best works. It is filled (one might even say, stuffed) with behind-the-scenes stories. The writing is sometimes critical and analytical rather than gushing as in some of Sennett's many coffee table books. He concentrates on only seventeen 1939 movies so one doesn't get a full picture of that amazing year of movies. It's good to see some lesser-known classics like Midnight and Angels Have Wings included in the seventeen.

By Ted Sennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book on the famous year 1939 an epic year for great classic films.

Book cover of Monster: Living Off the Big Screen

Glenn Frankel Author Of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic

From my list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for 27 years at The Washington Post, where I won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. But when I returned home in 2006, I wanted to write about my own country, and what could be more American than the movies? They’re a wonderful looking glass into the past, and my books explore the making of an iconic movie and the historical era in which it was created. My recent ones have recounted the making of The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and High Noon, the Gary Cooper classic and its connection to the Hollywood blacklist, a time of vicious conflict eerily similar to our own troubled era.

Glenn's book list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth

Glenn Frankel Why did Glenn love this book?

Besides being superb novelists and essayists, Dunne and his famous wife, Joan Didion, were screenwriters who banked sizable incomes and endless frustrations doctoring scripts for nearly two dozen movies. Still, no matter what their glittering reputations, most writers are viewed as hors-d’oeuvres at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain, and Dunne spares no one, including himself, in this wickedly witty account of developing a screenplay about the life of TV news anchor Jessica Savitch. What started out as a gritty, cautionary story of a talented young woman who succumbed to drugs and alcohol was transformed into a feel-good fairy tale of love and redemption after Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer got attached to the project. Dunne captures every wrong turn with a writer’s sharp eye and ear for Hollywood hypocrisy.

By John Gregory Dunne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monster is John Gregory Dunne's mordant account of the eight years it took to get the 1996 Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer film Up Close & Personal made. A bestselling novelist, Dunne has a cold eye, perfect pitch for the absurdities of Hollywood, and sharp elbows for the film industry's savage infighting. 192 pp. Author tour & national ads. 25,000 print.

Book cover of Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

Brooke L. Blower Author Of Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

From my list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Boston University, where I teach and write about modern American popular thought, political culture, trade, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. I enjoy histories that are based on deep and creative bodies of research and that push past timeworn myths and clichés about the American past.

Brooke's book list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII

Brooke L. Blower Why did Brooke love this book?

Only a small fraction of the millions of Americans in uniform during World War II were engaged in combat operations. Harris’s well-researched account zeroes in on the service of five Hollywood directors, who, like many other professionals, were asked to adapt their civilian skills to wartime needs.

Tacking back and forth between Washington and other stateside locales and posts far afield—from Midway and the Aleutian Islands to North Africa and Italy—the book’s carefully drawn action conveys the far-flung exploits of filmmakers during the war as well as how those experiences impacted their craft.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Five Came Back as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of the great works of film history of the decade.” —Slate

Now a Netflix original documentary series, also written by Mark Harris: the extraordinary wartime experience of five of Hollywood's most important directors, all of whom put their stamp on World War II and were changed by it forever 

Here is the remarkable, untold story of how five major Hollywood directors—John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra—changed World War II, and how, in turn, the war changed them. In a move unheard of at the time, the U.S. government farmed out its war propaganda effort…

Book cover of This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories

Lisa Hall Author Of The Mysterious Double Death of Honey Black

From my list on for fans of Old Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories, whether on the page or on the screen, and after reading Gone with the Wind I immediately watched the movie, feeling the pull of Old Hollywood drawing me in. My grandfather was a big movie fan, and I spent many an afternoon watching old movies with him – Hobson’s Choice was a favourite. As I got older, Gaslight, Ocean’s Eleven, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane… they all had me gripped. Factor in my self-confessed obsession with celebrity gossip and that was me done for – Old Hollywood is rife with scandal and gossip!

Lisa's book list on for fans of Old Hollywood

Lisa Hall Why did Lisa love this book?

I stumbled across this beautiful non-fiction hardback while I was searching for books that would immerse me fully into Honey Black’s world, when I first started writing my novel.

This is an excellent book recounting the scandals of Old Hollywood – Clark Gable and Errol Flynn included – complete with an impressive amount of authentic photographs that bring every story to bright, technicolour life. A lot of the scandals referred to in my novel were discovered through reading this book!

By Carla Valderrama,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Was Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this one-of-a-kind Hollywood history, the creator of Instagram's celebrated @ThisWasHollywood reveals the forgotten past of the film world in a dazzling visual package modeled on the classic fan magazines of yesteryear.

From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.

The shocking fate of the world's first movie star. Clark Gable's secret love child. The film that nearly ended Paul Newman's career. A former child star who, at ninety-three, reveals her #metoo story for the…

Book cover of Hollywood: The Oral History

Chris Yogerst Author Of The Warner Brothers

From my list on bringing Hollywood history to life in the present.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Hollywood’s Golden Age when I first watched Psycho. From there, every new film and book from or about the era has been a journey into Hollywood’s history. I got into higher education and writing because I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others as much as I enjoy the learning process itself. What interests me most about Hollywood history is how the industry has interacted with American and global history. Hollywood has always had either a front-row seat or a seat at the table of history in the making. Not always on the right side of history, but always fascinating. 

Chris' book list on bringing Hollywood history to life in the present

Chris Yogerst Why did Chris love this book?

Wasson and Basinger are two other authors where you simply want to read everything they’ve written.

The reason I picked Hollywood: The Oral History for this list is that you have several hundred pages of Hollywood players telling their own stories. What could be better?? We get the scoop from stars, grips, screenwriters, carpenters, producers, directors, publicists, and everything in between.

What was it like to work in Hollywood in 1949? This book has your answer. What was the transition from Old Hollywood to New Hollywood like, this book has the goods. 

By Jeanine Basinger, Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Essential . . . thrilling . . . invaluable.' Irish Times

'Absorbing . . . rippling with fun and atmosphere.' Sight & Sound

'Hollywood's ultimate oral history.' New Yorker

The greatest conversation in the history of Hollywood.

From the archives of the American Film Institute comes a unique picture of what it was like to work in Hollywood from its beginnings to its present day. Hollywood: The Oral History, lets a reader 'listen in' on candid remarks from the biggest names in front of the camera - Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Harold Lloyd - the biggest…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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