‘Hitchcock’ by François Truffaut (1966): a legendary book about a legendary filmmaker. This was the work that truly made me understand what a director does - from reading a script, to planning shots, working with costumes, sets, lights and props, as well as editing the final product. It's an incredibly detailed read.
‘Moviemakers’ Masterclass’ by Laurent Tirard (2002): a great collection of interviews with the world's most prominent directors. What shines through is the range of approaches - from Woody Allen's long takes to Godard's rejection of Hollywood conventions, you really learn how to think like a director.
‘New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction’ by Geoff King (2002): many say the 1970s defined the way Hollywood films are made today. In this seminal work, Geoff King negotiates the two prominent ideas around this 'New Hollywood' - that it is simply an extension of the 'Classical' Hollywood defined by Bordwell/Thompson, as well as being a re-imagining of the aesthetic and narrative possibilities of American cinema.
‘The Visual Story’ by Bruce Block (2007): in this practical guide, Bruce Block offers a clear view of the relationship between the story/script structure and the visual aspects of a film, video, or multimedia work. Not limited to cinematography, Block explores everything from storyboarding to colour and lens choice. It's an extremely clear and useful work.
‘The Writer’s Journey’ by Christopher Vogler (1992): this much-maligned read is indeed overrated and overused, having become somewhat of a cult onto itself. Even Dan Harmon's niche approach to writing hit sitcom Community (NBC) was influenced by Vogler. However, it does contain some useful insights and a path towards crafting your own path to storytelling.
‘Rebel Without a Crew’ by Robert Rodriguez (1995): part diary, part how-to manual, Rodriguez unveils how he was able to make his first film for only $7,000. Also included is the appendix, ‘The Ten Minute Film Course,” encouraging readers to learn the ropes of film production, directing, and screenwriting in under 10 minutes.