‘Hitchcock’ by François Truffaut (1966): The book is a storehouse of insight and witticism, including the master’s impressions of a classic like Rear Window (“I was feeling very creative at the time, the batteries were well charged”), his technical insight into Psycho‘s shower scene (“the knife never touched the body; it was all done in the [editing]”), and his ruminations on flops such as Under Capricorn (“If I were to make another picture in Australia today, I’d have a policeman hop into the pocket of a kangaroo and yell ‘Follow that car!'”). This is one of the most delightful books in print.
‘Moviemakers’ Masterclass’ by Laurent Tirard (2002): Laurent Tirard talks to an illustrious collection of today’s greatest directors to get to the core of their approach to cinema. The results shed a unique light upon the mysteries of the directorial process. Martin Scorsese, we learn, likes setting up each shot very precisely in advance. Lars von Trier, on the other hand, refuses to think about a set-up until the day of filming. And Bernardo Bertolucci tries to dream his shots the night before.
‘New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction’ by Geoff King (2002): What is “New Hollywood”? The “art” cinema of the Hollywood “Renaissance” or the corporate controlled blockbuster? The answer suggested by Geoff King in is all of these and more. He examines New Hollywood from three main perspectives: film style, industry, and the social-historical context. Each is considered in its own right, sometimes resulting in different ways of defining New Hollywood.
‘The Visual Story’ by Bruce Block (2007): Bruce Block offers a clear view of the relationship between the story/script structure and the visual structure of a film, video, or multimedia work. An understanding of the visual components will serve as the guide to strengthening the story.
‘The Writer’s Journey’ by Christopher Vogler (1992): This book examines how the great works of cinema history have used the principles of myth to create stories which are dramatic, entertaining, and psychologically true. The author looks not only at how outstanding figures from Hitchcock to Lucas, Spielberg and Tarantino have used mythic structure to create powerful stories, but also offers step-by-step guidelines designed to help readers to incorporate effective plot structure and characterisation in their own writing.
‘Rebel Without a Crew’ by Robert Rodriguez (1995): 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. Also included is the appendix, ‘The Ten Minute Film Course,” a tell-all on how to save thousands of dollars on film school and teach yourself the ropes of film production, directing, and screenwriting.