From the (personal) mail bag: Books on film

Monday, February 12, 2007 at 10:13 AM

My friend Neal is a production assistant, and recently he asked me if I knew of any good books about film production or screenwriting he could check out on Google Book Search. I told him that I would answer via a blog post, so others might discover a new book or two as well.
Hey Neal,

Like I said, I’m going to answer your question about screenwriting and film production books on Google Book Search through this blog post. I thought it might be useful to start us off in the early days of cinema before bringing us up to the present day.

The Lumière brothers are widely credited with advancing the first cinematic technology, but there’s a lot of other interesting film devices that developed in the 19th century. For example, take the zoopraxiscope, which was pioneered by Eadweard Muybridge. It’s a precursor to modern cinematic technology that was described as “a magic lantern run mad.” Even further, the author of this description said he was “afraid that, had Muybridge exhibited his ‘Zoopraxiscope’ thirty years earlier, he would have been burnt for a wizard.”

But you asked about screenwriting and film production. If you’re looking for an overview of these subjects, I’d suggest taking a look at Screenwriting in the 21st Century and Film Production Management. You’ll be able to find a lot more titles similar to these by taking a look at the ‘Related books’ section, which you’ll find on the ‘About this book page for each title.

To take your film production to the next level, have a look at Film Production Theory, which will place your work in the context of European critical theory — save this one for a rainy day.

As for refining your screenwriting skills, why not learn from a master? I would check out the screenplay for Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll see on the page how you don’t need much dialogue to produce a powerful effect. Here’s a book called Aristotle in Hollywood, which you might enjoy if Greeks are more your thing. If you want a more philosophical view of screenwriting, have a look at The Way of the Screenwriter, which was published in 2006, so the title could very well be a Ghost Dog reference. For a historical perspective, there are also some interesting older titles like Writing for the Photoplay (1919) and Photoplay Scenarios: How to Write and Sell Them (1915) which you can read in full.

Well, I hope that you’ve found this useful. Definitely take a look at the ‘Related books’ to find more useful books in this vein. Thanks, Neal, for asking about these books, and enjoy your experience with Google Book Search.



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