Steve Trautmann

If you're making a wishlist for friends and family, and you're a writer, I have some suggestions for you.

Most of these books are not about writing, although one at the very end is, and I highly recommend it. What follows are books about filmmaking that I've enjoyed AND have helped inform my craft as a writer. I hope they help you too.

Two from Howard Suber

"The Power of Film" & "Letters to Young Filmmakers: Creativity & Getting Your Films Made"

Howard was my favorite film professor at UCLA. He has that amazing ability to speak to his students in a way that is both universal and personal. I remember talking with a directing student during one of the breaks in Howard's "Popular American Film" class, and saying, "It feels like he's talking directly to me as a writer." My classmate responded, "I feel like he's talking to me as a director!" That's the genius of Howard Suber.

"The Power of Film" is a marvelous book with dozens of short essays on all aspects of film. I haven't procured a copy of "Film & Letters to Young Filmmakers" yet, but I look forward to reading it because Howard has never let me down.

Master Shots

The "Master Shots" series by Christopher Kenworthy include explanations and explorations of shots we've all seen before in hundreds of films. The brilliance of the books for writers, is that through specific examples, they show scenes and shots - that if we're mindful - can inform our screenplays by adding a truly cinematic feel.

Walter Murch

"In the Bling of an Eye" by Walter Murch - one of the greatest living American film editors - is full of incredible insights into what makes a good film, well, a good film. I can't recommend it highly enough, especially if you venture into producing and directing your own scripts.

Jeremy Vineyard

"Setting Up Your Shots" by Vineyard really helps you start to think like a director and design your shots. As writers, we often think and write in master shots, but getting deeper into the look and feel of a film can really make your scenes pop.

Vineyard's book is long on examples of moving the camera to create suspense and revelations. It's more basic than the "Master Shots" series, but is an excellent place to start.

Out Of Print

"The Hollywood Eye: What Makes Movies Work," by Jon Boorstein, analyzes movies by how the audience perceives the experience of watching them. Parts of the book can be a bit too theoretical and abstract, but on the whole it offers a unique perspective to screenwriters. Boorstein goes in depth on what he identifies as the three "eyes": The voyeuristic, the vicarious and the visceral. 

William Gibson

"Shakespeare's Game" by Gibson is the only book on writing in the bunch. Even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare, this book can change the way you view dramatic structure. It delves into why we still read and watch Shakespeare's plays over 400 years after the bard's death. 



Categories: The Biz

About The Author

Steve, a member of the WGA with film & sitcom credits, is the producer & co-host of "3rd & Fairfax: The WGAW Podcast," as well as the producer & co-host of VPF's "Hollywood Insight." He's a graduate of UCLA, and a member of Veterans in Film & Television (VFT).

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