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suggested reading list for filmmakers and producers

Samuel French Bookstores
THE bookstore for actors and filmmakers in LA and New York.

You can find Samuel French on-line at www.SamuelFrench.com. 
Email is info@SamuelFrench.com

Brick and mortar locations:

Samuel French, Inc. (NEW YORK)
235 Park Avenue South
Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10003
Toll Free: (866) 598-8449 
Local: (212) 206-8990 
Fax: (212) 206-1429

Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop (LOS ANGELES)
7623 Sunset Blvd. 
Hollywood, CA  90046
Phone: 1-866-598-8449
10am – 6pm Monday through Saturday
10am – 5pm Sunday
The bookshop is located on the corner of Sunset and Stanley in Hollywood, five blocks east of Fairfax Ave. 
There is two hour parking on Stanley and we do have a parking lot behind the bookshop.Samuel French Bookstores


Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising: A Comprehensive Guide to Principals, Strategies and Methods. Henry A. Rosso

The Art of Writing Corporate Grants,
Howard Hillman

Film, Finance & Distribution, A Dictionary of Terms,
John Cones

Film & Video Financing,
Michael Weise

43 Ways to Finance Your Film,
John Cones

The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing,
Jane C. Geever

Filmmakers & Financing - Business Plans for Independents,
Louise Levison

The Fundraising House Party: How to Get Charitable Donations from Individuals in a Houseparty Setting,
Morrie Warshawski

Raising Capital for Dummies


I could say without reservation that every one of these books is a must read. Whether you are heading west (or east) to be an actor, a writer, a director, a producer or even just a grip, you need to educate yourself on this industry. This is a short and definitely incomplete list of books that you should read. Remember, knowledge is power and you’ll need all the power you can muster to succeed in this business.

• The Screenwriter's Bible, Dave Trottier

This book is a Godsend for screenwriters. He covers every aspect of screenwriting very comprehensively and leaves no stone unturned. If you want to format your screenplay correctly, this is the perfect desk reference for you. I've been writing screenplays for more than 30 years and I use this book ALL THE TIME. Not only does he have useful formatting information, he also peppers this thing with inside information about the business. If you want to write screenplays, this is a "must-have" for you. You can find this on Amazon by following this link... https://www.amazon.com/Screenwriters-Bible-6th-Complete-Formatting/dp/1935247107

The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats. Part 1: The Screenplay. Cole/Haag
This guide is another good reference for learning to format scripts properly. An improperly formatted script not only shows a lack of preparation on the part of the writer, it also makes it nearly impossible for a producer to conduct a proper breakdown leading to a accurate shooting schedule. Without an accurate shooting schedule, a realistic budget is impossible to develop. This was my favorite desk reference until I discovered Dave Trottier's book. (If you can't get your hands on Trottier's book, this is a good second choice.)

How to Steal the Scene ...And End Up Playing The Lead, John Swanback
This book is also on my list for actors but this information is good for those of you who are directors. I was introduced to this amazing book by a friend who moved to LA to pursue an acting career. She attended a SAG Foundation seminar and met the author. Next thing you know, she was studying with him. I saw some of her work after she had started working with him. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  He has a way of presenting his "arsenal of weapons" that will help the actor learn to see themselves as the camera sees them and use that "eye" to create memorable scenes for auditions. I purchased the book and loved every page. This book will help you learn to "steal the scene and play the lead". If you want to purchase it, go to blueswanfilms.com. While you're there, check out his classes which come very highly recommended. Oh, and John is also writing a follow up - “How To Direct Actors Like  A Pro & Look Like A Genius Doing” to be released in November. 

• Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices, Rick Schmidt
A good book on low-budget filmmaking. Lots of tips on ways to cut corners.

• Hollywood on $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 a Day: The Survival Guide for Low-Budget Filmmakers, Philip Gaines and David J. Rhodes
Another good book on low-budget filmmaking. More tips on ways to cut corners.

• Independent Feature Film Production: A Complete Guide from Concept to DistributionGregory Goodell
This book is chock full of great information. A little denser than the other do-it-yourself guides but definitely geared toward the serious indie filmmaker. Lots of contract and budget samples. Great information on what everyone on the set does.

• What They Don’t Teach You at Film School, Camille Landau and Tiare White
Just plain good information - the stuff you don’t learn “at Film School”

• Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, Nicholas Jarecki
This is a great book detailing the challenges faced by a number of different directors as they found their way in the business. Good for seeing that there are several ways to “skin a cat”.

• Rebel Without a Crew, Robert Rodriguez
A great book detailing how one director made his first award-winning and career-making film, El Mariachi. Inspiring and instructional.

• Film SchedulingRalph Singleton
• Film BudgetingRalph Singleton
• Film Scheduling / Film Budgeting WorkbookRalph Singleton

These three books are the bible for budgeting and scheduling any size project. This is a must for determining exactly how much for film will cost to make and how much time it will take to do so.

• Adventures in the Screen Trade, William Goldman

One of the best books about the film industry - how it works, why it works, why it works in spite of itself. An easy read and definitely required reading for ANYONE considering a career in this topsy turvy business.

• Which Lie Did I Tell?, William Goldman

This is the other best book about the film industry. If you purchase no other books ever in your life, you MUST own these William Goldman books.

• Hello, He Lied and Other Truths from the Hollywood Trenches, Lynda Obst
A well written and somewhat disturbing book about life in Hollywood as a successful producer. Don’t let it discourage you. But you should read it nevertheless.

• Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, Peter Biskind

Peter Biskind is a pioneer in the indie film movement and this is also an important book to read. Learning about the Miramax situation can prepare the filmmaker for the ups and downs of indie film creation and promotion.

• Mike, Ike, Slackers and Dikes, John Pierson
A good read with more information about the indie film movement.

• What a Producer Does, Buck Houghton
This is a comprehensive manual of filmmaking seen from the Producer’s point of view. It looks at moviemaking from the art side and not necessarily the business side.

• Persistence of Vision, John Gaspard and Dale Newton
This book addresses making a feature film for $30,000 or less. A very entertaining and informational read.

• The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, Chris Gore
This guide is for the filmmaker who has finished a project and is wondering what to do next. This is truly a comprehensive guide for all the festivals that occur in a year. Lots of great information on how to prosecute a festival attack and to get the best bang for your buck. Plus, he updates this on a fairly regular basis. 

• Thinking in Pictures - The Making of The Movie Matewan, John Sayles
John Sayles was one of our greatest storytellers and this book tells the story of how he made one his greatest stories (my opinion). Good insight and anecdotes resulting in lessons that an observant filmmaker can use in his/her own production.

• Making Movies, Sidney Lumet
Another book written by a filmmaker about the art, the craft and the business of filmmaking. Very good and a very easy read.

• From Reel to Deal, Dov S-S Simens
Dov Simens writes the book based on his popular weekend filmmaker workshop. It really is everything you need to know to make a successful independent film - from a guy who’s done it. Easy to read and full of valuable information.