Hollywood studios and global cinema chains are funding a new golden age in Indonesia’s movie industry. ( Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg) 

The Making Of A Movie: Books Filmmakers Read

From Ingmar Bergman’s autobiography to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Here are some books that helped these filmmakers write, script, and edit better.

Vinay Shukla

An Indian film writer and director. Shukla is well known for his film Godmother, among other movies.

(Image courtesy: Vinay Shukla)   
(Image courtesy: Vinay Shukla)   

Making A Good Script Great, By Linda Seger

“This book helped me shape my craft,” Shukla said. “It says that a film should start with a key image. For instance, the movie Pyaasa starts with a foot crushing a flower. Here the foot symbolises capitalism, and the flower the creative spirit. This is the theme of the film. I learnt to first visualise an image and then write, keeping that image in mind.”

The Making Of A Movie: Books Filmmakers Read

Crime And Punishment, By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“This book helped me immensely. One thing the book taught me is that in order to understand human behaviour, the primary thing to do is to observe your own mind,” Shukla said. “For any creative artist, until and unless you understand your own mind, you will not be able to bring your voice to your creation.”

Your Erroneous Zones, By Dr. Wayne Dyer

“This self-help book helps us to understand why reactions trigger a certain type of response, and how we can be more aware of how we respond to people,” Shukla said.

The Making Of A Movie: Books Filmmakers Read

Divan-e-Ghalib, By Mirza Ghalib

This book explores the meaning of life, according to Shukla. “This helped me understand the depth that can be captured in two lines.”

Reema Kagti

A writer and producer. She has worked on movies like Gully Boy, Gold, Dil Dhadakne Do, Talaash, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. She also worked on an Amazon Prime original series Made In Heaven.

(Image courtesy: Reema Kagti’s official Twitter handle)  
(Image courtesy: Reema Kagti’s official Twitter handle)  

Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting, By Syd Field

“This book really helped me as I haven’t formally studied screen writing. Even if you don’t adhere to what it says, this is essential reading for a film writer,” Kagti said.

The Making Of A Movie: Books Filmmakers Read

Easy Riders Raging Bulls, By Peter Biskind

“I love this book as it covers Hollywood in the 70s, and one can learn ‘a lot’ from this era of Hollywood. It has some of my favourite directors and films,” Kagti said.

The Making Of A Movie: Books Filmmakers Read

A Kim Jong IL Production: The Extraordinary True Story Of A Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, And A Young Dictators Rise To Power, By Paul Fischer

“This is the most bizarre story ever, and has a very different approach to filmmaking,” she said.

Leena Yadav

An independent filmmaker. She has made movies like Shabd, Teen Patti, Parched. Parched won 31 international awards, and was the longest-running film in France. Her film Rajma Chawal—a Netflix original—was released worldwide last November.

 (Image courtesy: Leena Yadav’s official Twitter page)  
(Image courtesy: Leena Yadav’s official Twitter page)  

When The Shooting Stops The Cutting Begins, By Ralph Rosenblum And Robert Karen

“This is one of the first books I read on filmmaking before I entered this profession, and one that sparked my interest in editing as an essential tool in story-telling. Today, editing is my biggest strength. Experience in editing has also changed me as a writer as I believe editing is like ‘writing’ the final draft of your story,” Yadav said.

This book tells the story of one of the most important and least-understood jobs in movie-making-film editing told by one of the wizards, Ralph Rosenblum, whose credentials include six Woody Allen films, as well as The Pawnbroker, The Producers, and Goodbye, Columbus, according to Yadav. But it is some of the lesser-known films he talks about that make the biggest impression. Battles with directors, producers and the footage itself together form a compelling picture of a life spent on making movies. His work proves that technology may change but the craft remains…and evolves, she said.

The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography, By Ingmar Bergman

“I am not a fan of autobiographies. However, ‘The Magic Lantern’ is one of the most inspiring books that I have read. I read this after I had watched a couple of Bergman films. It gave me an insight into the master’s heart and mind and prepared me for the crazy and illogical life ahead which I try and celebrate in all it’s madness!” Yadav said.

Story, By Robert McKee

In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen, according to Yadav. Robert Mckee is perhaps the most famous for being portrayed by Brian Cox in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation. So when he says, ‘You can’t work in this business without reading my book’, his audience has a good reason to believe him, she said.

“I am not a big follower of structure when it comes to onscreen writing, especially as taught by masters like McKee and Syd Field. I am more instinctive. But I learnt long back that if you want to break the rules, you can do it more thoroughly if you master them first,” Yadav said.