Unconventional Resources for Filmmakers
One of the common advice professional screenwriters and filmmakers give when asked what to do to tell better stories is to lead an interesting life. It occurred to me that the same advice applies to resources in general.
So I made a list of 10 books that I have read and have had a deep impact on me as both a human and a storyteller. If you are part of the Monthly Creative Menu, you’ll notice the most recent ones again -and there are quite a few.
These books are not about filmmaking. Every single corner of this topic has been covered through hundreds of books, some of them I have enjoyed thoroughly and you can find on many many filmmaking sites, but I also believe that only reading about this topic can become damaging and lock your creativity.
These books cover topics as varied as creativity, storytelling, education, business, life and philosophy. Because I believe all those topics matter to build a solid foundation on which to create and expand.
As for the selection, the books are in no particular order. They all have in common that I read them from cover to cover. (There are many non-fiction books I started and got some great tips out of, but never finished so… disqualified.) This is Part 1, Part 2 will be dedicated to Talks.
Recommended Resources for Creatives
Robert Greene, Mastery
I read this book after it got briefly mentioned in Adam Westbrook’s video essay The Long Game, and it went straight to being one of my favorite books. If you are aiming for a certain level of professionalism and ultimately mastery in your creative career, this will bring you a ton of inspiration and knowledge. Planning to re-read this one a few times.
Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking
I’ve shared an extract from Palmer’s book before, but the whole book is a recommended read to anyone who is trying to make a living out of their creativity. Her TED Talk is a great introduction to what’s in it, it’s a very personal book but filled with real life examples of what is possible, once you start asking. I finished it a month ago and I can already see how deeply it has impacted my way of thinking. (I’m part of this big group of people afraid to ask)
Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
This is the first book I read, way before I knew I was going to become a filmmaker and a storyteller. Whatever your relationship with comics, I can’t recommend enough this classic take on storytelling through an art form that is so close to filmmaking.
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
One of the first book I read when I arrived in Los Angeles. Outliers looks at successful stories from a slightly different angle -which I always find interesting- and shines light on concepts that we might overlook or never know about otherwise.
Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
Every time I have a friend who whines about being unsatisfied with their life and wanted to make a change but not knowing how, I tell them to read this book. No, The Art of Non-Conformity is not a miracle book, but it does a great job at putting words on commonly underlying uneasiness many of us have with the direction their life is taking, all the while promoting being a decent human being. Which I value.
Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way
A short and sweet read that sums up concepts from the Stoics and show how they have been applied by great minds, and how you can apply them to in your very real life. I shared an anecdote from it in this article.
I would say that unless you never feel fear, and you never feel stuck, this book has something in it for you.
Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework
Another very short read that goes pretty much against everything you usually hear about waiting, making business plans, have a 5 years plans etc. This is one of the book that empowered me -a very non-business minded person- to just go for it and start selling some of my work.
Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup
Another friendly book for creatives with a need to make money and a block when it comes to sell themselves. My brain can easily shut down when the money talk is driven by the sole desire of making money, and this book is about everything but that. Guillebeau, once again, uses real-life examples and practical tools to help you see what is possible and how to make it happen. If you’re looking for independence and empowerment, this book is a great tool.
Ken Robinson, The Element
Ken Robinson gave one of my all time favorite TED Talk about how school kills creativity, and The Element is the book directly related to this talk. Following the same principles that many books on this list, it takes real life stories and concepts, and connects them together to help us, readers, reflect and think about what is our ‘Element’, this thing that makes time flies and allows us to endure pain and overcome obstacles.
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Julia Cameron’s book is a great companion if you are looking to unlock your creativity. Her morning pages have been both the most painful and efficient exercise to get me out of a creative block last year, that allowed me to create an interactive animation with 14 story lines in 28 days. Just for that, I cannot not recommend it. (It’s used by many creatives, from Brian Koppelman to Tim Ferris)
What books have helped you and you would recommend? Consider sharing them below!