Five Must Read Documentary Books for Aspiring Filmmakers

If you love documentaries and non-fiction filmmaking and you feel this is an area you want to be an expert in, here are five book recommendations you can indulge in to understand this field better.

1. Ferocious Reality: Documentary According to Werner Herzog (Eric Ames)

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying a library on filmmaking won’t be complete if you don’t have at least one book about Werner Herzog. He’s been making films for decades and has more than 30 documentaries under his name. This book lets you go through some of the filmmaker’s insight about his thought processes during filmmaking as well as his philosophies. It’s a great book worth reading.

2. John Grierson: Life, Contributions (Jack C Ellis PhD)

Known as the father of documentaries, John Grierson was the first to coin the term “documentary.” This book is worth reading if you’re a fan and interested in his unique process of creating and establishing an audience using this type of filmmaking.

3. This Much is True: 15 Directors on Documentary Filmmaking (James Quinn)

This book is a collection of essays from 15 different documentary filmmakers. You’ll hear from Kevin Macdonald, Albert Maysles, Nick Broomfield and more talking about different aspects of the documentary filmmaking process.

4. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing (Walter Murch)

This is another great book featuring well-known film editor, Water Murch. In it, he talks about his perspective, methods as well as shares some technique on how he goes about editing films. He also talks about the relationship between a director and editor as well as his philosophy on editing.

5. A New History of Documentary Film (Betsy A. McLane)

If you want to get a unique overview about the history of documentary filmmaking, this is one of the best books you can start with. Mainly focusing on documentaries created in the United States, the UK and Canada. You’ll learn about the early history of documentary filmmaking from the WWII era down to the 21st century traditions.

While there are countless more books you can indulge in about documentary filmmaking, these are some of the best you must have in your library. They’re the perfect go-to for any aspiring documentary filmmaker.