How to Stunt in Hollywood, by Amy Johnston (Amazon Createspace, 2018)

A series of interviews with Hollywood stunt performers. A stunt performer themselves, Johnston offers both a thematic and a stunt person-by-stunt person pathway through these interviews. Useful in giving insights into stunt folks’ perspectives on career-building, on storytelling through action, on working collaboratively in Hollywood, and on wider motivational and healthy living advice. Niche, perhaps, but informative and accessible.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

On Directing, by John Badham (Michael Wiese Productions, 2020)

The veteran film and television director on working in the industry. This second edition covers working with actors, directing action and suspense, TV and its differences to cinema, and preparation for shooting. An excellent personal perspective with practical value for any collaborative creative practitioner, drawing on a host of professional viewpoints and texts. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2011)

An episodic and non-linear autobiography, with other writings. Inevitably patchy (the non-autobiographical material is weaker, though it’s fun to re-read the Neill Cumpston movie reviews again) but nevertheless engaging stories from childhood, adolescence, and of various bad times on the comedy circuit. For fans only, maybe, but that’s a broad outsider church.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Sliver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From An Addiction to Film, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2015)

An autobiography, focusing on the 90s, on becoming established as a stand-up, and on an obsession with revival theatres. Perhaps not quite as much about old movies and moviegoing as the title suggests, this is nevertheless an entertaining and lucid book, giving some insight into borderline-obsessive behaviours of all kinds. Plus, it’s a love letter to LA’s New Beverly cinema.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure, by Dan O’Bannon and Matt R Lohr (Michael Wiese Productions, 2012)

A guide to three act structure, and why it works for narrative cinema: including the Alien screenwriter’s own variant. Completed posthumously, this is an accessible, lightly erudite and fun guide to onscreen storytelling. One third structural analysis, one third application of O’Bannon’s version of the three act template to selected movies, one third industry observations.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

An Illustrated History of Filmmaking, by Adam Allsuch Boardman (Nobrow Books, 2018)

An overview of the development of motion pictures, from pre-photographic days to the present. Good-looking but insubstantial introduction: the scope of the subject renders this patchy despite its intentions. A sense of Boardman working towards something: the follow-up volume (on UFOs) is a more focused beast. The images are great though.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Made Men: The Story of GoodFellas, by Glenn Kenny (Hanover Square Press, 2020)

A history of the making and reception of Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film, itself based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy. A swaggering, exhaustive and detailed account of the movie, with new interviews accompanying archive material. A great book for anyone who’s a fan of the film and/or its director, and tons of fun in its own right. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe, by David Camus & Nick Abadzis [trans. Nick Probst] (SelfMadeHero, 2014)

A fable involving Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, a seaman’s pipe and a fabled cigarmaker. An odd but charming bit of magical realism. Not quite sure what to make of it, but enjoyable both in the story and in its execution, and in its passion in detail terms.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England