I give this handout to my students when I get into screenplay writing. It's a quick list of books and links I think are worth knowing about, though not always reading about.
You'll see what I mean:
This website is run by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, the two guys who wrote all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They have a bunch of articles up about the screenwriting process, all of which are pretty great. They also have a message board, where they (and others) talking movie-writing.
This guy writes a LOT of movies, including a bunch for Tim Burton (Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). He also wrote and directed a very trippy movie called The Nines, which he financed himself.
William Martell writes cheap (VERY cheap) action movies for cable and video. He’s not very famous, but he has 19 movie credits to his name.
Screenplay: Syd Field
Written by a guy with almost no actual writing credits to his name, this did not prevent him from being the guy everyone used to read, years ago. His book is terrible, avoid it.
Story: Robert McKee
The “it” guy for writing in Hollywood. I’ve never read his book. His most recent “writing” job was consulting on some animated Barbie movies (really!).
Screenwriting 434: Lew Hunter
In 1998, most of the top ten movies that came out that year were taught by this guy. And he really does know his stuff. I don’t agree with everything he says, but if you follow his methods, you will end up with a pile of paper resembling a screenplay.
Crafty Screenwriting: Alex Epstein
More of a TV writer than a movie writer, but he still knows what he’s talking about. As a bonus, he has a web site and blog, both of which are worth a look: