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MBI Recommended Reading List

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

To give you additional insights into the industry we have invested many hours curating the best reads for you!

The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV and Video Content in an Online World by Jeff Ulin

Written by Jeff Ulin, the insider who headed sales for Lucasfilm across distribution markets, and managed the release of Star Wars Episode III, The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV and Video Content in an Online World, is the first book to show how all related media distribution markets, including television, video and online, work together and independently to finance and maximize profits on productions. It demystifies how an idea moves from concept to profits, and how distribution quietly dominates an industry otherwise grounded in high profile elements - production, marketing, creative, finance, and law.

The book provides a unique apprenticeship to the business, illuminating at a macro level how an idea can move from concept to generating $1 Billion, relating theory and practice in the context of the maturation of global market segments, and exposing the devil in the detail that impacts bottom line profits.

Producers, media executives, students and entertainment attorneys in specific niches will benefit from this wide-ranging look at the business across various distribution outlets, including theatrical, video, television, online, merchandising, video-on-demand and so on. This book is officially endorsed by Variety magazine, the gold standard for media industry news.

The Hollywood Economist 2.0: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies by Edward Jay Epstein

In a Freakonomics-meets-Hollywood saga, veteran investigative reporter, Edward Jay Epstein, goes undercover to explore Hollywood’s “invisible money machine,” probing the dazzlingly complicated finances behind the hits and flops, while he answers a surprisingly difficult question: How do the studios make their money? In The Hollywood Economist 2.0: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies, we also learn:

  • The future of Netflix: Why the “next big thing” now seems in such deep trouble.

  • How Hollywood manipulates Wall Street: including the story of the acquisition of MGM, wherein a consortium of banks and hedge funds lost some $5 billion… while Hollywood made millions.

  • Why Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered a contract genius.

  • The fate of serious fare: How HBO, AMC, and Showtime have found ways to make money by offering adult drama, while the Hollywood studios prefer to cater to teen audiences.

  • Why Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is considered a “masterpiece” of financing.

The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

In The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the author, Michael Lewis, a financial journalist, looks at the quest for the secret of success in baseball. The book’s focus is on the Oakland Athletics baseball team, its general manager Billy Beane, and the approach used to assemble a competitive team. It shows how deeply prepared the team is to win and go for success, which is reflected by the televising of sport.

Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson

A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Mike Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world — and a legend both in and out of the ring. Philosopher, a Broadway headliner, fighter, and felon, Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time, and the youngest heavyweight champion ever.

But Tyson’s brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll, and by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted “to everything,” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family. With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his newfound happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original.

Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows, in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom, Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir, but an autobiography for the ages.

The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry by Brooke A. Wharton

An indispensable roadmap to success, The Writer Got Screwed is the first book to untangle the legal and business aspects of writing for the entertainment industry. It is for the young TV production assistant waiting for a big break, the executive with a treatment tucked away in a bottom drawer, the techie targeting the new field of cyberspace writing, or anyone who is inspired to write screenplays.

Savvy Hollywood entertainment attorney, Brooke Wharton, decodes legal jargon, explains how to protect creative work, shows how to read between the lines of a contract, and advises how to avoid getting sued and screwed along the way. Useful resources, including a list of agencies, competitions, fellowships, internships, and legal organizations, make The Writer Got Screwed an essential part of every writer's tool chest.

Film Production Management 101: The Ultimate Guide for Film and Television Production Management and Coordination by Deborah S. Patz

This guide to managing film or TV production covers both Production Mangers’ and Production Coordinators’ POVs. The essential road map to the business and logistics of on-the-job production.

Originally developed from practical tools Patz created for her film and television production career, this new edition has undergone a comprehensive update to address the shifting balance between digital and film technologies and to pave the way as we progress further into the digital age.

The book includes everything from budgeting, to managing production offices, to script revisions, to cost reporting, to copyright, to publicity, and much, much more. With Patz' penchant for sharing knowledge and her knack for communicating concepts, "Film Production Management 101" continues to be the book you have to have open on your desk for every prep, shoot, and wrap day. The more than 50 useful forms and checklists which are included (and downloadable) will save you time, money, and headaches, working like a pro right from day one.

Topics include: getting hired; budgeting and breakdowns; setting up a production office; hiring crew; workspace organization; production scheduling; daily production reports; location management; production insurance and completion bonds; petty cash and purchase orders; deal memos; cast contracts; script format and revisions; customs & immigration; legal clearances; cost reporting; postproduction; audits and much more.

Independent Film Distribution: How to Make a Successful End Run Around the Big Guys by Phil Hall

This is an Insider’s guide to independent film distribution that show you what you need to do to get your film picked up by a distributor.

No matter how good your film is, if it doesn’t get distribution it will never been seen by anyone! Learn how to break out of the pack and champion your movie by getting it seen and heard by the biggest audience possible!

This comprehensive insider’s view to the world of independent film distribution wipes away the prevalent myths surrounding the process and offers a harsh but useful examination of what is required to get a movie picked up by a distributor.

The book offers insider tips from such independent film giants as Mark Cuban, Hal Hartley, Eric Byler, Christopher Munch and five Oscar-nominated filmmakers (Kirby Dick, Arthur Dong, Liz Garbus, Bill Plympton). Plus expert insight from leading marketing experts, festival programmers, film critics and the distributors themselves results in the ultimate guide to distribution planning.


  • Broadcast International

  • C 21

  • Hollywood Reporter

  • KidScreen

  • Playback

  • ReelScreen

  • Screen Africa

  • The Business of Film

  • Variety Magazine

  • World Screen


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