How To Learn Filmmaking Without Going To A Film School?
If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, I'm certain this question must have crossed your mind several times. But do you know that the greatest filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and many more are self-taught filmmakers and have never attended a film school? If you think you need a degree to make films, you’re wrong mate! Although attending a film school has its perks but you don’t necessarily have to attend a film school. Filmmaking is the process of making a film. From concept development to production and distribution; it is an amalgamation of everything. Filmmaking is an art and is a creative process.
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“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'No, I went to films"
- Quentin Tarantino
But how do you know you might be great at filmmaking? If you feel you’re a storyteller, a creator; you find yourself behind the camera most of the time than doing any other activity, or if cinema and films are something that fills you with that excitement and rage and motivates you to tell stories then filmmaking is your passion. As an aspiring filmmaker, one might have this misconception that they cannot make it in the industry without a film background. One thing that your filmmaking degree doesn’t assure is the success you will achieve as a filmmaker but it’s the passion, the purpose, and the artistic skills and creativity, your dedication and willingness to learn, adequate knowledge in the field is something that will encourage you to achieve your dream and pave the way for a successful career in filmmaking.
But Where Do You Start?
You might give a hundred excuses like you don’t have the best of equipment, you don’t have the time or funds and etc. You need to take action. The first step is to just start. Take that camera out and shoot, write that script. Get out of your comfort zone and grow. The world is your classroom. Go out and seek motivation for your story, improve your imaginative and artistic skills. Even though you might not have the fanciest camera to shoot; for the sake of experience, start shooting with your camera phone. Your first screenplay draft won’t be your best work but keep experimenting with your writing, eventually, your script will advance.
Know The Cinematic Language
Get familiar with film terminology. Master the different concepts, terms, and elements of filmmaking like different kinds of shots, camera angles, different techniques, and movements, etc. Understand how sounds work? How editing affects the story? What camera moment the scene had? There is a plethora of material available for free over the internet. Youtube has scene analysis videos, there are books available on the same topics. Educate yourself about the field of filmmaking.
Learn Through Movies
Watch as many as movies you can. Be it of different genres, foreign films, award-winning films, or underrated films. Learn the different techniques of the filmmakers and their trademark shots. Pay attention to the story, the composition, and other aspects of the film. Note down things that catch your attention and understand it in-depth and what impact it had on the film. Go through the scripts of the movies and understand the beginning, the middle, and the end of a compelling story. Read books that break down the entire process of the film. Youtube pages like Every frame a picture presents video essays about film forms.
Build Your Network
Learn from a mentor who has a deep understanding of the field; someone who can advise you and guide you in your process. Surround yourself with like-minded people and learn from them. This can be possible by working under some high-skilled filmmaker by assisting them and getting some hands-on training by working on a set or interacting and collaborating with people who work in different aspects of the filmmaking process like production, sound, set design, lighting, screenwriting, budgeting, etc. Social media can be a huge source of learning, sharing your work, and finding people. Develop contacts with industry professionals
Go to your own school
“The most honest form of film making is to make a film for yourself”
— Peter Jackson
Practise makes perfect! Practice till you find your voice and make your own low-budget short film. Learn from any source that is available for you, be it watching tutorials on youtube or signing up for an online course, or joining workshops. There are various blogs that provide in-depth knowledge on filmmaking, read them. Attend film-festivals, in fact, these days tons of film festivals give opportunities to aspiring filmmakers who have the passion and the willingness to work.
For filmmaking blogs to learn about the filmmaking process in-depth
A real-world experience will always have more value than your filmmaking degree. These days the industry professionals believe it’s better to learn filmmaking on sets and studios rather than studying in a classroom and colleges.
Remember, not everything you create will see the light of the day. Don’t let failure disappoint you, keep on practicing. Be open to feedback and take criticism constructively. Everyone’s journey is different. The start may seem hard, but your belief in your passion will keep you going.
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