How to become a Filmmaker (without Film School)
Let me guess, you want to become a filmmaker but don’t know where to start. You’re not alone. Each of us has a story about how we entered the film industry and one thing is for certain. There is no one universal way to become a filmmaker.
What there are, however, are 5 important factors every filmmaker should follow to start and lead a successful career.
While film school surely helps with learning the theory and fundamentals, there’s nothing better than on-the-job experience. And Filmmakers Academy offers the next best thing — on-the-job training videos, live virtual mentor coaching sessions, and member networking opportunities, as well as other premium content and events.
Learn how to become a filmmaker below with these 5 important factors.
BUT FIRST, WHAT IS A FILMMAKER?
Filmmakers come in all shapes and sizes. There are industry professional filmmakers, owner-operator filmmakers, experimental filmmakers, amateur filmmakers, and the list goes on.
“But, it’s like just a label, man…” A filmmaker is a broad umbrella name for anyone who works on a production from the cinematographer to the production assistant.
A filmmaker is also someone who plans, films, and edits productions by themselves.
If you haven’t already, consider the kind of filmmaker you want to be. There’s no wrong answer but each kind of filmmaker has their own path.
1. LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FILMMAKING
There are a few levels of fundamentals that you should research. Like any other industry, understand how it functions from top to bottom. Even if you are a filmmaker who prefers a smaller market, do research about your region.
Whether you know what filmmaking discipline you want to pursue or are keeping an open mind, take the time to learn how every filmmaker works. The better your understanding, the more versatile you are and the more opportunities you will get.
Know the fundamentals before you walk on set with Filmmakers Academy. As an All Access member, you have access to training videos from the most popular filmmaking disciplines. On top of that, you gain entrance to a community of filmmakers who you can meet and ask questions.
See what Online Filmmaking Courses has to say about Filmmakers Academy.
2. CONNECT WITH MENTORS
Learn from those who already mastered the craft. If you ask any expert filmmaker about their growth, they will praise the mentors who helped shape their career. Like cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC and editor Joaquin Elizondo who benefited immensely from their mentorships.
There are many kinds of mentors. There are mentors you never met but take inspiration from their work. Then, there are mentors who are more like teachers that guide your career with personal mentorship. The more you grow in your career, the more filmmakers you will meet and learn from. Some of them will become mentors that you will even work alongside.
While there are plenty of mentorships out there, trust in mentors who are where you want to be. Rest assured, all Filmmakers Academy training videos are instructed by film industry leaders. Get to know our mentors.
Live Masterclasses are like a cross between on-the-job training and a university lecture and place members in the room (virtually) with mentors. Members have the opportunity to engage with the mentors via the chat box and ask questions along the way.
Here’s a moment from a live event with RED Digital Cinema.
SPOTLIGHT COACHING SESSIONS
Filmmakers Academy All Access members also gain access to monthly Spotlight Coaching sessions where they have the opportunity to interact with the featured mentor in a virtual group setting. Learn more.
1-ON-1 COACHING SESSIONS
Say you have a project that needs to be professionally reviewed or you seek career advice. Sit down for a virtual 1-on-1 Coaching session with the mentor of your choice! 1-on-1 Coaching Calls are ideal for filmmakers who want a mentor’s undivided attention for an entire hour.
Just note that while Spotlight Coaching sessions are part of both annual and monthly All Access memberships, 1-on-1 Coaching sessions are not included. Learn more.
3. CONTINUOUS LEARNING
The filmmakers who find the most success are those who open themselves to continuous learning. Due to advances in technology, the film industry is constantly changing and evolving. Grow alongside it! Just look at the latest camera innovations and volume technology. With new technology comes updated workflows and approaches to production. By continuing your learning as a filmmaker, you will stand out amongst the flock.
The best way to increase your value and advance your career is by taking the initiative to understand what’s on the cutting edge. Especially as a new filmmaker. You have a much better chance of securing work if you understand a certain piece of new technology. Just look at the drone and MoVI operators.
BAFTA Breakthrough cinematographer Aaron Reid says that he likes to use Filmmakers Academy for reference in his prep and to keep fresh on technical skills with industry experts like Shane Hurlbut, ASC.
“Film school was incredible for me, and I enjoyed so many amazing lectures. However, it would have been even better if I could have kept returning to my favorite classes and courses. Filmmakers Academy oﬀers you this opportunity.” — Aaron Reid
LEARN FROM THE MASTERS!
Filmmakers Academy has mentors who are industry innovators. Master Colorist Dave Cole worked at Wētā FX and was the lead DI on The Lord of the Rings films along with a few more iconic films. His work helped advance today’s coloring methodologies. Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC was one of the pioneers of the digital revolution and turning DSLRs into movie-making machines. Jamee Ranta produced some of the industry’s most popular music videos. And the list goes on.
As a member, you will learn from industry leaders who are actively advancing their discipline. Take a look at our filmmaking catalog.
4. NETWORK WITH YOUR FILMMAKING PEERS
You never know who will give you the opportunity that will lead to your big break. It could be the filmmaker who invites you on to a project. Or, it could be someone you met through a networking event that turns into a career-defining connection. We are all on a journey, and one thing is certain, a rising tide lifts all ships.
We know it can be awkward and we all have our Larry David moments, but networking is crucial to navigating the industry. Too many filmmakers miss out on opportunities because they don’t put themselves out there. The truth is that someone with less experience can win more jobs over experienced filmmakers if they make better connections.
Start by reaching out to your regional film office and connecting with local filmmakers. But it’s also important to get outside your market and enhance your network of filmmakers.
Filmmakers Academy’s growing community includes filmmakers across the world. As a member of our community, you can interact with filmmakers on the FA Platform, learn about the filmmakers in your region, and talk virtually with like-minded members during live networking events.
The journey of a filmmaker is won with commitment. Whether you become a professional filmmaker who works on union sets or a small market filmmaker who makes regional commercials, you must commit in order to progress. Filmmaking is not an easy craft and requires dedication to learn and create projects that people actually want to watch.
Commit to the filmmaking way of life because it is a lifestyle. Who else works 12-14 hours a day, contends with essentially any kind of variable, and collaborates with a team of creatives to make art?
Trust in Filmmakers Academy to support your growth as a filmmaker. It’s a rocky path full of many failures and successes. Filmmakers Academy provides the educational content you need to learn and progress in your career while expanding your network and giving you a line to the masters.
What are you waiting for? Become a Filmmakers Academy member today!
Are you still on the fence? Check out our full catalog and try out some of our free training videos under the Welcome to Filmmakers Academy playlist!