Becoming a filmmaker is challenging, and there are many tools aspiring ones need to be familiar with. It’s not just about being able to film incredible and difficult shots, but in-depth expertise in things such as video editing, music, photography/cinematography, lighting, and producing all play a hand.
Extensive knowledge of certain programs, specific camera gadgets, and certain effects are all helpful as well. Many filmmakers study at specialty schools or colleges, but there are numerous online resources that are available for filmmakers, many of which are free or of little cost.
The filmmaking industry contains many avenues, including short films, documentaries, feature films, stop motion or animation, and much more. Narrowing down the field you are interested in can help to focus on what resources to use. Many times just starting out it is difficult to identify which path you want to take, so learning about each is helpful.
You also are not limited to any one particular way of filmmaking, so don’t think just because you make a documentary, you can’t next create a fictional short film. It’s possible to have more than one interest and to develop yourself as a filmmaker by creating multiple types of features.
Having a career in filmmaking does not necessarily mean that you have to become certified in a program or obtain your degree either. Let’s explore the vast amount of resources you can find that are out there to help you start your career in filmmaking.
Video Tutorials & Channels
There are many videos that you can watch, subscribe to, and learn from that are available and free right through your website search bar. From looking up simply how to teach yourself to start in filmmaking to how to use certain programs for video editings like Adobe or Final Cut Pro, you can find a vast array of videos to walk you through almost anything related to filmmaking.
This helps young filmmakers who need a more visual learning approach, and there are some well-known filmmakers who have created and provided some great tips and tricks for amateurs that are starting out or want to get their career going. Here are three great video channels that are out there for new filmmakers to explore:
- JoeyShanksFX — these videos can help filmmakers learn how to do really effective film techniques easily, such as creating a rocket ship, bubble explosions, and even the ever-popular stop motion.
- Indy Mogul — These videos focus not only on specific video effects and great tips for future filmmakers like lighting hacks and resolution information, but it is also a one-stop-shop of videos for learning cinematography, camera breakdowns, as well as shooting a commercial.
- Frugal Filmmaker — This video channel features filmmaking tutorials on how to make short films, specific knowledge on things like outdoor shootings and how to divvy up your finances, but most important on how to get started in the industry with finding good film equipment, and doing so without having to spend a ton.
The Best Music Resource for Filmmakers
No film is complete without a great score. Music applications are a definite need for anyone going into the industry, and finding the right music for your films is important.
There are some places where you can find music that is royalty-free, but you have to pay by the song. There is great music licensing resources out there where you can find public domain songs to use in your filmmaking.
So, what does it mean when something is public domain?
It means that there is no longer any copyright infringement on the use of the songs, meaning they are completely free for you to utilize in anything. Various online platforms feature songs that are in the public domain, and they are great for locating the perfect music to compliment your film. And the best part is, all of the songs are adaptable – meaning, you can change the melody, use the words, or write new words of your own if you wish. You have the creative freedom to utilize and/or modify each piece of music you pick to make it cater to the unique vision you have within your filmmaking.
Websites & Online Course Resources
Without earning any specific filmmaking degree, you can get a ton of great information and learn about filmmaking through industry websites and online courses. The resources you can find within a website or a course can really help to propel your filmmaking career along in its journey. Some great websites and courses are found below:
- Hope For Film — This is a website run by Ted Hope, a film producer who has years of filmmaking knowledge and experience to share. From videos to blogs and articles, he does a wonderful job of taking on a difficult subject and making it easy to follow, so it’s a fantastic resource for any filmmaker, while also keeping you up-to-date with trends in the filmmaker community.
- Crews Control — This website is jam-packed with blogs about everything from Cinematic Techniques you can use, to 3D Filmmaking, which is the next big trend. Though this definitely caters more towards freelance filmmakers and those running their own businesses, it’s a great resource for any filmmaker to take advantage of.
- No Film School — What better than to find online film courses that are free? Here, MIT has courses you can take that are free from Media Studies and Systems to Special Topics in Cinematic Storytelling. They are lectures recorded on video free of context, so they may feel dry and boring, but hey – you can obtain some really well worth it information about filmmaking without having to pay the MIT prices!
- Digital Film School — Though this is exclusively for iPod/iPhone users, this is a great starting resource for anyone interested in filmmaking. It’s a collection of videos from The Open University’s experienced filmmakers and they show you some of the insightful secrets to filmmaking, including how the professionals do it, and teach you some of the basics like editing, conducting interviews, and it explains the roles of crew members and producers within the industry.
- Philip Bloom’s Blog — Again, a great resource that shows you how to vlog, make short films, and documentaries, as he has known for traveling the world. He describes and reviews camera gear, as well as his experiences on set and making films. There are a lot of valuable tips and tricks to explore, and with him sharing his ability to use many different cameras instead of getting focused on just one as a filmmaker, you can be more versatile in your career.
Podcasts Are Great Resources, Too
Sometimes, all you have to do is listen, and you can understand and apply something. Podcasts are going to be a helpful resource and learning tool in your filmmaking to accompany the visual stimuli of reading and videos. There are a lot of podcasts out there that discuss the art of film and how to produce, as well as how to get your career going within the film industry. Podcasts can help open doors for directing, screenwriting, networking, marketing, as well as budgeting for your film career.
Some of the best podcasts for career filmmakers are:
- IndieWire Screen Talk — this podcast discusses film festivals, new movie releases and has some stellar live interviews where you can soak up some great information.
- Indie Film Hustle — this podcast features a real look inside the film industry by Alex Ferrari who has over 25 years’ experience in the business.
- No-Budget Filmmaking — This explores different filmmaking topics with veteran filmmakers Alex Darke and Trevor L. Nelson and how to make movies on any budget, which can be a great resource for any new filmmaker.
- Indie Film Grit — This podcast focuses on all things indie film with award-winning filmmaker Timothy Patrick.
- Go For Production — This podcast is all about the systems, strategies, and technology practices for the creation of media.
Do Not Forget — The Old-Fashioned Books
Almost a way of the past now, books have always been helpful learning tools for information and learning. There are many books out there that can help to break down the ins and outs of filmmaking and give you some great pointers in developing your skills into a full-fledged career.
Depending on your interests, there are many books that give you an overview of filmmaking but can also be found about things like Directing, Cinematography, and specific filmmakers to read about. You can find many of these books at your local library for free, or you can start a collection in your own library at home. Since you aren’t in a class and it isn’t required, it can be easy not to soak up a book, but you should always be taking notes of things and putting them into practice as you go along as well – in other words, don’t just read the book to read it, but apply what you are reading to your filmmaking.
Some of the best filmmaking books that you should be sure to peruse and possibly pick up include :
- Making Movies by Sidney Lumet.
- The Filmmaker’s Handbook by S. Ascher & E. Pincus.
- Master Shots (Vol. 1, 2, 3) by Christopher Kenworthy.
- Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Steven D. Katz.
- The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner.
- Filmmaking for Dummies series by Bryan Michael Stoller.
Finding Other Aspiring Filmmakers Can Help
Let’s not neglect the fact that others trying to make it in the filmmaking industry can be a valuable resource to you as well. Finding out how they operate, what they read, what they are listening to, and how they are practicing their filmmaking can all help you along in your journey. It also helps to be inspired when working alongside or learning from others, so be sure to expand your social circle to include other filmmakers.
One great way you can find other filmmakers is by joining various social groups online – such as a Facebook group dedicated to filmmaking, or following filmmakers on Instagram, or possibly even joining a filmmaking group chat on a website. Many of them share great insight into what they are producing or what methods they follow or programs they utilize when performing their cinematography, making documentaries, short films, and more.
There are multiple resources that you can utilize to jumpstart and propel a career in filmmaking. Depending on your preference, you can start with any of the above resources. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the plethora of information out there in filmmaking, so just start with one small thing, be it a book, a podcast you start listening to, or maybe just researching some online videos, blogs, or websites. Don’t try to immerse yourself in too much too soon.
Filmmaking requires imagination, innovativeness, creativity, and the willingness to change things as you go. Sometimes the mistakes or accidents can turn into the best parts of your films, so don’t get so focused on a vision that you miss out on other opportunities. While there is plenty of room for creativity, don’t forget that the actual practice of production is mostly science.
The key to good filmmaking is to set yourself up for success with an action plan. Part of that plan should include developing your skills, and to continue your learning. Filmmaking itself is not a difficult task, but making good films to get noticed and to help segway into jobs within the industry is the hard part.
However, with as many resources there are out there for you and that have been outlined here, you should never be short of finding a new book, video, podcast, or website that can bring you another step forward to making filmmaking your career.