How to Learn Filmmaking Without Film School

How to Learn Filmmaking Without Film School

This week, I’m sharing the five things that you can do if you want to learn filmmaking outside of film school. Hello, my name is Simon Cade, and this is DSLR Guide. So I’ve got about a year and a half of regular school left before I could go to university So I’ve been thinking about this a lot trying to work out what it is that film school has to offer And then seeing that any way that I can get a similar or better experience without going to college. So first up in film school, you do actually get a decent amount of time dedicated towards actually making films. So in my kind of made-up film school alternative, if I don’t go to college Then I would definitely make sure that I do a bunch of short films So maybe something like a minimum of one short film per year. Now I’m really interested in the narrative side, but if you’re more interested in kind of corporate side or documentaries, then you could still, you know, do that kind of practice and the thing is while you might be able to establish a business or establish some clients who you can get to know and build an audience on-line maybe. The key thing, the absolute most important thing is that you’re learning tons because you’re making lots of films And I honestly believe that anyone who makes lots of films will see themselves just getting exponentially better. Now one of the best reasons to go to film school is that you get put in a community with some other filmmakers and you get the chance to get to know them really well. So if I don’t go to film school, I want to make sure that I’m not just working on my own projects with the same people, I want to branch out and work on other people’s projects even if it’s just volunteering so don’t underestimate the power of networking. People often say that filmmaking is all about who you know and just the principle that every single person who you meet, they’ll know some people and those people know even more people. So it’s definitely worth putting some real effort into getting to know people and getting to meet people. So on a more practical level, you probably have to be more active about it if you’re not in film school. So this could just mean Googling freelance cinematographer and see if you can find anyone who you can just offer to work for free, you know contact them by Twitter contact them via the email on their website and see if they have any projects that you can just help out and do whatever is the needs doing and then before you know it, you’ll be able to meet a whole range of people who are hopefully in the business. And then when it comes to your own projects there’s some people who you can contact, you know, to see if they’re happy to help or if they know anyone who would be happy to help. So I think it’s a case of looking for musicians you can make music videos for, interesting people you can make documentaries about and then also agents and producers who might be able to help you get your projects going a bit later on down the road. Now people often say that film school is the best way to learn how to use the high-end equipment and why this might be true in terms of turning up on set and, you know, not being completely clueless. I do think that it’s definitely worth spending the maximum amount of time learning about the creative side rather than just how to use equipment. So in my film school alternative, I think I’m just going to stick with the camera I’ve got, the Canon T3I and focus as much as possible on the things that make me enjoy film. You know when I enjoy film, what is it about it, is it interesting characters, interesting ideas? I want to learn how to make those sort of things and spend as much time as possible and not waste any time at all learning about how to use, you know, this piece of equipment or what the names of all these different technical things are. That information might be a little bit useful, but I think it’s almost irrelevant when it comes to actually making a good film. So, because there’s only so many hours in the day, I’d like to spend as much time as possible focusing on making good films with cheap gear rather than just learning how to make a film that looks nice. And I know it’s not always a one or the other, but the reality is that you’re going to have to prioritize one of them, and I wanna spend as much time as possible on the creative side. So if I wanted to learn to speak Spanish, probably the best thing for me to do would not be to just sit in my own room and just practice speaking Spanish all the time. The best thing would be for me to go out somewhere where people speak Spanish and listen to people speaking all the time and just kind of immerse myself. I could spend a bit of time learning the grammar and the kind of theory behind it, but the main thing is just to kind of absorb as much as you can. I think it’s similar with film, if you want to communicate with an audience via the medium of film and it’s definitely worth watching lots of movies and kind of absorbing as much kind of art and culture as you can. Now the difference between spoken language and film is that say in Spanish, there will be certain words that mean one thing and that’s the only thing they mean. Whereas in film, you don’t have to communicate in the same way that everyone else does, but I still think it’s worth understanding the kind of basic things and what people will expect when you say a certain thing with your film and to then understand how an audience will react to your film. So for example, if I used a close-up of a prop in a film, well the chances are the audience are going to either consciously or subconsciously expect something to happen with that prop. By giving it some screen time and giving a close-up, people expect that something’s going to happen of significance. So from watching lots of films, I might have learned that one guideline. And then I can decide whether I want to follow it or break it. So for example, having a gun in a close-up But then never having the gun go off that you could use that throughout your whole film that the audience are expecting the gun to go off, but it never does and that could be something that you think works for the story. So in my alternative film school, I’d definitely watch lots of films, and I’d really think about what it was that I liked about that film, What worked and what didn’t work. So I don’t mean just reading what other people have written about it and what other people think of it, but really thinking about why you enjoyed it or why you didn’t enjoy it because those are the things that’s your individual and unique interpretation of a film which is kind of like in a way the most valuable thing that you have, you know, your personal response to films and therefore what you want to make in terms of your own films. And I think another thing to consider is to take inspiration from a whole range of different art forms, so books, music but also things like photography and paintings because if you can try and capture the emotion of a song if that was what inspired you to capture the emotion of a song through a film, then what you’re doing is interpreting it into a different medium. So to me that’s a lot more creative, and we’ll have a lot more of your own individual fingerprint compared to if you are just kind of copying the exact style of a film director. So it is good to have movie knowledge, but I think it’s worth being influenced by all kinds of art whether it’s, you know, foreign films, old films or even like, you know, the really old art through the paintings and books. I definitely think it’s worth taking inspiration from a whole range of sources, rather than just kind of watching a film and then painting by numbers to try and do something similar. Now, one thing to consider is that I heard a veteran filmmaker talking on Some video a while ago calm voice when it was but saying that actually one of the best things a filmmaker can do is rather than just going straight into film school or straight into learning about filmmaking, is to just experience life for a bit. So this could be travelling around the world to understand different cultures or just kind of, you know, doing something that isn’t just filmmaking so that you have something you can draw from in terms of life experience because those are the most interesting films. Films are recreating a world through the medium of film, so if you don’t have anything to kind of draw from then, it’s definitely worth thinking about, you know, how you can kind of get involved with communities and just do, you know, real things rather than always just going straight into right what can I do about filmmaking? What can I do about filmmaking? So would film school be a complete waste of time? I definitely don’t think so. But I also think that with the right kind of attitude, that you can definitely get something that is just as good, if not better than the film school experience So that’s pretty much it for this week as usual, I’ll put some more information on the blog, in particular of a really good blog post that kind of explains the pros and cons of going to film school. So now we didn’t really tackle that very much in this video, and if you’ve actually been to film school, I’d love to hear what your perspective is on this whole thing. Feel free to write a comment, I’m sure other people would be interested in reading that too, but that’s it for this week, and I’ll see you next time. [Outro Music]

78 thoughts on “How to Learn Filmmaking Without Film School”

  1. Make a new video on how to be a doctor without studying medicine….
    Yes you can do many things by yourself but always a film graduate will know more than you do. By studying film you're able to receive the appropriate academic knowledge that a filmmaker or a scriptwritter need. To be more specific, you can't have the same amount of knowledge in your head about cinema compared to a film student or an academic of this field.

  2. Very informative! I was never thinking about going to film school (mainly because I'm already a senior in college now), but it was interesting hearing what you had to say. Also, I know this vid is a bit old, but I hope you're enjoying whichever path you've decided to take.

  3. As a 21 year old, your videos inspire me and I wish you lived near my area so we could collaborate together. You make a big difference.

  4. this is great information, i went to film school and these are things i would have love to know prior to spending 4 years studying. kuddos 😀

  5. I gotta say, I have a life wish that is going to film school, not only because of the contacts you get but because I educate myself better when I am commited and when I have teahcers who can orientate me through the whole thing, but I am COMPLETELY astonished and love the simplicity of the film industry and how you don't need a degree mostly, you just have to be good and someday you'll reach the top. Love the channel!

  6. I plan on not going to a film school but just going to a good in state university that offers cinematography/filming courses. It's not a fancy film school or anything but I think that taking the courses in a regular university is just as good as attending a film school. Also film schools are way too expensive for me

  7. What if I’m not knowledgeable in the filming aspect or really am interested in doing the filming. But rather that I have a story that I think is good enough to make a film out of?

  8. Realy like your Channel and advice tips Must ask would you know how to replicate a scene from Watchmen movie opening scene where the character uses a grapple gun to get to top of building.I have green screen so that's no problem.Just the appearance of taking off from ground.Would realy Apriciate it if you can help.All the best and keep up the good work.

  9. as someone who 1: dropped out of school and 2: doesnt entirely know what to do with her life, this is really motivating! thank you!

  10. One of the best gems was to master your existing gear instead of buying new. I nearly got caught up in this w qhen the new Blackmagic MFT was released, but I have yet to master my current cam.

  11. Who else wants to quickly and easily start making movies without going to expensive film schools,please visit this link- https://bit. ly/2HEb0hm

  12. Great analysis! However, I still can benefit from a school; perhaps I was not born with the sensibility that someone like you were! Great talk!

  13. You literally just described everything I have been doing and working on. Literally trying to get just as much from the internet and life experiences as someone may get from film school. I just made my first short film!

  14. Who else wants to quickly and easily start making movies without going to expensive film schools, no matter if you don’t know how to use the camera or even write a script? Here's how –

  15. this helpful to become a filmaker in easy steps. just read this guide and learn some skills. click on this link and buy this ultimate movie making guide –

  16. everyone says film school is a waste of time, but if i have to go to college what else am i going to major in if i love film?

  17. I was reading "Call the Shots" by Don Calame and that book made me Google "filmmaking" and find this video! Thank you for the great introduction to filmmaking!

  18. Only advice: just go and do it, learn from your own mistakes, experiment, play with it. Start from nature, architecture, bugs, animals. Progress on to people. Any camera will do. If you have passion you'll be great film maker.

  19. TL;DR — (Bascially, this decision is subjective; I also give general scenarios, including from my own personal experience) – Peace!

    Before I go scrolling through the comments – I will simply say that:

    The creative arts field/ industry (especially for younger, or up-and-coming creatives), always proposes this same question: Formal training, or non-formal training?

    Honestly, the answer (as I have always seen it) – is ironically, just as like-minded in response, as the whole arts community in itself — That answer is – "It Depends", lol…

    Why? Well, because just as the arts are naturally seen as a subjective field of study, so is the reason for those of us who pursue the arts (I speak for all arts in general). Some of us feel we are "born with" and are very-driven to achieve a high level of success within our arts crafts, and then others of us simply pursue the creative field, because we just know that — the tech industry, or doing law, or doing counseling, or firefighting, or farming, etc — is just not in our main career interest. Also, the arts are just an extremely relatable field to pursue. And, we are all artists, in some capacity! Of course the main difference, is that not everyone actually becomes successful with it… bcuz real life kicks in, and some of us realize that doing the arts isn't something we should do as a whole career.

    But for those of us that decide to fully pursue the arts. That's where this question comes in. Now, to simplify:

    A) Formal training:
    This teaches us that there are indeed, techniques, rules, ways to analyze, and other critical thinking skills that are needed in pursuing our artistic endeavors. And it seems that, a lot of the times, the 'naturally talented' creative types out there, probably don't really know why they do certain things they do to get those great results that we admire them for. (And this is fine, because truly, not everyone is a teacher, or not everyone should actually teach). But, for the ones of them who can interpret and structure these learning measures for other creative types in their industries — it leaves us with high tuition costs, or high personal mentoring costs, just to achieve the levels of creative greatness that we want to get from them.

    The problem though, is that not everyone who goes to these higher institutions or gets mentored by, even becomes great, or becomes employed, or even becomes proficient at everything they have learned. I think one of the main reasons, is that the critical thinking side of the creative field, is just like doing mathematics… you have to ACTUALLY do it, make mistakes and learn from it… you cannot simply take in all those theories, or styles, or possibilities of using that creative medium, without PRACTICE!
    DOING IT (and doing it and doing it, yeah) – is the best way to become great in your field as a creative… This part though, is where the other popular debate comes in: NATURAL TALENT (or Gifted) vs. LEARNED SKILLS — Yes, I'm sure you've heard some great points for this argument as well… but essentially, it comes down to a few things. So, I would say that for the creatives who find much gain, vs the ones who don't find much gain, the key differences are:

    1) Their Drive/ambition, to pursue their craft
    2) Their devotion to learning/improvement, over time as they grow doing it
    3) Their Belief in themselves, to overcome doubts, depressions, societal stigmas, etc. (while they go thru trials and errors)
    4) Their network: (Do they surround themselves with other creatives, or like-minds) a major key – DJ Khaled voice-over, lol

    B) On the other hand: NON-FORMAL TRAINING
    These are the creatives who decide to do ALL OF THE PRACTICE, (without engaging in the theoretical, or critical thinking side of their crafts). Usually, it's NOT that they don't care — but it's also not their main focus, as much as the DOING IS… They simply just "breathe" this artform, if they love it that much, that is. Then, it truly BECOMES THEM – (or part of what they do)… this is the level of mastery that we admire them for… Do they really know all the technicalities for 'how and why' they do certain things in their craft? Probably not. But they somehow, someway, possess a certain greater level of mastery in that creative field, than sometimes, the ones who actually paid those high & long term costs, to get an education for it, (technically in a very similar fashion). The true differences between the formal and non formal education for creative types, is that the formally trained ones, usually acquire certain benefits – (which might or might not work out in their favor, after all of the formal training is done)…

    For example, they learn more about the business side of things, as well as the historical perspective of their craft.
    Plus, the other things mentioned in this video like: (better equipment, industry peers & teachers, latest softwares or techniques)

    C) Finally, the last point to sum up my perspective on this – actually leads me into my next point, which is that:

    Some of us (whether formally, or non-formally trained, or even a mixture of both) — we forget that the creative industry is truly such a big industry… there are many departments, and many layers to get yourself into – even within your individual field types…

    So, essentially, even though the competition is basically like an athletic sport (where there is a lot of ego and titles to earn)… It just so happens, that, even if you are NOT the "main" talent, or one of the best in your team, or environment, or family, that doesn't mean that your creative education (whether formal or not) – was in vain (because, both training types actually DO matter). Which is why it is ultimately a subjective topic in nature, and also really, it's just a personal choice. But I still think a combination is best.

    [Speaking for myself, I have a combination of both, so basically… I am a college dropout (From an animation program – the other option was pursuing creative writing)… and, luckily, as it is now – I have full creative control of my projects, networks, work hours, travel experiences, etc… Don't get me wrong! I have learned a great deal in getting formal training, however, they literally are CATERING YOU TO become — whatever it is that your course of studying is teaching you… and I had an issue with this, because I am a 'full-creative' type… meaning, I like to keep my creative possibilities open. (NOT to just simply stick to ONE TYPE of creative career, then only do that 1 thing for all of my life, and then retire and die)… I believe that you need to have an actual STRONG DETERMINATION to achieve this. Why? Well, because you simply can't just withdraw from your academics like that, without some life challenges, or career setbacks, or even family consequences… but for those creatives that think also like me, a lot of us have a story of struggle… This is why parents don't tell their kids to be artists lol… unless, that is, you were lucky enough to be BORN INTO a creative type family, where that mentality freely is trained or nurtured into you while growing up… But for everyone else (usually the rest of us) — I truly wish you all the best in pursuing a creative lifestyle that suits you and your career, or family!]

    ehem Anyway, back to my conclusion:

    Whatever path you decide, or even if you have done both perspectives — I will end by simply stating that — if you end up having imposing THOUGHTS OF FAILURE — then really, this only points toward you finding your part "in the great orchestra" of your creative field. But ONLY, AS LONG AS YOU REMAIN PASSIONATE about it… Take filming for example:

    (You don't HAVE TO be the main role, and also, let's say that you ARE NOT IN the supporting cast, and maybe you are NOT EVEN on the production team… perhaps, your creative training (self-taught or not) — has been leading you to create the next big APP, perhaps, it was leading you into public relations or marketing, because you learned about the historical perspective, or perhaps, it will lead you into finding an even NEWER technique or a type of learning structure that might become even more efficient.. I don't know… but I remember watching an interesting video about someone who wanted to become an amazing game artist, but they just never could do it… they somehow ended up getting into electronics, and (coding I think). Basically, doing stuff with renovations and "non creative" jobs, but they never lost their spark for gaming… eventually, they found a way to merge or blend their passion with their existing skill sets… (It's a rough paraphrase of the video) — but the idea remains the same… Don't consider yourself as a failure, if you strongly believe that your are DESTINED to be doing something in the creative field.

    whatever it is you choose to pursue creatively, and whether or not you choose to find your self-taught determination, or if you choose to find employment in the institutionalized system… Just remember one thing. YOU ARE THE CREATOR. FIND YOUR CREATIONS.


  20. I live in a small country, there is absolutely nothing near me, no film school, theater school, nothing unless I move to the capital which I cant because the cost of living there is super high…

  21. I love your channel but please judge film school after you have attended it. This is a sum up what you could think of what happens there. How would you be able to know upfront what you don't know? To me this video sounds like trying to make an excuse for yourself to say: "I don't need it, I don't want it". It sounds arrogant or ignorant. I never have been to filmschool so I for sure have no idea if it is a good idea but I would believe a video about this more from someone or rather a bunch of people who did go and then judge it.

  22. Hi there – I'd just like to very respectfully offer some of my music to any film students or content creators who might be on a tight budget. I have a growing library of imaginative and unusual creative commons / no copyright music, available for free use for non-commercial projects. Music is on my youtube channel. Thanks.

  23. Filmmakers differ from directors in that they are responsible for every aspect of a film production. As a filmmaker, you might come up with the idea, write the script, raise money, find filming locations, audition actors, and direct the piece. In the process of doing your job, you may have to handle the stress of trying to meet deadlines. You'll usually work an irregular schedule, and possibly encounter rough weather conditions when filming on location.

    Earn a Bachelor's Degree

    Create a Short Film

    Gain Experience

  24. I think I like the last suggestion. I mean I want to experience so many things in life, even though I still want to do this filmmaking thing. But when you enjoy life for some time, maybe there could be a many surprises. I mean, I don’t want to waste my energy focusing on this film thing and just set aside and take some time to see what life has to offer. I guess this is the kind of advice I should look into.

  25. I'm a young filmmaker from the UK, I really want to improve my short films. It would be amazing if you guys put some feedback on some of my short films. Thanks guys 🙂

  26. Hey it would be really cool if you could go and check out the short film I made. It's only 2minutes long so won't take too much of your time. I would really appreciate it thanks!

  27. Hey…! My amigo thanks for your advice. I'm getting ready for. September too start 🎥 school. Godbless u mi amigo.

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