Do You Need To Go To Film School
April 9, 2016
How To Learn Filmmaking Without Going to College or University
Getting a formal education as advantages, you will typically get a systematic process for filming, a regime if you will, but sometimes it’s beneficial to teach yourself, there are plenty sources to this, youtube being a very big one.
So let’s look into how you would teach yourself film making.
Firstly you need to decide what type of filmmaking appeals to you, documentary, corporate or cinematic and television. Afterall you don’t want to focus on multiple film styles, start with the style of filming you feel an affinity for, and that’s important, learning something you love is much easier than learning something you don’t enjoy.
The one big advantage you have is time to make films, an education may help you formalize your filming, both theory and practice but nothing is a substitute for actual practicing by filming, ask any successful filmmaker and there is a very likelihood they filmed at every opportunity. You need an understanding of concepts appropriate to the style of filming you wish to pursue.
These concepts of course can be manipulated to achieve your desired result,but they will help you organize your filming.
It’s About Contacts
So how do you get the opportunities to film, good question, contacts. Contacts can be a wide array of people, typically though they will have the same enthusiasm for filming as you, they will be people who want the type of filming you are interested and people who are interested in helping you learn. You cannot network enough, it is all about putting yourself out there and being known by your potential market. You will need to work for free initially to build up a portfolio, this is normal and gives you precious filming time in a real environment, you will quickly learn any pitfalls and how to deal with them. One tip is not to offer your services using the word “free”, instead simply say you are willing to invest your time so it’s of mutual benefit. While you are doing this you want to try and get some work with a film company in the niche you want to work in, you can call some local film companies, this isn’t as easy as it once was, what with all the new health and safety laws, alot companies refrain from this, typically they will be required to employ you for insurance purposes. Even when you doing free work, it’s recommended you take out insurance and this likely require you to start a business in order to get the right insurance, which would be public liability insurance, you’ll also want to insure your equipment as well. As you will likely make a lose, afterall initially you will be offering your services to build up your experience and portfolio, this route may have the benefits of being able to claim back certain costs.
There are many filmmaking communities, and while it’s great to get an awareness of all filmmaking, focus primarily on the filming niche you have chosen, the people you interact with there will be alot more useful to you, and you to them, these communities may well be the source of your experience, especially if someone decides to take you under their wing and mentor you. Don’t forget when you offering your services to build your portfolio to ask if they know any other companies or people who may be interested in using your service, and, providing everything works out well, ALWAYS ask for a testimonial, you want as much out of your free work as possible.
As an example if you’re interest is shooting music videos, there is a high chance there is a venue nearby who regularly have live events, it’s doubtful they would turn the down the opportunity to have their venue filmed for free and the bands will likely jump at the chance of getting footage for their website and to share on social platforms, this is one example, but helps you understand how to think and creating a win win situation for everyone involved. You also never know who is in the audience and sees your footage, so remember to always leave a couple of business cards with the manager of the venue and the bands and acts themselves.
What Does The Audience Expect ?
This is a double edged question, depending on the type of filming you do. If you are making a short film, you can clearly mislead the audience until the end of your film, if you are filming a documentary of corporate video, the audience expects to see certain things, in the case of a corporate video this may be seeing the product of service in use, in a documentary, it may be seeing proof to back up a story or investigation. It is all relative the filming topic, for factual based filming you want to demonstrate the facts clearly, you can have a background story to which all these facts are leading to, an expose if you will. Understanding the target audience is key to a successful film of any kind, in Hollywood it is what makes or breaks a film.
If you watch a trailer for a new blockbuster, do they show you the boring scenes where nothing is happening, of course not, they usually show you alot of the highlights of the film to entice you to go see it, if you were making a corporate video, you would not go far wrong using a similar format for your filming of the product or service. Spend time researching the target audience, it will only help enhance your final product.
Inspiration can drive you to great things, and it takes many forms, most importantly it allows your creativity to shine through, if you are inspired so is your thinking. Inspiration is all around us, the things people do, natural beauty, a photograph capturing an emotional expression,a song, a kiss, we can be inspired by alot of things, make it a habit to be inspired everyday and when you feel expired, learn to put that inspiration into your filming because it will show.
There Is No Substitute For Experience
There is one thing you can only get by doing something and that something is experience. No course can teach experience, you have to teach it and learn it to yourself. However you learn , you only improve by the experience of doing it, this applies to anything you do. This doesn’t mean a filmmaker with 20 years experience is better than a filmmaker with 5 years experience, because it is how someone learns from their experiences that shapes their skillset. Many people repeat the same experiences throughout their lives and never really move forward, they gain knowledge, but do not truly learn from their experiences and how to improve on them.
By going out and starting your filming you are taking your first steps to experience, to becoming what you want to be but always be mindful of your objective, look at your experiences objectively, what could be improved on, what would you do differently, it’s good to question your filming experiences within yourself, reflection if you will, but reflect objectively.
So learning filmmaking informally is perfectly possible, both have their pros and cons and we will look further into the subject in future posts, but do not let the lack of formal education in filmmaking hinder you in anyway.