Online movie making lessons designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.
Learn How to Make Movies
You want to get out there and start making movies. Awesome. As I've looked around the web, I've found that it's hard to know where to start. This site is designed to help you get started making movies right now.
You can make movies
This site is for you. If you want to know more about film, filmmaking, and how to produce videos, you're in the right spot. And here's the really great news: You don't need any fancy gear. You don't need to buy anything. You don't need lights or fancy software or expensive microphones. You can create your short film or video with the things you own right now.
The absolute best way to learn how to make movies is to make a bunch of movies. You'll hear me say this again and again in each of my courses. Practice. Try new things. Keep practicing. You will improve on your own.
So if you've been feeling overwhelmed by everything you've read online about how to make movies, stop right here. Go shoot a video. Something. Anything. Get something on your camera/cellphone. Then come back.
Not sure what you should even shoot?
How to make a movie, for beginning filmmakers
There is so much information out there, but it's made by people who have forgotten what it's like to learn how to make a movie. I've looked through their content and they all talk about things like "which camera to buy," "how to setup lights," "what terminology you should use on set," "camera framing," and more.
This is all wrong.
Your focus, as a beginning filmmaker, is to get out there and shoot some videos. And that's all you should be bothered about as you get started. The current approach is backward. It'd be like teaching you how to make your first PB&J sandwich by first discussing the oven temperature professionals use to bake the loaf. You simply don't need that information yet. Once you "go pro," and decide to bake your own bread, then you'll look up the proper oven settings. As is, you just want to make lunch. So let's get started.
What you need to make a movie:
1. A way to capture images.
If you don't have a camera of any kind, you could draw pictures and scan them into your computer or make a flip book (that's what animators do). If you have a camera that only takes pictures, you could produce a stop motion video (like all those fun Lego movies out there). And if you have a modern cellphone -- not like my flip phone I had for years -- you have a video camera that shoots better quality video than the camera I used in college that cost me $3,000. The point you need to realize is that you can make a motion picture today with nothing more than a pencil and a few stacked sheets of paper. If you have more than that, you're in a great place!
2. A filmable idea.
This is where things get difficult. You've got all kinds of ideas, but how many can you actually make? What kind of project should you work on? How do you know if you've got one? My recommendation: Start small. Why? We'll discuss that more in a moment, but by shooting a bunch of little projects, you'll learn a ton about making movies. This is where I find students get stuck most often. So here are ideas. Pick one. Or start at the top and work your way down the list and repeat as often as you like. The cool part, with a little adaptation, you could totally do these even in a flipbook.
- Shoot a 30 second scene where something happens. Do this once as a single shot and a second time with other shots edited in to help move things along. Some suggestions to get your creative ideas flowing: A dog barks at the door, who could it be? You throw a piece of trash into the wastebasket ... but is it really trash? A guy talks to a girl (or a broom, or a cat, or a doll). Keep it simple.
- Make a 10 second "mood piece." This was actually an assignment I had in film school. Shoot a short scene that expresses a feeling (no dialog): Anger, love, sadness, jealousy, depression, elation, infatuation, insanity, etc...
- Record a conversation. That's it. A one minute film of two-ish people talking (could be more, could be fewer). What are they talking about about (the plot of the movie The Conversation)? Do they like each other (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)? Is this the moment they fall in love (His Girl Friday) or break up (Blue Valentine)? Are they discussing plans and one person doesn't want to do it (the opening scene in The Transporter)? Is one person trying to teach the other person a lesson (Phonebooth, Saw, etc)? My point here is that full-length feature films are packed full of these little moments. Learn how to get these right, and you're well on your way to becoming a professional filmmaker.
- Adapt a short story. Take something from history, mythology, the Bible, recent news, or otherwise, and retell it. Tell it the same way (Branagh's Cinderella), in a new setting (Kurosawa's Ran), or modernize it (Ten Things I Hate About You). You, like Hollywood, can totally draw inspiration by building off a story someone has already told. For your sake, I recommend keeping it under 5 minutes in length.
- Create a commercial. Some of the best short stories are told while trying to sell you something. There are a few legal concerns here, but as long as you faithfully tell the brand's story, they shouldn't get mad at you.
Make a ton of little films. The more you make, the better you'll get. And if you keep your films limited to small productions you can pump out every week, you're gold. Here's the deal: You'll get about the same about of experience shooting a 1 minute short film as you will working on a 17 minute film. This is because you're currently learning things. And you'll learn a bunch of lessons completing your 1 minute film and showing it to people. You'll learn about the same number as you would on a much longer film (but it won't be 17 times as many lessons). So practice and learn and improve. Don't get hung up on big projects. Keep making movies. Several YouTubers and Hollywood directors recommend that you practice by shooting a small film every week. Doing so would get about 50 videos in your reel in a year. That would be amazing.
Do that. Follow what I just told you and you'll be amazing.
Here's the really cool part: You'll naturally learn how to do all the rest of that stuff. For example, you shoot a film but it's really windy and it makes it hard for you to hear your actors. How do you fix that? You'll google "how to remove wind from audio" and find all kinds of tutorials. You'll learn a little and also discover that it's not good to record in the wind. So you'll find ways around that next time.
Suddenly, you're learning how to make movies... and you're learning by making movies.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Want even more? Read on...
If you want to learn the filmmaking process, check out Filmmaking 101. This year-long (36-week) course gives you a complete introduction to making movies. Even better? It's completely free. Register for this free film course here.
In this course you will learn about
- writing for the screen (scripts, screenplays)
- editing your movies
- sound effects (Foley)
- special effects (practical effects, no need for expensive CGI)
- producing documentaries
- shooting dramas
- creating an animation
- and more
This course is an excellent way to get started making movies because it provides such a comprehensive overview of what it takes to make a movie. And you will absolutely be shooting videos as you complete the lessons.
The difficulty of Filmmaking 101 is that it is long, takes a lot of work, and there's nothing to hold you accountable. That's why I created the Production-Now.com...
Beginning Filmmaking Course
After watching over 1,000 students work through my free film school, I knew I could make something even better. My 9-5 job is in education, so I've spent a tremendous amount of time reading about online learning, e-courses, and how people learn on the internet. It turns out that MOOCs -- Massive Open Online Courses -- don't work well because the students don't have any "skin in the game," as it were. And my free film school is exactly that: a massive open online course. Plus, as I looked at the assignments and compared them to my experience teaching students in classrooms, I realized I could offer you a much better way to learn how to make movies.
That's when I got busy writing my Beginning Filmmaking Manual. While Filmmaking 101 gives you a broad overview of the movie making process, Beginning Filmmaking is laser focused on video production and getting you to produce as many videos as possible in a short period of time.
This online film course is only 8 projects long, but you'll be producing short films the entire time. There is no distraction while we discuss lighting setups or camera angles. All that comes with practice and time. If you're ready to dedicate yourself to learning how to craft excellent videos, this is the course for you.
In order to learn how to make movies, you just need to remember the three rules. I tell you all about them in the manual that forms the basis for this course. But, for now, I'll give you the gist: you need to train, your journey starts now, and don't encumber yourself.
Of everything out there on learning how to make movies online, none of the website do a good enough job of encouraging students not to encumber themselves. I've found so many articles about which camera you should buy, how to properly frame your shots, how to get great lighting, what editing software you should use, and more. But that's not helpful here.
What you need is a step-by-step introduction to video production so you get started making movies today.
That's what the Beginning Filmmaking Course gives you.
Why pay for a course when I offer a free option? I suggest you read more about why it's a good idea to pay for online film classes.
Learn from professional filmmakers
I share a ton of information about my experiences as a professional filmmaker on the Production-Now.com blog. I provide insights into what I've made and draw lessons from what I've watched. I also produce extensive Behind the Scenes for each of my short films so you can learn from my experiences shooting video.
I said above that practice is the absolute best way to learn how to make movies. And that's true. But you can learn how to produce better videos by getting personalized feedback on your projects. That's why I offer opportunities for you to submit your videos. I'll review them and give you specific things you can do to improve your productions. This is the benefit of having a high school film teacher/college professor. And now you can get that delivered to you on your computer.
Production can be really stressful. Audio is difficult, as is lighting. I only come up with about one script idea a year, so writing is a slow process for me. I've found that editing is where I shine. I love the theory, the practical nature, the problem solving, and storytelling that comes through editing. You have so many options, so much control, and so many opportunities to craft your film in the edit bay (also known as sitting in front of your computer). And so I've created "Live Edits." This is your opportunity to "look over my shoulder" as I edit. These are real-time recordings of me working on a project. I talk you through my thinking, what I'm doing, and why. Check out the Live Edits here.
Online videos on movie making from the web
I am, by no means, the only person creating great content for learning how to make movies. Much of what's made is aimed at people with equipment and experience. I think this is because filmmakers forget that, to get started, you don't need all that. What we need is practice and guidance with a bit of inspiration tossed in, perhaps. So, in keeping with my three rules of beginning filmmaking -- train, start now, don't encumber yourself -- I've gathered up my favorite how-to videos and video production instruction here.
Digital Juice DJTV
I love the guys over at Digital Juice, and their early DJTV stuff is awesome -- then they started making videos just to sell their product, which makes sense but was far less helpful to me. Here are my favorites from them explaining brilliantly some things to consider as a video producer:
- Introduction to Framing -- a great start to basic cinematography
- Introduction to editing theory -- basic overview of editing
- Knowing what to cut -- how audiences can help edit better
- Visual storytelling -- creating better motion pictures by including fewer words
- Set design you can do -- getting better shots by taking some control of the environment
No Film School
This is a great blog with a few contributors who regularly find fantastic content. Again, much of it is aimed at people with money and on-the-job experience, but there's plenty to be applied even by those of us just starting out our cellphones as the only be piece of tech we have. I include these as things to keep in mind as you have opportunity to use them. But don't get bogged down. Use what inspires you; drop the rest.
- Simple trick to improve lighting -- how a black t-shirt can give you more contrast
- Production tricks to make your movie possible -- no-budget tricks from Christopher Nolan
- Lighting with non-traditional lights -- a short film shows how you don't need film lights
I follow some other great blogs and share their inspiring, helpful, or just plain crazy posts. Read some of these Other Posts of Note.
It's time to make movies. Let's go.
Your Media Production Mentor