I want to learn more about shooting video
October 23, 2008 7:39 PM   Subscribe

How do I go to film school without going to "film school"

A little over a year ago I picked up a video camera for the first time and started shooting video and posting online. I think I have a knack for shooting and editing and the overall response has been pretty positive. What I want to do now is learn more about filming techniques and whatnot, I'm interested in shooting travel/documentary style video and have read TONS of things online and watched TONS of movies and documentaries for inspiration, ideas, do's don'ts etc.... I think that maybe some kind of formal training is in order, but I'm not interested in a full bachelors degree (already have one in a different field). I work from home and have no real obligations so if need be I can pick up and move someplace for a few months assuming its the right program. Any suggestions?
posted by Scientifik to Education (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I admit to a certain bias, but UNCW.
posted by dawson at 7:45 PM on October 23, 2008

You might take check out the Gulf Islands Film & Television School, which seems like the sort of thing you're looking for. It's on a beautiful island near Vancouver, B.C. I haven't taken any courses, but I've attended some screenings of student's films there.
posted by Emanuel at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2008

The Travel Channel has something they call the "Film Academy," which is apparently a concentrated four-day crash course.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:49 PM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: For two years I taught a college course on production, so I feel somewhat qualified to answer this question.

First, learn how to shoot. Pickup Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video. That won't teach you any of the technology (like what buttons to press on the camera) but it will teach you all about composition, framing, the rule of thirds, etc. If you were to memorize that book front to back, you would be way ahead of most people that come out of an undergrad production program.

Next, learn how to edit. Again, not how to use the software, but editing as an art. Here are some books that will help. Skip the sections on "history of editing" if you don't care about that stuff. You're just looking for the basic principals.

Ok, so after reading both of those, you'll have the knowledge to learn how to use a camera and some editing software. Let's start with a camera. Get your hands on the highest end camera you can. This will likely mean being a PA on a low-budget shoot or (if you don't have any connections into this world) spending some dough and renting a camera for a weekend and playing around. Read the manual before you rent the camera though.

And lastly, the software. Final Cut is where its at. Sure, if you learn Avid, go for it -- but FCP is completely acceptable system. Here's a great video series on FCP6.

After all that, you'll be just as qualified as anyone graduating from an undergrad program.

Anyhow, that's my two cents.
posted by JPowers at 9:57 PM on October 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

JPowers is onto something. Learn to frame and light a shot. Learn to cut your shots together in a meaningful way. To which I would add, don't overlook sound. Nice images are nice but good clean sound always tells at least half the story.

I would also add that a few tutors or mentors wouldn't hurt. The right person at the right moment can truly accelerate a learning curve, and my experience with film industry pros is that a lot of them are very generous in this regard.

The problems with film schools per say is that they tend to lock you into a curriculum that makes sense to them (ie: why just sell somebody two very specific weekend workshops when we can sell them an 18 month program?). A good example here is Kevin Smith and Vancouver Film School. They like to mention he was one of their students but he never finished the program, just took a few courses and then got busy making actual movies, which is by far the best way to learn.

Good luck.
posted by philip-random at 11:26 PM on October 23, 2008

I have a friend who went to Brooks Institute to be a Cinematographer and during his studies at school, this book was one of the required readings.
posted by Mesach at 7:25 AM on October 24, 2008

I did some film courses at art school. The students that graduated with a BFA - Major in Film did dick all with it (four years later, the ones that are still in the field are just PAs), mostly because there was a real lack of specialization.

You know who did end up with real film jobs? The community college kids. Go there. Do that.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:38 AM on October 24, 2008

You could check out the Maine Media Workshops. I've done a photography class there and it was pretty great. They seem to have a good rep. I don't know a ton about the film program.

Honestly I think the best thing to do would be to get a cheap decent camera (of which there are tons) and DIY it. I'm sort of the opinion that laying out tons of dough for something of questionable financial rewards can be kind of bunk.
posted by sully75 at 8:47 AM on October 24, 2008

I've also been to the Workshops in Maine for photography and it was a fantastic experience. They have a very active film department.

I know nothing about film-making but I once was interested. I remember reading a great paperback called "What They Didn't Teach You In Film School." It basically suggested getting a camera and doing it yourself. It seemed to have realistic outlook and had lots of tips on getting financing, words of wisdom on how to get a cast and crew to work together and real-life examples of people who made it happen. I thought it was inspirational book.*

(*That is, it's inspirational for people who really have the dedication to make a film, which I finally had to admit, wasn't me!)
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:37 PM on October 25, 2008

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