So you want to learn how to make movies? I started this Online Film School to help you make movies, or make better movies. This web site is dedicated to anyone who wants to learn about filmmaking, or improving skill level. Yes, it is completely FREE! Enjoy.
Online Film School teaches you just about everything you can learn academically about film making. The rest you will have to learn through practical experience. Technical things like photography, lighting, sound, and editing are almost impossible to teach in just a webpage lesson, you need to see video examples, and you will need practical experience as well. Stick with me and I will teach you how to write scripts, direct actors, organize and schedule, the different kinds of shots, and the most important thing of all: how to tell a story properly.
Stories are the most important things the human race has ever invented. Stories tell us how to live. William Shakespeare was named man of the millennium when 2000 approached: a story teller? Man of the millennium? Wow!
Stories have shaped or consciousness throughout history, allowing consciousness to evolve.
A news story, a documentary, a nursery rhyme, the constitution, or the road to establishing one, or a holy book, are all based in story telling. The people we most respect, and in some cases worship, like movie stars, authors, and even scientist who describe their theories like a story, are all focused on story. Truth is stranger than fiction, but in terms of telling a story through a screenplay it is very unlikely that just telling a story straight up as if it is realty will work. Establishing truth is the goal of any great story, but this must be done through involving and enticing the audience.
A screenplay should take the viewer to an alternate reality, even if that reality, or world you are visiting, seems so familiar, like being at grandmas house. I’m not saying that every film should be told through the fantasy genre, but your story should reveal truth through emotional responses that might not have been seen or felt before, and take you to familiar places through unusual circumstances, that eventually become an alternate reality. In this case you will be breaking new ground. Sure, the hero might be visiting grandma, but grandma is not who the hero thinks she is. Grandmas image has been stolen by a morph-able robotic soldier from the future, who has come back in time to kill the hero, before the hero can save the future. Sound familiar?
Just telling a story as if it is real life, sounds like a documentary to me. And having experience making documentaries, and shooting news, even the latter is not reality, because as soon as you start editing, and rearranging your footage, you have changed that reality. Ultimately for me any kind of media that manipulates time in telling a story, creates an alternate reality, or world, because the edits manipulate time and space to create a compressed kind of reality that does not exist in everyday life. It is essentially surrealism, as film defies physics.
The only film I can think of that is pure, is Andy Warhol’s movie of the Empire State building. All he did was set up a camera, and recorded the Empire State for, I think, 24 hours straight, without a single edit. I only watched it for about ten minutes until I fell asleep. Boring! But I don’t think he wanted to entertain anyone with it.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. How to tell a story will be coming up in later lessons…
Getting back to the revolution, since you will need practical experience, the good news is that you do not need to be a millionaire anymore to work with high quality equipment. You can have your own film studio at home, and start making films on a relatively low budget. Join the Revolution!
What revolution am I talking about? The DSLR revolution baby!
Some would call it a renaissance: a rebirth of a creative free-spiritedness; others would call it a revolution.
It really does not matter…
I think its both things at once.
In fact I don’t think I would have created Online Film School, if the DSLR revolution had not taken place.
Because of what Orson Wells once said: “I spent half my life making movies, and the other half trying to raise money to make movies”, or something like that. No truer thing has ever been said about filmmaking.
I started making movies when I was 13, and spent most of my life trying to get movies made, but never having enough money… Now I can make movies anytime I am inspired, and publish them on Youtube, or Vimeo, the moment they are done: an instant audience; now this is revolutionary!
So my first lesson is to teach you about the: awesome world of DSLRs!
DSLR stands for: Digital Single Lens Reflex.
I will focus on the Canon variety for now as these are the cameras I work with. These cameras allow you to capture very large professional images that can be projected on 40 foot screens, using either a super 35mm equivalent format, the APS-C Sensor, or a 70mm vista vision format, the full frame sensor, big enough for Imax screens! Incredible!
These cameras are very inexpensive for what you get. A Canon 60d costs around $800.00 dollars.
These cameras allow you to change lenses, and cost less than the toilet paper used on a Hollywood production. I know I once worked for Hollywood. (revised: Today there are many different powerful and portable digital cameras that now put out 4K quality. I no longer use DSLR technology for the majority of my work. Today I’m using the GoPro 4 Black Rib-Cage mod, which puts out glorious 4k, and allows maximum versatility… more on this soon!)
The Revolution started for this reason that you can change lenses on an HD camera that costs practically nothing compared to high end HDs. (again: the Back-Bone Rib-Cage Modded GoPro 4 Black allows interchangeable lenses and is the cheapest 4k camera in the world… more coming soon.) Plus, at the time I am writing this, the 5dMarkII is the only camera that shoots full frame HD video, that’s about 70mm vista vision size! And you get all of this image from a camera that costs about $3000 dollars. Amazing! Even the Red, at the moment, only shoots super 35mm, although at 4K…
More full frame cameras are on their way for sure, but what an amazing thing indeed! Nobody ever expected this to happen. But it did, and now the revolution is on. The other huge thing that makes DSLRs popular is the fact that you can practically shoot movies in the dark. They can go low light with the right prime lens. No need for lighting if you don’t have any…
It is a revolution, or renaissance, because now anyone who goes through the lessons at this Online Film School can make a professional movie that could potentially be distributed online; putting a huge crack in the foundations of the establishment like Hollywood. Its only a matter of time until some backyard Spielberg makes the next greatest movie, with nothing but a DSLR, and breaks all the box office records! More on this later…
The DSLR revolution goes beyond just the cameras. The new Final Cut Pro X is tailor made for DSLR shooting. There is a whole industry that has grown up around these cool cameras, an industry that focuses on accessories.
The problem with DSLRs, even though they shoot amazing HD video, is the fact that they are still cameras, they are not video cameras. Because of this you will need gear to make them run properly so you can shoot cinema with them. The good thing is that getting the right accessories does not have to be expensive.
I will leave it there for now. My point is that the DSLR revolution has opened doors to aspiring filmmakers like never before in history, in more ways than I can go into right now. But considering the low cost of film-making, which the DSLR gives us, and the possible easy distribution of your work online, the possibilities are endless. You can read all about the advantages of the Canon 60d right here in my canon 60d review. All I can say is if you don’t get anything out of this Online Film School, at least get yourself a DSLR, or something similar that costs about the same, and does the same amazing job.