Dream big, even if people around you may think you are foolish. Some of the greatest movie directors in the history of cinema didn’t have a single day of film school and somehow they made their dreams come true. Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino and the director of blockbuster hits like Terminator, Titanic or Avatar, James Cameron have one thing in common. They never attended a film school.
The competition in the film industry is fierce, but having a diploma from a top film school is not going to stop your movie from being terrible. With enough passion and dedication, anyone can make movies professionally, but it is a rocky road and you must be ready to make a few sacrifices.
Education is Valuable, but It Can Only Take You So Far
When you arrive at your first movie set, no one is going to ask you what school you went to or inquire about your grades. The chances are everyone will be waiting to see what you can do. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can afford the luxury of not knowing everything there is to know about the movie-making process.
Those directors I mentioned earlier are also famous for their extensive knowledge of the cinema history, cameras, video editing techniques and all other aspects of filmmaking. They just didn’t learn it in school. They went to libraries to read about film technology or worked in video stores where they watched every movie they can lay their hands on, from French New Wave to trash horror movies.
Making movies requires the same level of dedication from those who graduated from the best film schools in the world and from those who never attended a single class that has anything to do with the film. A film school is just going to cost you a lot of money if you are not completely dedicated to the goal of making movies, and if you already have that burning desire to make motion pictures you don’t need school to get started.
There is no doubt that attending a film school can help you become a respected industry professional faster, but it is far from mandatory.
JAMES CAMERON Award Winning Film Director.
Don’t Be Idle, Learn by Doing
It has never been easier to make a movie than today, mostly because you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on developing film. You can use virtually any video capturing device to make your first movie, a Smartphone, a DSLR camera, or a compact camera, it really doesn’t matter as long as you are out there making that footage. The worst thing you can do is to sit idly while waiting for your big chance to knock at your door.
That mindset is not going to get you anywhere, but if you are attending workshops, while constantly working on something new, then sooner or later somebody is going to recognize your talent. The best part is that you will be gaining experience with every out of focus shot you take and every other mistake you make.
First movies are usually terrible, but that should just encourage you to make another movie. Each new film you create will take you a step closer to your goal, but you mustn’t stop believing that one day you can make a movie you are going to be proud of.
Use Every Chance You Get to Expand Your Knowledge
These words of the great Jim Jarmusch summarize everything you need to know about the right approach to making movies.
‘Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadows.’
Being a filmmaker means that you need to know much more than just how to record footage and piece it together. Be endlessly curious about all areas of knowledge, because you never know which little piece of information is going to inspire you to make your next movie. What’s more, there is always something new you can learn about cinema history, video editing techniques or methods of distributing your movie to film festivals.
Don’t be ashamed to admit that you don’t know something, because your more experienced colleagues can help you develop faster as a filmmaker by offering valuable advice or by simply pointing you in a certain direction.
Not attending film school is not an excuse to stop reading about different aspects of cinema. Most information you are going to need in order to become a professional filmmaker is already in books just waiting for you to discover it.
Surround yourself with people who share your passion for movies, because you can share your ideas with them, discuss old movies, new movies, scripts, incredible shots and everything else related to the magical world of cinema.
Tell Stories Worth Watching
What do I want to say with my movies? Sooner or later all filmmakers face this question. A film school diploma can’t help you find the answer, because the answer is directly related to the reason why you started making movies in the first place.
You can learn all the storytelling techniques that were ever used on the big screen by just watching a lot of movies. You don’t need formal education to figure out that every story has the beginning, the middle and the end.
Recognizing a story that captivates the audience is a much more difficult task, that requires creativity, imagination, and vision because you must see the movie you want to make in your head before you start sharing it with others. Don’t go for the clichés and even if you are working on a simple love story try to tell it in your own unique way.
Becoming a great filmmaker is not about which school you went to, it is about being a great storyteller who knows how to tell stories that make us laugh, cry and root for the protagonist of the story. Start small, make a short movie, and then another, and after a while, your stories are going to reach large audiences.
Related ARTICLES: ” Should I go to Film School: The Ultimate Guide 2018-2019″