I dream for a living.
       - Steven Spielberg

Free Filmmaking Lessons


Welcome to Elements of Cinema – your filmmaking web resource with tips, tutorials, articles, and reviews on movies, techniques, and the several elements of the most exquisite and complicated art form on the planet – cinema.

Our mission is to teach filmmaking. We have spent years writing and compiling content for this website, and we hope you will enjoy it and be instructed along the ride. Whether your interest is screenwriting, cinematography, directing, producing, or editing, our articles and tutorials will undoubtedly prove valuable to your filmic enrichment.

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How to Learn Filmmaking?

The are several paths a student can take to master filmmaking. One valid method is to just start shooting. Forget about perfectionism for a second. That's right. Grab a camera, invite some friends, find a nice location, and shout “action!” This is known as trial-and-error, and it can teach you some basic principles like lighting, camerawork, and the importance of hiring professional actors. (Tip: don't ever use friends as actors unless they are talented.)

If you have unlimited money and time, there's nothing wrong with trial-and-error. One day, a few years or decades from now, you will eventually learn the ins and outs of filmmaking. However, most people want to expedite this process and master the techniques of the craft as soon as possible...

Enters the film school. Every so often, friends and students ask me if attending a film school is a good idea to learn filmmaking. My impulse is to reply wittily, “Do doctors go to med school?” But this would constitute an ugly fallacy that could mislead them. So instead of saying this, I invite him or her to sit down so I can make my case...

Benefits of a Film School

  • It pries your mind open: you learn more than what you want.
  • It improves your networking: you befriend people who share a similar goal.
  • It lets you sample different positions: you can try writing, directing, editing, DPing...
  • It provides you with facilities and equipment: you can shoot more and better.
  • It eventually will award you a degree: you may need one to win an argument when you have kids and they start talking about their future.

It is true that science cannot be compared to art. No one in their right mind would trust or even meet with a doctor who has no degrees or credentials. However, most of us don't really care if a filmmaker didn't go to film school because, after all, his films won't endanger our health.

Nonetheless, going to film school has many advantages. Think of it as a catalyst, something that speeds up the process, or a map, for it guides you in the right direction and doesn't let you stray away.

Indeed, attending a film school has several advantages, and it might be the most effective way to actually learn filmmaking.

Read more about Academia and Trial-and-Error.

Another increasingly valuable method refers to online resources. The internet, when used well, is the greatest filmmaking database there is. It's not really a film school because it doesn't enable you to practice and borrow equipment, but think about all the knowledge included here. You can read about films, filmmakers, techniques, conventions, novelties... You can read reviews on cameras and computer programs... You can post your films and receive feedback... When used well, the internet is awesome.

What about books?

You bet. Books too are a great way to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking. This website is set up like a textbook. But you have to understand that books can only teach you so much. All of those authors and writes spent years if not decades using and operating equipment and software, so you can't expect to learn everything they have to teach just by reading their books. Use books as a guide to make your learning more efficient.


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