Become a Filmmaker: Education and Training Requirements
Learn how to become a filmmaker. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a filmmaker.
Filmmakers may differ from directors in that they are responsible for every aspect of a film production. While directors will be hired by a producer to bring a screenwriter's words to the screen, a filmmaker may wear multiple hats and come up with the idea, write the script, raise money, find filming locations, audition actors and direct the piece. While there are no formal requirements to become a filmmaker, a bachelor's degree will provide individuals with an opportunity to acquire many of the skills necessary to work in the field, as well as gain experience with projects and establish industry contacts. The table below includes information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about how to become a filmmaker.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Name||Film and television production|
|Experience||Working on a film set can give individuals an idea of what it takes to be a filmmaker and develop contacts in the industry|
|Key Skills||Creative, detail-oriented and organized; strong leadership skills are also necessary|
|Computer Skills||Editing software, such as Final Cut Pro or Avid|
|Technical Skills||Knowledge of how to operate camera equipment|
Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Degree Program
In order to gain the knowledge and skills to become a filmmaker, individuals may want to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in film and television production. Courses in this program will give students the technical and creative abilities necessary to make their own films. Students will learn about camera operation, lighting and sound, editing, screenwriting and animation. The program will also teach students the differences between scripted films and documentary films.
- Focus your attention on screenwriting. While directors are responsible for making decisions on a set, creating the shots and instructing the actors, filmmakers may also need to write the scripts they produce. Writing short films, creating scenes or developing treatments in school will give you an opportunity to learn the writing process and improve your screenwriting abilities.
Step 2: Create a Short Film
Many bachelor's degree programs offer students an opportunity to create a short film during their senior year. Creating a short film offers students a chance to apply what they have learned in the classroom onto the set. In addition to writing the script, students will learn how to lead a crew, manage a budget, secure locations, audition and direct actors, set up a schedule and edit footage.
- Send your short to film festivals. Exposure in festivals can provide rapport to the filmmakers participating in them according to the prestige of the festival. Film festivals may also provide excellent networking opportunities. There are festivals that even have preference or special sections for students' works.
Step 3: Gain Experience
After graduating with a bachelor's degree, individuals may not be quite ready to become filmmakers; however, it's important to continue to gain experience. While recent grads may work as production assistants, individuals may be able to find work as camera operators, editing assistants or writers on low-budget independent films. Working on films is also an opportunity to begin networking and meet other professionals in the industry.
- Continue creating your own work. With the advent of digital production and filmmaking, creating independent films has become much more accessible and inexpensive. Learning how to complete a film from start to finish will prepare you for larger and more professional productions.
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