12 Online Filmmaking Courses And Masterclasses For Cinephiles And Filmmakers To Make The Most Out Of Being In Coronavirus Lockdown

There’s no right way to be stuck at home. While some are understandably in search of distraction and escape through watching movies and shows, others may wish to see this time as an opportunity for personal development.

Luckily, amongst the boundless recesses of the internet, there are a number of great courses and resources for those looking to hone their skills or develop new ones or just plain learn something new for the heck of it. What’s more, in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, many professional platforms have been kind enough to make their content free.

From professional masterclasses to live lectures to structured workshops, here’s a list of creative courses and platforms for cinephiles and filmmakers to make the most out of your lockdown downtime.

YouTube Channel CrashCourse’s Film Series

Through a series of short, fun videos, YouTube channel CrashCourse gives you a whistle-stop tour of a range of topics ranging from philosophy to psychology. Though brief, they give you a strong overview of a wide variety of subject matter and manage to cover a great deal in enjoyable bite-sized chunks. Personally, I recommend their series on Film HistoryFilm Criticism and Film Production. For a more thorough, academic experience you could also check out MIT’s free video lecture series on film history.

The Sundance Institutes Free Filmmaking Masterclasses

The prestigious Sundance Institute which runs one of the world’s most celebrated film festivals, offers a range of online filmmaking masterclasses on everything from Documentary Filmmaking to Crafting A Web series. Each masterclass is a 3-hour video and all are run by industry professionals. In light of the current COVID 19 crisis, the institute has been kind enough to make all masterclasses free. All you need to do is register on the website. You could also check out their exhaustive video library of shorter videos on everything from casting to creating characters.

Filmmaker Satyanshu Singh’s Cinema Lectures For Charity

National Award-winning filmmaker and professor of cinema known for creating the AIB First Draft screenwriting program, Satyanshu Singh is conducting a series of online film lectures to raise funds for those affected by the current crisis. All you need to do to is enrol is make a donation to one of his shortlisted charity funds.

The interactive online sessions are conducted on Zoom to a batch of up to 60 students and he’s currently conducting up to 5 a week on topics such as Writing Dialogue and An Introduction To Film Directing. All you need to do is fill in this Google form to be added to the mailing list. You can alternatively check out his Twitter handle for his latest course dates.

Mark Cousin’s 40 Days To Learn Film

To help aspiring filmmakers and cinephiles, film historian and filmmaker Mark Cousins has uploaded an extensive two and a half-hour lecture titled 40 Days To Learn Film. More a visual-essay style lecture than a typical film course, you can watch it on Vimeo.

Coursera

One of the world’s leading online course platforms, Coursera is most known for its tie-ups with leading educational institutions. They even offer a range of online degree programs and certifications from renowned universities. While many courses are accessible free of charge, you’ll still have to pay if you want to receive certification. Why not check out some of their promising free courses like The Museum Of Modern art’s Modern Art and Ideas or Michigan State University’s Writing A Feature Length Script For Film?

edX

Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is another platform with courses from top-ranked universities offering both courses and online degrees. Again, many are free but if you have to pay if you want the certification and access to graded assignments. A number of free film courses that caught my eye include The University of Hong Kong’s Hong Kong Cinema through a Global LensThe Smithsonian’s The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture and The University of Pennsylvania’s History of Hollywood

FutureLearn

FutureLearn is another leading platform offering a selection of paid online degrees and free courses from leading institutions around the world that’s well worth exploring. The University Of East Anglia’s Introduction To Screenwriting and The Film Distributors’ Association’s Connecting Films With Audiences both seem promising and are free of cost.

The Open University

One of the UK’s most respected online institutions, The Open University has a free section called Open Learn which offers a wide range of courses across disciplines. Why not check out their 12-hour The Business Of Film course created by Pinewood Studios which covers the basics of film production and financing? Again, all you need to do is create an account.

MZed

An online platform specifically for filmmakers and creative professionals, MZed has also made a number of their video lessons and masterclasses available for free, all you need to do is create an account. Ranging from cinema sound, to screenplay writing to a variety of cinematography masterclasses, you can check out their list here.

The Hurlbut Academy’s Cinematography Masterclass

With over 5 hours’ worth of video lectures on everything from blocking to the various kinds of lighting, the Hurlbut Academy has made their extensive cinematography masterclass The Illumination Experience available for free. You can check it out here.

Udemy

One of the most popular online course platforms, Udemy has an extensive library of courses ranging from the academic to the creative, both paid and free. Again, the free courses give you access to all the video lectures, but for certification and interaction with a live tutor, you need to opt for the paid version. Since practically anyone can become a course instructor on Udemy, it’s best to consider the course ratings and reviews in order to make an informed decision. That in mind, it’s well worth checking out their filmmaking and writing sections.

Skillshare

Instead of structured courses, Skillshare hosts a vast bank of videos ranging from 5 minutes to many hours, aimed at teaching specific skills. While they have a selection of free courses, they’re also currently offering a 2-month free subscription to access all their premium content, but you do have to give your bank details with an option of cancelling at any point. You can access all their free classes here.

Special Mentions:

For other filmmaking resources such as live workshops and mentorship programmes to script labs check out Screendaily’s extensive list of free resources for filmmakers during the COVID-19 crisis. 

For those with other interests, Duolingo is offering free content for those wanting to learn a language, the PPA is offering free courses for those wanting to learn photography and IMusic School is your one-stop shop to learning a new instrument.

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