filmmaking masterclass

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Do you aspire to be a filmmaker? Or a screenwriter? And if you do not have the accessibility to an academic program, then this is the perfect article for you. Get to know about the amazing filmmaking masterclass that can enrich you with knowledge and experiences.

There are many ways to learn filmmaking. You can find online classes on Udemy, Coursera, and Masterclass. You can check out the best filmmaking courses on Udemy and if you are passionate about screenwriting, then check out these courses.

This article deals with the best filmmaking masterclass for storytellers. MasterClass has become one of the most popular forms of virtual learning since its launch in 2014.

Masterclass Courses On Filmmaking

ICYMI, MasterClass is an online subscription-based learning platform that offers courses on a variety of subjects like Sports, Business, Music, and of course, Film. But here’s the catch: every MasterClass is taught by an industry veteran in that particular discipline.

With that in mind, it would be any aspiring filmmaker’s dream to learn from the person who made their favorite movie. With MasterClass, that dream becomes closer to reality.

With all these options out there, here are eight of the best masterclass courses on filmmaking to get you started.

  1. James Cameron Teaches Filmmaking
  2. David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film
  3. Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking
  4. Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking
  5. Ron Howard Teaches Directing
  6. Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking
  7. Spike Lee Teaches Filmmaking
  8. Mira Nair Teaches Independent Filmmaking
  9. Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking

Let’s get into the detailed structure of these filmmaking masterclasses.

1. Jame Cameron Teaches Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

James Cameron is a popular director and filmmaker known for directing some of the biggest blockbusters in Hollywood history. 

James Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar have been two of the highest-grossing films ever until only recently being toppled by Avengers: Endgame.

James Cameron is most notably known for incorporating highly advanced and innovative technologies in his filmmaking process. 

This is how he made the VFX of Terminator: Judgement Day look better than any other movie around that time.

James Cameron’s masterclass offers the following:

  • Identifying the correct ideas.
  • How to use authenticity in developing a story.
  • Creating attention-grabbing scenes.
  • Preparing for low-budget shoots.
  • Scene breakdowns from some of his most popular movies.
  • Properly introducing a character.
  • The thought process behind developing Avatar’s groundbreaking technology.
  • How to lead as a director.

Pros:

  • Very useful for those trying to understand how Cameron became a pioneer in using innovative technologies for a film.
  • Explains how to create great protagonists.
  • Very good advice for shooting on a budget.

Cons:

  • Some of the lessons may be familiar to students.
  • Heavy focus on scene breakdowns might stop some from learning new concepts.

At a little over three hours, James Cameron’s masterclass is worth checking out for anyone looking to understand how one of the most successful Hollywood directors approaches filmmaking. 

The insights gained into creating set pieces and using new ways to make films will be of value to all aspiring directors.

2. David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

David Lynch is an American filmmaker whose most notable work includes Twin Peaks, Dune, and Mulholland Drive.

Before starting his journey in Hollywood, David Lynch had experience in directing short films. He also studied painting and is a creative person all around with interests and work in the fields of music as well as acting.

David Lynch was nominated for an Oscar three times in the Best Director category. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Academy Honorary Award.

In this masterclass course on filmmaking, students can learn a broad overview of the creative side of making movies from unique ideas.

Here is what students can learn from this particular filmmaking masterclass:

  • Increasing your creativity.
  • Generating new ideas.
  • Start writing without the constraints of a traditional process.
  • Gaining inspiration from other filmmakers.
  • Casting the right actors for the role.
  • Working with actors to get the best performance.
  • Working on the art of “Show-don’t-tell” using production design.
  • Cinematography using his work as an example.
  • Using sound to enhance the film.
  • Keeping your creativity focused.

Pros:

  • Focuses on creativity and film.
  • Targeted towards those who are interested in learning the style of David Lynch’s work.

Cons:

  • Some of the topics can get too abstract at times. 

This masterclass on creativity and film is a quick course that lasts about three hours. New filmmakers can use this to start educating themselves before moving on to the longer, more detailed filmmaking masterclasses.

3. Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Martin Scorsese is arguably one of the most well-known and exceptional film directors out there. It is common knowledge that his movies are always highly successful in both critics and audience reviews, they also make for very strong awards contenders.

Recently, his movie The Irishman was released in theatres as well as on Netflix. Some of Martin Scorsese’s other hits are The Wolf of Wall Street, Shutter Island, The Departed, etc.

This masterclass on filmmaking teaches aspiring filmmakers a little bit about all branches of filmmaking. The modules of the course include :

  • Martin Scorsese’s background and early life.
  • Importance of classic cinema.
  • The value of every shot.
  • Finding one’s filmmaking process.
  • Discovering your influences. 
  • How style affects one’s movie.
  • Technical aspects of directing. 
  • Reading a script as a director.
  • Working with actors.
  • Efficient location scouting. 
  • The importance of production design. 
  • Costume design in a film. 
  • Cinematography and the importance of a DP.
  • Working on low-budget films.
  • Managing relationships with a crew.
  • The editing process.
  • Use of color in a film.
  • Using sound to create atmosphere.
  • Methods to promote a film.
  • Case studies from Martin Scorsese’s previous work.

Pros:

  • Highly valuable information throughout the masterclass.
  • Very helpful examples to explain different concepts.
  • Teaches one how to make a short film.

Cons:

  • Virtually none, it is one of the best masterclasses out there.

A masterclass course for filmmaking that provides such an exhaustive list of course modules is sufficient for any aspiring filmmaker to pick up a camera and start their filmmaking journey.

4. Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Jodie Foster is primarily known as an actor for her roles in movies like Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room, Taxi Driver, etc.

She won the 2021 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for The Mauritanian. In recent years, Jodie Foster has taken up directing as well. She has directed an episode of Black Mirror, the movie Money Monster, Little Man Tate, among other titles.

Jodie Foster’s masterclass course for filmmaking offers the following:

  • Using your identity to produce authentic films.
  • Learning how to generate ideas and using them as tools for a film.
  • Creating a movie from a story.
  • A conversation with screenwriter Scott Frank who works with her on a draft of a screenplay.
  • Preparing the schedule for a film.
  • Casting actors.
  • Getting the best performance out of actors.
  • Using different shots when shooting your films. 
  • Assembling a scene in the editing room. 
  • Using music in a film.

Pros:

  • Well planned course.
  • Helpful lessons on storyboarding and generating ideas.
  • Offers a glimpse into the collaboration process.

Cons:

  • Might be less detailed than Martin Scorsese’s masterclass.

Jodie Foster’s experience in front of the screen and behind the screen is why this masterclass course on filmmaking is so important, especially for filmmakers who also want to start on some of their projects.

5. Ron Howard Teaches Directing

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Ron Howard is an Oscar-winning director but also excels in making highly commercial blockbuster movies.

He has directed the very popular formula one racing movie Rush. Ron Howard was also behind the Star Wars prequel Solo, which is supposed to give audiences an origin story for the very popular character named Han Solo.

Ron Howard most recently worked on a Netflix movie called Hillbilly Elegy.

The previous classes were focused on filmmaking as a whole, this one more closely deals with directing movies. It might be interesting to those keen on stepping up their directing skills.

In this masterclass, Ron Howard will teach students:

  • The importance of a director to the story.
  • Understanding a story to improve its direction.
  • Editing a script to make it camera-ready. 
  • Collaborating with a team to make the best version of a film.
  • The role of the cinematographer.
  • Using colors in production design. 
  • Working with the right actor. 
  • Develop an editing style.
  • Add depth to a film using music.

Pros:

  • Good lessons to explain the subject of cinematography.
  • Get to see how Ron Howard directs a movie.
  • Helpful case studies.

Cons:

  • Might not be for those less interested and enthused about directing.

This masterclass course on filmmaking will help all directors find their philosophy when it comes to directing. The class is also a taste for filmmakers interested in other areas of the subject to check if the direction is something they would be interested to pursue.

6. Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Werner Herzog is a German filmmaker who is associated with the New wave of german cinema. He has a very unique style of filmmaking where the protagonists aspire to achieve impossible and unrealistic goals in life. 

He is also a screenwriter, actor, director, and opera director. He has a very strong impact on the world of filmmaking and is popular for filming without storyboarding. His acclaimed works in the field of cinema have brought him many titles and awards.

Truffaut once called him “the most important film director alive”. He has been stated as the director who “has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.”

In this masterclass, Werner aspires to teach students the following:

  • The art of storytelling.
  • Scriptwriting.
  • How to finance beginning films.
  • How to work with multiple cameras.
  • Managing actors and the set.
  • Sound designing and editing.
  • Documentary filmmaking.
  • Career aspects of a filmmaker.

Pros:

  • Great class to cover the complete aspects of filmmaking and documentary making.
  • Multiple and inclusive syllabus.

Cons:

  • Not for beginners. 
  • You have to have some prior practical knowledge of filmmaking.

This is an informative masterclass that can be among the first priorities of any aspiring filmmaker. As one starts gaining minor knowledge in the field of filmmaking, this course can enhance their level and approaches.

7. Spike Lee Teaches Independent Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Spike Lee is a renowned, highly acclaimed film director, producer, screenwriter, and professor. He has made several films that have won prestigious awards including Academy Award, BAFTA and Emmy. 

His production company has made more than 35 films since 1983. Lee’s films have critically fought against the improper notions of inequality, racism, and colorism. His films are a subject of study and he himself is studied as the source of such important and aesthetically excellent films.

In his masterclass, Spike Lee covers the various aspects of independent filmmaking and the problems faced by independent filmmakers.

The masterclass includes the following:

  • Scriptwriting.
  • Storytelling elements.
  • Financing independent films.
  • Sound and video editing.
  • Sequences of a film.
  • How to adapt screenplays.
  • Case studies base on his own films.

Pros:

  • Lessons learned from a pro himself.
  • Covers the most important aspects of independent filmmaking.

Cons:

  • One needs to have a basic knowledge of filmmaking and its aspects.
  • Practical knowledge in filmmaking is also required.

Learn from the expert and enhance your knowledge. This filmmaking masterclass has rich content that can help aspiring filmmakers to a large extent.

8. Mira Nair Teaches Independent Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Mira Nair is an award-winning director. She is of Indian- American origin and has made several noteworthy films. Her film Monsoon Wedding has received enormous appreciation from international film cultures.

Mira Nair specializes in films that have the glance of Indian society and its deep-rooted cultures and prejudices in a contemporary scenario. She has also made several documentaries in her career.

Mira Nair teaches independent filmmaking in a masterclass that covers some important aspects of independent filmmaking focusing mainly on the filmmaking process.

The course covers the following:

  • Finding the story.
  • Stretching the budget.
  • Casting the actors.
  • Directing.
  • Various stages of rehearsal and pre-production.
  • Storyboarding.
  • Coordinating with the cinematographer.
  • Importance of sound and music.

Pros:

  • Learn from the expert.
  • Special case study.
  • Focus on the filmmaking aspect.

Cons:

  • Needs prior filmmaking experience.

Mira Nair is among the popular names in international cinema. You must not leave a chance to let go of such a course that can have a huge impact on your filmmaking career.

9. Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking

9 Best Filmmaking MasterClass Courses for Storytellers

Ken Burns is a widely popular American filmmaker and documentarian. His documentaries have achieved the hour of many prestigious awards and titles. He specifies using archival footage and photographs in his documentary films. 

His most popular documentaries involve Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue Of Liberty, The Civil War, and The Vietnam War. He has a unique style of filming that makes him special and different from other documentarians.

In this masterclass, he teaches the art of documentary filmmaking and its various aspects. You will learn the following:

  • Documentary storytelling.
  • Treatments, pitching and funding.
  • Documentary narrative.
  • Sourcing archival materials.
  • Shaping and building characters.
  • Scriptwriting for documentary.
  • Visual storytelling.
  • How to conduct interviews.
  • Editing.
  • Sound design.
  • Promotion.

Pros:

  • The course contains a detailed structure of documentary filmmaking.
  • Learn from the expert.

Cons:

  • There is no such disadvantage of the course.

Documentary making is one of the most challenging types of filmmaking as one needs to deal with real circumstances who are not obliged to listen to the director. A masterclass on this subject can sure help one learn valuable lessons.

Conclusion

While these might be the filmmaking masterclasses to get you started, the platform also has a lot more to offer. Some of these honorable mentions are: Creating Outside the Lines with Issa Rae, Writing for Television with Shonda Rhimes, etc.

Given this abundance of choices and a yearly subscription plan, anyone keen on becoming a filmmaker can hone their skills through these filmmaking masterclasses.

About the Author

Sarang Padhye

Being an avid film buff and a content marketer, I started this blog to provide the best information on screenwriting and filmmaking. Screenplays is certainly where it all begins. However, I also provide writing and advertising tips regularly through my articles.

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