Getting Started

Education & Skills

We independently test and review everything we recommend. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Firstly, a film education will teach you the basics of filmmaking, give you access to equipment, and sometimes even speed up your career. However, there are a lot of options these days for aspiring filmmakers from traditional film schools to online workshops.

How you study filmmaking depends on your personal learning preferences. To be honest, you don’t need an actual education to work in film but professional training has its advantages.

Below you will find advice on the various education options for filmmakers.

Full-Time Film Courses

Regardless of your age, you might want to study a full-time filmmaking course. This could be as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, taking place anywhere between 2-4 years.

For full-time study, you have the option of attending a university or film school. The main difference is that a university will have many other students studying a range of disciplines.

While a film school is an institution made specifically for film students. A university course is also more likely to teach a wide range of filmmaking skills as opposed to a focused course.

The place you choose to study does not affect the quality of education. However, before choosing any course you should fully research the curriculum. Also, if possible get a tour of the classrooms and meet your lecturers. Full-time education is a big commitment so you should make sure that the course is a perfect fit.

US 🇺🇸UK 🇬🇧
American Film InstituteNational Film and Television School
New York University (NYU)London Film School
University of Southern California (USC)Raindance
Chapman UniversityMet Film School
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Northern Film School
Columbia UniversityScreen Academy Scotland

Short Film Courses

If you don’t have the time or financial means to study full-time there are short courses and workshops available. Many film schools offer short courses, but you can also find these held at film festivals or online.

These courses run anywhere from a day to several months at a time. Although they don’t come with a formal qualification you can still place them on your film resume.

If you are a beginner you can take an all-round filmmaking course. These will teach you everything from writing the screenplay to editing the finished film. However, if you have a more solid idea of what job you want you can take a focused short course.

US 🇺🇸UK 🇬🇧
NYU Short CoursesNFTS Short Courses
UCLA Short CoursesRaindance Courses
USC CoursesLFS Workshops

Online Film Courses

If you want to experience a short course before investing in a full-time one then online filmmaking courses are also an option. Obviously, these won’t have hands-on teaching but might give you a good start.

Also, you can take a range of unique courses rather than just a general filmmaking one. For example, a short screenwriting course or video editing course. Also, they sometimes offer free trials or discounts.

US 🇺🇸 + UK 🇬🇧


If classroom study is not your thing, you could also try to get an apprenticeship. These are professionally taught on the job trainee placements. Some of these have age requirements, so be sure to read up on the rules before applying.

There are a lot of advantages to an official apprenticeship in contrast to working on independent films. A placement at a good company will teach you professional practice, provide valuable industry contacts and actually pay you.

These apprenticeships however are very competitive, so there is no guarantee you will get one but it is worth trying. You can find these by looking at the career pages of major film and TV companies.

US 🇺🇸UK 🇬🇧
Warner BrosScreenSkills Trainee Finder
Intern GroupBBC apprenticeships
Lucas FilmBFI Internships
Sony PicturesChannel 4 Talent
PixarTiger Aspect

Independent Filmmaking

Lastly, although it is always best to get professional training, you can learn by working on independent films. Independent film projects are happening all over the world throughout the year. Many of them will be happy to have the extra help, but they often pay a low wage.

You can also learn the basics of filmmaking by working on low-budget films and connecting with other freelancers.

US 🇺🇸 + UK 🇬🇧
Shooting People
Stage 32

So, whether you self-study or attend a formal course there are many ways to educate yourself as a filmmaker. Also, make sure you read up on the rules before applying.

25K+ online creative courses

Unlimited access to a wide range of filmmaking courses like cinematography, editing, animation, and sound design.

1 month free