EduReviewerBlogHow to Become a Filmmaker Without Going to Film School
Career Advice

How to Become a Filmmaker Without Going to Film School

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Perhaps you’ve decided on a career change, or you’ve always loved the idea of becoming a Filmmaker; it’s understandable if you’re asking the question: Do I Really Need to Attend College to Become a Filmmaker?

Well, yes and no. Ultimately, whether or not you ought to attend a film school depends on who you listen to. Some take the view that formal education is the best approach to take, while others feel it’s a monumental waste of resources.

Either way, becoming a great director ultimately requires you to make some sacrifices and other steps you must take to get out of your comfort zone.

Can a Film Director Get a Job Without a Degree?

These days, attending university to study for a degree in a filmmaking field is entirely a matter of choice. Some notable filmmakers attended university, and some others who’ve gone on to become world-class directors without having a degree.

So, Yes, you can get a job without attending university. However, it helps to have obtained equivalent training under a mentorship program to get considered above the horde of other candidates vying for the same job.

In case you’re still in doubt, here are five supporting reasons below why you can get a job without obtaining a degree:

  • Some of the top film directors did not also attend university. Notable examples are Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and others.
  • Universities rarely ever provide access to relevant and state-of-the-art movie equipment.
  • You’d clinch up more industry contacts getting mentored by professionals than obtaining a degree.
  • All practical information you may need to become a Filmmaker can be obtained from forums and readily accessible texts on the internet.
  • Studios tend to prefer solid professional experience over paper certificates

Qualifications Needed to Become a Film Director

Although, not typically a hard requirement. Obtaining a 4-year degree in any Filmmaking affiliated field would bolster your chances of becoming a film director.

However, going all in and taking up an entry-level role as a production assistant, cinematographer, or film editor is a remarkably more surefire way of starting in the field before ultimately getting their first filmmaking job.

Typically, after filming their first movie, most directors go all in and aggressively pursue other job offers to enhance and grow their reputations in the industry.

How to Start a Career as a Film Director

What steps should you take to get into the industry, especially now that we’ve made it clear you do not necessarily need a degree? Here are a number of the steps involved:

Take an Online Course

One nice thing about attending a university is that you get access to structured learning and a number of resource items. However, for a fraction of the cost, MOOC platforms – Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare – provide equivalent training and access to the top college’s curriculum.

In selecting courses, ensure they’ve got several positive ratings and provide holistic coverage of the subject matter. Courses worth checking out to become a film director quicker include Indie Filmmaking, Produce Your Movie, and Modern Filmmaking.

Generally, such courses would take you through the basic five principles of filmmaking which are:

  • Development
  • Preproduction
  • Principal Photography
  • Post-production
  • Distribution

Join a Film Crew in Any Capacity and Educate Yourself

Most employers, without exempting movie studios, generally prioritize work experience over theoretical knowledge. Signing up for classes might be a great way to wrap your head around the basics of filmmaking and get up to date with the latest practices in the field, but it’s certainly not all there is to do.

That said, pick up any entry-level role associated with filmmaking in any capacity. Be it as a production assistant, cinematographer, or IT Support Intern. The stints you’ve held would go along with familiarizing you with the nitty-gritty of the profession.

You’d often run into new techniques and strategies to achieve a specific effect in the course of filmmaking. It’d help tremendously to dive deep into your texts to understand the strategy’s rationale better. Texts need not be your only go-to resources; you could also pose questions on areas you’re not much versed with to any online community of directors or other professionals in the industry.

Make Your Own Director’s Reel

A Director’s reel is an equivalent of a resume. A reel is what you forward to production houses searching for new directors. It showcases how you think and details the extent of the efforts you’ve injected into creating a movie.

That said, you’d want to create and compile individual clips to present you and your work in the best light. So, ensure to make it as outstanding as possible and have your mastery of the field become obvious.

Submit to Film Festivals

Pitching your work to film festivals should be a must-do in your efforts to break into the field. If your submission gets rejected on the first try, try again.

Keep in mind that getting your foot in the door may take a while. If things keep not working out, you should start with fewer grand festivals. Build a network with industry experts you contact and work up from that point onwards.

Attending an actual festival should also feature on your to-do list, as doing so gives you an idea of what movies these festivals prefer to feature.

Get Your Resume Ready

At this stage, you typically would have concluded any preliminaries to clear. The next step would be to go all in and actively apply for work. In addition to a director’s reel, you’d typically need a custom-written resume by experts to start your applications.

You may opt to rely on online templates to get this done. However, contracting that part out to any of the best affordable creative resume writers would be quite the smarter thing to do. That way, you get to concentrate more on the creative aspect of the whole process and have a specialist take care of the rest.

Basic Requirements to Become a Film Director

Most Aspiring filmmakers believe it’s unlikely they’d ever get their dream jobs should they not attend a film school or obtain a degree. However, do you really need to get formally educated to break into the field?

Again, the answer you get to this and all other related questions depends on who you ask. If one considers the various world-class directors who’ve never attended university, like Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Guy Ritchie, or David Fincher, the idea of obtaining a degree may seem justifiable as nothing more than a waste of resources.

That said, get a degree if you can but remember it’s not a hard requirement to obtain your preferred role. Most production houses tend to value practical work over theoretical knowledge.

Stick with the strategies we’ve covered so far, and you may just be a reel submission away from landing your first movie direction role.

Some personal qualities would come in greatly handy in the course of your career. These are:

  • Creativity
  • Attention to Detail
  • Storyteller
  • Leadership Traits
  • Domain Knowledge and Expertise
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