• Amber MacPherson

Educational Resources in Film

When we started this company, I was new to the industry. Brand new. New as in no idea what I was getting into. Seeking out educational resources and experience was, and remains, of primary interest. Here are a few tips.


1. Network and get on set - I've combined these two because networking will help you to get on set. You'll be starting at the bottom, most likely as a Production Assistant (PA), but that's a great way to learn the basics of how things work. If you work hard and are trustworthy and reliable, it can help you to get jobs in the future and also will help you to learn about the various jobs that people perform so you can determine what your focus will be. You may not get paid for those first few gigs, but if you do a good job, the contacts you make will be invaluable.


2. Join local organizations - Target your networking by seeking out local groups. You can do this anywhere, but your options are likely to be greater if you live in a reasonably sized town . Look online for film-related groups so you can meet people in the industry. Meetup.com can be a good source as well as Facebook groups. Consider checking for local non-profits or educational organizations. Two examples from our area are Boulder Digital Arts and Denver Open Media. Also consider state or gender specific organizations such as the Colorado Film and Video Association (CFVA) or Women in Film and Media Colorado (WiFMCO). You may be able to find similar organizations in your state. Also consider contacting your state's film office. Most states have at least some official presence that exists to draw film productions and the associated jobs and cash flow to their state.


3. Podcasts - Most podcasts are free and some can be very useful. Indie Film Hustle is my favorite, but I also like On the Page, Film Trooper, Business of Film, Filmonomics, Happier in Hollywood, and Filmmaking Stuff. Some podcasts discuss information specific to a certain aspect of film making, On the Page and Happier in Hollywood are both about screenwriting, but others are more general.


4. Webinars - I've used these in a more limited way, but some have been useful. If you are looking to learn a specific type of software and want help, I've seen several that look useful. I've also attended at least one good film funding webinar via Stage 32. Moviola is another source of webinars. Sometimes they are free, but not always.


5. Events - There's a lot of variability here, but these can have value for networking or education, depending on the type of event. Film Festivals are common and can be a nice way to meet other filmmakers as well as aficionados. Take note that film festivals are cultural events as opposed to film markets which exist to buy and sell films as products. Both have their place and value, but it's important to know the difference. Workshops are also a thing, and often are associated with local organizations.



A Note on Books


I love to read and have read a few film books, but in my experience, they are mostly out of date. I'm sure there are exceptions, but before you drop any cash on books, check the publication date and consider how relevant the material is. The industry has changed rapidly as technology has changed and there have been broad and reaching consequences. Just don't waste your time and money on outdated information.


Some of the film books I own, some of which I have read


What About Film School?


I've not attended film school, so I don't have that perspective. I know two things:


1. It's expensive

2. There's a tendency for it to not teach you very much about the business of film, which is a vital component to getting your film made.


It sounds fun and if money were no object, I'd probably do it for that reason alone, but if you take that path, make sure it's right for you.



Buyer Beware


Finally, when it comes to buying educational resources, be careful. The internet is full of experts trying to part you from your money, but often that information is available for free if you take the time to look it up. Getting actual experience on set or other hands-on experience depending what your preferred job is, perhaps in editing or as a writer, is vital. Some things are worth buying, but many things aren't. Caveat emptor.



Meatwad analyzing some comparative films data








© 2014 Makeshift Film Group LLC
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