MasterClass, an online learning service with more than 80 classes offered by A-list celebrities, offers several courses on the different aspects of filmmaking, taught by some of the most famous directors in the world. While these classes can’t replace a traditional film degree, they can help get you started and glean insights from experts in the field, with 20 video lessons that are about 10 minutes long each, and in-depth workbooks.
Here are five MasterClasses to check out to hone your moviemaking skills and spark your creativity from home.
Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning historical documentary maker behind The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz and The Vietnam War, is famous for using detailed research and archival footage to construct a compelling narrative. In his MasterClass, Burns teaches how to choose a compelling subject and find a story within that area, how to honor opposing viewpoints, the writing and fundraising process, sourcing archival footage, shaping a nonfictional character, finding and interviewing experts, and editing, using his own work as case studies.
In his MasterClass, Spike Lee, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning film director of She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman, teaches his techniques for writing, budgeting, casting, shooting and editing independent films, and how to use those films as agents of change. He also breaks down directing choices for a film he admires, and shares some of his original storyboards to demonstrate how to construct a scene.
Martin Scorsese, the Oscar-winning director of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street, shares his own education and filmmaking process with MasterClass students, including channeling influences and developing a style, and navigating technological advances in filmmaking. Scorsese also breaks down scenes from other influential movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, to discuss what makes effective filmmaking.
In her MasterClass, director and Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster brings her expertise on both sides of the camera to guide you through each step of the filmmaking process. She walks students through the process of finding a story, turning it into a screenplay, working with directors and actors, filming, editing and music direction.
Avant-garde filmmaker David Lynch, director of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks, teaches students how he gathers ideas, turns them into a narrative and moves beyond formulaic storytelling. His course also has lessons on casting and working with actors, production design, cinematography and sound design.
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