Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.

Free Film School

Take advantage of the free film school currently allowing you to audit two courses:

You can start with either course, but Filmmaking 101 was created first and will likely require less financial investment on your part. Editing 101 is also free, but as the focus is on editing, you will need a full-featured video editing program NLE (non-linear editor). Some examples: Sony Vegas, Adobe Premere (Elements or Pro), Final Cut Pro (7 or X), or comparable. Some of these are available for as little as $70, but that's still more than cheap as free. iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and other free video editors likely won't have the features you need. Other programs, like DaVinci Resolve, are free, but require a powerful computer.

Click here to learn why you may want to pay for a film class.

Free Film School Filmmaking 101
Filmmaking 101 offers you a 36-week online film course that gives you the basics of filmmaking, including writing, editing, sound effects, and special effects. You will create a documentary, drama, animation and more. Your many video projects in this film program give you a taste of a full spectrum of movie production. This is the best place to learn how to make movies if you are interested in an intense program you can do over the school year.

Each lesson encourages you to hone your movie making skills. You will encounter all three stages of video production over and over again: pre-production, production, and post-production. This beginning film making curriculum gives you something to try every week. Because so much of movie production is learned through doing, the key to this program is that you practice making videos at home and with friends. How well your videos turn out isn't really the point. You'll have plenty of time to create even better films in the near future.

As I said above, you can audit this course for free. But if you want to turn it into a class for school credit, business development, or a potential career, you're going to want to take the class for real.

Learn more about Filmmaking 101

Free Film School Editing 101
Your Editing 101 course focuses specifically on giving you opportunities to master the basics of editing. This includes pacing and scene development. You'll also learn professional tips and tricks for making your dialog seamless and your cutting invisible. Like all free courses, Editing 101 gives you plenty of opportunities to practice.

This course is not set to a particular schedule. You work on each lesson as long as it takes you and, after you submit your final cut, you move on to the next lesson. Editing is a key skill in making movies. You won't need to record any videos. Instead, you'll work on film projects built for the class and learn how these skills apply to your future movie productions.

Learn more about Editing 101

Another option is the Beginning Filmmaking course.

These free film classes are designed around three ideas:

1. You will only need cheap or free tools to complete the projects. As you advance, you may find that you need better tools to execute your vision. But the goal is that you acquire the tools you need, not just whatever is popular, new, or expensive.

2.You won't be graded on how well your videos turn out. Instead, this free film school focuses on helping you practice. I believe that you will naturally improve as you produce more content. Too often we, as creative types, get bogged down because our skill does not match our vision. These short projects are designed to help you get over that and keep moving forward as you learn how to make movies. If you want feedback, you can easily purchase credits to have a professional filmmaker give you suggestions, insights, and tips for getting better faster.

3. The projects you produce compliment each other. As you progress, you will discover how the lessons you've already learned can be applied to the assignment you are working on now. I believe we best remember the lessons we use, so I want to make sure you have many opportunities to use what you are shown in your own movie projects. And, again, you can always invest in some feedback.

How can I offer these courses for free?

First, I have a great vocation that pays me well enough that I don't have to work two jobs to make ends meet. This also means that I don't have to try to make money from my film school. I do offer you some opportunities to jumpstart your video production training. But it's totally up to you if you want to do more than simply audio this course. Financial independence through my 9-to-5 frees me up to spend my evenings and weekends on my passion projects, like this free film school.

Second, Google has given me fantastic resources absolutely free. This site is largely powered by Blogger, YouTube, Google Docs, and the like. So all I pay for is the domain name--which comes with a little bit of hosting too. Depending on how much material I end up giving away for the classes--especially all the project footage for Editing 101--I may need to spend a few more bucks here and there. But even if I had to pay $10 a month to power the next generation of filmmakers? You are well worth the investment.

Third, I soon discovered after launched my own production company that I far prefer to help others figure out how to create their own movies than to create mine. This is shifting as I improve, but now I have the best of both worlds: I'm creating videos that teach you how to make your films. I love knowing that you can get a year-long video production education for free, or, for a few dollars more, you can turn your efforts into a class with feedback on your projects so you improve faster!

Forth, aside from all the development time, running this free film school doesn't require much of my life. You can watch all the videos and do what you want. If you want me to see the movies you've created, and take time to give you a bit of feedback, I can do that. It's a ton of fun to see the videos you create. And I enjoy offering all the insights and encouragement I can. So this is a blast!

Fifth, there is a need for a truly free film school. I've been around the internet and while there are several sites that claim to offer free film classes or be a free film school... they aren't. And even if you don't have to pay a cent, their content is all over the place and not super helpful for those who want to learn how to make movies. So, I decided someone had to step up and fill this gap. And since I can afford it, there are so many free powerful tools available, and once I've created a course it mostly manages itself... here we are.

What makes the Free Film School unique?

1. Carefully selected projects and assignments.
What you don't need are tutorials. YouTube and niche websites are crawling with every kind of walk-through and how-to you could need to make movies. What you're missing is clear direction for how to get started. If you know you need to learn how to do a garbage mask, you plug that into a search and you'll know how to do it in a few minutes. But what if you have a camera, a computer, and some ambition? Where do you start?

You start here, with the Free Film School. You'll encounter the basics of making a movie and quickly move through many aspects of filmmaking. Once you have that under your belt, you'll be able to know where you should go next.

2. Hands-on practice.
You actually make movies and produce videos here. This isn't some fluff course about theory and ideas. This is about doing the work of shooting and producing a film. And then doing it again. And again. And again.

We get better by doing, so we do a lot.

3. A dedication to accessible resources.
Often when I'm interested in a DIY project, I hop online to see if people have any pointers. They do. But invariably, halfway through their explanation, they say, "Here I used a blowtorch to..." and I check out. I don't own one of them fancy things. And I'm not about to run out and buy one for this dinky dream of mine.

So I give up.

I don't want that to happen to you. I do my best to make these courses accessible by requiring the bear minimum of resources at every step. There tons of great free and inexpensive tools out there to help you learn how to make movies. And keeping everything within a zero budget forces us to be more creative... which is exactly what we want as filmmakers.

4. You.
I have the best film student in the world: You. You work hard, produce amazing flicks, and constantly strive to improve. And that's the best kind of student there is. As you browse through the work of your fellow students, I hope you find inspiration, encouragement, and insights into how you can rise to the top.

5. An opportunity to one-on-one input.
All the videos are available to you for free. But there's more: You can get feedback from a dedicated professional and educator who will watch your projects and give you tips and suggestions for improvement. Your own personal video production mentor is available to help you move to the next stage of your production whenever you're ready to take that leap.

Ready to jump in? Can't wait to learn how to make movies?

For Teachers

If you teach a class -- public, private, co-op, or otherwise -- I'd love to do what I can to help you create a successful movie making course for your classroom. The Free Film School is designed for individuals, but it could be easily adapted for a group setting. These lessons have been successfully modified for a public high school, a private high school, a Christian middle school, as well as homeschools. Some teachers simply take the concepts and ideas from the courses and create their own lesson plans. Others utilize a video here and there to assemble their own program. Of course, you are always free to grab the Filmmaking 101 Scope and Sequence and simply use that for your lesson plans. As you put together a video production syllabus, keep in mind:

  1. Collaboration is essential when you make movies. It's very hard to produce videos on your own. However, we learn the most about film by doing it, so it is best if each student produces his or her own individual work. Keep each project manageable so students can help one another and forego the temptation to do group or class projects. Cooperative learning is optimally achieved when each student directs his or her own film and helps in the production of the other videos. Each student, then, will have more opportunities to experience various parts of movie production.
  2. Creating media (indeed, art of any kind) takes a significant amount of time. Videos should never been longer than a couple of minutes in length. It's best to keep things focused and short. It can take dozens of hours to put something together even for very small projects.
  3. Produce a ton of stuff. The more your students create, the better they will become. Seriously. Just do a ton of work. Not only does this help creative students make better projects, but they will also have an excellent portfolio as they move on in life and pursue further study, an internship in media, or employment in communications or entertainment. Again, this is yet another reason to keep your film projects to a very limited scope and duration.

Please give attribution for anything you utilize in your lessons. A simple "shout out" to will suffice. However, providing URLs and links is always welcome so students can come here to learn even more.

If this site proves helpful to you, please share it with your friends, colleagues, and students.

As with all enrichment and elective classes, it can be difficult to create a rubric that accurately reflects your students' efforts, achievements, and depth of learning. As noted above, my goal is to inspire kids to produce a bunch of content. I do not want them mired in looking to perfect a project to get an A. I recommend a Pass/Fail approach. The "rubric" is a single question: Did you create something fitting the assignment? If so, you pass. If not, do it again so you can pass. Try to give clear due dates and work with students who are unable to complete an assignment on time. I'd much rather a kid make a movie a month late than miss out on the opportunity. But if they simply refuse to work, they choose to fail.

This is another reason I urge every person to produce his or her own movie. A student should never get a "free ride" on (or be marked down because of) the work of others. Absolutely work together in groups for each individual's project, but make your own films. As I'm sure you can relate, group projects lead to a few people doing all the work.

If a student does not produce a video in line with the assignment, I tend to either: 1. Re-explain the assignment and request they try again, or 2. Accept it as is because they clearly gained skill from their efforts.

I am happy to try to make time to interact with you or your class as I have opportunity. I've presented in classrooms and hosted Skype and Google+ Hangouts. If I can assist you in any other way, please reach out to me via email, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, or here on the blog.

Ready to get started? Learn how to make movies or learn how to edit videos. Click here to discover why you should pay for a course when free options are right here.