Study With the Masters

How to Get the Most Out of This Resource

A Master’s Degree of information exists in this resource. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll agree. These videos have been hand-picked, so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of stupid videos that add no value and waste your time. The tutorials contain solid information, and the long-form videos are pure gold. I’ve found some phenomenal stuff!

The “Masters” categories will both inspire and entertain you with interviews and behind the scenes documentaries, primarily organized by channels. The other categories are niche oriented per discipline and speak for themselves.

If you’re looking for edutainment, I suggest you start with Classic and Today’s Masters. If you’re interested in learning craft or technique, check out the tutorial sections. Read the descriptions and decide a head of time what you want to study. Casual browsing can be fun, but if you want to learn I suggest you create a viewing plan and set aside a little time each week to view and reflect.

Whatever you do, please let me know what you think, and how I might make this resource better. You are the voice of many and for this resource to be its best, I need your help. If I hear from enough of you, I’ll create customized viewing plans based on your filmmaking goals.

PS – Many of us have spent numerous hours to creating these free videos. Please keep the good deed going by sharing this link on Facebook and Twitter or email it to a friend with your nod of approval. –

Filmmaking is a community effort.  Get engaged and have fun!

Classic Masters

Ask a successful director for advice and you’ll hear, “study the masters”. This used to be difficult, but not anymore. Watch, and listen to Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes. These aren’t lectures. These are masters sharing tips and techniques, documentary style. There’s even an amazing Hitchcock analysis series. This has become what I watch when I want to be a couch potato. Become a wealth of knowledge and visit this section often. I’m hooked and you will be too!

Today’s Masters

Would you pay to take a class with Robert Rodriguez, Wes Anderson, Steve McQueen, Kathryn Bigelow, Quinten Tarantino? Of course you would and now you can for free. Find out the “not so secret”, secrets to how they make directorial choices including script analysis, all aspects of pre-production, production and post production process. These can be your mentors.

Story Structure

I’ve found a video series by the Hollywood screenwriting guru himself – Robert McKee. Robert was featured in the movie, Adaptation starring Nicholas Cage. If you’re a screen writer, you already know the value of this resource. If you’re a director, this is must have knowlege. I don’t care what you direct, story structure is your foundation. Bring more heart to your films by applying lessons from this series. In addition to Robert, I also found a “Script Tip” series that includes videos on ” How to Write a Log Line”, “Sequences”, “Plot Points and more. Pretty pictures just aren’t enough, you need a story arc in your movie, in your scenes, and in your characters. If you already understand this then hats off to you, if you don’t then now you know where to focus. I recently spent a lot of time refreshing my skills in this area and it’s been well worth the effort.

Cinematographer Interviews

How do you make powerful cinematic images? Learn from people who know. This section is a must for anyone creating visual stories. Cinematographers and directors need a foundation in composition and an appreciation for light. The director and the cinematographer need to communicate about the shots intent, mood and technical attributes. This is a language you must become familiar with. These videos are a great way to sharpen your skills and increase your vocabulary.


Producing & Development

This section is about taking your project from concept to finished film. Even if you’re making a simple, one location, short film there are a lot of details to put in place. I can’t stress the importance of this stage enough. For most of us, this is not nearly as much fun as actually shooting the film. But, you’ll never make a good film unless you’re prepared.  These videos are full of valuable information. Set aside some time to watch a few. You and your crew will be happy you did.

Distribution & Finance

Who wants to sell their film? Anyone who would like to make more films – right ? Unless you’re rich or you’re happy to self finance small gorilla film projects, you need to learn what it takes to sell a film. These are Q&A panels with true industry experts. These guys have years of experience bringing indie films to the big screen. If you’re just starting out and not considering a sale, you could skip this section and spend a little extra time in the development area. But, if you’re serious about filmmaking, you’ll get a wealth of sometimes hard to swallow knowledge right here.

Directing Actors & Production 

Directing is a craft with teachable skills. A mistake many beginning  directors make is thinking because they hear the lines in their head, see shots in their mind’s eye, they can easily communicate their vision by describing the result they want. Expecting actors and crew to immediately get our intent and deliver a “spot on” performance is unrealistic. The good ones, can translate this “director babble” into either questions or actions. But, what if they  can’t?  Do you ask for another take, and hope they get it right? Do you see it as a lack in their ability to perform? As indie directors we need to communicate intent, and we need to motivate with technique. Even veterans will benefit from these videos. But, if you’re new to the craft, get ready to be amazed !

Cinematography Tutorials

If you want to engage the audience, you must create visuals that evoke emotion. The image and the juxtaposition of that image, has tremendous influence on how the audience interprets your intent, and what if anything they engage. These tutorials will teach you composition, perspective, how to choose the right lens, depth of field, and how each can enhance your story. In other sections including; cinematographer interviews and each of the masters sections, you’ll be introduced to the craft from a result perspective. In this section you’ll learn the technical specifics of how to apply the craft and what the corresponding story implications are.

Lighting Tutorials

Good lighting can draw the audience into your story. A scene and the film’s  mood and it’s tone can be enhanced or diminished according to lighting choices. These videos cover the fundamentals of soft versus hard light, how to control and measure light, as well as how to choose locations and lighting packages. Starting with the three rules of lighting, this section will anchor you in the fundamentals, and will inspire you with insights from accomplished cinematographers. These veteran motivate light by story intent and in these videos they’ll show you how.

Camera & DSLR Tutorials

Do you know how to dial in the picture settings on a DSLR? Do you want to learn how to choose the best camera for your project? These videos will set you up for success. They cover the exposure triangle, how lenses work. How sensor size and lens choice will effect your image. Every camera is different, but the fundamentals are the same. Once you understand the fundamentals, you’ll be able to make informed decisions and you’ll get good at predicting what the image will look like. Get the best picture and audio quality out of your DSLR or camcorder, by watching these informative videos.

Sound Tutorials

I’ve had a lot of people ask me where they can learn more about location sound recording. Well, and here it is. I’ve found a few excellent tutorials that include booming technique, microphone characteristics as well as how to minimize noise. These videos will teach you how to develop critical listening skills, how to pre-screen locations for sound problems and what equipment is “must have”. Have you ever watched a video with bad sound?  No, you turn it off, because its unwatchable.  Don’t let this happen to you. Get a fundamental education in sound right here.

Pre -Visulization Tutorials

You’ll save hours of “on set” time and get better results by creating pre-visualization materials for your next film. Where you place the camera, what lens you use and how you block actors, directly influences the scene’s “point of view” and intent. Spending a significant amount of time pre-visualizing this prior to being on set, will help you to feel the story, and become immersed in the scene. Pre-visulization gives you time to change your mind. It affords you the opportunity to explore how a different camera angle might better align your shot sequence with the scene’s intent. During pre-visualization you may see an opportunity to create tension by hiding information from a character, but giving it to the audience. This could be a powerful story element. Pre-visualization will not only save you time, it could save your film!

Camera / DSLR Reviews

There is no “best camera”. The “best”,  depends on the style of shooting the job calls for. If you’re shooting documentary style, you may want a camcorder, if you’re shooting film style, a DSLR might be perfect. Are you ok with a rolling shutter? Do you need a big sensor? How do you want to record audio? Will you have a focus puller? These reviews will help you become familiar with features and benefits. They will also introduce you to new accessories and shooting techniques. Knowledge is king when it comes to making  informed decisions.  These reviews are by veterans I trust and I’m confident they will help you purchase or rent the right camera for the job.

Shooting Horror

While resourcing YouTube I found a series of videos from Screen Craft called – Horror Filmmaking, The guts of the craft. This series is cut from a panel of filmmakers, speaking on areas like: The Creative Process – From Script to Screen, Subverting Expectations, The Fear Paradigm and more. This is genre filmmaking at it’s best and it really got my attention because the panel is sharing some very personal insights into how to make and sell a horror film. One of the statements that struck me was a panelist saying, “this is the only genre movie that doesn’t require a recognized actor to sell it”  This is fun stuff and it really got me thinking.

Making Documentaries

This section includes videos on short and long form non-fiction filmmaking. I found video interviews with some of the greats. I’ve include; Albert Maysles, Fredrick Wiseman, Joe Berlinger of Brothers Keeper, Steve James of Hoop Dreams, Ken Burns as well as an interesting presentation by filmmaker and professor Kristin Pichaske of Columbia College on the future of documentary filmmaking.  Kristin has some very interesting insights in where documentary filmmaking is going and how opportunities in this field are on the increase. If you’re thinking of making a doc, you will be inspired.

Tomorrow’s Makers

I’ve included these inspiring young filmmakers, because I really admire their passion and their approach to the craft. Not only are they leveraging digital tools in very cool ways, they’re focusing on the craft behind the technique, and they’re sharing what they learn with us. If you’ve ever made excuses about why you can’t do it, I suggest you spend a little time watching, learning and being inspired by these passionate young men. Their tutorials are great and their short films are proof that when you invest in the craft, you reap the rewards. Tomorrow’s masters are on YouTube today. Come have a look!