Are online filmmaking courses worth it?

As a lover of filmmaking myself, I can say I’ve learned everything I know from free and paid online courses, as well as a little YouTube, so are online filmmaking courses worth it? I’d say a resounding yes.

Filmmaking is a creative endeavor as much as a technical one, but learning the fundamentals is key to mastering the craft of making films people want to watch.

Related: Are online filmmaking courses worth it

Online courses can develop your skills and enable you to learn and practice your art form in a unique, interactive way that can provide tangible results to get you closer to your filmmaking goals.

Some of the greatest filmmakers in history, namely Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Stanley Kubrick, to name a few, have always invested in their own professional development to make them better filmmakers, and for the rest of us, if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for us right.

So, let’s dive in and answer the question, are online filmmaking courses worth it?

Introduction – Are they worth it?

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Are they worth it
Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Well, that’s an interesting question, and the answer will depend on who you ask.

But for me, in my experience, I would say yes.

For some, film school is not an option. Either it doesn’t provide enough flexibility, is too expensive, or doesn’t fit into people’s schedules, so online courses are a great outlet to develop your skills at making movies.

Many fantastic filmmaking online courses focus on various aspects of the craft, such as lighting, filming techniques, and camera movement, and some are broader but aimed more at beginners.

Later in this post, we will provide some of our favorite courses available on various eLearning platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, and lone courses run by world-leading cinematographers.

What types of filmmaking are there?

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

This is a broad topic, but filmmaking is a large and diverse pool of creativity, and when choosing to learn more about this art form, it’s essential to know if you want a broader, wide-reaching fundamentals course or if you want to focus on a specific aspect of filmmaking.

Here is a list of different types of filmmaking that may be useful to narrow down which course or curriculum would be best suited to you.

Let’s check them out:





Run and Gun


These are just a tiny selection of filmmaking styles available.

It’s important to know where your cinematography interests exist so that you can choose online courses that cover the areas you want to learn about.

When it comes to making films, if you’re starting out, my advice is to keep it simple. Start with a short, maybe create a 2–3-minute narrative piece with a minimal storyline and small crew.

By doing this, it keeps everything manageable and makes it a viable project.

Consider these aspects when considering which course(s) are right for you nd when thinking, are online filmmaking courses worth it, well, a lot of thought goes into the answer, and understanding filmmaking styles has a lot to do with it, so when looking at courses, make sure they focus on the style you want to learn, it will massively help in the long run.

If you want to know some more styles of photography, check out this post. 

Why is an online course a great choice for filmmaking?

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Are online filmmaking courses worth it
Photo by cottonbro studio:

Filmmaking has a deep, deep learning curve that never stops.

Online courses provide a way to learn filmmaking fundamentals and, most importantly, practice in a safe space where nothing is on the line.

Learning how to film like a pro by using an online course gives you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and to go out and rent or buy the needed equipment as you go.

Sometimes in-person formal education can be overwhelming and might have expectations set too high for what you’re ready for.

The other great thing about filmmaking online courses is you don’t have to take a “show you everything” curriculum and can limit your collection of courses to only what you want to learn. For example, maybe cinematic lighting techniques are really what you need, or even using your camera, or perhaps audio best practices.

These are all great reasons to go the online route for your filmmaking education, and hopefully help answer the question, “are online filmmaking courses worth it?”

What to look for in a course

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Ok, so when thinking, are online filmmaking courses worth it, a lot of the time it depends what aspects of filmmaking are including in the course. 

Online filmmaking courses come in all shapes and sizes, so what should you look for to learn the good from the chaff?

There are some definite pointers to watch; let’s check them out.

  • Tutors who have strong filmmaking credentials.
  • Instructors who are leaders in their field(s).
  • Actual live examples of what is being taught.
  • You get to see camera settings as well as the result.
  • A comfortable learning pace.
  • Getting straight into the content you want to see.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • An easy-to-follow teaching style.
  • A step-by-step approach.
  • List of all equipment used in the course.
  • Equipment recommendations for how to achieve a certain look.

For any course you choose, having the above attributes will help provide a robust educational experience and the tuition you need to succeed as a filmmaker.

It’s worth it to trial the course before you buy to really ensure it is right for you.

Many course providers will give the first few chapters free, so if this is offered to you, definitely take it, as it can provide real insight into the overall course structure and style.

Filmmaking Fundamentals

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Filmmaking fundamentals
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

You may want to learn all the trade fundamentals when learning filmmaking. At the same time, some of you may be seasoned pros and are just scrubbing up on specific skills, but having access to the fundamentals of making films is helpful to everyone.

Related: 7 Top-Notch Tutorials for Learning the Basics of Filmmaking

But what are known as the fundamentals?

Well, different people at different levels will tell you different things, but from my point of view, the fundamentals are key foundational knowledge that you need to shoot and make movies, so with that, here they are.

  • Pre-Production
  • Exposure
  • Lighting
  • Composition
  • Colour Correction and Grading
  • Production
  • Post-Production
  • Camera movement and angles.
  • How to use a camera.
  • Camera settings.

If you’re a beginner and just starting, an online course or multiple courses, including these chapters, will massively help you to become a future DoP or cinematographer.

If you’re a little more experienced, you might want to look a little deeper, as most of the courses are for beginners or people who want to start learning from scratch.

Further down, we’ve listed courses for both groups of learners that should hopefully provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in the video and film industry.

Film vs Digital

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Film vs Digital
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Another consideration is whether you want to learn about using traditional film cameras or more modern digital cameras, everything from DSLRs to high-end cinema cameras.

When thinking about our title question, are online filmmaking courses worth it, understanding how the film industry used to, and to some degree still does shoot on film is going to help you make a decision for yourself. 

Both have their merit, and with so many film emulation plugins being designed to soften the digital image to a softer, more organic image, film still has a place in this day and age with all these super sharp sensors and lenses.

Before enrolling in a course, you should decide whether to focus on film and vintage cameras or digital. Each course type will have specifics they specialize in, so choose your focus well, and you will be rewarded with a course that will add value to your filmmaking learning journey.

Check out the below video to learn more about film cameras vs the new age digital variants. 

What are the best courses online for filmmaking?

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

So, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, what filmmaking and cinematography courses would I recommend and are worth your time, well take a look below where I have listed my favorites, covering the areas of Lighting, general filming overview, screenwriting, and formal film school courses.


The Art of Cinematography

Taught by the world-famous cinematographer Suki Medencevic who has taught at USC and New York Film Academy. This course will provide you with the tips and skills to light faces and scenes in the ways of Hollywood movies, a pretty good benchmark, right? 

Some of the topics covered in this course are the following:

  • Single Source Lighting
  • Single Light Bulb
  • LED Lighting / Fresnel Light
  • Small Paper Lantern
  • Ring Light / Kino Flo
  • Flashlight / iPad
  • Christmas Light
  • Open Face Source + Umbrella
  • Diffusing the Light
  • Hampshire / Opal
  • 251, 250, 216, 129 Diffusion
  • Chimera Diffusion
  • 1K Chimera
  •  Color Temperature Breakdowns
  • Three-Point Lighting
  • Film Noir Look
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Glamour Lighting
  • Horror Look
  • Fantasy Look
  • Old Hollywood Look
  • Warm Period Look
  • BONUS: Detail Diagrams of Each Lighting Setup

General Filmmaking Overview:

Tomorrow’s Filmmakers

I recently purchased this course due to how much it was promoted as one of the most respected courses for filmmaking online, and it has lived up to it. 

The course aims at the rookie filmmaker learning their craft, but some parts of the training almost expect you to have a working knowledge of cameras and lighting, so I’d say it’s aimed at multiple levels, which I kind of like. 

The course teaches about the following topics: 

  • Cinematography fundamentals
  • Mastering your lenses
  • Types of shots
  • Lighting a scene
  • Understanding your camera
  • Camera settings
  • Gear
  • Storyboarding
  • Crafting a film
  • Travel videos
  • Weddings

If you purchase tomorrow’s filmmaker, you can access lessons on the above topics and many more. 

The guys who make this course know their stuff, and I would happily promote their approach because it was professionally created by filmmaking professionals headed up by Justus, who has been in the game for over 15 years. 

Whether your film weddings, travel videos, short films, or features, please give this a try because, as of writing this post, it is 90% off and will only set you back $97 USD, a total bargain, go for it!


Screenwriting Masterclass: How to write great characters with James. V. Hart

In this course, you’ll join James. V. Hart, a 20-year Hollywood veteran screenwriter, who has delivered world-class seminars and workshops on the subject, helping thousands of budding writers to reach their goals, James uses a method called a HartChart masterclass. This provides you with a mapping tool as you work with the man himself to get your script ready to be sent to directors and producers and be market ready. 

Join James as he helps you craft and develop your character’s emotive elements that drive a character in the film. Trust me; this one is a good choice for screenwriters. 

In the course, James covers the following topic areas:

  • 8 Magic Questions you must answer before you begin
  • Identifying tangible signposts to create a definitive narrative structure
  • Why a character-driven story is key to successful scripts
  • Understanding the all-important role of the audience in your writing process
  • Functional use of the HartChart to visualize every story you will ever write
  • Ability to identify major themes when charting your character’s journey
  • How and why a story moves an audience. 

 If you want to purchase this course, you can get it on a holiday deal (at the time of writing this post) for $199 USD. Great value, don’t think, buy!

Best Film School Course:

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Film School
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Well, are we getting closer to answering the question, are online filmmaking courses worth it? I think we need to talk a bit more first, and one of those topics to be discussed is, whether should you go to film school or learn the YouTube way. 

This one is so hard to narrow down as it entirely depends on where you live; the US, Canada, and the UK dominate the top 30 list, so if you live in one of those countries, well, you are spoilt for choice; if you don’t then looking at the best in your region might take a little more searching, but I’m confident you’ll have some top class schools around you. 

Related: Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Go to Film School

Some of the schools that come to mind also are in some of the world’s greatest film cities also, so here they are:

  • Vancouver Film School (Canada)
  • USC School of Cinematic Arts (US)
  • LA Film School (US)
  • London Film School (UK)
  • National Film & Television School, NFTS (UK)
  • Toronto Film School (Canada)

Each of these schools is amazing in its own right. Some are solely focused on film production, while some have specialisms in areas such as VFX and game design & production, so choosing will need to be careful; go with what is suitable for you, keeping fees in mind as they can get up there. 

Any of the above schools will be excellent for your career, though, so have fun deciding, and let us know in the comments if you are planning to go to any of these schools, and if you’re there already, we’d love to see how you’re getting on. 

Prices can vary, but if we take the Vancouver Film School, you’re looking at $54,000 CAD for the film production program, so not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but if you make it in film, it’ll be a cakewalk. 

Tutorial Quality

Are online filmmaking courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Seriously, this point is massive when deciding, are online filmmaking courses worth it. If the tuition and tutorial elements are poor, it’s going to be difficult as a novice to grasp the concepts you need to make movies. 

Another big part of choosing an online course is how the actual tutorial component is. Is it professional, well-paced, and designed with adult principles in mind? These are all things to consider.

When it comes to filmmaking, especially as a newbie, you want not just the theory behind concepts but examples of those spoken-about concepts and tutorials on how to actually do this.

Related: The 7 elements of a good online course

A fantastic example of this is by Caleb at DSLR Video Shooter, both in his courses and camera guides, as well as his YouTube channel. He takes things step by step and aims his teaching at a level suitable for beginners and professionals alike.

Tutorials could be word based, which is fine, but as filmmaking is such a visual art form, having a heavy video presence in a course is probably best as a tutorial medium.

Make sure you pilot the course with the free chapters available before buying, though I’ve made that mistake, the courses were not up to my expectations, so check them out first.


Are online photography courses worth it? (Are They Effective?)

Pricing can vary massively for filming courses, so here are a few examples from earlier with pricing to give you an idea of what you can expect. 

Light and Face: The art of cinematography = $199 USD

The Art of Cinematography

Tomorrow’s Filmmakers = $97 USD

Tomorrows Filmmakers

Screenwriting Masterclass: How to write great characters with James. V. Hart = $199 USD


The Art of Documentary = $659 USD per module


These 4 courses are definitely my pick, but I’m sure you guessed this by now, as this is the second. 

I believe the pricing is reasonable considering the amount of world-class content offered by some of the world’s best cinematographers, providing you with fundamental ways of working to level up your filmmaking chops. 

You will also find some courses are based on subscriptions from SaaS online learning platforms, but all the ones we’ve listed here are one-off payments, making it a little easier on the wallet and purse long term.

Overall, these courses provide good value for what you get in return and can help you along in your journey to become the next Roger Deakins. 

I think we are almost at the point where we can answer our title question, “are online filmmaking courses worth it?”

Final Thoughts

So back to our original question, “are online filmmaking courses worth it”?

Well, I will say yes, they are worth it.

I honestly believe that online filmmaking courses should be a component of a broader professional development plan, which could be other informal education or something much more formal, like “film school.”

Online courses are great for having a flexible self-paced structure, as well as providing information in a way that you can learn in a digestible way, as well as having time to practice your craft after each learning bite.

I know a lot of indie filmmakers that have made a great career out of learning their craft online, so it 100% can be done, and if you feel that is the right path for you, go for it, it’s a great choice, and frankly, you can learn anything online now, so why not filmmaking.

So are online filmmaking courses worth it? 100% yes, if it fits in your workflow and the way you want to learn, you should research hard and make online courses part of your blended approach to learning, and hopefully make some epic films for the world to see. 

Quick request

If you are a filmmaker of any kind and learned through online education, it would be great to hear your story; let us know how you got on in the comments below. 

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