Lights Online Film School is a small online film school dedicated to the highest quality of education possible. While quality is of paramount importance to us, so is affordability and accessibility. It’s no easy task to keep course fees low while at the same time ensuring the highest levels of professionalism in our content.
Keeping our course fees low is important for us because we don’t want to only be accessible to filmmakers who can afford the high fees generally associated with film education. We offer an affordable alternative to filmmakers from around the world.
We also offer further financial assistance or full discounts to promising students from less developed parts of the world. This is an important part of who we are and therefore it’s important to us that we work hard and think creatively about finding ways to ensure a low course fee while at the same time keeping our quality standards unusually high.
We pride ourselves on incredibly value for money. Not only that, but we also feel a strong obligation to the filmmakers who browse our blog on a daily basis but will never enroll in our program or pay for any of our services. Lights Film School was started because we love filmmaking. We love talking about, teaching it, learning from it, and sharing everything we know about it.
That being said, high quality content creation can cost a lot of money to produce. Costs can add up quickly. Let us give you a quick example. In some of our videos we’ve paid seasoned cinematographers as much as $800 / day just to shoot the video, Hair stylists and makeup artists usually start at $200 / day, Actors or models are generally between $100 – $300 day and our in-house editors can cost between $100 – $200 / project. Add music licensing, gear rental, studio rental and insurance costs into the mix and it’s not uncommon for one of our tutorials to cost over $2000 to produce.
One of our videos we’ll be using in our sound design module cost $20,000 to produce. It’s not cheap. Sure we could lower our standards and create videos for $3 using a webcam, a makeup artists we found willing to work for free and an editor who just yesterday purchased a consumer editing suite… but these are not the production standards that we teach.
Even though we run one of the web’s most popular filmmaking blogs, we’re still a small resource strapped school. We go to bed every night wondering how we’re going to pay the bills this month. Like independent filmmakers who struggle with the same dilemma of financing projects, we find ourselves working towards high quality standards simply be being resourceful and creative. Quality education is our goal and we don’t money to get in the way… so what do we do?
We have a few options.
1. We could increase the price of our course.
2. We could splatter our blog with third party ads
3. We could look for creative collaborations to help us keep our course accessible to filmmakers from around the world and at the same time ensure our free content audience (blog readers, email newsletter readers etc) is receiving the highest quality of online content possible.
So how do we do this? Well let’s start by talking about how we don’t do this.
How we don’t work:
We are contacted daily from people who want us to promote their film, their film festival, their products or services. We probably get contacted about 50 times / day from people that want access to you, our filmmaking audience.
We’ve worked hard to build your trust and we don’t take this obligation to you lightly. Our own professional standards coupled with our obligation to you force us to say a polite “no” to about 95% of these people. Either their products or services don’t meet our quality guidelines or we have used their products or services before and were less than thrilled with the results. We would never promote this type of content to you.
How we do work:
That being said, we’re not a opposed to companies who have a genuine interest in helping indie filmmakers solve creative or technical problems. Some great companies exists that cater to filmmakers and it’s part of our job to find them.
Let us give you an example. We created a tutorial on ISO speeds and noise reduction for filmmakers. Noise reduction software is something we’ve used in the past with great results. We stumbled upon a free demo version of neat video we realized that it’s exactly the type of software that solved the problems that many indie filmmakers face. After using the software we decided we wanted to promote this service to our audience. We then contacted neat video and told them about the tutorial we were about to produce and asked if the would promo us a free copy of their $49 software in exchange for being hosted in our video. They agreed.
Now when you watch our tutorial on ISO speeds and noise reduction, you won’t have to wait through a 30 second ad before the video begins, but you will see a URL promoting neat video when we get to the point in the video when we discuss noise reduction software. We don’t review their product in our video, we show you what impact it has on our image. You can be the judge if you think it’s a valuable plugin or not. You can see this video example below.
By getting access to new gadgets and gear we help both teach our audience and increase the production standards of our online tutorials. Businesses get access to our online audience of filmmakers who might otherwise not know about their product or service and our audience benefits because the depth and production value of our videos often exceed the work of others online.
All of this is only possible with the help of our partners. When faced with the dilemma of increasing our course fees, allowing obnoxious third party advertising on our site or allowing creative partnerships within our videos, we opted for the last option as we saw no downside to doing so as long as it was done correctly with honesty and integrity.
We are not beholden to provide positive reviews for products and in many cases our content is not “review” based. We are very clear with our partners about this. Our tutorials are simply meant to help show a filmmaker how to solve a problem and if the problem can be better solved with a product or service then we’re happy to provide a few recommendations.
We pride ourselves on the quality and depth of the information we provide to our blog readers and students. We do not take this obligation in quality to you lightly. We deny the majority of people, filmmakers and business who want access to you. Everyday we receive requests to “post this offer on your Facebook page for your filmmaking audience to see” or “we’ll give your student’s a discount our product ______”. We’re not opposed to helping these organizations or companies but being filmmakers ourselves we look at everything through your eyes. Does our Facebook audience really care about this offer? Do our students’ need this new product or service or is this just another opportunity to spend money when a $17 DIY product would do the trick?
However, every now and again a great company comes by that helps us solve a filmmaking problem and we’re happy to share their techniques, products or services with you. We love a good lens, a good camera stabilizer, a good editing software. We obsess about this stuff too. Our main goal is to simply ensure we’re aligning ourselves with companies who have the same genuine love for the craft of filmmaking as we do.
It should also be noted that not all of our content is sponsored by one of our partners. We don’t force collaborations where either they are not possible or not necessary. For example, our video tutorial on lighting for videographers we profile the company Arri. In other lighting videos we profile Kino Flo lights. We had no relationship with Arri or Kino Flo. We’ve just used these lights in the past, we love them and we want to share that information with you. We think they are great companies offering amazing solutions to indie filmmakers. Our goal isn’t to “review” the lights, instead it’s to show you how the lights help you solve the problem of darkness.
Similarly in a quest to help us finance our video tutorials, blog interviews, product reviews and other products and services we are affiliated with Amazon, EBay and B&H Photo and will from time to time promote their products on our site. For example, if we talk about a lens, we might provide a shopping link to that lens. If you purchase at our online retail partners sites shortly after clicking a link from our site we are compensated a small percentage of the sale. This income gets pumped back into our course to help make our course, blog and video tutorials as in-depth and professional as possible.
If you have any questions about this, or you feel we’ve promoted a product or services that doesn’t meet the quality guidelines that professional independent filmmakers should strive towards please let us know. We’re on your side 🙂
Now that the boring disclaimer stuff is over… get back to learning!