Learn how to create professional narrative & documentary films.
Course Code: FM 300, Filmmaking
Program Length: 3 – 6 months
Starting: This Friday
Availability Status: Join by enrollment date
Location: Online & home study
Cost: $495 one-time fee
Enroll: Get started here.
Admission Requirements & Fees
Essentially, anyone with the willingness to learn about filmmaking can enroll in our program. There are no previous education requirements for our film program. New students must be over 18 years old due to the adult nature of some of the films we study.
Students are also required to have their own camera, editing suite, and computer. However, we don’t focus on any particular brand of hardware or software. We teach our students how to add production value to their films regardless of the equipment they have access to.
Enrollment grants full lifetime access to the Lights Film School educational experience. It costs $495 as a one-time payment.
The Film Program at Lights Film School focuses on both the practical and theoretical elements of filmmaking. We believe in the concept of “outcomes-based learning”, which is a multidisciplinary method of teaching that focuses on the desired outcome of the student. Our comprehensive course curriculum is structured around a “project-based” philosophy that will allow you to see a project from the idea conceptualization stage right through to the final sound mix and delivery of your film. Best of all, our course is adaptable to the individual interests of our students.
Students are introduced to subjects ranging from developing ideas, screenwriting, creative producing, directing, cinematography, editing, and sound design, to name only a few, over the course of five modules, plus an introduction. Study involves the following components:
1. Course Content
Read through lecture notes and watch video tutorials from our media library.
2. “Mirror Program”
The Lights Film School “Mirror Program” is a hands-on segment of our film program. We provide audio and video work files for you to download and work with as a hands-on tool to help you practice the concepts you’re learning as you progress through the curriculum.
3. Visual Examples
Each section of our course features multiple video tutorials, video clips, and even full films to watch that help us demonstrate key concepts.
Sometimes, you’ll be assigned homework to be completed before moving onto another lesson. Homework may include a creative exercise, watching a film, or reading a script for your own betterment as a filmmaker. Most homework assignments generally take 1-2 hours to complete.
5. Module Assignments
Your module assignments are a major component of the Lights Film School Filmmaking Program. At the end of each module, after you’ve watched and read all of the learning material and completed all of the homework, you’ll be asked to complete a lesson assignment that brings all of your learning together into a project that you’ll be able to add to your portfolio. By the end of your studies, you’ll have your own professionally-produced short narrative or documentary film to add to your portfolio of work. Our lesson assignments slowly and carefully guide you toward achieving the best end result possible. At the beginning of the course, your lesson assignments include things like coming up with unique story ideas, deconstruction of films, creation of storyboards and look-books, and then soon move into cinematography, directing, staging, and sound design-related tasks.
Our course comprises 5 in-depth modules, plus an epic introduction to the craft and course. Specifically, studies cover:
Introduction to Filmmaking & Online Learning
Student introductions / Film basics / Introduction to your online learning environment.
This module was designed for those interested in both fiction film and documentary filmmaking. While it’s true that a strong clinical analysis of a script isn’t a definitive way to ensure the success of a story, it is also true that understanding the mathematics of story design helps you improve your storytelling abilities. You’ll learn about Western Dramatic Structure, the hero’s journey, character archetypes, building and releasing tension, writing for small-budget productions, balancing action and dialogue, and how to creatively and effectively write compelling scenes, among other things.
ASSIGNMENT: Students will be asked to write a 10-page short film or create a treatment for a 10-minute documentary.
Directors need to know many things: How to run a set, how to harness their imagination as a storytelling tool, how to create strong moments, how to ensure their fiction or documentary film communicates clearly, how to seamlessly stitch the individual shots of a scene together, how to work with actors, how to strategically use language as a tool when communicating their vision, how to conceptualize designs, and how to communicate with the Director of Photography (DoP), to name only a few of the countless things a Director needs to consider when shooting a film! As the Director, you’re the captain of the ship, and much of the responsibility for the fiction film’s or documentary’s success falls on your shoulders.
A Director needs to have clarity on the overall vision for a film. Everything from performance, acting beats, color, staging, lens choice, lighting, depth, set design, makeup, atmosphere, pacing, and wardrobe need to be considered when a director is working toward seeing his or her overall vision for a story come to fruition.
This module is helpful to both fiction and documentary filmmakers looking to refine their own visualization, story analysis, and directorial skills.
ASSIGNMENT: In preparation to execute the story concept they developed in the Screenwriting Module, students will produce a short film exercise that demonstrates everything they’ve learned so far. They’ll also start thinking about creating a look-book and location scouting for their final fiction film or documentary.
In this module, you’ll learn about the three main components of cinematography: lighting, movement, and composition. You’ll study shapes, lines, color theory, color psychology, framing heights, shot types, the line of action, continuity and shot flow, as well as exploring temporal and spatial connections.
Cinematography, just like writing, requires an acute awareness of punctuation. This module requires that you study the work of the visual masters, while at the same time developing a visual vocabulary that is all your own. You’ll also learn about creative composition techniques to help you design visually powerful films and documentaries to add to your portfolio of work.
ASSIGNMENT: Students will be asked to bring their story idea to the next stage of development by completing a series of storyboards and other preparatory materials for their project.
In the Editing Module, you’ll learn about editing software, capturing, title sequences, rough cuts, in and out points, three point editing, splice edits, overlays, fades, dissolves, and color correction, to name only a few of the concepts.
ASSIGNMENT: Students will be asked to break down a professional independent film to discover lessons they can apply to their own upcoming productions. By the end of the editing module, it’s roughly time to begin shooting their projects. All film projects should be 10 minutes in length or less.
5. Sound Design
Sound design is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributing factors to a film with high-perceived production value. Understanding sound is imperative if you want to avoid the airy, light, “hissy” sound that is often associated with independent film productions. In fact, it’s often said that sound is (at least) 50% of a film, as it contributes tremendously to a film’s production value and creative potential.
In this module, we’ll go in-depth to discuss synchronization, wavelength, bit depth, sample rates, stereo vs. mono, equalization, audio filters, microphones, room tone, recording space acoustics, sound editing, compression, and noise reduction.
As a Lights Film School student, you’ll also get access to our Stock Music and Sound Effects libraries, where you can download starter collections of stock music and sound effects for use in your student projects at no cost. We have negotiated the rights for you to be able to use the audio files in your non-commercial student productions.
ASSIGNMENT: When you finish shooting your film, you’ll use it as a starting point for designing an entire soundscape. You’ll handle and mix various sounds including foley, ambient, room tone, dialogue, and sound FX and create a harmonious and seamless sound-bed for your project. You’ll also learn how to clean up unwanted noises from your mix, how to edit the dialogue of multiple people talking, how to create an editing hierarchy of sounds to help keep you organized, and how to “sweeten” actors’ voices to get that clear, rich sound that is associated with professional productions.
Additional Features of Our Course
1. Lights Film School’s Workshop
Lights Film School’s Workshop is the brain of the Lights Film School program. It’s here where you will be able to receive professional teacher reviews of your five module assignments. Our reviews are critical and in-depth.
2. Lights Film School’s Online Community
Lights Film School’s online community is the heart of the Filmmaking Program. It’s here where you’ll be able to personalize your account (add a profile picture, location, links to your websites, interests within film, and so on). As you progress through the course, you’ll make friends with both teachers and students. You can post updates about your film projects, comment on your friends’ posts, and chat publicly in a community channel as well as privately through direct messages. Think of it as a special social network for filmmakers.
3. Lights Film School “Mirror Program”
As suggested, the Lights Film School “Mirror Program” is a unique program that allows you to follow in our footsteps as you work toward taking your idea from concept to final cut. The Lights Film School Mirror Program is a program that we set up so you could see how we bring a film from an idea scratched onto a napkin to a professionally-produced and beautifully-shot short film.
We take you behind the scenes so you can examine our writing, casting, storyboarding, blocking, directorial concepts, cinematography, editing, and sound design. Best of all, we give you all of the footage and audio files to work along with us.
The idea is to get you working on practical examples as you work through the modules. For instance, in your Sound Design module, you’ll be asked to download the audio and video files from the Lights Film School Mirror Program associated with the audio design module. You’ll work alongside us using the audio files to create a professional soundscape. We’ll teach you how to sweeten audio tracks, create your sound effects, and bring out deep, rich textures in actors’ voices.
We also do you the favor of shooting a few of our scenes twice. Once with the mistakes that are common to most first-time filmmakers (poor audio, poor movement, poor lighting, etc.), and then the same scene once again, with the corrections. Our hope is that by experimenting with good and bad footage and audio files side-by-side, you’ll have a better understanding of what you can expect from yourself when you’re working on your own projects.
Essentially, we try to make a few of the most common filmmaking mistakes for you to discourage you from incorporating those mistakes into your own project. That is why you complete the “Mirror Project” before moving onto completing and submitting your module assignments.
4. Media Libraries
As a Lights Film School student, you get access to a script library, video tutorial library, stock music library and a sound effects library.
5. Lab Chats
How does 20+ hours of live teaching sound? “Lab Chats” are 2 to 3 hours in length. Each month, the date and time of Lab Chats change to help accommodate our international students and students with unusual working hours. Our current roster of Lab Chats includes:
1. The Screenplay and Film Production
2. Character Development
3. Dialogue and Storytelling
4. Visual Storytelling
5. Defining the Director
6. The Science and Art of Sound in Cinema
7. Defining the Documentary
8. Building Cinematic Suspense
6. Online Theatre
The “Online Theatre” add-on is available exclusively to Lights Film School members for a one-time payment of $50. It grants a behind-the-scenes window into professional productions designed to build your powers of film analysis.
Essentially, an Online Theatre event invites fun, free-flowing discussion with fellow students and teachers around a series of short films. You’ll watch and analyze a roster of short films that changes every month, exploring questions of casting lighting, design, acting, writing, or whatever else comes to mind. It’s a perfect place for curiosity and discussion.
For How Long Do I Have Access to the Course?
What Is the Next Step After I Enroll?
If you have gone through our website and decided that Lights’ online film school is right for you, then all that you need to do now is choose how you’d like to pay below! Once you’ve joined, you’ll be advised of next steps, so that you can get started. We look forward to having you join our indie filmmaking community and teaching you how to make professional narrative and documentary films!
“Lights Film School is the ideal stepping stone; I love how it takes you through the entire filmmaking process. Learning the technical side was appealing & the course exceeded my expectations. The tutors are experienced & incredibly knowledgeable. Lights opened a whole new world for me.”Aaron Falvey
“Lights challenged my knowledge and improved my filmmaking skills one hundred fold. The courses are demanding and challenging. You will find instructors who not only critique your work, but absolutely encourage you to continue to improve day by day.
Lights is not easy or simple for students. It is not a chop shop where you pay a fee and expect a certification shortly thereafter. If you are looking for such a place, don’t stop here. This is a program for serious filmmaking students who want to learn… Lights offered the best of all learning forums. The online classes, the availability of instructors outside of core hours, their technical support, all made the curriculum easy to access and fit in with my schedule.
Moving forward I feel confident Lights has provided me with the skill set needed to produce quality content… Best of luck to all the students at Lights Films School. Stay the course. You are in great hands!”Katherine Dickson
“There are, undoubtedly, many free filmmaking resources on the internet, but these are scattered and disconnected… The Lights Film School course, conversely, guides its students through a highly structured curriculum with regular assignments and excellent feedback!”Julian Eyre
“It’s easy to recognize and respect the expertise of the instructors, who have been responsive to my questions as well as helpful and generous with their direction. The chatroom lecture format has been surprisingly easy to get used to. They’ve helped improve my work enormously.”Charlie McDougall
“I am very pleased with how thoroughly the program is constructed with theoretical knowledge, concrete examples, videos and other material. My filmmaking skills have reached a completely different level after studying at Lights. Especially the feedback from the teachers has been priceless!”Jussi Pohjolainen
“The flexibility of the Lab Chats allowed me to work around my busy schedule. The live lectures are very thorough in covering the necessary elements relevant to developing my skills as a filmmaker. They also give me an opportunity to ask questions directly to industry professionals.”Sharvon Urbannavage
“I would like to thank Lights Film School and everyone who is a part of your program! Because of Lights Film School, I now work in video full time and have made some really awesome short independent films that have gotten attention from big name video game developers and publishers.”Jason Forge
“Having a dream to create films, but not having any real formal training made me a prime candidate for Lights Film School… I revisited my final project, and it was broadcast on local PBS stations. Thanks for giving me a solid foundation and the confidence to follow my dreams!”Gregory Fish
“Lights Film School has been an amazing experience! By the time I graduated, I had secured two film jobs, developed my showreel, and achieved film schooling! Lights is the perfect school for anyone who wants to work towards a film certificate whilst having enough time for a full-time job.”Nick Kingan
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Learn how to create professional narrative and documentary films,
using the gear you already have, wherever you live.
Join by Our Next Enrollment Date, Friday at 11:59 PM EST:
- 📚 The Complete Filmmaking Course
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If you have financial need, check out our grant application page. Regardless, we’re excited to welcome you into our indie filmmaking community!