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Whether you’re looking to add another golden statue to your collection, you’ve gotten into one of the best film schools in the U.S. or you’re looking for a new creative pursuit, there are plenty of online learning platforms for sharpening your filmmaking skills.
While even the best online film classes may not replace the hands-on experience you’d get on set, in a writer’s room or an editing bay, they do offer the chance to name-check Hollywood legends and award-winning stars like James Cameron, Martin Scorcese, Shonda Rhimes, David Lynch and Natalie Portman (to name a few) as your professors. All of the above are among the industry heavyweights who’ve teamed with MasterClass, arguably the leading platform for online classes in nearly every category, including directing, screenwriting and acting.
Even NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts offers an online certification program through Yellowbrick, which partners with some of the best universities and brands to create its educational courses. (Full disclosure: IndieWire and Rolling Stone, both owned by The Hollywood Reporter‘s parent company, are NYU’s partners.)
So whether you’re a student, a Hollywood-obsessed hobbyist or an industry pro who wants to brush up on your skills, we’ve rounded up five of the best online learning sites offering classes in filmmaking, documentary production, writing, directing, acting and more to watch on your own time. Check out our top picks below.
You really can’t go wrong with MasterClass, which is hands-down one of the best online education platforms for learning from award-winning instructors across nearly every industry, from science and the culinary arts to music and film. Aspiring directors can learn from Ken Burns, Jodie Foster, Werner Herzog, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Mira Nair and Martin Scorcese, and film and TV writers can score pro tips from the likes of Judd Apatow, Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin.
If you’re looking for insights from those in front of the camera, award-winning actors Helen Mirren, Samual L. Jackson and Natalie Portman reveal their inner workings on MasterClass, too. What we love about the platform is that you get supplemental resources such as downloadable workbooks and assignments so you can keep studying offline.
2. Yellowbrick: NYU Tisch Film & TV Industry Essentials
Spread across five online modules comprised of over 45 on-demand video lessons, New York University’s online Film & TV Industry Essentials course lets you learn about the many career paths in the business. Filmmakers Alrick Brown, Ang Lee and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon; directors Kevin Bray and Sam Pollard; executive producer Yahlin Chang (The Handmaid’s Tale); and NYU professors David K. Irving and Harry Winer are among those who share their expert career advice.
The classes include assignments and self-paced projects, so you’ll get some hands-on learning too. Upon completion, you’ll earn a certificate stamped with NYU’s seal of approval (but note that it won’t replace an official diploma from the respected college). The certification program costs $999, and subscription options starting at $99 per month are also available.
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With options for beginners to advanced students, Coursera’s online film courses include classes offered by professors from Michigan State University, Duke University, California Institute of the Arts, Berklee College of Music and the University of London, among others. The catalog includes how to write a feature-length screenplay, script writing for a TV or web series and getting your film off the ground, to name a few, as well as technical courses on Final Cut Pro and other video and photo editing software programs.
What’s great is that Coursera offers flexible enrollment and start dates, so you can learn at your own pace. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion. Courses start at $49 and include the shareable certificate, or you can audit classes for free without access to graded items. You can also opt for a Coursera Plus subscription, which gets you access to over 3,000 courses, projects and certification programs for $59 per month or $399 annually.
If you’re looking to develop your craft behind the lens or in the editing bay, Udemy is a great resource for some of the best online classes for photography, video editing and other technical skills. (Companies such as Apple and Netflix use Udemy Business to empower their employees’ own career learning endeavors.)
The online education platform’s offerings include video courses starting at $10 for Adobe programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro; as well as Affinity Photo, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro and other software. You can also choose from online photography classes focused on DSLR and film cameras and even iPhones; video production; documentary filmmaking; and storytelling essentials; to name just a few. Udemy’s courses also come with downloadable resources, assignments and a certificate of completion.
5. LinkedIn Learning
Popular online learning platform Lynda was acquired by LinkedIn Learning in 2015, which means the professional social network offers a range of classes for personal and professional development. Its classes cater to a variety of filmmaker types, including videographers, editors, colorists and motion graphics artists, and those who want to learn how to use Adobe After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro.
The catalog includes classes for motion graphics and VFX, such as 2D and 3D tracking, motion typography, storyboarding and video color grading; as well as courses on the impact of deepfake videos, how to work as a one-person video crew, creating and managing a YouTube channel, screenwriting and more.
New LinkedIn Learning subscribers can get a free one-month trial; after that, the service is $240 annually or $30 monthly (you’ll save $120 if you choose the former option). Learn more and sign up for LinkedIn Learning here.
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