Filmmakers Academy review

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Filmmakers Academy review

By Aaron Reid, Cinematographer

YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING

BAFTA Breakthrough cinematographer Aaron Reid explores Filmmakers Academy and shares his views on the site and its educational content as a resource for DPs and filmmakers at all stages of their careers.  

Over the last four weeks, alongside prepping a TV drama, I have spent my time going through the Filmmakers Academy website, reviewing its educational content. It’s been a wonderful experience because you never stop learning in filmmaking, so undertaking this review has been a perfect refresher for me whilst prepping my latest production.  

Filmmakers Academy is essentially an online training website designed to offer tutorials in a range of filmmaking roles and covering a variety of techniques. I viewed many courses on the site, mainly focusing on cinematography, whilst reviewing directing, colour grading, and TV camera operating.   

It’s a great platform for students who want to learn some of the most creative and technical aspects of filmmaking, and an excellent way for industry professionals to have a reference to use relating to key areas of their craft.  

 Shane Hurlbut ASC is one of the many Filmmakers Academy instructors sharing their knwoledge (Credit: Ben Richardson)

I was impressed by the variety of courses you can choose from, and the user-friendly website makes it easy to navigate thanks to its simple and effective menu system. In fact, one of the strengths of the site is that you can personalise the interface to suit your search needs and course needs.  

The website offers practical courses 24/7 which is great for students as you can keep returning to whichever class inspires you the most. Film school was incredible for me, and I enjoyed so many amazing lectures. However, it would have been even better if I could have kept returning to my favourite classes and courses. Filmmakers Academy offers you this opportunity.  

The lighting classes by Shane Hurlbut ASC are great. I especially liked the night exterior lighting and moonlight lighting tutorials because they echoed what I was building in prep on my own show.  It’s been great to reference some of the interesting technical skills that Shane teaches. His sessions feel more like masterclasses than online tutorials which is amazing because your learning experience is heightened by feeling privileged to be guided by such an experienced cinematographer.  

David Cole’s Filmmakers Academy course on colour correcting

The tools and techniques that Shane teaches, and uses are very exciting to learn, meaning Filmmakers Academy can become a go-to source for learning how to craft and shape images as an inspiring DP. Creating an eye light by bouncing small hard light into the ceiling whilst someone is in bed is something I’ll definitely take with me. Watching Shane set this up was one of my favourite moments when watching his moonlight course because it was so simple and effective.  

Shane breaks down his techniques so they are easy to understand. The technical side of lighting can be extremely complicated, and these courses go a long way into making lighting a less daunting process.  

One of the most important aspects of cinematography is colour grading. Having courses on grading, alongside cinematography is the greatest feature of this website, in my opinion. This is crucial for aspiring DPs, camera and light technicians, directors, and filmmakers in general.  

Shane Hurlbut ASC’s Filmmakers Academy course on night interiors 

My first experience of colour grading was once I started shooting projects that had a budget. Up until that moment I had very limited exposure to it. Stepping into a grading suite for the first time was a daunting experience. I’m not sure I actually spoke! 

Filmmakers Academy’s workshops on colour grading bridge the gap between student and professional because it puts students in an environment which they may not get to experience until further along in their career. Once again, I felt like I was in a masterclass when watching David Cole’s colour grading courses (who recently worked on Dune). Colourists are our unsung heroes in cinematography, so being able to watch David’s course and reference the films he’s coloured, including The Lord of The Rings, was an incredible experience for me, and would be an incredible experience for a student.  

I really enjoyed David’s courses on correcting the blacks and correcting the mid and highlights. These are elements I obsess over when creating images. Correcting these when colour grading helps to bring my images to life. Colour grading helps to visualise the director’s vision whilst also realising the strength of a DP’s lighting. These courses were excellent because they also help you to understand the correct way of asking for improvements and tweaks when grading.  

Aspiring DPs are going to able to push their work much more if they understand the process of colour grading before getting into a grading suite. Having colour grading classes at your disposal 24/7 is a massive bonus for any aspiring filmmaker or cinematographer.  

Another strength of the Filmmakers Academy website is the way in which the tutors interlink and that new instructors are added all the time. I loved the fact that Shane Hurlbut and David Cole had worked together on many films.  

Overall, I believe this site offers many attributes that will make it a valuable learning resource for film craft. It pushes learning film into the future.

BAFTA Breakthrough cinematographer Aaron Reid

For more information on Filmmakers Academy, head to www.filmmakersacademy.com 

You can also see a selection of Filmmakers Academy videos on British Cinematographer’s BCinePlayer (bcineplayer.com) and find out more details about the educational resource by visiting our new BCineSkills platform (bcineskills.com). 

British Cinematographer subscribers can get $25 off the Filmmakers Academy All Access annual membership by using the coupon code BCINE.
Sign up via our affiliate link here: https://bit.ly/3wbznOY

Lead image credit: Ben Pieper

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