Discover what's new for Fall 2024

On-Set Lighting Demos

Emmy-winning cinematographer Jason Tomaric goes on set to block, light, and shoot 8 sample scenes, methodically walking students through every step of how to achieve professional cinematic results. Whereas previous FilmSkills lessons focus on the tools, this series applies that knowledge to practical, real-world settings. In this comprehensive series, students learn a variety of skills and techniques.

  • How to choose the lens, plan the camera movement, and set the frame
  • How to identify exposure and color problems
  • How to gel windows to balance brightness of sunlight with production lights
  • How to effectively use white balance and color temperatures to achieve the desired color palette
  • How to shoot a night scene while producing a clean, solid image
  • How to use a waveform monitor and false color
  • How to use a light meter to determine contrast
Play Video

Interior Counter Top - Daytime

Students learn how to address exposure issues when shooting on location with windows, how to gel windows, balance exposure, and create natural, motivated lighting.

Kitchen Table - Nighttime

Students learn how to shoot dialogue scene between two people at night, on location. Covering both his and her shots, this tutorial guides students through the blocking, composition, and lighting decisions behind creating a cinematic night scene.

Interior Bathroom - Daytime

Shooting in a small, confined space like a bathroom creates a range of production challenges, which we systematically address in this engaging tutorial. From a simple bathroom to a dramatic shot, students learn how to achieve the desired look on set.

Interior Bedroom - Daytime

Students learn how to create a sculpted light in a bedroom interior during the day. In this lesson, students learn how to balance exposure between the subject and outside sunlight, all while creating a cinematic look.

Living Room - Morning

In this on-location tutorial, students learn how to create a morning light on a nighttime set. From working with haze and creating volumetric light, students learn to block and light for a cinematic look.

Kitchen Table - Daytime

One of the most common scenes in a student production is the interior dialogue scene. Students learn how to address exposure issues when shooting on location with windows, how to gel windows, balance exposure, and create natural, motivated lighting.

Bedroom Dialogue - Nighttime

In this tutorial, students learn to shoot a realistic night scene that achieves the desired emotional tone, all while producing a clean, noise-free image.

Living Room - Nighttime

In this lesson, students learn how to light and shoot a scene with practical light fixtures, how to enhance the light so it is motivated, and how to bring the outside into the latitude of the camera

Brand New Core Lighting Curriculum

Announcing all new lighting lessons, which visually guide students through lighting tools and techniques. We partnered with LEDGO to produce an intensive, on-set series that demonstrates key lighting tools in visually-engaging video tutorials.

Lesson 1

Techniques to Reduce Light

The all-new video tutorial methodically guides students through the tools and techniques used to reduce light on your subject. This lesson covers:

  • Working with wire scrims
  • Working with dimmers
  • Remotable Wi-Fi dimming options
  • Solids, cutters, and floppies
  • Creating negative fill
  • Lensers and Courtesies
  • Protecting fabric scrims
  • Scrim and C-stand rigging safety
  • Neutral Density gel on windows

Lesson 2

How to Create Soft Light

In this in-depth tutorial, students learn how to create soft light using a variety of techniques:
  • How to control the size of a light source
  • Using Fresnels to craft the spread of light
  • Controlling wraparound
  • Working with diffusion on barn doors
  • Working with soft boxes and Chimeras
  • Skinning 4x4s
  • Working with 6×6 overheads
  • How to control spill from soft light sources
  • Real world demo

Lesson 3

Techniques to Shape Light

Creating light is easy – the art of lighting is in how the light is shaped. In this lesson, students experience industry-standard techniques to shape light to create the desired look. 
  • The power of shadows
  • Creating internal vs external shadows
  • Benefits and drawbacks of bard doors
  • Working with black wrap
  • Egg crates and louvres
  • Flags and solids
  • Creating gobos
  • Working with a cucoloris and brancholoris
  • Building duvatyne skirts

Lesson 4

Working with Reflected and Bounced Light

While the previous lessons teach direct lighting techniques, this lesson shows students techniques on how to work with bounced and reflected light.
  • Factoring in the Inverse Square Law
  • Foam core and bead board
  • Collapsable reflectors
  • Shiny boards
  • Physics of reflected light
  • Bouncing light off ceiling
  • Working with overheads
  • Shaping hair lights
  • Working with mirrors

Lesson 5

Color Temperatures and White Balance

The all-new video tutorial introduced students to color theory, how color is rendered on screen, and how common light sources appear on screen. This lesson covers:
  • Defining how a camrea sees white
  • The Kelvin scale – origins and how it’s used
  • How the imaging sensor sees color
  • Measuring light sources with a spectrometer
  • White balancing techniques
  • How to cheat white balance

Lesson 6

Working with Mixed Light

From gelling lights to working with variable-color temperature LEDs, students learn how to color balance lights on set to achieve the desired look. This lesson covers:
  • How to use gels to color correct light sources
  • Light loss calculations through gels
  • Working with LEDs
  • Working with sunlight
  • How to gel windows

Lesson 7

How to Light and Shoot Green Screen

The all-new video tutorial methodically guides students through the process of lighting, exposing, and recording green screen footage.  This lesson covers:
  • When to choose green or blue
  • Differences between chromakey and digital blue/green
  • Shooting in a studio vs on location
  • How to light green screen (space lights, cyc lights, LED, Kino-Flo, book lights)
  • How the bit depth and compression affect a key
  • Capturing in LOG vs REC709
  • How to expose actors
  • How to reduce spill and create a cleaner key

All New Grip and Rigging Lessons

Many of you have contacted us requesting more grip and rigging lessons. Since these are difficult practices to teach online, we partnered with Matthews Studio Equipment to produce an extensive series on grip gear and rigging techniques. Students are introduced to each piece of grip equipment – from stands and clamps to complex rigs – how to properly rig them, and on-set safety protocols.

Lesson 1

Grip and Rigging: Clamps

We unload the grip truck for students and  show them how to use common clamps used on film sets, including mafers, cardellinis, C-clamps, furniture clamps, playtpus clamps, scissor clamps, gaffer grip, and how to use each clamp safety.

Lesson 2

Grip and Rigging: Rigging Hardware and Techniques

Students learn how to safely use grid and pipe clamps, lollipops, offset arms, wall plates, double and triple headers, grip heads, wall spreaders, Mattpoles, putty knife, and chain vice grips.

Lesson 3

Grip and Rigging: Stands

From baby and combo stands, to hi-his and low boys, students learn how to safety use industry-standard stands on set.

Lesson 4

Grip and Rigging: C-Stands

Students learn how to properly use a variety of C-stands, including turtle base, spring loaded, as well as rigging options for grip heads and arms.

Lesson 5

Grip and Rigging: Grip Support

Students learn how to properly use sandbags, apple boxes, taco carts, and furni pads on set.

25 All New Screenwriting Lessons

I’m excited to announce the release of our all-new 25 lesson screenwriting series, where we tapped into the knowledge and experience of Academy Award and Emmy-winning filmmakers to guide you through the entire screenwriting process.

Lessons: 25 core lessons, averaging 20 minutes per lesson

Total Video Length: 8 hours

Learn from the Best

Emmy-Winning Executive Producer
Two-time Emmy winner, Steve is the Executive Producer on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “‘Til Death,” and “School of Rock,” and produced the Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee, “An Unreasonable Man.”

Studio Executive
Alexa is the former Vice President of Development at Sony Pictures Animation and Vice President of Production at New Regency Productions.

Anne Marie served as COO of Morgan Freeman’s production company, Revelations Entertainment, and is the producer of Oscar nominated “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Andy is best known for directing Harrison Ford in the Oscar nominated, “The Fugitive.” He has also directed numerous feature FilmSkills, including “Under Siege,” “Above the Law” (both starring Steven Segal), “Code of Silence,” “Holes,” “The Package” and “The Guardian.”

Head of Production at William Morris-Endeavor
Wayne Fitterman leads the WME’s Production Department, one the top five most powerful talent agencies in the world. His clients have included, Oscar-winning cinematographers, production designers, producers, and actors.

Edward has received screenwriting credit for “Now You See Me,” “Jessica Jones,” “Now You See Me 2,” and “Wayward Pines”

Academy Award Winner
Chris Huntley won the Academy Award for his groundbreaking story structure software DRAMATICA.

Ken Dancyger is the author or co-author of seven books on screenwriting, directing, film editing and production. Ken is past Chair of Undergraduate Film and Television, TISCH School of the Arts, New York University, where he is a Full Professor.

Ricky serves as the Vice President of Future Films, LLC. The Future Film Group is a major financier and producer in the media sector having raised over $2bn in finance and having been involved in over 200 films and TV shows.

Neil has penned screenplays for “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” Melrose Place,” Doogie Howser, M.D.” “Tad: The Explorer,””The Magnificent Seven,” and “Undressed”

Guy has penned the screenplays for “Under the Volcano,” “American Playhouse,” and “Takes from the Darkside”

Lesson 1

Beginning the Writing Process

Congratulations!  You’re ready to start writing your movie script, but where do you start?  Before we jump into developing characters and discussing story structure, you need to prepare your tools and set-up a space to work. In this lesson, we will share some tips and tricks to helping you prepare to write your screenplay.

Lesson 2

Working with a Writing Partner

Writers rarely approach a new script alone, but working with a writing partner can introduce its own challenges.  In this lesson, we will show you tips and techniques for finding and establishing a good relationship with a writing partner.

Lesson 3

Finding Story Ideas & Inspiration

It takes a long time to make a movie, and the pressure to find an idea that you are willing to work on for years is high.  In this lesson, the writers behind dozens of TV shows and movies, including Everybody Loves Raymond and Now You See It, plus studio executives, top Hollywood agents, and the Academy Award-winning Christ Huntley who defined the Hollywood story structure teach you how to find inspiration and develop your idea.

Lesson 4

Developing a Marketable Idea

As a creative people, we’re flooded by interesting ideas for movies all the time. But are those ideas marketable? Will an audience want to see them?

Movie making is one of the most expensive and time-consuming art forms, and before you embark on months, even years of work, it’s wise to research the potential audience for your movie.  In this lesson, I partnered with Emmy and Academy Award-winning writers, studio executives, and screenwriting professors to reveal dozens of tips and tricks to determining the market for your story concept.

Lesson 5

Story Formats

Stories can be told in a number of different ways, and in this lesson, we’re going to look at how a story is structured in feature and short films, animation, commercials, documentaries, music videos, and corporate videos

Lesson 6

The 7 Plot types

Every story that has every been told, is being told, and will ever be told can be distilled into one of seven basic story lines. And every story is a variation of one of these plot types. In this lesson, we will explore each of these 7 plot types and how you can adapt them to your story.

Lesson 7

The Implication of Genre

Genre is the style that wraps around your plot structure. Each genre comes with its own story conventions,  guidelines for the protagonist, scope of the antagonist, and plot structures. In this lesson, we look at the range of genres and how they impact your story and your ability to market your production.

Lesson 8

Three Act Structure

In this module, we’ll show you how to use the three act structure to properly pace your story, what should occur in each act, the length of each act, what happens at the beginning, middle and end of each act, and how to apply these techniques to your story.

Lesson 9

A-Story and Subplots

If you were to describe a movie in a few sentences, you would probably give me a great summary of the main plot of the story- “Raiders of the Lost Arc is about an archaeologist who goes in search of the Arc of the Covenant.” Or “Twilight” is about girl torn between two men – a vampire and a werewolf.” In both of these examples, you would be correct – but what you told me was what is part of what’s called the “A” plot, or the main storyline of the movie. Movies can also include several smaller stories called subplots, which help reveal character, push the story forward and ultimately support the A-plot. In this module, we’re going to look at how to effectively write both the A-plot and the subplots.

Lesson 10

Techniques to Improve Story Pacing

A good screenplay takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, and one of the challenges facing each writer is how to keep the audience engaged through each and every minute of the story. In this module, learn literary techniques for maintaining strong pacing – especially through the second act.

Lesson 11

Techniques to Engage the Audience

Story pacing is critical to keep your audience engaged and interested in your movie. In this lesson, we’re going to reveal top literary tools you can use in your screenplay to keep people visually, emotionally, and psychologically engaged in your story.

Lesson 12

The Protagonist

As you’re writing your screenplay, the most important character to write is the protagonist. But you have several choices – is he also the main character? Does the protagonist change or remain steadfast? How do you write a character the audience will care about? How can flaws help the protagonsit solve the story problem?

Knowing the answers to these question will help you craft a compelling character, so in this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong, multi-dimensional protagonist.

Lesson 13

The Antagonist

The antagonist has been classically referred to as the bad guy, the villain, or the adversary. But more properly defined, he, she or it is the literary opposite of the protagonist – the character who opposes the goals of the protagonist. In this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong antagonist, how to make him, her or it a real, multidimensional character.

Lesson 14

Conflict Types

Conflict in a story is everything – it defines the very purpose of the protagonist. We can divide the types of conflict into one of several categories – each category helping to define the antagonist’s role in the story. They are man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. society, man vs. nature and man vs. the supernatural. So in this module, we’re going to explore these various types of conflict and how you can use them to craft a compelling antagonist.

Lesson 15

Supporting Characters

A movie is populated with dozens of other characters – many of whom have an influence on the protagonist and the antagonist. These supporting characters either help or hinder, compliment or compete with our protagonist and antagonist. They add vibrancy and excitement to the story, all while serving as a valuable literary tool for you as you write the screenplay. In this module, we’re going to explore the function of supporting characters.

Lesson 16

Character Archetypes

All characters can be broken down into eight different archtypes – now these are the basic ingredients of creating a character, so of course you can mix and match them to create more complex, unique characters.  But every supporting character fulfills one of more of these roles.  The eight archtypes are the protagonist and the antagonist, Reason, Emotion, The Sidekick, The Skeptic, the Guardian and the Contagonist. So, in this module, we’re going to explore the six archetypes that make up supporting characters.

Lesson 17

Designing Personality and Building Backstory

The act of writing is much more than simply creating characters – it’s about writing real people with real fears, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. But although you need to be able to create real, believable people, every choice you make when creating them needs to support the story. Who they are helps them confront the plot, learn more about themselves and ultimately succeed or fail. Their background gives them the tools and experienced they need to confront the conflict, and most importantly, their tragic flaw gives their story a personal arc. So, in this module, we’re going to discuss how to create personality and backstory.

Lesson 18

How to Write Natural Dialogue

One of producers’ biggest criticisms of a script is the weak, cliche dialogue. Learn how to make your script stand out with tight, engaging dialogue from working Hollywood experts. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman and Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric share valuable insight into avoiding cliches and writing tight dialogue.

Lesson 19

Title, Theme, and Log Lines

The title, theme, and log line are often the first exposure audience, producers, and agents may have to your story. But as a writing tool, they help you develop the plot thread and the heart of your story. In this lesson, we’re going to explore techniques for crafting a compelling title, developing a theme, and honing the log line to your screenplay.

Lesson 20

How to Write a Treatment and Ouline

The treatment and outline for a movie is literally the backbone of the story, and the quality of your work in this phase can either make or break your script. Learn how to write an effective treatment and outline and simplify the process of writing the first draft. Working Hollywood writers teach you how to get the most out of this valuable writing tool.

Lesson 21

How to Format a Screenplay

Learn how to properly write and format the first draft of your script. This module is a complete guide that walks you through every step of how to format a screenplay.

Lesson 22

How to Write the First Draft

Now that your treatment and outline are complete, you can now start writing the first draft of the script. This process is when you take each story beat and develop the action and dialogue of each scene. It’s a tedious process, and one that can be frustrating, but we will give you tips on how to make the first draft the best it can possibly be.

Lesson 23

Improve Your Rewrites

Once the first draft of your script is ready, the real work begins. Learn what to look for in the rewriting process, how to identify problem areas that may adversely affect the story and how to get the most out of each plot, character and line of dialogue. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman, Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric and Jerrol LeBaron, president of the script brokerage site, share industry tips and techniques on how to effectively rewrite your script.

Lesson 24

How to Market Your Screenplay

You’ve finished the script, now what? Working Hollywood writers and producers take you through the process of finding an agent or manager. Should you approach a producer instead? How do you deal with the studio Hollywood Reader? How do you cope with rejection? This module takes you through the intricacies of the Hollywood system and how to manage it.

Lesson 25

Your Screenplay and the Real World

Congratulations! Your screenplay is finished… or is it?  When you sell or option your screenplay, agents, managers, and producers will often ask for multiple rewrites. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to manage feedback, how to protect your screenplay, grow your network, and improve your skills.