New Editing Lessons

Enhance Your Film Editing Curriculum

Emmy-winning television and film editors take students inside the workflow, art, and technique of narrative film editing. Applicable to every curriculum regardless of the software of hardware you’re using, the FilmSkills Editing series brings the editorial storytelling process to life.

Lesson 1

Hiring an Editor

In this lesson, students learn how to find a qualified editor, how to assess an editor’s demo reel, tips for ensuring their vision and communication style match yours, and how to ultimately get the best person for the job.

  • When in the process to hire the editor
  • What to look for in a demo reel
  • How editor’s role changes between independent and studio productions
  • Issues when hiring the editor later in the process

Lesson 2

Working with an Editor

Learn techniques for communicating your vision to the editor, the editor’s workflow, and what you can do to get the best results possible in the editing room.

  • When in the process to hire the editor
  • How the editor maintains objectivity
  • Managing different communication styles between the director and editor
  • The director’s role during the edit
  • Choosing selects
  • How the director can let go during the editing process

Lesson 3

Data Management and Workflow

Learn how to develop a system for organizing the footage from set to post, how to develop a workflow that keeps the process smooth and conflict-free, how to conduct post-production meetings, the role of the post-production supervisor, standard techniques for labeling and managing footage, and data handling techniques.

  • How to set-up and manage post-production meetings
  • The role of the post production supervisor
  • How to manage data and back-ups
  • Synchronizing software versions and plug-ins
  • Sharing files with the team
  • How to organize footage
  • Script notes
  • Labeling shots

Lesson 4

The Psychology of Editing

Learn when to cut, how to determine whether you should cut or not, the hierarchy of story-telling importance when editing, what to show or not show, and how to use psychology to craft a scene the invokes powerful emotions – all through how it is edited.

  • How editing mirrors human psychology
  • Knowing when to cut
  • Trusting your intuition
  • Knowing why to cut
  • How a scene becomes greater than the sum of its parts
  • The power of order and how to change the tone of a scene through sequencing
  • What not to show

Lesson 5

The Assembly Cut

Learn how to approach the assembly cut, how to manage music and sound effects, what should or shouldn’t be included, and how to address issues of pacing, story, and character development.

  • What happens during the assembly cut
  • Cutting to the script
  • Working with script notes and selects
  • The director’s role during the assembly cut
  • Adding music and effects
  • How to manage missing digital effects

Lesson 6

The Rough Cut

Learn how to approach the rough cut, determine what moments work, how to re-structure the story, and ultimately create a movie that stands on its own- divorced from the script.

  • What happens during the rough cut
  • How to edit for story instead of the script
  • How to improve an actor’s performance
  • Managing deadlines
  • Creating titles and credits

Lesson 7

The Fine Cut

Learn techniques for perfecting every single frame of your movie before locking the picture edit, how you will know when the movie is done, the implications of locking the picture, and the process of prepping the film for audio.

  • What happens during the fine cut
  • Smoothing continuity
  • How to polish transitions in and out of scenes
  • Locking the picture
  • Knowing when to stop

Lesson 8

How to Shoot and Edit a Dialogue Scene

Learn the correct and incorrect ways of shooting dialogue on set, advanced techniques for manipulating the pacing and emotional intensity of the scene, how to work with changing background ambience, techniques for balancing the visual performance with the dialogue, how to mix the audio, ultimately how to get the best performance through the edit.

  • The correct and incorrect ways of shooting a dialogue scene on set
  • How to remove ambience
  • How to edit a dialogue scene
  • How to control the emotional intensity of a scene in the editing room
  • Working with L cuts and J cuts
  • How to edit and smooth the audio
  • Working with compressors, limiters, and EQ

Lesson 9

How to Shoot and Edit Action

Learn how to edit action for proper flow, continuity, and pacing.  Learn techniques for compressing time, revealing only the essentials to keep the story moving forward, and advanced editing techniques used by master editors.

  • How to shoot scenes on set to maximize options in the editing room
  • How to edit action
  • Differences between editing action and dialogue scenes
  • Techniques for cutting on motion
  • Handling time shifts in the story
  • The art of the montage

Lesson 10

Test Screenings and Feedback

Learn how to prepare for and conduct a test screening, how to choose the right test audience, what questions to ask after the test screening, and how to filter the responses into usable comments that can improve the story.

  • Why test screening matter
  • How to choose a test audience
  • What to look for during the screening
  • How to parse audience feedback
  • Managing feedback from clients, networks, and studios
  • Dealing with criticism
  • How to politically handle conflicting notes from executives, producers, financiers, distributors, and the director

Lesson 11

Online and Offline Editing

Learn how and when to work in an offline environment, how to transition to an online cut, and techniques for ensuring the process goes smoothly.

  • The difference between online and offline editing
  • How to create and work with proxies
  • How to online a production

Lesson 12

Color Grading

Learn the color grading process, how it differs amongst formats, the balance between technical and artistic grading, how to protect yourself from the “fix-it-in-post” mentality, and how to get the look you want.

  • The difference between color correction and color grading
  • How to use a waveform monitor and vectorscope
  • Working with log, Raw, and Rec709 footage
  • How to work with CODECs
  • Managing limitations in the footage
  • Color matching shots
  • How to color grade skin tones
  • How to work with LUTS
  • Color grading wide and narrow gamut camera footage
  • The “fix-it-in-post” mentality
  • How to establish and create a look

23 All-New Crew Lessons

There are a lot of craftspeople on a film set, and in this all new 23-part series, leading Hollywood crews from blockbuster TV shows and movies give students an in-depth look at each major below-the-line crew position.

3 Lessons

The Producers

In this three lessons series, students learn how the business managers of a film production work. From the line producer and unit production manager to the production coordinator, students get a detailed, inside look at the duties and responsibilities of the producers.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required for the producers, including:

  • Forming a Production Company
  • Hiring the Crew
  • Raising Money from Investors
  • Tax Incentives
  • Money Management
  • Unions and Guilds
  • Working with SAG/AFTRA
  • Working with Vendors

4 Lessons

The Assistant Director Department

In this four lesson series, the Assistant Director team behind Titanic, Avatar, Stranger Things, and dozens of other Hollywood blockbusters teach students the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of the Assistant Director department, how to effectively manage the set, balancing the relationship between the director and producers, and how to get a job as an AD on a professional set.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required of the assistant directors, including:

  • Breaking Down the Script
  • Scheduling the Production
  • Scheduling the Shooting Day

1 Lesson

The Script Supervisor

Working Hollywood script supervisors teach students the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of the script supervisor, how to interface with the director, the expectations of bridging the set to the editing room, how to effectively prep a production, and the expected deliverables when the production wraps.

To learn more about how the script supervisor manages continuity and the script notes, add the lesson, “Continuity and Script Notes.”

3 Lessons

The Camera Department

In this three lesson series, students learn the roles and responsibilities of the camera department, from the moment to get the call for the job to the time they wrap. Working Hollywood camera crews reveal best practices, expectations, and responsibilities of a professional camera crew.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required for the camera department, including:

  • Introduction to Lenses
  • How to Prep the Camera
  • Building the Camera Package
  • How to Test a Lens
  • Focusing Techniques
  • Lens Focal Length
  • f-Stops and T-Stops
  • The Camera Shutter
  • Frame Rates
  • How to Expose a Shot
  • Depth of Field
  • Neutral Density Filters
  • Polarizers

3 Lessons

The Electric Department

In this three lesson series, professional Hollywood gaffers, best boy electrics, and electricians reveal the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of the electric department, how they interface with other departments on set, and how to make a living in the electric department.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required for the electric department, including:

  • Electrical Safety I
  • Electrical Safety II
  • Reducing Light
  • Tungsten Lighting
  • HMI Lighting
  • LED Lighting
  • Kino-Flo Fluorescent Lighting

4 Lessons

The Grip Department

In this four lesson series, students learn the job responsibilities of the group department and a professional production. Experienced, professional Hollywood grips methodically reveal the expectations of the grip department, how they interact with the electric department, the working hours and wages, and on-set practices to have a successful career in the grip department.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required for the producers, including:

  • Grip and Rigging Safety
  • Stands
  • Clamps
  • Rigging
  • Grip Tools
  • Grip Techniques
  • Reducing Light
  • Shaping Light
  • Reflecting Light

5 Lessons

The Art Department

In this five lesson series, professional Hollywood production designers, art directors, set decorators, and property masters teach students the hierarchy of the art department, how to achieve the desired look within the schedule and budgetary limitations, and how to effectively interact with the rest of the crew.

While these lessons focus on each role, supplement this curriculum with lessons that focus on the skill sets required for the producers, including:

  • Creating the Look
  • Set Design
  • Set Construction
  • Set Dressing
  • Props
  • Tour a Prop House

New Scheduling and Budgeting Lessons

In this engaging new series, students learn how to balance the business of filmmaking with the art through effectively breaking down the shooting script, developing a realistic shooting schedule, and how to develop and manage an accurate budget.

Lesson 1

Breaking Down the Script

Learn to properly break down the script,  line the script, techniques for breaking down each scene, how to use scene breakdown forms, and how assistant directors and line producers should manage the breakdowns from other departments on the project.

Lesson 2

Scheduling the Production

Learn to determine the number of shooting days needed to shoot your film, how to determine the shooting order, manage day and night shoots, account for turnaround time, and the benefits of shooting consecutive shooting days.

Lesson 3

Scheduling the Shooting Day

Learn how to schedule company moves, meal breaks, learn the productivity arc of a shooting crew, how to work with the director’s shot list, skills for managing a shoot running over schedule, how to generate a one-line schedule, and how to create call sheets.

Lesson 4

Developing the Budget

Learn to create an accurate budget, tricks to reducing the budget if you’re running over, how to plan for contingencies, how to manage crew expectations, and how to go into production knowing you’ll have the money to finish.


Learning Professional Skills to Direct Actors

All newly update lessons reveal to students how professionals direct actors on set for convincing, authentic performances.

And as with all FilmSkills Academic lessons, the new location lessons come complete with test questions, fully illustrated companion text, and downloadable contracts and forms students can use on their own productions.

Lesson 1

Analyzing Character

Characters, like people in real life, function on different levels. They often don’t say what they mean, are driven by their own ambitions, and are shaped by their past – whether that past is from their childhood or a mere moment ago.
In this lesson, students learn directing techniques to help actors determine the subtext, intent, and back story of their characters. Students learn to develop their directing skills and help their actors portray honest, memorable characters.
  • What is the actor’s role in preparing a character?
  • What is subtext and how can the director and actor find this inner meaning of a scene
  • What is intent and how does it shape the actor’s motivations
  • What is back story and how do you craft the proper history for a character?

Lesson 2

Rehearsing Actors

Once the actors are cast, it’s time to begin working with them to flesh out real, breathing characters full of life, depth, problems, issues and challenges.
In this lesson, students learn how to structure rehearsals, how to conduct a table read, and what the responsibilities are of the director and actors.
There is a fine line between nurturing and smothering when working with actors  – know where that line is, and how to get the most our of your rehearsals.
  • How to conduct a table read
  • What should happen during the first rehearsal
  • What is the actor’s responsibility during rehearsals
  • What is the director’s responsibility during rehearsals

Lesson 3

Rehearsal Exercises

Characters are created before the actors ever step on the set – the performance is created from elaborate backstories, layered subtext, and infused intent in every line. But with all this work, actors can get stuck in their heads and lose the sense of spontaneity when the camera rolls.
In this lesson, students learn valuable techniques from working Hollywood directors to get to the heart of the actors’ performance, learn rehearsal techniques from developing the character to overcoming mental blocks on the set.
In the heat of the moment, the actors will always look to the director for help… make sure you know how to give it.
  • Tips, tricks and techniques for helping actors give you the best performance
  • Advice from working Hollywood directors

Lesson 4

The Language of Directing Actors

The key to achieving excellent performances is good communication between the actors and the director. Like other industries, directing has its own language that allows a director to succinctly express his vision in a way the actors can embrace.
In this lesson, students learn from Hollywood actors and directors on how to approach and work effectively with actors on set, how to deal with problematic actors, and how to communicate in the actor’s language.
Great performances are made from great collaborations – get everything you can out of your cast for the best movie possible.
  • How to establish trust and communication with your actors
  • How to know what you want
  • The language of acting
  • What to do when you’re not getting the performance you want on set
  • The actor/director relationship
  • The types of directors

Lesson 5

Directing Actors on Set

When working with actors on set remember they have a lot to think about: their back story, their intent, and their subtext. What you say can either strengthen their performance or weigh it down. To hone just the right performance – your words matter.

In this lesson, students learn what to say to an actor at the beginning of every scene – within 30 seconds before they call action and 30 seconds after you call cut, learn how to rehearse on set, establish strong blocking, and how to help actors balance their performance with the technicalities of film production.

The director is the only life line to the actors, and what they say can make or break an actor’s performance.

This lesson covers:

  • What to say to an actor 30 seconds before you call “Action”
  • What to say to an actor immediately after calling “Cut”
  • The three points that lead to fail-proof direction
  • How to balance performance with picture

Lesson 6

Directing Mistakes

Working Hollywood actors and directors share their personal experiences with the most common directing mistakes and how to avoid them.
In this lesson, students learn to identify common directing problems and how to fix them to ensure they get the best performance on set possible.
Don’t let these common directing errors affect your cast, your production, and ultimately, your movie.
  • The most common mistakes directors make
  • How to avoid and resolve these mistakes

Lesson 7

Directing Extras

Movies have long used extras to breathe a sense of realism into a scene.  Extras are non-speaking actors who populate the background of a diner, a stadium or a store to more closely recreate real life. For a filmmaker, extras are a great tool to have.

In this lesson, students learn how to find extras, the right way to direct them, how to cheat them on set, liability concerns and how to avoid them, logistics on the shooting day, and the most common problems filmmakers encounter when working with extras.
Whether you’re working with thousands on a battlefield or just a small handful in coffee shop, create a realistic backdrop of life for your scene.
  • How to cast extras
  • How to cheat extras to increase their numbers on screen
  • Logistics the day of the shoot
  • Liability issues and how to avoid them
  • How to direct extras

Get Your Students Ready to Shoot on Location

We partnered with the powerhouse Location Managers from Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Transformers 2, Top Gun 2, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Grey’s Anatomy to give your students professional guidance on finding, managing, and shooting on location.

Check out a free preview of from “Working with Location Owners”

And as with all FilmSkills Academic lessons, the new location lessons come complete with test questions, fully illustrated companion text, and downloadable contracts and forms students can use on their own productions.

Lesson 1

Scouting Locations

Locations play a critical role in every film production, and in this lessons, students  will learn how to properly break down the script, scout locations, work on cold scouts, how to assess the technical feasibility of a location, and it’s local industry support. (19:13)

This lesson covers:

  • How to break down a script
  • How to properly generate a list of locations
  • How to scout locations
  • Available resources to help you location scout
  • How to conduct a cold scout
  • How to assess the technical requirements of the location

Lesson 2

Working with Film Commissions

Each state has a film commission tasked with attracting motion picture production to that state. In this lesson, students learn the services offered by a film commission, how to use their services to find the best location for your movie, liaise with local industry, and what hidden pricing traps.(24:53)

This lesson covers:

  • What a film commission does
  • How to use their location libraries
  • How to use their scouting services
  • Limitations of a film commission’s services
  • How a film commission can help you liaise with local industry and local government
  • How your budget affects the services they offer
  • How to find a film commission

Lesson 3

Working with Location Owners

Approaching and asking a location owner to use his or her property for your film shoot can be a daunting task. In this module, you will not only learn how to approach a location owner, but which contracts and forms are needed, proper protocol, how to deal with problems and how to help a location owner prepare himself for the whirlwind that is the production process. (34:47)
  • How to approach a location owner about using his or her property for your shoot
  • How to establish your credibility
  • How to speak and present your case to a location owner
  • The necessary contracts and agreements to protect yourself legally
  • How to conduct a walk through
  • How to deal with problems if the location owner decides to pull out at the last minute
  • The location release form and its importance

Lesson 4

Film Permits

In most major cities, filmmakers are required to obtain a permit to be able to shoot on both public and private property.  This lesson will guide students through the permitting process, when one is required, how to get one, the costs involved, and common traps associated with free permits.


  • What are permits
  • When is a permit required
  • Shooting guerilla without a permit
  • The difference between shooting on public and private property
  • Free permits and their hidden costs
  • How to use a permit on location

Lesson 5

Community Relations

No one makes a movie in a vacuum – every day a shoot will invariably affect someone, whether it’s one neighbor or an entire community. In this lesson, students will learn how their film shoot affects the public, how to work with local officials, how to notify residents, how to leave a positive impact on the community when they’re finished shooting, and a general code of conduct for crews when shooting on location. (25:00)
  • How to secure permission from the neighbors in the community in which you’re shooting
  • The public impact of a film shoot
  • How to work with the police
  • How to shoot in a public venue
  • How to deal with disruptive people when shooting in public
  • The proper code of conduct for motion picture crews when shooting on location

All New On-Set Audio Lessons

Announcing a massive update to our already comprehensive on-set audio recording series. Engaging video tutorials feature Academy Award and Emmy winning filmmakers who methodically reveal industry best practices and techniques for recording high quality audio on set.

Lesson 1

The Physics of Sound

Before students can learn how to record sound, they need to understand how sound works. This lesson covers the the sound wave, how it can be measured and ultimately, how it is manipulated and captured to create emotion through story. (26:01)

This lesson covers:

  • What is sound
  • The sound wave
  • Frequency and amplitude
  • The human hear and its limitations
  • Measuring loudness

Lesson 2

How Microphones Work

Microphones are incredible devices that convert sound energy into electrical energy and can do so in different ways.  In this lesson, we explore how microphones capture sound, how that sound is converted into energy, and the strengths and weaknesses of each microphone type. (23:52)

This lesson covers:

  • How microphones work
  • How a dynamic microphone works
  • How a condenser microphone works
  • How a ribbon microphone works
  • What is the signal-to-noise ratio
  • What is sensitivity and how is it measured
  • What is the maximum sound pressure level
  • What is frequency response

Lesson 3

Microphone Pick-Up Patterns

In this lesson, learn about the important classification- the microphone’s pick-up pattern.  The pick-up pattern is the shape of the zone around the microphone in which it picks up sound the best.  If the sound-generating source is in the zone, the sound will be full and robust, but as the source leaves the zone, the sound becomes more distant or muddy. Learn about omnidirectional, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure-of-8, multipattern mics, and much more. (19:09)
  • How pick-up patterns work
  • Omnidirectional mics
  • Cardioid mics
  • Hypercardioid mics
  • Shotgun mics
  • Figure of 8 mics
  • Multi-pattern mics
  • How to choose the best pick-up pattern for your shoot

Lesson 4

Audio Pre-Production

Recording on-set audio begins long before the cameras – or the sound recording devices – roll. By preparing the script, determining the proper crew size and creating a list of the required equipment, you’ll be prepared to capture strong audio every time. In this module, you will learn proper audio pre-production for your project.
  • How to break down the script
  • What to look for in each scene and how to determine the sound recording requirements
  • How to conduct a location scout
  • What problematic sounds to look for
  • How to deal with ambient sounds and reverb on location
  • How to work with a rental facility
  • How to track audio equipment

Lesson 5

Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier mics are small condenser microphones that can be worn on the body or hidden on set.  In this lesson,  we’ll show you how to get the most out of your lavalier microphones and how to deal with common problems. Learn various types of lavalier microphones, which mic to choose in different settings, how best to use lavalier microphones, and their limitations.
  • How lavalier microphones work
  • Whether to choose a transparent or a proximity lav
  • The difference between wired and wireless lavaliers
  • How to rig both exposed and hidden lavaliers both on set and on actors
  • How to avoid common problems with fabric rubbing against the mic and which fabrics can cause interference
  • Issues with wireless systems and how to avoid problems
  • Issues with multipath interference and how to avoid it

Lesson 6

The Microphone Boom

The boom mic is one of the most common tools used to properly position the microphone on set to record the highest-quality audio  In this lesson, you will learn how to choose the proper boom pole, the various types of shock mounts and wind reduction tools, how to combat wind noise, and how to get the best microphone boom pole for your money. Recording excellent audio begins with having the right tools. (19:08)
  • The types of boom poles available
  • The types of shock mounts and how they work
  • How to mount a microphone in a shock mount
  • The ideal microphone pick-up pattern to use on a boom pole
  • The types of wind reduction tools and how to use them including
    • Wind screens
    • Fuzzies
    • Zeppelins and dead cats
  • Techniques for monitoring audio

Lesson 7

Boom Operating Techniques

At first glance, the boom mic seems to be fairly simple and straightforward to operate. In actuality, however, it is a tricky skill that balances the ideal mic placement with the movements of the operator.  In this lesson, we examine the proper technique for using a boom pole to record on-set audio.

  • The various positions for a boom mic
  • How to properly place the microphone
  • Boom operating etiquette
  • How to deal with shadows and reflections
  • Communications techniques with the camera operator
  • What not to do on set

Lesson 8

Location Recording Techniques

Recording location sound is a challenging process – you need to contend with wind, traffic noise, and compete against the general ambience of the location to record clean dialogue. The decisions you make on set can either make the post-production process easy or add tens of thousands of dollars to your budget trying to fix problems that could have been avoided. In this lesson, learn how to properly prepare for a shoot – the type of gear you’ll need, how to conduct a location scout, and tips for minimizing location noise. (28:17)

  • How to control microphone perspective
  • How to conduct a sound check and set the levels
  • Techniques for monitoring audio
  • How to record multiple actors
  • What to do if there’s “no sound” in the scene
  • The importance of room tone and how to record it
  • How to fight the “fix-it-in-post” mentality

Lesson 9

Recording the Audio

Once the microphone picks-up sound, it is then encoded into either an analog or digital signal, then recorded to a device.  With advancements in technology, the quality of the recorded signal can be virtually indistinguishable from the original sound.  In this module, we explore how sound is recorded and encoded. (37:58)

  • The difference between an analog and digital signal
  • How to set proper audio levels
  • What is the noise floor and how it can adversely affect your audio
  • What is the sample rate and bit depth of a digital signal
  • What is auto gain
  • How compressors and limiters work
  • What happens when audio peaks
  • What is the dynamic range of the recorded sound and recording medium
  • How to determine the gain structure in your audio device chain
  • How bars and tone work

Lesson 10

Audio Configurations

Audio can be recorded many ways – directly into the camera, through a mixer, and/or to a separate recording device.  In this module, you will learn common techniques for recording sound, how to manage line/mic level inputs, work with dumb and smart slates, and work with timecode. (20:00)

  • The differences between single and dual system recording
  • Recording configuration techniques
  • How to work with Line/Mic level inputs
  • Working with dumb and smart slates
  • Working with Timecode

Lesson 11

Cables and Adapters

It’s so easy to focus on the specifications and quality of both the microphone and the recording device that you forget about the cables that connect them. Cables, although seemingly the least interesting equipment can make or break your shoot.  In this module, we’re going to look at the types of cables, and connectors, when to use them, and how to care for them. (21:16)

  • The various cable types
  • The difference between male and female connections
  • Adapters and which ones to use
  • How to adapt cables for DSLR cameras
  • Cable care
  • How to work with breakaways

All New Directing Lessons

We are proud to announce the all new Directors Craft lessons. Designed to help students understand the director’s role in visual storytelling, the seven updated lessons combine interviews with Hollywood directors, on-set tutorials, and methodical step-by-step approach to the director’s process. 

Lesson 1

A Director's Prep -Beginning a Project

In this lesson, students learn how to begin a new production as a director, how to break down the script for theme, character, and plot, set-up the workspace, and identify the tone of the story. Working Hollywood directors reveal their process of preparing for the first day on set.

This lesson covers:

  • How to set up your workspace
  • How to read a script for the first time
  • How to perform a director’s breakdown
  • How to break down the script for story
  • How to break down the script for character
  • How to find the tone of the story

Lesson 2

Basic Coverage

Students learn the basic template for shooting the action in a scene – the master shot, individual coverage, inserts and cat-in-the-window shots. Then professional filmmakers reveal techniques to vary shot size to increase coverage, how to break the coverage template, plan for the edit, and ensure you get the coverage you need. (21:43)

This lesson covers:

  • How to prepare for the edit when determining coverage
  • How to frame and shoot a master shot
  • How to approach close-ups
  • Working with insert shots
  • Shooting cat-in-the-window shots

Lesson 3

Advanced Coverage

Students will learn advanced coverage techniques from working Hollywood directors. This lesson reveals how to craft a single-shot “oner,” how to create a psychological impact for each shot, design compelling establishing shots, manipulate the pacing and rhythm of a scene, determine the opening visual, and enhance transitions from one scene to the next.
  • How to vary your coverage beyond the typical master/coverage model
  • How to properly shoot a oner
  • How to determine the opening visual of a scene
  • How to determine the proper pacing and rhythm
  • How to mind the transitions from one scene to the next to keep up the pacing of the story
  • How to work within the restrictions of the schedule and budget

Lesson 4

Blocking Actors on Set

In this lesson,  students learn how to effectively block actors on set for a convincing performance, all while balancing the technical needs and restrictions of the set, what story cues to look for, how to develop emotionally-driven blocking, and how to work with the actors to get the best performance possible.
  • How to determine why the actor moves
  • How to determine where the actor moves
  • How to determine when the actor moves
  • How to determine how the actor moves
  • Macroblocking vs. microblocking
  • How to block depth in the frame
  • How to use floor plans

Lesson 5

Storyboards and Pre-Visualization

Students learn how to use storyboards to plan their scene coverage, how to use pre-visualization software, know how detailed storyboards should be, creative restrictions to be aware of, how to create storyboards even if you can’t draw, and when to use animatics.
  • What are storyboards
  • How to work with a storyboard artist
  • How to draw effective storyboards
  • How to use pre-visualization software
  • When to use animatics
  • How animatics and storyboards can be used in the editing room

Lesson 6

Creating a Shotlist

Students will learn how to create a shot list, location requirements, how to decide your shots, the elements in a shot list, how the shot lists are used to schedule and budget a film, and to prepare for days when you go over schedule or over budget.
  • What is a shot list?
  • How are the elements that make up a shot list?
  • How the crew uses the shot list when scheduling and budget the production

Lesson 7

Continuity and Script Notes

A movie set is a machine with hundreds of moving parts – each department focusing on their contribution, each individual creating his piece of the story, all while the director helps manage it all.  Sitting beside the director is the script supervisor, whose systematic and careful attention to all these moving parts helps ensure continuity.  In this lesson, students learn the process of tracking continuity and how to create script notes used to ensure the hundreds of individual filmed shots work together as one, fluid story.

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

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.