I'm having a bit of trouble understanding how all of the pieces of the filmmaking course fit together. Can you give me a more comprehensive breakdown of the course?
Lights Film School's filmmaking course is designed to introduce you to narrative and documentary filmmaking. It provides the guidance you need to take an original film from concept to completion. By the end of the course, you’ll have a finished product to add to your portfolio, rooted in the practical, theoretical, and historical underpinnings of filmmaking that comprise our curriculum.
Subjects are divided into six modules:
- Introduction to Filmmaking and Online Learning: In our orientation module, you’re introduced to the Lights Film School community and your new online learning environment. We frame subsequent modules with a discussion of filmmaking basics.
- Screenwriting: Our second module teaches you how to write a compelling screenplay, the foundation of most successful films. We demystify story structure and explain how it’s relevant to both narrative and documentary projects. Expect to learn industry standard formatting, western dramatic structure, Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” and character archetypes, how to construct tension, how to balance action and dialogue, how to write for small budget productions, and more.
- Assignment: We ask you to write a ten page narrative or create a treatment for a ten minute documentary.
- Directing: Our third module equips filmmakers to direct their projects with proficiency, confidence, and tact. The director is the captain of the ship; it’s your vision that steers the film’s cinematography, art direction, performances, pacing, mood, and more. As the director, you are the leader, and you must know how to think creatively and communicate clearly.
- Assignment: At this point, you’re ready to enter pre-production with the short film you developed in the Screenwriting module. We ask you to create a look-book and begin location scouting.
- Cinematography: Like screenwriting, cinematography requires an acute awareness of language. In our cinematography module, you’ll study the works of the masters while developing a visual vocabulary all your own. Explore the three main components of cinematography - lighting, movement, and composition - and dive deep into shot types, shot continuity, color theory, and more.
- Assignment: In preparation for the production of your short film, we ask you to profile your approach to your visuals, design details, casting process, and other creative decisions.
- Editing: Learn the science and art of post-production! You’ll cover NLE software, file ingest, rough cuts, titling, color correction, and various editing techniques. This module prepares you to “shoot for the edit” as you transition into the production of your short film.
- Assignment: We ask you to analyze an independent film in depth, building critical thinking skills that will help you on and off set.
- Sound Design: Our final module introduces you to the importance and implementation of sound design. The aural experience is 50% of a film, influencing an audience’s perception of its production value, and by extension, its quality. We discuss recording topics including microphone choice, sample rates and bit depths, and space acoustics. We also explore post-production questions of audio synchronization, sound editing, and processing effects like compression, equalization, noise reduction, and more.
- Assignment: We ask you to edit your short film and create a professional soundscape.
By the end of the course, you’ll understand the basics of filmmaking and have a finished product to prove it. We’ll send you an official completion certificate to celebrate your achievement.
Let's take a moment to describe more of the course structure. Essentially, all six of the course modules are divided into lessons and presented as written and video tutorials. We include film clips, and in some cases, full features to illustrate key points. You can keep tabs on your course progress using our completion tracking system.
Additionally, our hands-on “Mirror Program” provides studio-grade audio and video files for you to download and manipulate as you practice the concepts covered in the lessons. Essentially, mirror activities are an invitation to go behind the scenes and co-develop a film with us here at Lights. For example, in the Sound Design module, you’ll use the audio files we provide to create and sweeten a soundscape according to our step-by-step instructions. By working virtually with us side by side, you’ll grow in confidence and ability.
Not every lesson culminates in a mirror activity. Some lessons assign other types of “homework” - you might be asked to study a feature film we’ve handpicked, or break down a screenplay from our screenplay library.
The training wheels come off at the end of each module. Our series of five assignments will channel your learning into the creation of an original short film, narrative or documentary, of your own imagining. By the end of the course, you’ll have a finished product for your portfolio!
It's also worth noting that we’ve designed Lights Film School as a dynamic social experience that connects students and teachers around the world. In addition to course access, students receive:
- Access to The Cantina, a social network exclusively for filmmakers to share resources, swap ideas, form interest groups, and more. Set up your profile and use search filters to find friends and collaborators in your country and elsewhere. Post updates about your film projects, keep abreast of peers’ film projects, and catch Lights’ community announcements hot off the press. Spark a Canon or Nikon debate, reveal your Oscar predictions, share your favorite Vimeo shorts. The Cantina is our town square, a place for us to gather and synergize.
- Access to The Workshop, a platform that showcases your module assignments. A teacher will review your work and provide critical, in-depth coverage to help you improve your original short film and grow your abilities as a filmmaker. In addition, you’ll have access to other students’ assignments and reviews. Identify peers with whom you might like to work and learn from both their mistakes and successes. The Workshop is an open forum for constructive feedback and collective learning.
- Students with Academic and Scholar subscriptions can access our rotating roster of “Lab Chats”, live two-to-three hour lectures led by our teachers, scheduled at different times every month. Lab Chats feature a chat-based classroom setting that encourages discussion around specific subjects, including:
- The Screenplay and Film Production
- Character Development
- Dialogue and Storytelling
- Visual Storytelling
- Defining the Director
- The Science and Art of Sound in Cinema
- Defining the Documentary
- Building Cinematic Suspense
- Students with Scholar subscriptions can access our “Online Theatre”, a venue for monthly screenings of short films. Here, the group comes together to break down successful media, drawing on everything they've learned from the course materials so far. Essentially, it's a behind-the-scenes window into professional productions designed to build your powers of film analysis that invites fun, free-flowing discussion with fellow students and teachers!
- All students have access to our stock music tracks and sound effects libraries. Feel free to browse for assets that suit your original film - we’ve negotiated the rights so you can use them royalty-free on the internet and in festivals; no hidden fees or red flags!
And there we have it! For more information, feel free to check out our home page.