This is a compilation of the best filmmaking courses available online. There are so many online courses centered around filmmaking that it’s difficult to know which ones are worth buying. In this article, I want to highlight the best 4 paid courses you should take in 2021 to level up your filmmaking that I have personally taken and recommend.
As someone who has graduated from college with a degree in Video Production, I’m very impressed with what is offered online and how they can in many ways surpass what is offered now in person.
In short, I hope with my combined years in learning about video and taking 50+ filmmaking courses that I am able to help you cut through the clutter and get right to the best content available on the web.
I have also compiled other articles that focus on specific types of filmmaking and video production – you can find those below.
I’ve included a Table of Contents for this article for convenience if you want to jump around to different points. Let’s get started!
- 1. Full Time Filmmaker – The Ultimate Online Filmmaking Class
- 2. Best Cinematography Courses – Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass with MZed Pro
- *Bonus: Best Filmmaking Class for Filmmakers on a Budget – Tomorrow’s Filmmakers
- 3. MasterClass For Filmmakers – Learn From the Best
- 4. Unscripted Studio with Brandon Li – Storytelling with Video
- Mastering YouTube Course – Honorable Mention As Best For Aspiring Full-Time YouTubers
- Honorable Mention: Andy To’s Mobile Filmmaking Review – Shoot Cinematic Videos On Your Phone
- So, Which of These Should I Take?
- *Hidden Gem: Make Your Filming Setup Look Professional and Uniquely Yours with the Dream Studio Course
- Final Thoughts
Their tagline is The Ultimate Online Film School and, frankly, that pretty much nails it.
Parker Walbeck and his team at Full Time Filmmaker have managed to take all the different aspects of filmmaking, including equipment, camera basics, creative, lighting, etc., and package it into easily digestible pieces that will truly turn you from a complete beginner to being able to take the leap to becoming a full time filmmaker.
Prepare to Go Full Time
As mentioned, Full Time Filmmaker covers all the foundations necessary for filmmaking, technically and creatively-speaking. The part that I really like that they have done is expanded their curriculum to prepare you for specific jobs and shoots. For example, one of their many mini-courses is Wedding Video Pro, which shows you the ins and outs of becoming a full time wedding videographer. They do the same thing with music videos, real estate, travel videos, and more.
The Ultimate Value
Full Time Filmmaker continues to add tremendous value to their course. They recently released a Davinci Resolve editing course, a mobile videography course is in the works, with a photography course also soon to be bundled in. Truthfully, Full Time Filmmaker is the gift that keeps on giving because it feels like the team truly tries (and succeeds) at coming up with content that serves the community of people enrolled in their courses.
Huge Discounts on Necessary Software
To make things even sweeter, enrolling in Full Time Filmmaker gives you exclusive access to big discounts, like being eligible for a student membership of Creative Cloud. This is hundreds of dollars in savings per year and essentially pays for the price of the course itself and is something I personally have used and enjoy as a FTF student.
The Verdict for Full Time Filmmaker – Is it Worth it?
For those that are absolute beginners learning filmmaking for the first time, anyone that wants to elevate all aspects of filmmaking, and/or want to make money with filmmaking, this is the ultimate course. It covers everything you need, is constantly improving and releasing new content, and has no true weak points. I recommend this to every aspiring filmmaker/videographer.
And, they have a money-back guarantee. So, there’s truly no reason not to give them a try and, if it’s not a good fit, you can request a refund. But, like many others (including myself), I think you’ll find it to be well worth the investment.
I’ve been watching Philip Bloom on YouTube for what seems like years now. I learned a lot from him in my early days of video production from when he did some training videos with Vimeo. He’s now gone all-in on a masterclass on making cinematic images and it’s just as epic as his YouTube videos are.
A Cinematic Masterpiece that You Could Watch For Fun
Philip Bloom did something really special by essentially creating a super engaging, interesting, and informative 9-episode series. Seriously, if you put this on Netflix, it would 100% blend in. It’s well thought out, extremely useful, and entertaining.
While you are enjoying the awesome visuals and picking up tricks of the trade from a veteran of the industry, you are also arming yourselves with the knowledge to properly set your exposure for time-lapses and drone shots. One of my favorite aspects of this masterclass is how much Philip talks through his thought process as he explains why he did/does certain things on a shoot.
The Verdict for Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass – Is it Worth it?
If you are looking to make your videos look more cinematic, look no further. Or, if you are a fan of Philip Bloom, this is a no-brainer. This is a great expansion on what is covered in Full Time Filmmaker and can help provide an additional angle to your filmmaking toolkit.
MZED is a Great Resource for Filmmakers at One Affordable Price (Includes Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass)
MZED, the platform that hosts Philip Bloom’s masterclass, has an all-access membership that gives you access to TONS of other courses that are related to filmmaking. I have enrolled myself and will be reviewing my favorites of those. A few that have caught my eye include Philip Bloom’s Filmmaking for Photographers, Short Films 101 by Seth Worley, and Alex Buono’s Visual Storytelling 2, to name a few.
Mzed also offers a money-back guarantee so you can always give them a try and get a refund if it’s not a good fit.
Tomorrow’s Filmmakers set out to make filmmaking accessible to people with even the smallest of budgets. Surprisingly, though, they did not skip on the quality of their instruction. Although they do not go into the business side of filmmaking this their Tomorrow’s Filmmakers offering, they do cover an incredible amount of filmmaking, from the basics all the way to on-set filmmaking.
Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Course Catalog
Tomorrow’s Filmmakers main differentiator is how they have made a truly amazing filmmaking education affordable. They cover a huge range of topics, and you can learn more about all the different ones they cover here.
Tomorrow’s Filmmakers VS Full Time Filmmaker
How does Tomorrow’s Filmmakers compare with Full Time Filmmaker? Firstly, Tomorrow’s Filmmakers does not cover the business side of filmmaking. They have a separate course for that. So, if you are looking to just learn filmmaking, then Tomorrow’s Filmmakers is definitely an option. If you are looking to learn the business side of filmmaking, Full Time Filmmaker or Tomorrow’s Filmmaker’s 90 Day Filmmaker will be better fits.
Is Tomorrow’s Filmmakers content as good as Full Time Filmmaker’s?
I really enjoy Full Time Filmmaker’s content and I think Parker has come up with a great formula for engaging video. In all honesty, I think this is a question you can figure out by watching videos from their respective YouTube channels. You may enjoy one teaching style over another and I believe this is all up to personal preference.
The Verdict – Which One Should You Choose?
If you are looking to learn filmmaking, they both can do that. Watch videos from both and see which one you connect to better. It’s also worth comparing which topics each of the courses cover, as some of them may be covered in one of the courses but may not be covered in the other. They are both great offerings and help you make progress as a filmmaker.
90 Day Filmmaker is the business side to Tomorrow’s Filmmaker filmmaking course. The combination of 90 Day Filmmaker with Tomorrow’s Filmmaker is the complete package to learning filmmaking and also making a living learning filmmaking.
If you want to go full time as a filmmaker, really enjoy the content from the Tomorrow’s Filmmakers team, then 90 Day Filmmaker is a no brainer. They have done a phenomenal job creating a strong curriculum that breaks down action items week by week to make meaningful progress towards going full time. I was surprised by how in-depth they go with this, helping you even develop strong business habits, build a website, generate leads, and so much more. You can read my full review of 90 Day Filmmaker here.
I joined Masterclass when it was first announced. I have always believed that if you want to be excellent at something, you have to be surrounded by excellence. Although I first took courses on cooking by Gordon Ramsay, Business Leadership from former Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz, and Music Production from deadmau5, filmmaking courses started taking Masterclass by storm – and they are excellent.
Most recently, they released James Cameron Teaches Filmmaking and it is an absoutely legendary entry into the MasterClass world. You can read my full review of that MasterClass here, but if you are wanting to learn some amazing filmmaking tips & tricks from James Cameron and want to re-ignite your passion for filmmaking, there is no better course to help you do that than this one.
There are many courses related to the arts, including photography, voice acting, acting, documentary filmmaking, and so much more. If you go to their library, you can look through and watch trailers for the different ones that spark your interest. I’ve listed a number below that will likely be of interest to fellow filmmakers:
- James Cameron teaches Filmmaking – Read my full review of this course here
- Martin Scorsese teaches Filmmaking
- Annie Leibovitz teaches Photography
- Neil Galman teaches the Art of Storytelling
- Natalie Portman teaches Acting
- Aaron Sorkin teaches Screenwriting
- Jodie Foster teaches Filmmaking
- David Lynch teaches Creativity and Film
- Danny Elfman teaches Music for Film
- Hans Zimmer teaches Film Scoring
- Ken Burns teaches Documentary Filmmaking
And this is to just name a few.
Masterclass Keeps Adding More Instructors
One of Masterclass’s biggest strengths is how they are able to recruit such incredible talent to talk about their area of expertise. One day you will see Ken Burns teach Documentary Filmmaking, the next Serena Williams is teaching tennis, and the other Stephen Curry is schooling you in basketball. For the relatively low cost of access to Masterclass, you are getting access to the greatest minds of our era. It is an incredible time to be able to actually learn from the same people you grew up looking up to.
Watch a Masterclass Trailer to See If It’s a Good Fit
Masterclass should make a masterclass on how to make course trailers because their course trailers are amazing. I never thought I would binge-watch learning how to play chess or poker until I ran across the courses on Masterclass. Seriously though, Masterclass has a magical ability to get you excited and if you are a fan of any of the instructors, especially the filmmakers, you will be getting an incredible inside-look at their thought processes, learn tips and tricks, and, most importantly, get to hear it straight from masters themselves.
The Verdict for Masterclass – Is it Worth it?
Masterclass is an easy recommendation. The growing library is full of an all-star cast of incredible talent, the videos are professionally produced and easy to follow, and the topics they cover can be very wide and very specific. My recommendation would be to check out some of their trailers to courses you are interested in and see if they cover the material you are interested in learning. You may join for the filmmaking courses, but stay to learn to slay a meal with Gordon Ramsay.
With their 30-day money back guarantee, you have zero risk with giving it a try and seeing if you can elevate your game by learning from the masters.
Brandon Li released his own online film school, called Unscripted Studio, and has advertised it as learning how to make travel films. He covers a TON of material, though, including:
- Camera Basics
- Gear Recommendations
- Planning & Pre-Production
- Improvised Storytelling Bootcamp
- Handheld Shooting Bootcamp
- Gimbal Bootcamp
- Gimbal Masterclass
- Editing Bootcamp
- Making a Travel Film from Concept to Completion
- & Building Your Video Business Bootcamp
A Huge Focus on Storytelling
If you watch some of Brandon’s travel films, you’ll instantly tell they have a very different vibe than other travel films. They have a strong focus on narrative, usually switching out slow-mo BROLL shots for long, intentional, 24FPS gimbal shots. He lets the different types of stories and beats of the story drive his videos. I was most surprised by how in-depth he gets with his storytelling, providing insightful, interesting knowledge around storytelling that is practical as well.
Unscripted Studio VS Full Time Filmmaker
I have been asked what I recommend for someone who is choosing between Full Time Filmmaker and Unscripted Studio. To oversimplify, the answer comes down to which you stylistically like more – do you like Parker Walbeck’s style of filmmaking or Brandon Li’s?
With that being said, if you are new to the filmmaking game, I personally believe Full Time Filmmaker is the stronger overall choice. The community is a tremendous help for new filmmakers, the course material is well-structured and laid out, and the topics covered in Full Time Filmmaker range from real estate, business, travel films, to music videos. For someone that is unsure of which route of filmmaking they want to go, Full Time Filmmaker will provide you with options to gain confidence in all areas before potentially specializing in a specific area. Though, if you already own Full Time Filmmaker and want to learn more advanced storytelling techniques as it relates to travel films, Brandon Li’s course is tremendous and adds tons of value in this category.
The Verdict for Unscripted Studio – Is it Worth it?
If you have seen Brandon Li’s travel films and want to shoot like him, there’s no better course than the one he himself put together. He’s an interesting, clear presenter of materials and is an insanely talented filmmaker.
For those that want to become a full-time YouTuber, this is the best course available, hands-down. This course contains everything you need to go from 0 subscribers to making a full-time income and is even better than the pricier Video Ranking Academy by Sean Cannell & Think Media.
If you want to learn more about this course, read my full review here.
Erika has also created a free YouTube guide that shows how she went from $0 to making over $100,000 on YouTube in less than a year. If you want to download that guide, you can click here.
I only recently discovered Andy To but have been very impressed with his insane travel content and storytelling. He reminds me of Brandon Li’s filmmaking style while only using his phone to capture videos.
Finally, a Practical Mobile Filmmaking Course
I love this course for many reasons and I feel like people who use any camera, not just an iPhone, can benefit greatly from watching. Yes, he goes through the setup of his phone, the gear he uses, and shows you from start to finish how he films projects. In that, most valuable to me, were the tips and tricks he sprinkles in to give a glimpse into his thinking as he shoots.
I find many mobile filmmaking courses, or educational videos on this topic, focus mostly on the technical side of things, like gear and setup. But, I really enjoyed how Andy dives into how he takes filmmaking techniques and makes them work with his phone, which I thought was very insightful. Andy’s videos are the type of video where you are blown away by his editing, shooting, and overall style, often wondering how he even thought to edit or create in that (awesome) way. This course gives you that inside look to see how he does it.
Moment Has Tons of Other Filmmaking Courses
The platform that Andy’s course is on is called Moment. Moment has a ton of other courses as well as serves as an online store for gear and other camera-related things.
I have not taken any other course on Moment, but I will say the interface is smooth and intuitive and the other courses do cover a lot of cool topics and the trailers look great. If you are looking to master a specific skill or topic, Moment may be a great fit for you. The pricing is nice as well compared to other alternatives.
The Verdict for Andy To’s Mobile Filmmaking Course – Is it Worth it?
If you have ever watched Andy’s videos and wondered how he made them, want to learn some new techniques from a travel filmmaker, or want to unlock the potential of your phone for mobile filmmaking, there is no better course on the market. Coming in at just $99, it is one of the less expensive options for a filmmaking course and is worth every penny.
So, Which of These Should I Take?
In some ways, you can search for videos that each of those have made and go with the pathway that best represents the style that you initially would like to build towards. I’ve taken all four and can honestly say that they all are worth taking. If I had to make specific recommendations, though, I’d say:
- Full Time Filmmaker is probably the best all-around course for someone who wants to learn filmmaking and make money with it. It truly does give you everything you need to become a full time filmmaker.
- Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass is a great fit for someone who knows the basics and wants to shadow a professional and pick up some different techniques and ways to get cinematic shots.
- Masterclass has an ever-growing library of incredible instructors teaching on a wide-range of filmmaking topics. This is a great fit for passionate filmmakers that want to learn tips & tricks straight from the experts themselves.
- Unscripted Studio is an amazing fit for someone that wants to film like Brandon. In some ways, it can be viewed as the “advanced” version, or an expansion upon, the storytelling and travel sections that are covered in Full Time Filmmaker.
- Andy To’s Mobile Filmmaking Course is perfect for the mobile filmmaker or travel filmmaker that wants to shoot like Andy and learn some tricks from the travel filmmaker pro himself.
- NEW! The Real Deal Video Strategist is perfect for videographers that want to learn how to become a video strategist. You will become more confident in sales meeting, learn how to get results for your clients, master marketing for video professionals, and more. You can read my full review here.
*Hidden Gem: Make Your Filming Setup Look Professional and Uniquely Yours with the Dream Studio Course
Have you ever wanted to have your own filming space that looks professional and unique to you and your style? The problem with your current setup is that you:
- aren’t sure how to set up a background to look great
- have copied a creator’s background you like but it doesn’t match the message you want to spread
- struggle coming up with the right elements to include or not include in your studio
- feel overwhelmed with all the options that you just don’t film at all
If you said yes to any of the above, Kevin Shen’s Dream Studio Course is the right fit for you. Kevin walks you through everything from gear recommendations, camera settings, lighting, sound, and even mindset. Most valuable, in my opinion, is his clear process on how to create compelling and unique backgrounds that are custom to you, your message, and who you want to connect with. After taking this course, you will feel 100% confident in setting up your very own studio space that wows your viewers and that is uniquely yours.
Who Exactly Is This Course For? Filmmakers and Non-Filmmakers Alike Will See Value
This course is perfect for anyone who wants to create their own dream studio space. If you have been making films or videos for a while, but still wish you had more clarity on how to craft a personalized studio space, you’ll find great value here. Though, this course is also a great fit for those who are not filmmakers but want to start making video content. These people may not want to make cinematic films or anything like that, but they want to look professional on camera as they spread their message. This could be a YouTuber, coach, or online course creator.
The Verdict – Is Dream Studio Course Worth It?
If you have ever wanted to craft your own studio space that looked uniquely yours, there is no better course on it. The Dream Studio Course’s hyper-focus on creating a space helps it stand out from other courses that touch on the subject but do not go into detail. Your dream studio has now become much closer than ever before.
And, with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can always give Dream Studio Course a try and, if it’s not a good fit, ask for a full refund. There really is no risk to seeing how great your studio space can look.
There are so many online filmmaking courses out and there seems to be more popping up every day. So far, of the many I’ve taken, these four have my highest recommendation. Whether you are a beginner, know your way around a camera, or a veteran, you are going to pick up some cool tips and tricks to elevate your filmmaking. If you have some courses you think I should look into or review, send them my way – I’m always looking for new resources to elevate my filmmaking with.
Thank you for your time in reading and I hope that this was helpful to you! Happy learning!