How to be a Filmmaker and Make it Big in the 21st Century

How to be a Filmmaker and Make it Big in the 21st Century

Dreaming of becoming the next Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, or Walt Disney? With the abundance of high-tech filming gadgets and the popularity of video sharing sites, there is no easier time to be a filmmaker than today. But while those opportunities are available to you, so are they to others.

Faced with more competition than ever, the question how to be a filmmaker and make it big in the 21st century remains.

How to be a Filmmaker in this Day and Age?

Get educated

American philosopher, classicist, and academician, Allan Bloom said, “Education is the movement from darkness to light.” If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to be willing to put in the hours to learn basic concepts and acquire technical skills, hone your artistic sense, and even learn the practical side of filmmaking.

By learning these things, only then can you have a good grasp of the creative, technical, organizational, and fiscal requirements of making a film. There are three ways for you to get that much-needed education to move from darkness to light.

Earn a bachelor’s degree or take a crash course

The most well-worn path to learn how to be a filmmaker is by getting a film degree or a relevant course. Attending a university offers you a more structured way to learn about film genres, screenwriting, camera operation, lighting, sound, and more.

While that sounds pretty traditional, it is a reliable and convenient way to expand your knowledge in filmmaking, learning about things you would have otherwise missed if you are just learning things on your own. In a way, it also widens your choices before you finally decide on a genre.

Do some private study

Another means to learn the art of filmmaking is by doing your research. The private study allows you to choose which subjects you would like to know more in depth and learn about them at your own pace.

With resources becoming more and more available at the click of a button, you can make significant progress on your own. There is a slew of video tutorials you can find on the Internet. You can also read up news and trends if socially relevant or entertaining films that interest you.

But the best thing you can do in your private, independent study is to watch and critique films. Using the power of observation and harnessing your aesthetic sense, observe what makes a good script, camera technique, and more. Famous filmmaker Quentin Tarantino himself never went to film school but learned more about the craft by going to the movies.

Be an apprentice or production assistant

Did you know that Aristotle was an apprentice of Plato, and Plato of Socrates? If you want to be great, you have to aspire to learn from “legends,” those who are already out there winging it and conquering the field.

There is a lot you can learn in the classroom and even by yourself, but finding somebody to show you how to do things rather than just tell you how to do them will fast-track your progress. Moreover, these people will set you on the right course. They can teach you tricks that are proven to have worked their magic.

If you can find a great filmmaker, director, scriptwriter, gaffer, or cameraman who’s willing to teach you the ropes and you’re dead serious about being a filmmaker, grab the opportunity—no, ask for it even! Apprenticeship is the first step in owning your learning because you do rather than just see and listen.

Gain experience. Another critical aspect to becoming a filmmaker is experience, allowing you to test the knowledge and skills you’ve gained in your creative journey. This, in a way, is a representation of the progress you’ve made.

Make a short film

If you are in a film school, you’ll be compelled to produce short films to pass a course. If you are learning things at your own pace, you have to push yourself just to do it. It doesn’t matter if you have little to no budget. Get your friends involved and just start shooting.

Do not get so worked up about getting it perfect, because the masterpiece is yet to be borne out of the mistakes you will make and the lessons you will learn from them.

The whole experience of starting and finishing a film is a gold mine of personal and professional growth. You’ll learn improvisation, budgeting, and leadership and organizational skills, and a lot more. But until you make that first film—crappy or not—those lessons remain inaccessible.


One of the best times to experiment is when you’re just starting out, and you’re finding and refining your style. Be bold and learn as much as you can from what worked and what didn’t work.

Put your work out there

Whether it is submitting your work to a film festival or posting it on Facebook, YouTube, or other platforms, getting your work out there will help you hone your craft. It’s an avenue for you to receive feedback and to learn how to receive them objectively and graciously.

With advancements in technology, making processes is simpler and cheaper, such as digital editing and social media marketing, It is all up to you on how you will harness them to your advantage.

Build your network

If you want to make it big, building your network is key. Whether it’s at film school, at work, interest groups, or film festivals, you’ll find professionals who can help you find talents, introduce you to key production and marketing people, or just exchange notes with.

Be committed to excellence and be passionate about what you do

On top of technical know-how on every aspect of film production, organizational skills, talent, and all, what indeed makes you stand out in a sea of filmmakers is engaging content and storytelling. And, that can only be achieved with a commitment to produce quality work and a desire for the subject and for the craft.