December 19, 2023
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Innovative Ways to Expand Your Film Production Skills

Daniela Bailes
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In a competitive and constantly evolving industry, refining your filmmaking skills is crucial. Not only to enhance the quality of your work, but also to keep up with the latest techniques and trends. 

In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most effective ways to learn new skills. We'll cover everything from taking online courses, to tackling the skills you know the least about, to becoming more money-savvy.

So whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, read on for some innovative ways to expand your film production skills.

"Learning never exhausts the mind." - Leonardo da Vinci 

1.Tackle the skill you know the least about

Terrified of sound design? Don’t know how to write a script? Make it a priority to gain at least basic knowledge of the specialty you know the least about. 

This will help you ‌fill in some of the largest gaps in your knowledge. It's also empowering and will fuel your drive as you broaden your film production skills. Some ways to do that include: 

Day and weekend workshops

Film schools such as UCLA Extension and New York Film Academy host weekend or day-long workshops to help broaden your video production skills. 

Not only are these a great opportunity to network, they usually allow hands-on experience with industry professionals. Want to learn more about Movie Magic? Or working with actors? You can learn from the people who know best and maybe even make a friend while you’re there!

These condensed classes can be game-changers in enhancing your film production skills. 

Online master classes

One of the challenging aspects of improving your filmmaker skills is the time commitment. Especially in an area of production you don’t know well. If you're looking to enhance your video production skills, niche online classes can be an excellent resource. 

While we aren’t specifically referring to the MasterClass brand, they do offer some heavy-hitters such as Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard teaching filmmaking skills. Sundance Collab also offers filmmaking courses, some of which are even more specialized. You can also learn film production skills via sites like Skillshare that offer online classes for creatives. 

You might even try hiring a specialist from a freelance marketplace site like Fiverr and paying an expert to teach you the ropes. Additional sites such as Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy also offer a variety of film production skills and video production skills. 

Film and university libraries 

James Cameron yearned to go to film school, but he couldn’t afford it. 

Instead, he visited different university libraries with a particular interest in film schools. There, he looked up all the materials regarding film production skills, video production skills, and developing filmmaker skills. 

Just like James Cameron, you can also use your local resources to acquire valuable filmmaking skills. Visit the libraries of universities, community colleges, or vocational schools in your area that have filmmaking programs. 

These institutions often provide access to books, thesis papers, and course materials that allow you to gain the same expertise without breaking the bank.

Ask to shadow a friend or colleague in another specialty

There’s nothing wrong with just letting your curiosity further your film production skills. Have a friend or former coworker who works as a production designer or drone operator? 

Ask if you can shadow them (probably not on set, but off hours) to learn more about what they do. Again, a better understanding of all aspects of production can help you be better at your own specialty. 

Some programs, including Ryan Murphy’s HALF Initiative and Warner Bros. Discovery Access allow aspiring filmmakers to improve their video production skills by shadowing seasoned professionals. 

2. Share your filmmaking skills with others

On the flip side, what is your current specialty? The one people know and hire you for? There’s no better way to truly master that specialty than to teach it to others. 

The process of breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-understand terms for others forces you to go deeper into the subject matter, and solidify your own understanding. Additionally, teaching others can help you identify areas where your knowledge is lacking, which you can then focus on improving.

So start a YouTube channel, write a blog, or teach a community college class where you can break down your craft for others. 

Create a class

Working as an adjunct professor at a college or university is a rewarding experience. But what if you’re an expert, but don’t have the prerequisites to get hired at a formal institution? 

Consider creating a class of your own filmmaker skills and marketing it through your network. While your fellow sound designers might not be interested in your “Intro to Sound Design” course, they probably know someone who is! 

Additionally, you can also teach others by creating a YouTube or TikTok channel and regularly updating it with content. You might surprise yourself with how many people across the world are interested in your filmmaking skills.  

Trade skill sets

Everyone knows something that someone else doesn’t. So why not swap? Teach your friend how to break down a script. Let them teach you how to edit an opening sequence. 

Skill sharing is a great, cost-efficient way to learn something while helping someone else out.

Innovative Ways to Expand Your Film Production Skills - Wrapbook - Eating
Friends help friends with their video production skills. Especially when lunch is involved. SOURCE

Whoever you are skill-sharing with can give you an overview of their filmmaking skills and some tips on avoiding common mistakes. And best of all, afterwards you can always grab lunch! 

3. Learn another language

Yes, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, London and Vancouver are the major production hubs. But they’re not the only places that make films, television shows, commercials, etc. 

Does only knowing one language limit your chances of being hired for international production jobs?

Not only can learning a new language improve your film and video production skills, but also it can help widen your employment location options. It’s also a great way to meet new financiers for co-productions and other projects. 

Some ways to learn another language include:

Apps 

There are definite benefits to downloading a free or subscription-based language learning app such as Babbel or DuoLingo. Not only is it super convenient to carry all your lessons with you; it's easy to practice while commuting, relaxing, or before bed.

Innovative Ways to Expand Your Film Production Skills - Wrapbook - On Phone
How to improve your filmmaking skills? Fit in some language lessons between doom scrolling. SOURCE

If structured courses leave you uninspired, apps such as LangLandia approach language learning with the addictiveness of a hyper-casual mobile game. 

Local language events

Networking is a great way to improve your filmmaker skills. So how about adding in a dash of language skills while we’re at it? 

Websites such as Meetup and Eventbrite often post local events for those at various fluency levels to practice conversation skills in another language. 

Most of these are held at restaurants, event spaces, and bars. So not only can you practice ordering that glass of Prosecco in Italian, you can also chat with others about Italian neorealism and the amazing film production skills of Bicycle Thieves

Consume media

This might be our favorite tip of all: watch series and films in the language you want to learn. Want to learn Korean? Try binging K-Dramas such as Tomorrow or My Mister.

Are you a YA fan who also wants to learn Spanish? Elite or Control Z are solid bets. Keep in mind that (as with many languages) Spain vs. Mexico will have different nuances in their dialects.

You’d be surprised how many people learn English from popular series such as Friends. The great thing about learning a language from a film or TV show is you also learn a lot about the country’s culture and the idioms or expressions used by native speakers. 

4. Get money-savvy

You don’t have to be a production accountant to help keep a production in the black. Gaining a deeper understanding of the budgetary constraints for the projects you work on will make your contributions to those projects increasingly valuable.

Understanding where the money goes on a production will allow you to make more informed financial decisions that could ultimately save you or your producers money. They will remember that the next time they’re hiring!

Budget software tutorials

If you’ve been on the producer track at any reputable film school, you’ve probably had several courses regarding Movie Magic. But what about those of us who want to learn but are still paying off our student loans? 

Thank goodness for YouTube and the many creators putting together playlists that break down the entire process. While they aren’t going to instantly put you on expert mode, these are a great primer to adding budgeting to your film production skills.

Wrapbook’s production accounting solution

Learning to use an easy-to-use product like Wrapbook’s Production Accounting solution is a great way to give accountants in-training real-time visibility that enables better (and faster) decision-making.

Innovative Ways to Expand Your Film Production Skills - Wrapbook - Production Accounting
Wrapbook’s production accounting software handles everything, from payroll to purchase orders.

Our all-in-one, real time, seamless solution allows users to build their workflows around Wrapbook. Whether it’s approving timecards, entering POs, downloading cost reports, or assigning startwork, everything gets done faster and easier when you work with Wrapbook.

Equipping yourself with a time and cost-saving tool like Wrapbook enhances your film production skillset by boosting efficiency and streamlining workflows.

5. Live a little 

There’s a reason Jack Torrance typed "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” repeatedly in Kubrick’s seminal classic The Shining. Artists can often be obsessive. But sometimes, it’s important to step away and gain some perspective. 

Have other interests

Many amazing films and shows were based on the creator's life outside of filmmaking. Michael Crichton ‌practiced medicine before writing the pilot for ER. Judd Apatow is also a stand-up comic. Frozen director Jennifer Lee was a graphic designer before she worked with Disney Animation Studios.

While their career trajectories might have had the same outcome, it can’t be denied their additional interests successfully inform their film production skills. So stay curious. You never know where it might lead you.

Embrace new experiences 

Whether it’s learning C++ or trying out that first swing on the trapeze, it’s hard to do something new. First off, you’re definitely going to fail along the way. And sometimes you just look plain silly. But that area right outside of your comfort zone? That’s often where the magic happens.

Innovative Ways to Expand Your Film Production Skills - Wrapbook - Gene Wilder
As usual, Gene Wilder said it best. SOURCE

Engaging in new activities can help you develop fresh perspectives and expand your creative horizons. 

Whether you're immersed in the rhythm of dance, captivated by a thought-provoking podcast, or challenging yourself with the physical demands of Parkour, these experiences can broaden your understanding of the world and inject new energy into your filmmaking endeavors.

Wrapping up

The film industry is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay ahead of the curve by expanding your skill set. The tips in this blog post are just a starting point. 

There are many other ways to learn new skills and stay up-to-date on the latest trends. The most important thing is to be curious and to never stop learning. So if you’d like to learn some more, check out Wrapbook’s posts on The Best Filmmaking & Software Tools of 2023 and our picks for The Best Filmmaking Apps for Producers.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Daniela Bailes

Daniela Bailes is a working film and television writer whose work travels across genres. A proud alumnus of the Yale Writer’s Conference in New Haven, she was mentored by literary luminaries before being selected for the National Hispanic Media Coalition TV Writer’s Program, a feature writer on the Latinx Black List, and as a participant in the Sundance Episodic Lab. Her most recent work was staffing on the upcoming Paramount science-fiction series, The Shift, also selling a feature script to A+E Networks.

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