film directing school

Filmmaking students benefit from training in all aspects of film

Acclaimed director and New York University Film Production graduate Ang Lee once said “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can never learn enough,”  and that’s especially true when it comes to film.

While internet tools and software have led to a rise in untrained and do-it-yourself (DIY) filmmaking in recent years, the benefits of a formal filmmaking education cannot be overstated, providing young directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and other aspiring artists with the guidance and practical training they need to truly master their craft.

Many successful filmmakers agree, and a number of the most well-known and successful directors have gotten started at film school, using their years in education as a platform to develop their own unique artistic style and voice.

Read on to find out more about just three of the famous directors who attended film school, and how their studies have influenced their work.

Film Directing School Helped Robert Zemeckis Learn the Art of Visual Storytelling

As the Oscar-winning director behind ‘Forrest Gump,’ as well the beloved ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, the last thing you’d probably expect Robert Zemeckis to direct would be a black-and-white silent film. But that’s exactly what he did while attending film directing school at USC, where one of his first pieces was a dialogue-free short called The Lift, which depicted a man’s struggle with an elevator.

It’s no coincidence that, like Zemeckis, a silent short is one of the first projects that students undertake when they pursue their film director school diploma at InFocus—a project which helps them learn to think visually and tell their story through pictures. Zemeckis has continued to recognize the importance of visual storytelling, particularly when using special effects, with critic David Thompson once remarking that, “No other contemporary director has used special effects to more dramatic and narrative purpose.”

Brian DePalma Explored Different Styles of Cinema at Film Director School

While he may have found fame directing crime dramas such as ‘Carlito’s Way’ and ‘Scarface,’ there’s always been a lot more to Brian DePalma’s filmmaking than meets the eye.

The director’s diverse filmography includes several more daring works, such as the psychological thriller ‘Dressed to Kill’ and the supernatural horror ‘Carrie,’ while even his more commercial offerings feature a number of unexpected stylistic elements that borrow from niche styles such as nouvelle vague and film noir.

There can be little doubt that his time studying film at Sarah Lawrence College in the sixties had a huge influence on his work, allowing him to explore a range of different filmmaking and cinematography styles.

When you enroll at a film directing school such as InFocus, you too will have the opportunity to try your hand in a wide variety of styles and areas of film.

Martin Scorsese Used Film Directing School to Hone His Unique Editing Style

The legendary Martin Scorsese graduated as a film major from NYU in 1960, and has long been a fierce advocate of the benefits of a filmmaking education, stating in 2011 that “I find that the excitement of a young student or filmmaker can get me excited again. I like showing them things and seeing how their minds open up, seeing the way their response then gets expressed in their own work.”

Many of Scorsese’s film director school projects are still available online today, with shorts such as ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’ displaying a number of the stylistic elements that Scorsese would eventually make his own, most notably the staccato editing style he uses in films like ‘Raging Bull,’ as well as the frequent use of voiceover, which can be seen in Scorsese classics like ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Goodfellas.’

Interested in attending film director school in BC?

Vancouver is home to a thriving film industry

Vancouver is home to a thriving film industry

Is there a better place to shoot a movie than Vancouver? With its versatile cityscape, beautiful forestry and mountain surrounds, and temperate climate, the city provides the perfect backdrop for almost any story you want to tell. Filmmakers seem to agree, with the city currently ranked as the third largest production centre for film and television in North America, earning the nickname ‘Hollywood North.’

For film production students, this thriving industry is a tremendous advantage. There is regular work available for editors, cinematographers, visual effects specialists and other industry professionals in the hundreds of productions that are filmed in the city every year, as well as in the many permanent studios located throughout the Greater Vancouver Area.

If you’re a film student based in Vancouver, it’s very likely that you’ve seen a movie that was shot in your hometown, even if you didn’t recognize it. Here are a few of the diverse range of productions that have called the city home.

1. ‘X-Men: Last Stand’: Blockbusters Provide Hundreds of Jobs for Movie School Grads

The third instalment of the popular superhero franchise used a number of well-known locations within the city during filming, including the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Art Gallery, as well as nearby sites like Hatley Castle and Golden Ears Provincial Park.

Some scenes in X-Men: Last Stand were shot in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Some scenes in X-Men: Last Stand were shot in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Blockbuster action movies like ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ typically require extremely large film crews with hundreds of specialized professionals, creating valuable employment opportunities for students that graduate from a movie school in Vancouver.

2. Horror Fans in Movie School Might Find ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Familiar

If horror fans enrolled in movie school find the unspoilt forest scenery in ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ eerily familiar, there’s a reason for that. This critically acclaimed 2012 slasher movie was filmed almost entirely in or around Vancouver, with the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Aerospace Technology Campus also featuring heavily in exterior shots during the film.

3. ‘50 Shades of Grey’: How Movie School Graduates Helped Create a Box Office Smash

While the film might divide opinion, there’s no denying the success of ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ which took in over $215 million at the box office, breaking the record for the highest grossest opening weekend for a female-directed film. Scenes were shot in many Vancouver locations students might recognize, including Gastown, Coal Harbour, and Oceanic Plaza.

50 Shades of Grey used Gastown as a shooting location

50 Shades of Grey used Gastown as a shooting location

4. Students in Movie Production School Could Work on Indie Hits Like ‘Juno’

This offbeat indie comedy about a pregnant teenage girl earned widespread critical acclaim and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2007. Shooting took place in various locations around BC – locals might recognize Eric Hamber Secondary School and the Hanna Medical Clinic in key scenes.

Despite its low budget and simple premise, the production crew for Juno still numbered well over 100, again demonstrating the numerous opportunities for trained Vancouver filmmakers to find work in a wide range of productions.

5. How Vancouver Made ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ Possible

Another big budget action movie with a large crew, ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ used Vancouver to double for several international locations, including Seattle, San Francisco, and even Budapest. Students will find the clever shooting techniques used to transform local streets well worth studying as an example of advanced cinematography.

Interested in a career in filmmaking in ‘Hollywood North’?

Find out more about attending movie production school in BC!