3 Essential Skills Famous Directors Learned in Film School

3 Essential Skills Famous Directors Learned in Film School

Acclaimed director and film school graduate Ang Lee said: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can never learn enough.” That is especially true when it comes to film.

The benefits of a formal filmmaking education cannot be overstated. It gives young directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and other aspiring artists the guidance and training they need to master their craft. A number of the most well-known and successful directors have gotten started at film school. It gave them a chance to develop their unique artistic style and voice.

Read on to find out how film school influenced the work of these three famous directors.

Film School graduate Ang Lee celebrating his Academy Award win

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee is one example of a director who praises his film school education. Fun Fact: Ang Lee and Spike Lee, also an Academy Award-winner, went to film school together!

Robert Zemeckis Mastered the Art of Visual Storytelling


As the Oscar-winning director behind ‘Forrest Gump,’ and the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, the last thing you’d expect Robert Zemeckis to direct would be a black-and-white silent film. But that’s exactly what he did when he filmed ‘The Lift’ at USC.

A silent short helps filmmaking students to think visually, telling their story through pictures. Zemeckis has continued to recognize the importance of visual storytelling. Critic David Thompson once remarking that, “No other contemporary director has used special effects to more dramatic and narrative purpose.”

InFocus Film School – The Silent Film Project


Brian DePalma Freely Explored Different Styles of Cinema

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.’ His more commercial offerings feature a number of unexpected stylistic elements that borrow from niche styles such as nouvelle vague and film noir.

DePalma’s vast filmmaking palette was developed in film school.

InFocus Film School Film Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

Martin Scorsese Used Film School to Hone His Unique Editing Style


“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.”

Scorsese graduated as a film major from NYU in 1960. He has long been a fierce advocate of the benefits of a filmmaking education.

Many of Scorsese’s film 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 stylistic elements that Scorsese would eventually make his own. This includes the staccato editing style he uses in films like ‘Raging Bull,’ and the frequent use of voiceover seen in Scorsese classics like ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Goodfellas.’

Interested in becoming a filmmaker? Click here to learn about our film production program.

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