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.’
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