If you have been following this website for any length of time you know that the answer to such a question as “Can you learn filmmaking” is of courses a resounding yes. I felt silly even trying to answer it. But then I remembered this one time in college when I was sitting in my classroom, looking out the window, wanting to maybe become a writer and filmmaker one day. One question that was nagging my mind then was if you can learn filmmaking. And there is more to that question than I initially thought.
Hi, welcome back. If you are new here I am Ashik Satheesh a writer and filmmaker from Kerala. On this website, we learn the intricacies of how to tell great stories and thereby make the world a better place, one story at a time.
If you want a video or podcast version of the same in Malayalam, check here.
Am I Born to be a Filmmaker?
I wanted to try out filmmaking like most people my age. But what if I wasn’t born with the filmmaking talent gene? I had surrounded myself with people who from a very young age had shown talents as artists, dancers, engineers, singers, painters and so on. We compare ourselves with them and realise we have no inborn talent like that. We are no prodigies. I had shown no such signs of talent in filmmaking. How can I then become a filmmaker? Can you really learn filmmaking?
Here are two questions you need to answer:
- Can you learn all the arts of filmmaking?
- Where are the prodigy filmmakers?
Can You Learn All the Arts of Filmmaking?
The first and foremost thing you need to know as you enter the craft of filmmaking is that learning filmmaking is not learning filmmaking. There is no “one thing” you learn to do as a filmmaker, but a multitude of things.
I believe filmmaking is a modern art form that came into existence only after all the other art forms were well established. Not to forget the gigantic strides technology had to advance to even be able to make films. Here are some of the art forms that filmmaking makes use of:
- Writing and storytelling
- Painting and colours
- Photography and composition
- Lighting and shadows
- Sound design
- Costuming and makeup
- Architecture and interior design and many more
Am I right? And if there is an art that is particular to the job of the film director it can be said as the art of directing the audience’s attention using all these art forms.
I have many times considered the job of a filmmaker to be similar to that of a conductor of a western orchestra. At least from the very limited knowledge I have of the craft. The musicians he/she is conducting are people who dedicated years to their lives learning that one instrument. They are masters of those instruments. Whereas the conductor isn’t. They bring all the individual artists and the sounds from all their instruments together into something wonderful to listen to. To be able to do that the conductor needs to have a working knowledge of all the instruments. A jack of all trades. So is a filmmaker.
The question then is not “Can you learn filmmaking”, but “Can you learn all the arts of filmmaking” enough to be able to conduct a beautiful symphony. Else it’ll be a cacophony. For more on how to do that read 4 Things to Know to Direct a Film. This brings us to the next question.
Where Are the Prodigy Filmmakers?
We have all heard of children who showed extraordinary talent in painting, singing, dancing, mathematics and writing from very young ages. Prodigies who later went on to have fantabulous careers. Why have we never heard of a prodigy filmmaker?
There are no prodigy filmmakers precisely because filmmaking is not one art form. You have to have a working understanding of so many crafts that it takes years of learning and practice. Moreover, filmmaking is never done by one person. A prodigy painter can sit alone and paint their masterpiece whereas a filmmaker needs a group of other talented artists to bring their vision to life.
I don’t remember how I found these answers all those years back in college. But once I learned that learning filmmaking is not learning one thing but a multitude of arts and that everyone who became exceptional filmmakers was not prodigies with inborn talent, but studied the craft to become who they were, I felt confident. I knew that if they could do it, then I can too. I hope this article has inspired the same confidence in you as well. If they can do it and I can do it, then you too can definitely.
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