Many people harbour secret ambitions to “one day” make a living in the film industry. The trouble is, most cannot afford the time or money to undertake a professional filmmaking course and find themselves in full-time work elsewhere. But there is a world of options available to the 9-5 dreamers. Be it a career change you desire, or simply the opportunity to learn about cinema, here are a multitude of courses to pique your curiosity.
For the committed student, several London universities such as Imperial or Westminster offer long duration and high demand courses, so check often and book early. A shorter and cheaper alternative can be found in the Bishopsgate Institute near Liverpool Street Station — perhaps a good starting point if evening learning is for you.
Heading further east, for the more casual but inquisitive learner, Picturehouse’s Education branch runs classes at the Hackney Picturehouse. These range from six-week courses to one-off seminars, and often take a refreshing slant on film as it relates to current events or other cultures.
The London Film School, in addition to its full-time programme, runs regular workshops, evening courses, and summer schools on all aspects of filmmaking including editing, storyboarding, and pitching. Similar fare is offered by UCL on a rolling schedule with a particular focus on documentary film.
No film enthusiast in London should be unaware of Raindance, an organization dedicated to teaching about film and connecting like-minded individuals. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) and David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) have benefitted from Raindance wisdom while Guy Ritchie met long-time collaborator Matthew Vaughn (Snatch) on a Raindance course.
Having recently branched into full-time degree qualifications as well as production, Raindance continues to expand and is sure to have something for every film enthusiast.
As well as the courses offered by some of the larger bodies already listed, including the LFS and Raindance, the Met Film School has a range of screenwriting courses of varying intensities. Industrial Scripts provides several screenwriting courses targeted specifically toward film or television (as well as novel-writing). In addition, their Effective Script Reading course gives an idea of how to improve your own writing as well as how to use this as an avenue into the editing/production side of the industry.
Writers hoping to join a community and hear opinions on their work might try the Soho Screenwriters’ Group. Each week a lecture on one aspect of screenwriting is followed by a script workshop to critique attendees’ work, all for £4, making this one of the cheapest ways to obtain feedback and to network.
Courses in make-up and costume for TV and film tend to be more intensive, with fewer flexible evening classes on offer. The National Hair and Beauty Institute provides a “short full-time” course in theatre and film make up (cheaper if you venture outside London) with a “free retake guarantee” making the expense less intimidating.
The London Academy also offers multiple hair/makeup courses from one-day masterclasses to weekly evening classes, some focussing on specific areas such as burns or fantasy makeup.
For the student who can spare a few months on sabbatical, Greasepaint has spawned Oscar, BAFTA, and Emmy winners and delivers results for its hefty price tag.
London offers a plethora of incredibly high-standard Amateur Dramatics Societies to sate the appetite of many an aspiring actor, but for classes targeted specifically at screen acting, the International School of Screen Acting and City Academy offer both tuition and the chance to record a showreel to aid with future castings.
The London Academy provides even more specific focus with courses in TV presenting and coiceover work, while both the old and young budding screen actors can find courses for adults and children at Pinewood Studios thanks to the Actors’ Studio.
Meanwhile, for a more off-piste skill set, the British Action Academy offers an intensive course in live-action stunts as well as subsequent agency representation to help you secure work as a professional stunt man or woman.
With all of this and more on offer, there is no need to let your day job impede your curiosity. Go forth, learn, and make movies while maintaining a steady income.