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Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and thought to yourself, “I want to do that”? Have you ever wondered how to go from re-watching David Lynch movies with the director’s commentary on to sitting in the director’s chair yourself? Many on the Cinetopia team sure have, and now we’re here to help!

Continuing our theme of providing things to do if you’re at home with time on your hands (a luxury not afforded to everyone, of course—thank you to all of our essential workers out there!) we’ve put together a list of free and low-cost film courses that you can use to kick start your new hobby.

And when you’re done, submit your film to our Detroit Voices Short Film Competition for a chance to win $6,000 in cash awards! We’ve extended our submission deadline through June 30th, so you’ve got plenty of time.

Before you start, here’s a video of cinematic hugs in case you’re feeling the need.

Practical Filmmaking Classes

 An Introduction to Screenwriting from the University of East Anglia – free! – via Futurelearn.com

From the description: This online course explores the key concepts and fundamental principles involved in the process of screenwriting.

Getting Your Film Off the Ground from Michigan State University – free! – via Coursera (starts April 13)

From the description: This course is an introduction to many of the possibilities that exist to fund your film, market it, and create an audience for it. It will give you a sense of possible options and avenues to explore and it will start you on the process of making your film dreams a reality.

Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (Project-Centered Course) – Michigan State University – free! – via Coursera

From the description: In this project-centered course, you will design a series bible and write a complete pilot episode for your own unique television or web series, be it drama or comedy or something in between. You’ll learn to break down the creative process into components, and you’ll discover a structured process that allows you to produce a polished and pitch-ready script in just a few weeks.

Write A Feature Length Screenplay For Film Or Television – Michigan State University – free! – via Coursera

From the description: In this course, you will write a complete, feature-length screenplay for film or television, be it a serious drama or romantic comedy or anything in between. You’ll learn to break down the creative process into components, and you’ll discover a structured process that allows you to produce a polished and pitch-ready script by the end of the course.

Film Theory

MIT’s OpenCourseWare filmmaking classes – free! – via MIT OCW Film Courses
Classes include Philosophy of Film, Contemporary French Film and Social Issues, and Shakespeare, Film and Mediasomething for everyone, really.

Existentialism in Literature & Film – Free Online Audio – by Prof. Hubert Dreyfus, UC Berkeley
From the description: The course will be organized around various attempts to reinterpret the Judeo/Christian God, and to determine in what sense, if at all, such a God is still a living God. We will study Dostoyevsky’s and Kierkegaard’s attempts to preserve a non-theological version of the God of Christianity, as well as Nietzche’s attempt to save us from belief in any version of God offered by our tradition. We will view and discuss three films that deal with related issues.

Holocaust in Film and Literature – Free Online Course – by Prof. Todd Presner, UCLA
From the description: Holocaust in Film and Literature is a course that provides insight into the History of Holocaust and its present memory through examination of challenges and problems encountered in trying to imagine its horror through media of literature and film.

The Film Experience – Free Online Course – by Prof. David Thorburn, MIT
From the description: This course concentrates on close analysis and criticism of a wide range of films, from the early silent period, classic Hollywood genres including musicals, thrillers and westerns, and European and Japanese art cinema. It explores the work of Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Capra, Hawks, Hitchcock, Altman, Renoir, DeSica, and Kurosawa.

Western Movies: Myth, Ideology, Genre – Free iTunes Audio – by Prof. Richard Slotkin, Wesleyan
From the description: Western movies form the oldest of American film genre. They have also been the most important modern vehicles for one of the oldest and most significant of American cultural myths – the myth of the frontier. The course surveys the development of the Western film genre and sets it in historical and cultural context.

And when you need some more inspiration, our list of films from Cinetopias over the years and previous Detroit Voices finalists are here to help!