To the people that want to make a film–but can’t get started
When I was younger, I always loved films.
I loved films, but never knew the first thing about making them.
And to be honest, I never really wanted to be a filmmaker.
Oh sure, I had some friends that saw E.T. and dreamed of being the next Steven Spielberg, or they saw The Godfather and wanted to be the next Martin Scorsese, or even pictured themselves producing the next Star Wars franchise just like George Lucas.
But not me.
I always loved films, but the whole process was mystifying to me as a young child. Plus, I knew that it was very expensive to pay for expensive film cameras and big Hollywood movie sets that looked like the movies that I grew up watching.
But then I got older, and a couple of things changed for me.
First, I met Al.
Al was a guy I met in college. He was into theatre, which was also my major.
He was a great guy and we very quickly became friends.
And the thing about Al was, he LOVED film.
Even more than me.
And he wanted to be a filmmaker.
We loved a lot of the same films, and used to talk about our favorite scenes and film quotes all the time. But because Al wanted to be a filmmaker, he got me thinking about the whole filmmaking process in a completely new perspective.
Listening to him speak about filmmaking, it was easy to see how passionate and creative he was. He really got me thinking about how films were actually made.
The way he spoke, it seemed so exciting!
There was so much that went in to the filmmaking process–thinking about the lights and the colors, the cinematography, the editing, music, acting, and how everything worked to tell the story of the film.
He had taken a filmmaking workshop and had bought the audio cassette recording, which he shared with me. It was fascinating to learn all about how films were financed, budgeted, and the many, many different kinds of people involved on a film shoot.
Still, there was something missing.
It didn’t really seem like something that just anyone could pull off.
Sure, if you were in Hollywood, or had a lot of money or resources, but I was a young man just out of college living in the midwest working my first “adult” job.
I didn’t have the money or the resources to make a film.
So, I forgot about it. I let my dreams of being in the film industry go by the wayside so I could start to be an “adult.”
Fast forward about seven years…
Being an “adult” hadn’t worked out so well for me.
I worked for a few years in a job that I absolutely hated, until it got to be so bad that one day I just couldn’t take it any more.
I walked out and never came back.
Lucky for me, I was able to circle back round and get a job in the entertainment industry, working as an agent for one of the largest commercial modeling & talent agencies in the region.
I worked there for several years, helping book actors in commercials, industrial training videos, voiceovers, and film & TV. I was still very much interested in being a part of the film industry so I was actively looking for ways to get my foot in the door.
That’s when I stumbled on the 48 Hour Film Project.
The world’s largest timed film competition.
The 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) immediately caught my attention. They had only been around for six or seven years at that point, but were already a global phenomenon in the filmmaking world.
Here was an entire international competition for filmmakers to not just make a movie, but to do it in under two days.
They promoted a guerilla “run and gun” filmmaking style that I had never heard of before.
There were no huge sets.
There were no mountains of film, lighting, and sound gear.
There was no multi-million dollar Hollywood budget.
But all around the world, people were making short films through the 48 Hour Film Project–thousands of them every year.
I had to be a part of it!
The company was looking for a producer for their Cleveland competition, which had just started the year before. I threw my hat in the ring and ended up getting the gig.
Now over a decade later…
I’m still working with the 48 Hour Film Project, not just as a producer, but also as the Assistant Director of Operations for the company. Since I first started with the 48HFP, I’ve helped filmmakers make hundreds of films through the Cleveland competition alone, and have worked with many more hundreds of filmmakers and producers world wide.
Hi, my name is Brian Bowers and I am the founder of Gorilla Film School.
I’ve been behind the scenes and in front of the camera, and seen exactly what it takes to put together a great film. I’ve seen films made through the 48 Hour Film Project that have gone on to screen at other festivals, even Cannes!
But I still remember what it was like for me, many years ago, when I was first trying to be a part of the film industry.
I remember being overwhelmed.
I remember thinking that I could never produce or direct a film, that I would never have the money or the resources to pull it off.
Now I know that’s not true, but I know that there are probably many other people out there who feel just like I did–they love films and want to make a movie of their own, but just get so overwhelmed and discouraged trying to get started.
They just don’t know how to begin making a film of their own.
And that’s why I created Zero to Film.
Introducing Zero to Film
Zero to Film is an online filmmaking workshop for people who want to make their first film. It’s designed to take you from idea to finished film in just four weeks.
The filmmaking process is broken down into bite-sized chunks and taught through short video lessons. Watch the videos on your own schedule, so you can move as slowly or as quickly as you like.
Each week, a new module opens up and you’ll have access to more videos. We give you just the right amount of information you need, exactly when you need it, that way you don’t become overwhelmed with the filmmaking process.
And because we’re teaching you basic filmmaking principles based on the guerilla filmmaking style that the 48 Hour Film Project was founded on, that means you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive cameras, lighting, or sound equipment.
Any DSLR with video capabilities or digital video camera is fine to use for this workshop–you could even use your iPhone!
Filmmaking technology has come so far in recent years that it’s possible to make cinematic feature length films on something as simple as an iPhone–and we’ll show you how to do it!
Here’s what we’ll cover over the course of the four weeks:
This is where it all starts–you have to have a story to tell in order to put it to film, so this is where you’ll create that story.
- how and where to come up with ideas for stories that other people will actually be interested in
- developing an ‘avatar’ for your ideal viewer
- how to find the deeper meaning in any story that will make it impossible for your audience not to connect with
- defining the genre that best fits the story you want to tell
- how to write a story when you don’t have a huge budget, Hollywood stars, and unlimited resources
- the fine art of writing dialogue
- how to create characters that people can relate to
- testing your story ideas
- the “bar stool” test for writing dialogue that doesn’t sound robotic
- why you should think like a casting director as you’re writing out your script
- enlisting family and friends for table reads
- how to format your script so it looks professional and other people will be able to understand it
Module 2: Planning
Now that you have a script that doesn’t suck, it’s time to do the real work– pre-production. We’ll show you how to put all the pieces and parts together so you feel like you know what you’re doing when it comes time to shoot the film.
- getting locations
- wardrobe–whether you should let actors pull their own clothes or get outside help, color palates, and things to consider
- crew–how to find people that want to work on your film and will actually show up the day of the shoot, what kind of people you should be looking for, and where to find them
- actors–where to find them, why you shouldn’t use your family members, and what actors expect on a film shoot
- auditions–how to set them up, getting actors to come to them, things to look for, and the casting process
- designers–when you need them, what they do, and why you might want to have them
- paperwork–releases for actors, releases for locations, releases for music; why you need them, what you need, and how to make it all legal
- the most important rule in filmmaking–feeding your cast & crew; why you need to do this, and how to do it without spending an arm and a leg
- what kind of gear you’ll need, and what you can do when you have a limited budget
- the importance of a shot list, and how to put one together
- communicating with cast & crew
- rehearsals–with the actors and with the cinematographer, even if it’s just you!
Module 3: Production
This is where your film will start to come to life!
- why your camera doesn’t matter
- why your camera DOES matter
- shooting a film without a real camera
- how to shoot your film on an iPhone-what app you need and which lenses you should get
- a layman’s guide to understanding your video settings
- how to make your film look more cinematic
- the one thing you absolutely cannot screw up on set (HINT: it’s audio) and how to not screw it up
- what to do if you have a budget for better gear
- why you actually need to light your films, and how to do it when you don’t know what you’re doing
- how to run a set
- how you can use your Home Depot card and DIY the lights and rigs you’ll need, so you don’t spend thousands of dollars on film gear
Module 4: Editing
This is the real work, where your raw footage gets crafted into a finished film.
- Basic principles of editing software
- Free editing suites, getting professional editing software on the cheap, and the real differences between the various programs out there
- how to make subpar footage look like it was shot on a hundred thousand dollar camera
- psychological tricks you can play on people that watch your films
- how you can use color to tell your story
- tricks to “sweeten” your audio in post-production
- how to get free music and sound effects to use in your films
- coming up with killer credits and title sequences
- using different kinds of cuts and transitions to move the film along
- why it’s better to keep your lighting flat so you can add some punch in post
- how to choose a final format to export your film, de-mystifying codecs, and the only settings you really need to worry about
Each module contains a series of training videos that get released each week. The filmmaking process can feel very overwhelming–that’s why we’ve broken it down into these different modules. This allows you some time to absorb all of the information in bite-sized chunks that you can view and review on your own schedule.
How could we make this even more awesome? I’m glad you asked!
The only real way to learn filmmaking is by making real films and getting real feedback. So we’ll give you a project to complete at the end of each module. Each workshop participant will submit their work to our private forum, where it will be critiqued by the other participants AND the instructor. You will learn to watch film with a critical eye but still get the feedback and support that is essential to the learning process.
This will also give participants an opportunity to make connections and network with peers in the filmmaking industry. You never know where your next job will come from, and our philosophy is that we are better as filmmakers and artists by working together.
We’ll leave the forum open so you can continue to have access to each other (and your instructor) for feedback and support even after the workshop has ended.
Your final project–your first short film
Your filmmaking workshop will culminate in the creation of your first short film project. Having successfully gone through the workshop, you’ll take what you’ve learned and use it to make an original short film, all the way from idea to final creation. Your instructor will be available (virtually) to help answer questions throughout the process. All completed films will be critiqued by the other students and your instructor, and then showcased on our website and YouTube channels. You will walk away from this workshop with the very first film for your director’s reel!
30 Day Money-Back Guarantee
I’m so confident that you’ll love this program that I’m offering a 30 day, 100% money-back guarantee. If at any time you feel that the workshop isn’t right for you, you can simply ask for your money back.
This means that you could actually try out the ENTIRE workshop and still get a 100% refund if you feel like it wasn’t worth the money.
No tricks, and no hard feelings.
I believe in what I teach, and I know that if you follow the plan I’m laying out for you that you’ll be able to put together your first film. If for some reason that hasn’t happened by the time you’ve finished with this workshop, I haven’t done my job and you should not have to pay me.
Simply let us know why it didn’t work out for you, and I will give you a full refund, no questions asked–that is my promise to you!
Want to REALLY take things to the next level? Take the workshop AND make a film for the 48 Hour Film Project!
If you’re truly serious about learning filmmaking, and are really prepared to challenge yourself, then I offer you this:
A chance to go through this workshop, learning what you can from me, and then making your next film this summer as a part of the world’s largest timed film competition, the 48 Hour Film Project!
The 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) is the ultimate testing ground for filmmakers to make a short film in a very short amount of time, while having the time of your life doing it. The 48HFP takes place in over 120 cities around the world. Filmmakers have just 48 hours to write, produce, and edit their short films using a genre, character, line of dialogue, and prop that aren’t revealed until the kickoff of the filmmaking weekend. Each completed film will then get a theatrical screening, in a real movie theatre filled with friends, family, and film lovers!
The films are judged by a panel of film professionals for a variety of awards and prizes. The top film from each city moves on to the 48HFP’s global festival and competition, Filmapalooza–and even has a shot at screening at the Cannes Film Festival!
For those that are up for this incredible challenge, we’re offering a package that includes the Online Filmmaking Workshop PLUS your entry fee into any U.S. city of this year’s 48HFP filmmaking tour!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What sort of equipment/gear do I need to take this course?
You do NOT need a professional level video camera to take the class. This is an entry level course designed to show you how to make films using the equipment that you already have. So if you already have a DSLR or digital video camera, great! If not, that’s OK. The cameras on modern iPhones and Android smartphones are so good now that you can actually learn how to make a film using your phone!
At a minimum, you should have an iPhone 5s (or anything more recent) operating at least iOS 11.0 or later, or a phone operating Android 5.0 or higher. Additional software may be required if you’re using a phone (in the $10-$15 range).
You’ll also need a desktop computer or laptop (either a Mac or a PC) with at least 4 G of RAM (more is better, but that’s the minimum).
You should have all appropriate cables to transfer videos from your camera/phone to your computer–in most cases, that’s your USB lightning/Android charging cord if you’re using a phone, and usually an HDMI cord or SD card reader if you’re using a DSLR or digital video camera.
We will discuss other equipment that you may want to purchase in the future, but it won’t be a requirement to have any of that to take this workshop.
When exactly does the workshop take place?
The first set of videos (Module 1) will go live on Monday, May 21st. Every Monday you’ll get access to a new module until the workshop is complete (four weeks total).
What sort of previous filmmaking experience should I have?
None! This is a workshop designed for beginners, and we will walk you through the process as if you’ve never made a film before. We only ask that you come to the table with an open mind and a love of film!
Even if you have dabbled with filmmaking in the past, this still may be a good course for you as we will cover the entire filmmaking process, from taking an idea to a script, getting your cast & crew, shooting your film, and putting it all together. If you’ve never gone through this full experience, this is your chance to do so in a more structured learning environment.
Can’t I learn all of this stuff on YouTube?
Sure! I’m pretty sure you could also learn heart surgery, or just about anything else on YouTube.
But do you really want to take the time to do that?
And how do you know if you’re learning the right information?
We’re providing you a very structured learning process, giving you exactly the right information exactly when you need it. This is based on my years of experience working with hundreds of filmmakers and watching thousands of films in my time with the 48 Hour Film Project and other film projects.
I’ve seen filmmakers succeed and I’ve seen them fail. I know exactly what works and what doesn’t work. And I’ll be there to guide you through the process.
Plus, you’ll be getting peer feedback from all of the other participants, in addition to personal feedback on all of your work from me. This kind of feedback is extremely valuable to learning the filmmaking process, and that’s NOT something that you’ll be able to get from watching YouTube videos.
Will this help me become a famous filmmaker?
That’s up to you.
We can’t promise you anything–we can only help get you started, and point you in the right direction.
But it’s an exciting time for filmmakers now, with many opportunities now available to create many different kinds of films and get paid for them.
We can’t promise you fame and fortune, but we’ll try our hardest to get you started off on the right foot!
How does it work if I also want participate in the 48 Hour Film Project?
It’s simple–make one payment of $99 now, and the remaining two payments will be due in 30 days and 60 days. We will set up a payment plan to automatically charge your credit or debit card at the appropriate time.
You can choose any U.S. 48 Hour Film Project city to participate in (find the city nearest you at http://48hourfilm.com/locations).
Once you register for the workshop, we will have you start the registration process for your city’s 48HFP competition online, but stop when you get to the final payment screen. From there, we will contact the 48HFP directly to make your registration payment to complete your 48HFP registration process.
Will participating in this workshop give me an advantage if I want to compete in the 48 Hour Film Project?
Nope, sorry–you’ll be bound by all of the regular 48 Hour Film Project rules and regulations, just like any other participant. We are simply paying the registration fee for you as part of your workshop package.
The 48 Hour Film Project is an awesome experience for any filmmaker to take part in, and prides itself by being an incredibly transparent and fair competition. Anyone caught violating the rules of the 48HFP will not only be subject to the official regulations of the 48HFP, but they would also be banned from taking any future Gorilla Film School course.
Is the 48 Hour Film Project paying you to do this?
Nope. I work for the 48 Hour Film Project as my “day job”, and Gorilla Film School is a totally separate company. I do this on my own time, and they don’t make any money (other than the normal registration fee for those workshop participants that choose to also compete in the 48HFP).
I’ve worked for the 48HFP for over a decade and truly believe that this is the greatest, most fun way to make a short film and have it screened in a theatre. There’s NO other competition like it. I stand by all of the great work we’ve done for filmmakers through the 48HFP, and I hope this workshop will help to prepare you for the huge challenge of your 48HFP competition, and help to further your creative filmmaking career!