Ever since I can remember (around age 12 or 13?), I’ve been playing around with video cameras. I was the one they gave the came to when something needed to be recorded. That responsibility developed sparked an interest in making bigger movies. The following resources have helped me learn more about the craft and the business.
I don’t think I read a script until university. It was there that I was told if you want to write a script you should read some first. Many scripts are now available online for free, but some of the independent fair you’ll be lucky to come across.
Daily Script – A comprehensive database of movie scripts, some free, some not.
Your local library – Only within the last 10 years or so did it become fashionable and profitable to offer scripts for sale to the mass market. Some of the bigger movie scripts are released in trade paperback format for everyone to access. Libraries will often stock some of these titles and they’re worth a look at.
Magazines are great because they offer insight into contemporary movies including what’s trending and what’s around the corner.
American Cinematographer – Magazine of the American Cinematographers Society, an invite-only members club for the best and brightest in Hollywood and in America. It’s a monthly magazine about the latest Hollywood and independent movies. Also offers gear reviews and some coverage of the independent scene.
Filmmaker Magazine – Dedicated to independent filmmaking, Filmmaker magazine also offers interviews but with some of the less mainstream folks.
Creative Screenwriting – I found this magazine inspiring mainly because it often included writing exercises or case studies.
Cinefex – A quarterly magazine dedicated to film graphics and effects. Used to be the source of all things SFX but now sites like YouTube and independent magazines offer similar content. Still worth a look if only to see just how much of the scene you’re looking at is really made with a computer.
Indiewire – Dedicated to independent filmmaking with advice, articles, gear reviews and features to help you with your craft.
The “trades” offer an inside glimpse at the state of the film industry itself. The price tag on these items means that you’ll probably need to get them from your local library instead of purchasing your own copies. Just about all of them offer op-ed commentaries, box office figures, film and theatre (also known as “legit”) reviews and special features. These are the sources your local newspaper get much of their entertainment news from.
Screen International – Published in London, this trade paper focuses on the European film industry.
The Hollywood Reporter – Published in Hollywood with local variants all over the world, THR is one of the longest running and most respected trade papers in the industry.
Variety – The longest running trade paper is seen by some to have the best coverage of the industry. Offers both a daily and weekly version with some free online content.
Playback – The trade paper of the Canadian film industry.
It’s overwhelming the number of resources available to us online. Just about every is online and if they’re not offering a product or service, then they’ll at least teach you something along the way.
Raindance – Started out as an independent production house in the 1990s, Raindance now offers a regularly updated website, a few books, and several courses on filmmaking. Becoming a member gives you access to their huge script database, but even if you don’t their free resources are worth a look.
Rotten Tomatoes – Your source for practically every film review, complete with spoilers and rumours of movies to be made.
Yahoo! – One of the better entertainment sections online, Yahoo! publishes box office figures so you can see what movies were hit or miss.
IMDB – As their name implies, the Internet Movie Database hosts reviews, descriptions and news about the movie industry. Also offers a Pro package that includes more benefits and such.
Quentin Tarantino famously said “I didn’t go to film school, I watched films.” It’s a good statement. And with the Internet enabling anyone anywhere to access content both free and paid, there is no excuse to watch and study films.
Filmshorts.com – A leading website for hosting short films from around the world.
Netflix – Online movie streamer, though their catalog is purged every now and then. Good for TV shows.
Youtube – The second largest search engine in the world is this video streaming site. From home video to professional cinema, there are a lot of tutorials to help you make your own films.
Vimeo – Similar to YouTube except dedicated to artists and their craft and not so many tutorials. The site has few ads as filmmakers can buy into a pro package that eliminates the ads from the page. This is where you’ll find a lot of the more creative and avant garde work from artists around the world.
Raindance.tv – Drawn from the Raindance festival and its production house, this website is dedicated to hosting many of the short and feature length films that are screened at the annual film festival held every October in London.
National Film Board of Canada – One of the longest running, government-sponsored film houses in the world, the NFB has helped numerous Canadian filmmakers achieve success both in Canada and abroad.
Film Festivals – Some of the top festivals are Toronto, Cannes, Rotterdam, Berlin, but those aren’t the only ones. This website has a list of just about every film festival in the world. Festivals are great ways to see new and often undistributed works by emerging and professional filmmakers alike.
Your Local Cinema – Let’s not forget to mention your own local, independent cinema. They often bring in hard-to-find films and may even bring in the director him/herself. Great for watching less mainstream movies.