Many great filmmakers never went to film school. In part because there was much less competition.
The reason there is so much more competition these days is because resources are so widely available. This is EXACTLY why you don't need to go to film school.
Some concentrations lend themselves better to formal schooling (like cinematography, sound, editing), but even those might be better off mentoring under a professional.
Here are five steps you can take to educate yourself and start a filmmaking career without spending tens of thousands of dollars:
1. Choose a Concentration
Do you want to be primarily a Producer? Director? Cinematographer? Editor?
Many newcomers have trouble deciding. Director is the most popular, but also the most crowded. Each come with a specific skill-set that will need developed in order to compete.
Try checking out descriptions of different positions on GetInMedia. That site has a wealth of knowledge that will help make the decision easier.
Still stuck? Reach out on Twitter or by Email letting me know what your strengths, experience, and interests are. I'll see if I can help point you in the right direction.
2. Get Up To Speed (For Free)
There is SO much free content to learn from online. Make a list of at least five blogs/channels/etc. that pertain to your concentration and read everything you can for a few weeks.
Take your time with this step and really immerse yourself in these pools of information. It doesn't hurt to leave comments asking questions too. Never too soon to start getting your name out there and get individualized answers in the process!
We're working on compiling a few lists that make good resources for each concentration mentioned in step 1. Until then, start with sites like Filmmakers Process, No Film School, Film Riot, andSideline Pictures.
3. Find a Master Course
Master courses come in many shapes and sizes (and costs). Find one on your concentration and dig deep into it. Take it very seriously and interact with your fellow classmates.
This is close to being mentored in real life. There are some excellent master courses out there that will get you started in the right direction for under $100.
One of my favorites is Masterclass. These classes in directing, acting, and writing are top level stuff.
4. Find A Tribe
The most important part of a film career is your network.
Start by joining a "tribe" that already exists.
Go local first with city film organizations, local theaters, student films, and meet ups. If that's not enough to get the ball rolling, move online with your masterclass community, forums, Facebook Groups, and Twitter.
5. Take Action!
Okay. You have started learning the ropes.
You're likely in as good of a position at this point as most college graduates.
Now it's time to get out there and get something made! Every action is a chance to learn. Adopt the motto: Fail Faster.
No matter what your concentration, this is the secret to success. It is WAY easier said than done, but it's the yellow brick road.
Make something. See it through. Make something else. See it through. Repeat.
If you GET THINGS DONE, then people will respect that. You will only get better over time.
Everyone in and out of the film industry watch millions of potential filmmakers falter because of excuses they make up in their head.
It's a one foot after another process.
Take a step and don't look back.