20 Free Online College Film Courses

A film education doesn’t have to be expensive. Many top universities are putting college courses and course materials online for free. We’ve rounded up full courses, symposiums and lessons brought to you by professors at major universities.


Screenwriting Unit – UCF openSpace

Our screenwriting unit is designed to build your knowledge about story telling and focuses on the writing of TV, radio, short film and feature film scripts.  Whilst primarily dealing with forms of dramatic fiction, you’ll also look at documentary and documentary drama. You’ll analyse different forms of script writing and screen writing, the elements they have in common and the specific tools that can help to deliver better scripts in each medium.

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Screenwriting & Script Breakdown – Pepperdine University

This discussion by Susan Salas goes through scripts and how to break them down for production.


Understanding Intellectual Property – Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

This course from SmallBizU discusses types of intellectual property, the process of seeking intellectual property protection, international intellectual property issues and different types of confidentiality agreements when dealing with intellectual property.


Acting – from National Theater

Acting requires a wide range of skill, from the ability to control your voice to adopting physical attributes. A stage actor will often be required to research a period a history or particular topic to bring a character to life. This collection aims to give an insight into what it is like to be an actor at the National Theatre. Featuring Simon Russell Beale, Zoe Wanamaker, Lesley Manville, Rory Kinnear, Fiona Shaw, Ben Whishaw and Roger Allam.

Approaching Plays – the Open University

Do you want to get more out of drama? This unit is designed to develop the analytical skills you need for a more in-depth study of literary plays. You will learn about dialogue, stage directions, blank verse, dramatic structure and conventions and aspects of performance.


Filmmaking Master Class with Milos Forman – Columbia

From Columbia University – this is a 3 hour session with Milos Forman, the director One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest, Amadeus, and Man on the Moon.

Digital Film School

Have you ever wanted to pick up a video camera and make a short video or film, but felt intimidated by your lack of knowledge? The explosion of film-making for websites and mobiles gives people and organisations the opportunity to tell their stories and show what they have to offer, at low cost. This collection of exciting videos features the Open University’s experienced team of filmmakers, who will show you some of the craft secrets that underpin good filmmaking, and how professionals stay up to date. You will learn the basics of editing, how to conduct an interview, the role of the producer and other crew members and how to archive your finished project. This material forms part of the Open University course T156 Digital film school.

Directing – Pepperdine University

Susan Salas discusses directing in this lesson from Pepperdine University.

Camera – Pepperdine University

Susan Salas delves into camera and camera operation in this lesson from Pepperdine University.

Making Movies Basics – New Mexico State University

This course from New Mexico State University covers some basic tips on things such as editing, scoring and make-up.

Video Production – Iona College

A course in the setting up and operation of portable video equipment, as well as writing and production of various video program forms - by Dr. Nancy-Jo Johnson.

Multimedia Tips – University of South Florida

Digital media provides opportunities for producers to get their work out to the world quickly and easily. Multimedia Tips provides information to help you create high-quality productions.


Editing – Pepperdine

Susan Salas discusses what to think about during the editing process and the approach to editing. This does not discuss how to operate the editing software.

Film History/Appreciation

The Film Experience – M.I.T.

This course is an introduction to narrative film, emphasizing the unique properties of the movie house and the motion picture camera, the historical evolution of the film medium, and the intrinsic artistic qualities of individual films. The primary focus is on American cinema, but secondary attention is paid to works drawn from other great national traditions, such as France, Italy, and Japan. The syllabus includes such directors as Griffith, Keaton, Chaplin, Renoir, Ford, Hitchcock, Altman, De Sica, and Fellini.

Philosophy In Film and Other Media by Instructor – M.I.T

This course examines works of film in relation to thematic issues of philosophical importance that also occur in other arts, particularly literature and opera. Emphasis is put on film’s ability to represent and express feeling as well as cognition. Both written and cinematic works by Sturges, Shaw, Cocteau, Hitchcock, Joyce, and Bergman, among others, are considered.

Film as Visual and Literary Mythmaking – M.I.T.

This course examines problems in the philosophy of film as well as literature studied in relation to their making of myths. The readings and films that are discussed in this course draw upon classic myths of the western world. Emphasis is placed on meaning and technique as the basis of creative value in both media.

Western Movies: Myth, Ideology, and Genre by Professor Richard Slotkin - Wesleyan University

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. In addition to viewing 20 or more feature films, we will study some of the precinematic sources of Western themes and images (novels, paintings). There will also be readings in the history of movies, critical and cultural theory, and political history.

Film Studies at Stanford

Discussion on Film from graduate students and filmmakers.

Frame by Frame – University of Nebraska-Lincoln

A series of academic movie reviews by Professor Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies, Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Film History and Appreciation – Rock Valley College

Film History and Appreciation is a survey of film as an art form and an industry. Particular emphasis is placed on lighting, sound, genre characteristics, image composition, editing, criticism, and social implications – taught by Brian Shelton.