10 Week Course



The Film Connection film school alternative is endorsed by filmmakers who are making movies, maybe even the movies you love.


Financial aid is available through Meritize.


The DP (Director of Photography/AKA cinematographer) works side-by-side with the director from the beginning of a film’s conception to collaborate on the look and feel of the film. The DP is responsible for how the shots are composed and blocked and how the scenes are lit.  As such, the DP works closely with the director to bring his or her vision to the screen.

The DP is the director’s partner, confidant and at times, their only friend on the set. While the director works with the talent, it is the DPs job to run the crew. Together, they come up with the film’s shots and they constantly look for ways to make every image better than expected. It’s a never-ending quest that only gets more interesting with experience.


Browse Lesson Plan

This course teaches basic framing within the lens, including how to frame your actors and settings in the most aesthetically appealing manner possible. Most cameras have a Rule of Thirds grid overlay in the viewfinder to make it easy to place the subject where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect and thus follow the Rule of Thirds.

Course 2 emphasizes three-point-lighting, the most common and practical way to light a scene and give a true cinematic look and feel to your shot. Along with learning about the types of lighting instruments—open face, Fresnel and practicals—and light sources—tungsten, HMI, fluorescent and LED you’ll learn how to control your lighting through barn doors, gels, scrims, flags, shiny boards and more.

This course focuses on the technical aspects of the camera and introduces the all-important ‘f’ and ‘t’ stops that are on every lens. Students will learn how ‘f’ and ‘t’ stops are different ways to measure how much light is being transmitted through a lens. ‘F’ stops are based on a mathematical formula, ‘t’ stops are the physical measurement of the actual amount of light which passes through the lens. You’ll learn why DPs prefer ‘t’ stops—especially when using multiple cameras.

Every DP needs to understand how to frame a shot; however, to create a truly beautiful shot, the cinematographer must bring depth to the frame. This course will explain how to optimize beauty and depth within a frame by creating foreground, middle ground and background elements in each shot through the use of blocking and depth of field.

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image. Over time, the aspect ratios have changed based on the evolution of technology. Common aspect ratios today include 16:9 HD TV; 21:9 most movies; 14:10 IMAX. This comprehensive course examines the history of aspect ratio, how it has evolved through cinematic history, and where it stands today.

During this course, you will get to meet with a professional screenwriter who’s been in the business for years! He/she will help you to perfect what you’ve already written, and also offer constructive advice on how to move forward. You might be missing an extremely simple plot mechanic that someone with more experience would easily see, or you might be over-writing. It’s amazing what a seasoned, professional screenwriter will notice. You’ll be glad you had a chance to sit down with this person after you hear their insights.

An in-depth look at the standard shot sizes used relative to the human body. This course will describe each shot size and type in detail, providing both descriptive and pictorial representations of how shots should be framed relative to the subject. Wide shot, full shot, mid shot, medium close up, close up, extreme close up, Dutch angle, low angle, high angle, pan, cut in, over the head, tilt, dolly, zoom, over the shoulder, two shot, crane, aerial shots and crossing the line will be described in detail.

Students will explore how different frame rates affect the look of the image—did you ever notice wagon wheels that appear to be going backwards on old movies? Frame rate is to blame. Additionally, students will be given a brief history of how frame rates developed during the earlier days of motion picture film. Today, the common frame rates are 24 fps (frames per second); 30 fps and 60 fps.

Students will take the cumulative knowledge they’ve gained in prior courses and shoot their own ‘experimental documentary’ utilizing all the skills they’ve learned from prior courses. Students will have access to their mentor location production company’s gear.

Students will learn how to communicate with directors in a practical manner in order to understand their vision as well as learn how to integrate their own creative ideas with those of the director. Their mentor, an experienced filmmaker, will serve as the director.

Cinematography students will collaborate with fellow Film Connection directing students who are also studying in their local area. This collaboration will be in the form of a full scene, shot from the director’s script and under full control of the director and cinematography student. This project will enable cinematography students to implement and utilize every skill learned throughout the curriculum in a true, on-set manner. Additionally, it will give the cinematography student high quality footage to add to his/her professional reel.

Learn by Doing with Film Connection’s Cinematography Program

As an extern cinematographer, the Film Connection will pair you with a working DP who will not only show you the tricks of the trade, but also serve as a mentor to develop the “eye of the DP.” The eye is something that no book can teach you and no professor can lecture you on – you simply have to learn it by doing.

While learning by doing is an excellent way to learn all aspects of filmmaking, it is particularly important when it comes to cinematography since traditional lighting and camera angles are often ignored or modified to get the look the director and DP are trying to achieve.


Film Connection is affiliated with industry professionals. Our endorsements are vast and our students successes are real.

ANT-MAN & The Wasp
Dr. Drew
Sandy Stern

Learn the skills you need to take your idea from paper to the big screen.

Real world film education by filmmakers for filmmakers, optimized for today!


Success stories

Since he started his extern program with Uptone Pictures in Raleigh, NC, Grant Gilbert has been taking…


Please take the time to read the experiences of one of our own, Korey Hehn of Pineville, OR…


The Film Connection program provided me with an opportunity to "see it and believe it"!…


Meet Our Mentors

Adam Weber

About This Mentor

Daniel Lir

About This Mentor

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

About This Mentor

Alejandra Huerta

About This Mentor

Daniela Larsen

About This Mentor