Is becoming an educational filmmaker right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do educational filmmakers do?

Still unsure if becoming an educational filmmaker is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an educational filmmaker or another similar career!

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How to become an Educational Filmmaker

Becoming an educational filmmaker involves formal training, practical experience, and skills development in the filmmaking sphere, combined with creativity and a passion for education. Here's a guide to pursuing the career:

High School Diploma or Equivalent
Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. High school education provides a foundation in basic communication and organizational skills, and it lays the groundwork for further learning.

Bachelor's Degree Film Production or a Related Field
Many aspiring educational filmmakers earn an undergraduate degree in film production or screenwriting. These programs provide a comprehensive education in filmmaking techniques, theory, history, and practical skills. Students may learn about storytelling, screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, sound design, production management, and other aspects of film production.

Alternative degree options include visual and performing arts, multimedia arts, or another relevant field.

Master’s Degree
While not always required, some educational filmmakers choose to pursue a graduate degree to further their knowledge and skills in filmmaking or education. A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film Production or a Master of Arts (MA) in educational media or instructional design can provide advanced training and opportunities for specialization.

Film School
Attending a dedicated film school or film program can provide intensive hands-on training and mentorship from industry professionals. Film schools often offer specialized courses, workshops, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for students to develop their skills and create portfolio-worthy projects. Some well-known film schools include the American Film Institute (AFI), New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, and the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts.

Some organizations and institutions may offer professional development workshops, courses, and certificate programs that cover scriptwriting, visual storytelling, cinematography, and editing techniques tailored to educational content creation.

Online Courses and Workshops
For those unable to pursue a degree or attend a traditional film school, there are numerous online courses, workshops, and tutorials available that cover various aspects of filmmaking. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and MasterClass offer courses taught by industry professionals on topics such as screenwriting, directing, lighting, cinematography, editing, sound recording, and more.

Develop Expertise in Educational Theory and Practice
Familiarize yourself with educational principles, learning theories, and instructional design methodologies. Learn about curriculum development, educational psychology, and effective teaching strategies to create content that supports learning objectives and engages audiences.

Internships and Practical Experience
While formal education is valuable, gaining hands-on experience through internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level positions is essential. Interning at educational media production companies, film studios, educational institutions, or non-profit organizations can provide valuable insights into the industry, build professional connections, and help develop practical skills.

Build a Portfolio
Start building a portfolio of your work as an educational filmmaker. Create sample projects that demonstrate your skills in scriptwriting, filming, editing, and storytelling, focusing on educational content. Your portfolio can include short films, instructional videos, documentaries, animations, or multimedia projects.

Establish a professional online presence by creating a website that contains your portfolio, resume, and contact information. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Vimeo to share your projects, connect with potential clients, and demonstrate your expertise.

Specialize and Define Your Niche
Identify your areas of interest and specialization within educational filmmaking. Whether you choose to adopt a particular filmmaking style or format, or focus on one or more specific educational subject areas or audiences, defining your niche can help you concentrate your efforts and build a reputation in your chosen field. For a complete list of specializations, please see the What does an Educational Filmmaker do? section in the career overview.

Networking and Professional Development
Build a strong professional network within the educational and filmmaking communities. Attend industry events, workshops, panel discussions, and conferences to connect with fellow filmmakers, educators, mentors, and potential collaborators.

Stay abreast of industry trends, new tools and technologies, best practices, and emerging digital media platforms in educational filmmaking. Continuously expand your skills and experiment with new techniques, software, and equipment to remain competitive in the ever-evolving film industry.

While there isn't a specific certification that universally qualifies someone as an educational filmmaker, there are relevant certifications and credentials that can enhance a filmmaker's qualifications for creating educational content. Here are some examples:

  • Instructional Design Certifications – Instructional design certifications, such as the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), provide training in designing effective learning experiences. While not focused specifically on filmmaking, these certifications cover principles of instructional design that are applicable to creating educational content.
  • Educational Technology Certifications – Certifications in educational technology, such as the Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL) offered by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), focus on integrating technology into educational settings. These certifications can be valuable for filmmakers creating multimedia and digital content for educational purposes.
  • Software-Specific Certifications: Filmmakers may pursue certifications in specific software tools commonly used in educational filmmaking, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, or Avid Media Composer. These certifications demonstrate proficiency in using industry-standard software for video editing, motion graphics, and animation.
  • Industry-Specific Certifications – Depending on the specific industry or sector in which they work, filmmakers may pursue certifications relevant to that field. For example, filmmakers creating content for healthcare education may pursue certifications in medical illustration or healthcare simulation education.

Professional Organizations
There are professional organizations and associations that cater to individuals working in the field of educational filmmaking. These entities provide networking opportunities, professional development resources, industry news, and advocacy for members. Here are some notable examples:

  • International Documentary Association (IDA) – IDA is a non-profit that promotes nonfiction filmmakers, and is dedicated to increasing public awareness for the documentary genre. It offers the Getting Real conference and other educational events focused on documentary filmmaking.
  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) – AECT is a professional association for individuals involved in educational technology, instructional design, and multimedia production.
  • National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) – NAMLE is dedicated to promoting media literacy education and fostering collaboration among educators, researchers, and educational media production professionals.
  • Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) – SCMS is an academic organization focused on the study of film, television, and media.
  • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) – ISTE is dedicated to promoting the use of technology in education and provides support for educators and educational technology professionals, including filmmakers creating digital content for learning.
  • The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture – The Alliance supports media artists, filmmakers, educators, and organizations working in the fields of media arts, film, and digital storytelling. It promotes social change through storytelling.
  • Educational Media Association (EMA) – EMA is a professional organization for individuals involved in creating educational media, including filmmakers, producers, educators, and media specialists.