Updated February 12, 2024, 7:00 PM PT

Written by

Alison DeNisco Rayome

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Alison DeNisco Rayome Boss Editor

Editor-in-Chief Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019 and is a member of the Home team. She co-leads the CNET series Tips and We Do the Math, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new tricks for cooking, cleaning, and tinkering with all the gadgets and appliances in your home. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.

Expertise Home tips including cooking, cleaning and appliance tips Credentials

  • National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; Gold Azbee National Award for Single Topic Online Coverage by a Team; Bronze Azbee National Award for Web Feature Series

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Square Feet of laboratory space

Aspiring filmmakers looking to get some tips from the pros can learn how to direct films and documentaries from some of the big names online with a Filmmaking MasterClass.

MasterClass, an online learning service with over 100 classes taught by A-list celebrities, offers a variety of courses on different aspects of filmmaking, taught by some of the world's most famous directors, including Oscar winners and other big names in the industry cinematographic. While these classes can't replace a traditional filmmaking course, they can help you get started by teaching filmmaking techniques and helping you gain insights from experts in the field, with 20 video lessons about 10 minutes long each and detailed exercise books. .

An annual subscription to MasterClass costs $120 and includes unlimited access to all classes, as well as new classes as they are released. Watch classes on iOS or Android (via the MasterClass app), on your desktop or via Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV.

Here are five MasterClasses for you to check out to sharpen your filmmaking skills and spark your creativity.

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Ken Burns, the Emmy-winning historical documentary filmmaker behind The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and the Vietnam War, is famous for using detailed research and archival footage to craft a compelling narrative. In his MasterClass, Burns teaches how to choose a compelling subject and find a story within that area, how to honor opposing points of view, the writing and fundraising process, obtain archival footage, shape a non-fiction character, find and interview experts and edit, using your own work as case studies. This is a great course that covers the documentary process.

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In his MasterClass course, Spike Lee, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning film director of She's Got It, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman, teaches his techniques for writing, budgeting, casting, shooting and editing independent films, and how to use these films as agents of change. He also breaks down directorial choices from a film he admires and shares some of his original storyboards to demonstrate how to construct a scene.

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Martin Scorsese, the Oscar winner and legendary director of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street, shares his own filmmaking and education process with MasterClass students, including channeling influences and developing a style, as well as navigating technological advances in film production. Scorsese also analyzes scenes from other influential films, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, to discuss what makes effective cinema. In fact, it's all content that an aspiring filmmaker would find useful.

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In her MasterClass, Oscar-winning director and actress Jodie Foster brings her experience on both sides of the camera to guide you through every step of the filmmaking process. She guides students through the process of finding a story, writing a script, working with directors and actors, filming, editing, and directing music.

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Avant-garde filmmaker David Lynch, director of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, teaches students how he brings ideas together, turns them into a narrative, and goes beyond formulaic storytelling. Your course also offers classes in casting and working with actors, production design, cinematography and sound design.

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