Hulu SFSThere are so many ways to go about learning how to make films, with resources that won't cost you tens of thousands of dollars or have you sitting in lecture halls for the greater part of your early 20s. One ironclad piece of advice that always seems to be in the mouths and repertoires of great filmmakers is to watch and study films, because they can offer invaluable guidance, inspiration, and even mentorship to those who are looking for it. And if you've decided that this summer will be the one in which you buckle down for some serious cinematic cogitation, Hulu's Summer Film School, which is a series of blog posts that break down the filmmaking techniques of some of history's greatest films, might be right up your alley.

The format of Hulu's Summer Film School is simple; every week they post a playlist of films (all available on Hulu) that exemplify the techniques used in the area of filmmaking they're focusing on. So far they've already covered story structure and cinematography, but here's the rest of Hulu's Summer Film School Schedule:

  • Week 3: Color Theory and Lighting (August 2)
  • Week 4: Costumes and Set Design (August 8)
  • Week 5: Soundtrack, Score, and Sound Design (August 16)
  • Week 6: Animation (August 23)
  • Week 7: Post Production & Special FX (August 30)

Now, the playlists themselves don't offer a whole lot of in-depth study, but Hulu is also publishing supplemental blog posts about the area of filmmaking they're covering that week. The links to these posts are shared at the bottom of each playlist under "Required Viewing" or "Extra Credit", which means you don't have to dig through their blog archive to find them (which I did for longer than I'll admit). For example, their breakdown of the cinematography from Jiro Dreams of Sushi teaches you the basics of shot size and camera movement in a series of GIFs from the film. (A quick note: there are a few articles related to each week's topic on Hulu's blog that aren't found in their Summer Film School posts that you might want to check out, too.)

It should be said that each title they've chosen to study is one that is currently available on Hulu, which means that there's potential for a somewhat limited or skirted educational experience. For instance, how can Chinatown not be their key film when studying story structure? (Because they don't offer it.) However, I suppose that's to be expected when it comes to any rudimentary course you take, and since we're all proficient interwebbers, every film education resource should be considered supplemental in and of itself. (You don't only read NFS, do you? Wait -- do you?)

But, Hulu has so far chosen some excellent classic, contemporary, narrative, documentary, foreign, indie, and Hollywood films to study, like Rashomon, Jules and Jim, The 400 Blows, Pi, City Lights, Night of the Living Dead, Tokyo Story, and Hoop Dreams just to name a few, so if your educational plan of attack is to watch great films in order to learn how to make them, the playlists they've offered up to this point will definitely get the job done.