It’s safe to say that YouTube has changed the world of filmmaking forever. In fact, filmmaking YouTube channels may just be the single most significant marker on the whole timeline. YouTube leveled the playing field for everyone, inspiring new generations of filmmakers from all over the world. As a result, anyone from anywhere can upload whatever they want and have it potentially viewed by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people…for free!
Among the many game-changing factors on the platform is the way YouTube has impacted how filmmaking is taught. For example, 20 years ago, it seemed that the only way to become a filmmaker was to go to an official film school – an often lengthy, expensive process. With YouTube, it’s now entirely plausible to have a successful filmmaking career being self-taught from scratch. In other words, simply from watching tutorials and videos on YouTube. I’m a testament to that myself.
The question is, which channels are actually worth watching? The filmmaking tutorial genre is not exactly a small niche. There are thousands of great channels out there, but some are better than others.
One channel worth recommending is Artlist’s YouTube channel :), where you will find tons of tips on anything from gear to color grading and everything in between.
You can also check our 14 Days of Filmmschool series for short videos on various filmmaking topics.
But apart from this shameless plug, here’s a list of some of the very best filmmaking YouTube channels guaranteed to improve you and your craft.
First up, Mark Bone. Mark is a successful, talented film director from Toronto, Canada. The quality of his work (often featured and used as examples throughout his tutorials) speaks for itself. This man knows filmmaking inside out and it is astonishing that he’s giving away such useful insight and knowledge for free. From lighting to colour grading, script writing to funding, insider tips and camera reviews, Mark is an expert operating at the height of his powers. When he speaks, you should listen. To dive even deeper, I can highly recommend his filmmaking course “Art of Documentary” – it helped me level up considerably.
Who doesn’t know about Peter McKinnon? As mentioned in our YouTube breakdown, Peter pretty much trailblazed and invented a whole new filmmaking tutorial genre by himself. Through entertaining, often comedic videos and no-nonsense tutorials, McKinnon helps his audience unlock the fundamentals of filmmaking, understanding B-roll, learning cameras inside out and getting to grips with the full range of Adobe software. His tips and tricks – even the seemingly small, insignificant tweaks – have helped me to level up countless times. Just take a scroll through the comments section of any of his videos to see how countless filmmakers testify that they wouldn’t be where they were today if it wasn’t for Peter.
Who doesn’t love Film Riot? We’ve already covered the channel in more depth with another article that breaks down the keys to its success. Still, no list of best filmmaking YouTube channels is complete without them. The Connolly brothers and their team produce fantastic tutorials covering a broad range of topics, from creating mind-blowing special effects to editing breakdowns and production walkthroughs. They’ve also shown how to make it in the film industry from scratch, building from the ground up. That’s seriously inspiring for their community to see over the past decade. It shows that you really can make it, with or without film school
Matti Haapoja is well known to most Peter McKinnon fans as they’re great friends who have been collaborating for years. Similarly to Peter, Matti offers up expert advice on all things filmmaking from pre-production planning to shooting and editing. His background of expertise as a professional DP within the video marketing industry serves him well. Having worked for a number of high-end clients including a cinematographer for Nike and San Pellegrino projects, Matti really knows what he’s talking about. Similarly to Mark Bone, it’s amazing that Matti is handing out this knowledge and expertise for free.
Independent DP and director Philip Bloom has amassed a large following on YouTube with his epic feature-length gear reviews. If you want to know whether or not a camera is really worth it, Phil should be your go-to guy. Bloom’s long, feature-length videos allow him to dive into all the intricacies and details you perhaps couldn’t garner from a 15-minute video. Through his reviews, we pick up all sorts of tips and knowledge from a seasoned expert. It’s the type of stuff you could perhaps only gain otherwise by shadowing someone as an apprentice for weeks. It’s priceless.
Cooke Optics TV
Speaking of learning from successful cinematographers and world-renowned DPs, Cooke Optics TV is a brilliant channel for this purpose. On the channel, you’ll find interviews with some of the world’s most renowned cinematographers, sharing their advice, expertise and interesting behind-the-scenes stories from various experiences throughout their careers. If you want to be the best, you need to study those at the top of their game and watching channels like this is a great place to start. They’re uploading gems weekly that can really help make you a better filmmaker.
This Guy Edits
As we said, if you want to be the best, learning from the very best can help. Sven is an ACE Award-nominated editor who’s been in the industry for decades, cutting for the likes of James Cameron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sundance filmmaker Mark Webber. In other words, he’s a damn good editor. On his YouTube channel, you’ll find countless video essays and editing breakdowns, offering a wide variety of lessons that cover both creative editing choices and technical methods. I speak from personal experience when I say that if you watch This Guy Edits, you will be a better editor.
StudioBinder is a vast, impressive filmmaking resource. The company is actually very handy production management software that provides tools for call sheets, shot lists, shooting schedules, script breakdowns, storyboards and mood boards. So when it comes to filmmaking, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two! On their channel, you’ll find plenty of fascinating breakdown videos, diving into how different directors shot their most iconic scenes, as well as interviews with DPs and explainer videos to help improve your skillset. Well worth checking out.
Indie Film Hustle
If you’re ever feeling a little despondent and low on morale because it feels like you’re never going to “make it,” Indie Film Hustle is the channel for you. You can learn directly from Academy Award winners and nominees through in-depth interviews (that are also available in podcast form). Within their answers, they shine a light on the truth of what it takes to break into the industry, as well as survive and thrive. There are also plenty of great tutorials, including the “director series” that take deep dives into the bodies of work produced by greats such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. It’s another excellent example of how unbelievably lucky we are to have a resource such as YouTube. This kind of in-depth knowledge and expertise simply wasn’t available 20 years ago.
So, that’s the definitive list of some of the best filmmaking channels on YouTube. There are, of course, hundreds more producing brilliant content every day – like the Artlist YouTube channel – but this hand-picked selection includes the ones I’ve learned the most from over the years. I guarantee that if you watch any of these for an extended period of time, you will notice the improvement in your work. With a free resource such as YouTube offering up so much priceless knowledge and information, it can be hard to argue these days for paying a lot of money to film school…