Do You Have To Watch Movies To Make Movies?

The term ‘filmmaker’ doesn’t mean what it used to.

The rise of YouTubers for example, has given a new meaning to the title. No longer does the filmmaker have to make ‘films’. In effect, no longer does the aspiring filmmaker have to be influenced by watching films.

Where I found Scorsese and Tarantino through television and the movie theater, younger generations are finding Casey Neistat and Darious Britt through their cell phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions.

It’s fascinating to meet those who have never seen or heard of a a Lynch or Kurosawa film. Where I reference these filmmakers as having an impact on my own filmmaking career, youth are referencing Film Riot and Peter McKinnon.

These days, with the amount of filmmaking tutorials you can get a 9 year old to shoot, edit, and add lasers from After Effect for your film. The crazy part, this kid probably doesn’t watch movies.

We’re at a point where technology has opened the door to a wide variety of creators. In doing so, the older ways of film exposure are no longer from the movie theater or television screen.

It’s not necessary to watch movies in order to make movies. Yet, there are downfalls to not doing so.

For one, there are a lot of filmmakers out there who want to start vlogs, how-to, and review channels on YouTube. Some of these people then hope to expand into making films.

This is pretty smart. You can consistently make these type of videos for next to nothing. You’ll also practice with equipment and software. Furthermore, you can learn how to attack the YouTube market.


If all you watch is YouTube then your understanding of filmmaking is only being seen from one angle. There are a multitude of ways people make films. From the no-budget to your standard blockbuster

Being an online creator you should definitely watch what other creators are doing. But, if you’re a how-to YouTuber transitioning into narrative filmmaking, there’s a learning curve. You may have found success with the YouTube market, but the film market is different.

When people watch a film or series they’re looking to be entertained. They’re not trying to learn how to edit or shoot a film. Instead, they want to see all those elements come together on the silver or LED screen.

You may be a master at disassembling the process and explaining what all the individual parts do, but if all you do is disassemble, how well would you fair bringing all these elements together to tell a story?

Telling people how to make films is different than actually making a film because the experience is always different. That’s what makes it great.

By watching and studying how other films are made, you can learn how to apply this to your own endeavors.

So, why limit yourself to just watching YouTube?

There’s nothing wrong with this of course. If all you want to do is make online content for a career, good on you! Keep watching your market.

If you want to expand your reach into feature/short films or even a Netflix series, you should be watching that market too!

Overall, watch what inspires you. But, also watch what you want to make. If you want to make films, watch films. If you want to make vlogs, watch vlogs. If you want to do both, watch both!

There’s no right or wrong way to make movies. You just have to start making them. If you want to make content, whatever your chosen path may be, watch Taxi Driver. Please. It’s great!

My Work:

Side Note: YouTubers are great and there are wonderful examples of some transitioning beautifully to feature films! Here’s one!

Joe Penna director of Artic (2018)

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