Screen hogs 

With advances in technology and the wide availability of digital cameras, these days it seems like everyone with a camera wants to be the next Kubrick. But regardless of one’s vision or creativity, it’s difficult to make waves in the filmmaking biz without being schooled in the trade. For aspiring filmmakers in the metropolitan area, the Detroit Film Center offers help. The DFC provides classes and training needed to take your film career beyond the backyard epic. And, yes, registration is underway.

The center’s winter class schedule ranges from one-day workshops to 12-week classes, all taught by university professors and those active in the local film community. Classes cover a variety of subjects, such as 16mm film production, screenwriting, cinema basics and, new for this winter, documentary filmmaking, where the class will produce its own Detroit-themed documentary.

While the classes are geared toward relatively inexperienced movie makers, the small class sizes — usually 8-10 people — allow teachers to accommodate students with varying skill levels. According to Jack Cronin, the director of the DFC, the diversity of the center’s students is a definite advantage.

“A wide range of people take the classes, from those just out of high school to retirees to professionals who leave the office and come to class. They’re not here to get credit; they’re only here because they want to learn about film, which makes the classes a lot more fun,” Cronin says.

The DFC may not offer a degree, but it does provide students with hands-on experience in an intimate, collaborative atmosphere. They leave with the basic knowledge needed to create a film or to begin a career — and much more affordably than via a stint at film school.

“This is the beginning for a lot of people,” Cronin says. “Students gain a fundamental understanding here that allows them to go on to get jobs in the industry or to make films and submit them to festivals.”

Sure, there’s no guarantee that the DFC classes will deliver the secret for how to become the next big-budget Hollywood director or the next indie darling, but, hey, they’re a great place to start.


Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 18, at the Detroit Film Center, 1227 Washington Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-9936;

Megan O'Neil is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]

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