Reading your book for a college video course. The book talks about movies all the time. I like videos, but I hate to watch movies. They seem incredibly boring to me.

Is there another way to get better at making videos?

–Anika, Chicago

How we communicate using moving pictures is a kind of language, and it started with movies. The more you understand it, and where it comes from, the better you’ll be at using it. Ultimately it’s up to you: How good at this do you want to be?

This isn’t just another older person telling you to suffer because they did (although that can be fun for the older person.) How you learn best is entirely up to you. That said, exposing yourself to different forms of an art enriches your ability to understand, interpret, and create in that form. Knowing ballet helps a hip-hop dancer create moves nobody’s ever seen before. African fashion influences French clothing designers. Creating electronica takes on a new dimension if you understand how classical composers layered melody and theme. And knowing how movies work will make you a better videographer.

Let me suggest that”bored” is a choice. Choosing not to be bored with movies makes watching them a lot more fun. Here’s how:

  1. Start by choosing movies that nobody could possibly be bored by. Watch The Princess Bride. Or The Matrix or Mad Max: Fury Road or Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse. Try Groundhog Day or The Incredibles. Stay commercial, five star, big hits.
  2. Before you watch your film, read about it on wikipedia. Search for articles on its technique or special effects. Watch the trailer or “making of” docs on YouTube. Read the screenplay if you can find it. Studying up before you watch gives you a lot to think about it if your attention flags.
  3. Watch on a nice big TV screen, with good sound. (If it’s current and you’re vaccinated, go to a movie theater!) Put down your phone– for real– during the movie. Don’t talk or text while the movie plays. Allow it to wash over you. Don’t worry if you’re not getting it from the beginning– Great movies carry you along for the ride, and will explain themselves at their own pace– if you get rid of the distractions and let them. Give your selected film a solid 20 minutes. Still hate it? Try another one.
  4. Since movies spend a fortune on production (Avengers: Endgame cost over $1 million a minute), they’ll be filled with camera moves, lighting ideas and editing tricks you can analyze and steal for your videos. Even if you’re not loving the movie as a whole, look for ideas that inspire you.
  5.  If you’re feeling great after one or two of the films I suggested, branch out into hit RomComs or old westerns or Tarantino movies or some other genre. All movies have plenty to teach you about photography and acting and structure and storytelling. Yes, you don’t have to watch black and white films or foreign prestige directors– you’ll learn a lot from ET too. Go deeper with my Do-It-Yourself Film School viewing list in the back of my book.
  6. Movies still not working for you? Try episodic TV as a gateway drug. There’s so much great TV that your TV friends will have a whole bunch of shows that they’ll love to recommend. Ask. (And follow the same rules– no talking/texting during the show!) It’s hard to imagine anyone being bored by the first season of Westworld. Not for you? How about Insecure, Friends, Squid Game, Never Have I Ever Dickenson or Breaking Bad?

Commit yourself to learning, tough it out, and you may find you enjoy movies over time. Or not. But you’ll definitely learn ways to make your next TikTok, Instagram or YouTube post even better.

One Comment

  • David Patterson says:

    There are sooooo many “movies” available for viewing that I struggle with the idea that anyone would not find movies they enjoy to watch. If the original poster does not develop basic story telling and editing skills, their “videos” will be hard for others to watch, not unlike the “movies” they do not enjoy watching. My suggestion is to find movies that are similar in content or style to the videos they desire to make. Not only will they likely find movies they enjoy watching, it will inform them about concepts to enhance their videos.

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