Filmmaking Lessons You Only Learn When You Study Abroad

January 28, 2017

Studying abroad opens your mind to new ideas and your eyes to new perspectives. For filmmakers, it is especially useful to look at the world as if you are seeing it for the first time, and to be able to translate that freshness to your audience. Now, more often than ever before, that audience is an international one. Here are a few lessons that can only be learned by stepping out of your comfort — and time — zone.

Seeing the world through a new lens.


Travel, if it is done well, can be both disorienting and inspirational — setting you up for a great learning experience! Studying filmmaking in another country exposes you to a new culture, shaking you out of your biases and helping you to see new stories in the world around you.

The Hollywood way is not the only way.


Although it is sometimes difficult to see past the Hollywood giants, filmmakers from around the world have made their marks on American cinema. Consider the work of Akira Kurosawa (Japan), Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog (Germany), Peter Jackson (New Zealand), and Guillermo del Toro (Mexico), to name just a few. Studying in the countries of your favorite directors can offer insight into the histories and landscapes that influenced them, and can also help you gain an understanding of their international appeal. Not to mention, that you might discover new inspirations and influences of your own.

Making your way in a global market.


Globalization has forced the film industry to reinvent itself, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As international box office sales continue to increase, having an understanding of foreign markets will be vital for filmmakers. According to Wikipedia, China has become the biggest market after the United States and Canada in terms of box office dollars, while India actually sells the most tickets worldwide (at a lower cost). India is also considered the largest film industry in the world, followed by Nigeria and the United States. Breaking away from your hometown tendencies to live and work in a culture whose tastes differ from your own can help you create films that are compelling to global audiences.

Having friends in far-away places.


More than ever, making blockbusters involves an international group effort. A glorious example of this is the magical 10-year collaboration between Americans and Brits on the Harry Potter films. Studying abroad is a great way to learn to collaborate with people from around the world, and make connections that may serve you well in the future.

NYFA offers study abroad opportunities and filmmaking workshops in cities from Berlin to Mumbai. Check out our international campuses and study abroad programs, and prepare to take off!


Have you studied in a country other than your own? How did study abroad influence your work as an artist? Tell us about your study abroad experience in the comments below!