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Filmmaking from the First Directors - Compass Classroom

Takes students through a unique journey starting in the late 19th-century when film was invented, then guides them through the steps first directors took in creating the modern language of film. The goal of the class is to teach students how to make films one step at a time

This is not a physical product.  Instead, you'll be given access to an online classroom where you'll be able to learn at your own pace.

  • Formats: Online Portal
  • Lessons: 14
  • Age: 13+
  • Teacher: Thomas Purifoy, Jr.

Availability: In stock








Filmmaking from the First Directors teaches the basics of filmmaking and early film history. It takes students through a unique journey starting in the late 19th century when film was invented, then guides them through the steps first directors took in creating the modern language of film. Each lesson includes watching a series of lectures on history and production basics then viewing original films. Assignments will include making a variety of short films which will be uploaded for class comments and review. The goal of the class is to teach students how to make films one step at a time.

This class is taught by Thomas Purifoy, Jr., producer, director and writer of Modern Parables, Seek Social Justice, and Economics for Everybody. He has produced a variety of dramatic and documentary shorts, and is a student of film history. He believes merging these two areas is the perfect way to learn how to make films.

A few things to note:

  • This class requires a lot of work. After the first lesson, the lessons progressively become more difficult and take much more time to complete. The average time for students to complete a lesson is about 3 weeks.
  • There are no grades in this class. It is simply pass/fail based on completing all the work. (It's more like real life where no one gives you a grade for the films you make.)
  • This is a class for people wanting to learn how to make films. It is not a film appreciation class. It is about the practical basics of filmmaking.
  • Thomas will not be reviewing every assignment in class, but will keep tabs on each student and review their major assignments. This class isn't about getting Thomas' opinions on a student's abilities, but about making sure students understand the technical and artistic basics of filmmaking. That is best accomplished by studying the great filmmakers and attempting to do what they did.

Once You Purchase:

We will send you a special invitation to the online class portal. This could take at least 24 hours (more if you purchase on a weekend). Don't be nervous if you don't get something automatically. 

Students will have online access for one year or more to finish the class. They can progress through lessons at their own pace.

Format: The class is available via an online classroom and includes pre-recorded lectures, complete films online, and things to read. This class is not tied to a certain weekly day or time, but can be taken at the student's speed.

Equipment required: Digital Video Camera, Tripod, Computer with Editing Software, Internet Connection


1Reviews For Filmmaking from the First Directors

  1. Henry

    I’ve really been enjoying the class. It is more challenging than I thought it would be, but it is my favorite subject this year. I am learning a ton and having just as much fun filming.

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  1. First Light: Documenting Life  Lumiere Brothers/Edison - Light, Cameras, Action - Film a Single Action
  2. A Magical Story  George Melies - Narrative Story, Script - Write Basic Script
  3. Editing Action  Edwin S. Porter - Continuity editing - Film/Edit Story with Continuity
  4. The Camera Speaks  D.W. Griffith - Interframe narrative - Film/Edit Action Scene
  5. Parallel Editing and More  D.W. Griffith - Parallel Action - Film/Edit Simultaneous Action
  6. Mise-en-Scene: Framing, Depth & Setting  D.W. Griffith - Lighting & Camera Movement - Moving Camera Scene
  7. The First Epics: Introduction to Feature Films  Italian Epics - Structure of Feature Film - Write a feature film Treatment
  8. Feature Films & Auteur Theory - Maurice Tourneur - Point of view, stylization, pacing
  9. The Character of Comedy   Charlie Chaplin - Nature of Comedy - Write a funny scene
  10. Big Sets   Buster Keaton - Sequence Shots and Setup - Film a funny stunt scen
  11. Documenting Life   Robert Flaherty - Understanding Documentary - Shoot a short documentary
  12. Realism and the Western   John Ford - Mise-en-scene composition & Story - Film with depth of field
  13. Montage of Meaning   Sergei Eisenstein - Montage - Film/edit montage sequence
  14. The Expressive Story   F.W. Murnau - Story complexity