Film School Crash Course by Dov S-S Simens: My Experience

by Luke Perry Schmidt

Several years ago I was looking for information on filmmaking, and stumbled across Dov S-S Simens' "2 day film school" online from his business "The Hollywood Film Institute".

Thinking it would be a good idea to attend, I saw a more affordable option:  He had a recording made of his giving his class and was selling it on a 16 audio cassette package.

It is this one.

However, in online filmmaking forums around that time, some people were dissing Dov's "2 day filmmaking course".  However when I enquired why, it seemed it was for no other reason other than that some snotty people refuse to believe one can be taught the business of filmmaking in only 2 days, when they have had to learn it over the span of years.  But of course they haven't even attended this course or bought the home study version, so really their prejudice was just meaningless opinions based on ignorance.  I had a feeling I may like this course, so I went ahead and ordered.     

I waited until it would be working hours in Los Angeles, and then phoned to order.  A woman answered who sounded like she was having a hangover.  She seemed burdened by the call.  She seemed disoriented and unable to get what the call was about, so I stated my business clearly and slowly so the not-so-bright sounding woman could get what it was all about, for she seemed confused and irritated, only for her to ask me if I'm ill and if I'm feeling allright.  

At this point I was just about ready to hang up on the rude biatch, but then I would never know what the actual content of the course was like so I just hung in there and ordered the thing, pushing the order through with what seemed like a drunk woman who needed a good smack on the head.  

Anyway, the reputation-damaging tactless woman on the phone aside, when the course came I'm glad I pushed through with the order.  The content is very learnable and informative, and the knowledge satisfying.  Even though it seems there was an error and two of the tapes were of the same lecture but just through different microphones, the rest of the information was a feast!   A very good buy indeed.   

Some of the subjects very passionately and contagiously taught by the voice of Dov Simens are:

INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING: Breaking into Hollywood as an independent filmmaker, working with guilds & unions, film commissions & producer's resources.

PRE-PRODUCTION: Budgeting, Scheduling, Paperwork, Purchasing film stock, Lab & Camera Deals, Renting Sound & Lights.

THE SCREENPLAY: Working with Writer's Guild, Hiring profressional writers, correct formats, what to pay, optioning properties.

GUILDS & UNIONS: Working with & without them

THE SHOOT & THE CREW: Hiring the best

DIRECTING: Hiring a director, directing yourself, working with actors, planning the shoot etc.

PRODUCTION: Shooting on schedule & on budget. Hidden costs. Location scouting & film permits. Story boarding.

POST PRODUCTION: Film editing, sound editing, ADR.

MOVIE BUDGETS: No-budget, micro-budget etc. etc.

PUBLICITY & MARKETING: Selling to studios, Distribution deals, Film festivals, awards, press kits, publicists, reviews.

FILM MARKETS: How to sell film rights & foreign rights.

CABLE INDUSTRY: Selling to cable. HBO & Showtime purchases.

VIDEO INDUSTRY: Selling to & producing for Home Video.

DISTRIBUTION DEAL: What's negotiable, print & advertising budgets, entertainment attorneys, return on investment.

FILMMAKER'S GAMEPLAN: Producing & selling yoru first feature profitably. Developing an idea, securing the script, organizing the shoot, commence marketing, etc, etc.

FILM SCHEDULING: preparing a production board.

Meanwhile, Dov. S-S Simens has made his course available on DVD, which might of course be even much better than the audio casette version:

Hollywood Film School Course - Screenwriting Producing Directing Editing Budgeting Distributing A-z

If you're going into filmmaking or looking for filmmaking courses to get yourself on the road to work as a professional Hollywood filmmaker, but you have absolutely no idea where to start, I could definitely recommend Dov S-S Simens' courses on the subject.

And to the sceptics, yes I would say one can be taught to have a thorough grasp of the filmmaking industry in only two days. 

Some information about Dov S-S Simens, founder of his Hollywood Film Institute, from the packaging of the course:

Mr. Simens, an award-winning filmmaker and feature film producer is hailed as the movie industry's leading film instructor and is considered the "guru of the Low-Budget" and "Champion of the Independent Movement". Dov has authored the books, "PRODUCING BY THE NUMBERS" and "THE MONEY POWER DIRECTORY".

By now he might have more credentials than that.