Reel Education: 50 Free Open Courses for Movie Lovers

Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker, or just a major fan, you’ll be pleased to find out that there are a number of open courses available to movie lovers. These courses are offered by top universities, and cover topics including film culture, visual arts, and video production. Read on to learn more about them, and get access to the courses.

Concepts & Philosophy

These courses will help you lay the foundation for creating and appreciating fine movies.

  1. Studying the Arts and Humanities: Follow this course to get an introduction to the arts and humanities through a series of exercises. [The Open University]
  2. Philosophy of Film: This course offers a philosophical analysis of film art. [MIT]
  3. Feeling and Imagination in Art, Science, and Technology: Follow this seminary on creativity to learn about the development process and more. [MIT]
  4. Philosophy in Film and Other Media: This course will teach you about thematic issues of philosophical importance. [MIT]
  5. Introduction to Art History: Follow this course to see art throughout history and how it has developed and functioned. [University of Utah]
  6. Shakespeare, Film and Media: This course takes a look at the history and use of Shakespeare on film. [MIT]
  7. Art of Color: Understand the way colors work through this course that discusses color history, interactions, and psychology. [MIT]
  8. Introduction to the Visual Arts: This class explores video, sculpture, and public spaces in visual arts, offering a look at visual langage and concepts in artistic practice. [MIT]
  9. Introduction to Media Studies: Become a more literate and critical consumer and producer of media culture through this course. [MIT]
  10. Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics: Learn about the thinking behind making things beautiful. [Minnesota State University]
  11. Art and Understanding: Follow this seminar to get answers to the question, "what is art?" [Columbia]
  12. Making sense of the arts: With this overview course, you’ll get an introduction to life as an artist. [The Open University]
  13. BSAD Foundations in the Visual Arts: Learn about visual art and artistic development in this course. [MIT]

Personal Development

Check out these college courses that will help you better develop yourself as a filmmaker.

  1. Pathway to Dreams: Use this course to establish your goals, direction, and voice as an artist. [Connexions]
  2. Projects in the Visual Arts: Personal Narrative: This course requires you to complete video exercises and screenings to develop your skills and art. [MIT]
  3. Interrogative Design Workshop: In this workshop, you’ll learn how to be a fearless speaker in your art. [MIT]
  4. Creativity and Mental Illness: Professor Raj Persaud discusses the popular occurance of both psychological dysfunction and extreme ability in the arts. [Gresham College]


With these courses, you’ll learn the essentials for movie criticism.

  1. Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography, and Film: If you’re interested in becoming a movie critic, this course is a great place to start. [MIT]
  2. The Origins of Modern Criticism: Follow this e-seminar to learn about reviews of films and other media as they relate to democratic culture. [Columbia]


Learn about your voice as a storyteller through these courses.

  1. Comedy: This course offers a look at comedy in different media from a variety of authors and creators. [MIT]
  2. Film as Visual and Literary Mythmaking: Follow this course to learn how film and literature can create myths. [MIT]
  3. Forms of Western Narrative: Learn about Western storytelling in various media through this course. [MIT]


These courses will help you get a better understanding of cinema.

  1. Special Topics in Cinematic Storytelling: In this seminar, you’ll see a variety of approaches to cinematic storytelling. [MIT]
  2. The Film Experience: Check out this course to get an introduction to narrative film. [MIT]
  3. Studies in Film: In this course, you’ll find an investigation of the relationship between film and literature. [MIT]
  4. Topics in the Avant-Garde in Literature and Cinema: Follow this course to get an understanding of the avant-garde. [MIT]
  5. A Conversation with Filmmaker Mira Nair: Watch these videos of Mira Nair to learn about creating films, and the concepts behind them. [Harvard]

Creation & Video Production

Learn the important details and concepts behind actually creating films.

  1. Documenting Culture: Understand the how and why of capturing everyday life on film by studying this course. [MIT]
  2. Media Art: In this course, you’ll learn about time-based art practices, and gain production experience. [Capilano University]
  3. Introduction to Video: In this course, you’ll learn about video by completing assignments that will teach you about video capture and editing. [MIT]
  4. Digital Video: An Introduction: Follow this e-seminar with filmmaker Michael Rubin to create a personal video project. [Columbia]
  5. Introduction to Photography and Related Media: In this course, you’ll get instruction on the fundamentals of photography, artistic exploration, techniques, and more. [MIT]
  6. Holographic Imaging: Check out this lab course to learn the ins and outs of holography. [MIT]
  7. Blender 3D Design: Follow this course to get an understanding of how to use Blender software to create 3-D objects, animation, and more. [Tufts]
  8. Media Art II: This course is a continuation of Capilano’s Media Art, offering experience in imaging, public art, and more. [Capilano University]
  9. Producing Films for Social Change: Get a good look into the creative and production process behind films that spark social change and discourse. [Tufts University]
  10. Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World: This e-seminar with Oscar-winning director Milos Forman will provide you with education on scriptwriting, casting, and more. [Columbia]


Follow these courses to learn about scenery and design.

  1. Design for the Theater: Scenery: Learn more about scenic designs in theory, history, and current practice. [MIT]
  2. Symmetry: Follow this course to learn more about concepts in symmetry, including group theory, axioms, and the four properties. [The Open University]

Industry & Culture

With these courses, you’ll gain a better understanding of the culture and industry of movies.

  1. Introduction to Spanish Culture: Examine Spanish culture in this course through the country’s art, literature, film, and more. [MIT]
  2. Do Movies Have a Future?: Take a look into the future of the film industry through this lecture. [Princeton]
  3. German Culture, Media, and Society: Explore the culture of Germany through the country’s short films and radio plays, as well as learn about trends and topics in media including film. [MIT]
  4. Media in Cultural Context: Consider the international trade of video and television with this course. [MIT]
  5. Experiences in Interactive Art: Learn about interactive digital art, and creating a conversation with your audience. [MIT]
  6. Topics in Indian Popular Culture: In this course, you’ll learn about Bombay cinema, "masala movies," and more. [MIT]
  7. Modern Art and Mass Culture: Get an introduction to modern art in this course. [MIT]
  8. Introduction to Anthropology: Through this course, you’ll gain an understanding of cultural anthropology. [MIT]
  9. Japanese Literature and Cinema: Learn more about the culture and films of Japan through this course. [MIT]
  10. Visualizing Cultures: This course will ask you to look at and create graphics from different cultures. [MIT]
  11. Studio Seminar in Public Art: Check out this course to learn more about creating projects for public spaces. [MIT]
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