The MovieMaker Institute

The MovieMaker Institute (MMI) provides regular classes, webinars, and special programs from industry leading experts to equip students, veterans, and aficionados alike with the skills and tools necessary to become a successful moviemaker. Learn how to write, direct, shoot, edit, produce, distribute, finance, and make a profit from your very first feature.

Read the following recap of the MMI hosted Dov Simens’ 2-Day Film School from Portland, Oregon.


I want you to think back for a minute, to when you first fell in love with movies…to when you were first gripped by the romance of film as art. Now take that moment, wad it up, throw it away, and forget about it. Please understand that no one cares. Because if you’re spending two days with Dov Simens, that’s where you have to start.

Portland, OR played host to renowned instructor Dov Simens in February 2015. — at The Clinton Street Theater.

The Clinton Street Theater in Portland, OR played host to renowned instructor Dov Simens in February 2015

“This is a business,” Simens yells. Five minutes into Day One and Dov Simens is shouting at the 50 or so people at Portland, Oregon’s Clinton Theater, most of whom paid $175 to attend his 2-Day Film School. “It’s show business,” says Simens. “Not show art. BUSINESS!”

Dov Simens has forgotten more about Hollywood deal-making than most of us will ever know, and bills himself as “The #1 Film Instructor in the World.” He has a lifetime of experience to draw on, but it’s his personality that gives him the authority to challenge his audience. He’s caustic and ultra pragmatic, and if you want to get really inspired to make a movie, he’s exactly the guy you want to see.

“He’s caustic and ultra pragmatic, and if you want to get really inspired to make a movie, he’s exactly the guy you want to see.” Simens’ 2-day Film School is packed with useful information. For example, do you know what an ideal first film project looks like, and why? And what checks to write and why if you have a $20K budget, a $50-$70K budget, or a $100K budget? How many cameras do you get and what kind? How many pages per day to schedule for? These are all things I now know.

Day One is a blur. We cover the Hollywood screenwriting formula, and then dive straight into casting. Another hour or so and I have a shooting schedule that offers all the coverage I need for my first feature. I feel like Neo, in The Matrix, only instead of “I know Kung Fu,” it’s, “I know how to make a million-dollar feature for $200K.”

Dov Teaching

Instructor Dov Simens takes aspiring producers through the basics of making their first feature film at his 2-Day Film School

On Day Two we spend a couple of hours in fantasy land. What if we had a million in cash? Two to three mil? Twenty mil? Numbers lose all meaning. A hundred thou here, twenty thou… we’re so well-funded we don’t need to finish the words. We’re dropping hundred dollar bills like candy wrappers. Then suddenly we’re in festivals. Film markets. Places we want to be but won’t because we’re not marketable.

After lunch, we learn how to raise money for our films. We spend two to three hours on this, but what it boils down to is: 1) form a company, 2) cold call wealthy individuals (Dov strongly suggests dentists) and 3) offer a private placement. Got it? Funny thing is, it actually could work—but clearly you have to have the time and energy to make it happen. Simens will rip the romance right out of you and replace it with a roadmap for how to make a film that might launch your career. Suck it up. Breaking into the film industry is hard, so if you can’t handle Dov in his workshop, you may as well bake pies for a living.

Oregon Motion Picture Association executive director Tom McFadden, instructor Dov Simens, and MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Rhys at the Dov Simens' 2-Day Film School in Portland, OR. — at Clinton Street Theater.

Oregon Motion Picture Association executive director Tom McFadden, instructor Dov Simens, and MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Rhys at the Dov Simens’ 2-Day Film School in Portland, OR

Take a couple of days and follow Dov down the road to successful moviemaking. He has just the map you’ve been looking for.

— Jack Norton (Portland, OR)


We’d like to thank our Event Sponsors. The Doug Fir Restaurant hosted a Saturday night networking event for our attendees, the Hotel DeLuxe provided excellent lodging for Dov during his time in Portland, and K&F Coffee provided the most important thing a film crew needs in order to function – delicious, hot coffee. Of course, we couldn’t have put on the event without the generosity of our venue, the Clinton Street Theater.

We’d also like to thank our Outreach Affiliates – we’ve been so welcomed by the Portland film community, and we look forward to strengthening those connections.

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