21st Century Film Student




"Honestly and thoughtfully geared towards helping students ensure that a $50K-200K investment delivers the maximum possible return.

Every film student should be hanging onto this book from the day they first consider film school to the day they graduate.

- Sebastien de Castell

Former Director of Program Development, Vancouver Film School

"John Pozer taught me much of what I know about film, and reading PRIMER is like taking his class all over again.

It's simple, insightful, and to-the-point. It offers good advice without being needlessly prescriptive. Best of all, it gives you the chance to reflect before you take the plunge.

Nobody can tell you if film school is right for you, but Pozer's insight can guide you to the right place to make that call.

- Tony Zhou

Co-Writer/Director/Editor: Every Frame a Painting

"Pozer’s book, PRIMER, is critical reading for anyone considering attending a film school. As a film teacher in a public high school, I have seen too many students commit to a very expensive education without fully preparing to make the most of it.

PRIMER breaks down every possible aspect of attending film school and provides valuable insights into how to squeeze the most out of an intensive and competitive educational process.

This book is the best money any future film student (or parent of a film student!) could possibly spend. There are numerous suggestions and exercises specifically designed to ensure the student understands what they can do to be ready to go on Day 1 of their film school career.

I can only beg parents and future film students to get this book as early as possible — grade 10 even — and dig in right away — it will make a huge difference. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!"

Robert French

Film Teacher, Brookswood Secondary School

Producer: The Hamster Cage, See Grace Fly; Screenwriter: Noroc


PRIMER is a clear, concise, no nonsense guide for anyone going to film school. Every student will jump-start their education with these proven strategies, helpful tips and creative exercises used by writers, directors and filmmakers around the world.


...and PRIMER provides a practical approach for scholastic achievement. No matter which school you attend or what kind of films you want to make, you'll find time-tested advice on how to build your voice, accomplish your best work, and make the most out of your creative time and efforts.

Award-winning filmmaker and educator John Pozer draws on 30+ years of experience to inspire a new generation of filmmakers and empower 21st century film students before they go to film school or make their next film.



  • Choosing the Right School
  • First Day Essentials
  • Dodging Common Pitfalls
  • Advance Schedule Strategies
  • Story Ideas Generator
  • Building Your Best Portfolio
  • 30-minute Story Drill
  • Establishing Your Brand


            There are many filmmakers throughout history who set ambitious goals for their student productions. Two notable examples are George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, trailblazers and legends, both at school and in their professional careers. While enrolled at university, they made memorable films at the opposite ends of the filmmaking spectrum: Lucas did a 60 second short and Coppola finished a 97 minute feature.

            Lucas went to the University of Southern California (USC) but not to study film, initially. He discovered his interest in filmmaking through an animation course. The term project required students to shoot one-minute of film, 1440 frames, using the school animation equipment. This was an exercise to demonstrate that they understood the camera and frame-by-frame creation of movement.

            While others were happy to do pencil drawings of a bouncing ball, Lucas created a photo montage from magazine clippings with a vision beyond the silent frames. His film told a story using a stylized collage of images. He later added sound, music and narration.

            Lucas worked within the guidelines and constraints of the assignment but took a completely original and creative approach. His film was experimental, but narrative; abstract, yet grounded in the zeitgeist of the 1960s. It engaged the audience and made them feel something.

            The difference between George Lucas and every other student is that his class assignment went to festivals around the world. It even has a Wikipedia page: Look at Life (1965).

            Coppola, on the other hand, won a playwriting scholarship while he was pursuing a major in theatre arts at college. He graduated, gained experience in the professional film business, and went back to school enrolling at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) graduate film program. He set out to do something no one else had done before: shoot a feature film for his thesis project.

            You’re a Big Boy Now (1966) got a theatrical release, some critical acclaim and put Coppola on the radar as a director.

            Lucas and Coppola set their own standards. They approached their assignments with an eye to creating something bold, something different. They demonstrated their inventive spirit in school and went on to break new ground as pioneers in the film industry.



“A must read for both students of film and amateur filmmakers. The insightful tips and practical examples given will help filmmakers make informed decisions in both their careers and artistic endeavors.”
- Christopher Cowden, Filmmaker & Educator

"This is the book every aspiring film student should read, a true eye opener about what to expect when going to film school and the nature of the industry they're hoping to become a part of. Also a great read for recent graduates or filmmakers in their path to professional success, this book will help you re-evaluate what you've learned and motivate you to create"
- Olga Maldonado, Voice Actor.

"If you are a prospective Film Student, or the parent of one, you both want to read this book. I wish I had."
- Oscar Pietri, Executive Editor, Vancouver Film School Alumni 2012/FP142

Have a question about film education? Interested in having John for a speaking engagement?

graphic design by Matthew Gagnon