Lily Gladstone’s Educational YouTube Show Was Better Than Film School

PBS / YouTube (via Screenshot)
PBS / YouTube (via Screenshot)

Lily Gladstone is getting a lot of notice for her breathtaking performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, earning praise that could land her a well-deserved Oscar nomination. But a handful of us first became a fan of the actress from something completely different—YouTube.

Before Gladstone became a critical darling, she taught us all about filmmaking basics on Crash Course, where she taught a special filmmaking session to online audiences in 2017. Now that she’s back in the news, it’s a good time to revisit these fun vids. Who wouldn’t want to learn about producing basics from a star of the latest Martin Scorsese flick? Clearly, Gladstone knows what she’s talking about.

For those who are unfamiliar with Crash Course, a little background: Writers and content creators John and Hank Green began the instructional YouTube channel in 2011 to teach folks poking around the internet about various subjects. Starring a rotation of new guest hosts, Crash Course offers “classes” on history, science, the arts, and more. I watched about 400 hours of Crash Course in preparation for the AP U.S. History exam around a decade ago, and it was a huge help. It’s like MasterClass, but cheaper and more interesting.

Alongside Gladstone’s 15-week film production series, Crash Course uploaded other courses to its channel, including Film History with videographer Craig Benzine and Film Criticism with YouTuber Michael Aranda. But Gladstone was already the biggest name among the crew, having recently starred in Certain Women and Winter in the Blood.

While I’m glad she focused on her acting career, Gladstone’s PBS-produced Crash Course videos are better than film school—no joke. When I was a college student attempting to earn a minor in film producing while battling lackluster professors, Gladstone often came to my rescue. I regularly turned to her easy-to-understand, comprehensive explainers on how the film industry works to fill in the gaps my classes left behind. I passed more than a few finals thanks to her clips.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Is Scorsese’s Movie Miracle

I recall thinking at the time, while watching her videos, “This woman deserves more money than my profs, who can’t be bothered to teach anything important.” (Seriously—all we did was read news clips and watch old movies from the Golden Age. Nothing was ever actually taught.) Now, I’m happy to see that not only is she starring in the one movie that nearly beat Taylor Swift at the box office, but also that she’s in talks for an Oscar.

Among the episodes in Gladstone’s video course were lessons on sound production, screenplay writing, pitching to studios, special effects, and even “To Film School or Not to Film School.” Although most of my studies were in journalism, perhaps I should’ve watched this episode before deciding on my producing minor.

Most of the comments on Gladstone’s videos are from six years ago, when the episodes first premiered. But a handful are from the more recent months: “Best of luck to Lily in this years Oscar race!” a post from three weeks ago reads on her intro video. “Knew I had seen her somewhere before, it was HERE!”

Just four years later, right after I had graduated from college, Gladstone was cast in Killers of the Flower Moon. I have her to thank for getting me through those tough producing classes, so without a doubt, I’ll be rooting for her as the Oscars season rolls into 2024.

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