One question that many aspiring filmmakers always ask is, “Should I go to film school?” This is a difficult question to answer as both paths have their advantages and disadvantages. Not to mention that everyone is different in terms of how they like to learn and work.
This post is designed to lay out both the Pros and Cons of attending Film School so that you can weigh the options and decide which path is right for you. Note: In this post, we are referring to Film School as going to a traditional 4 year college and not a 2 year film specific college.
1. You Get A Diploma – Everyone know that filmmaking is not the most consistent/reliable real world job. One day you might be working on the set of Transformers and the next you can’t find work for 3 months! It’s a tough job but by going to Film School you will at the very least receive a diploma which can land you that secure job if things don’t work out or you experience a dry spell. Note: If you are young, this will also make your parents feel better should they have doubts about your filmmaking career.
2. Access To Free Equipment – In case you haven’t noticed, everything in film is EXPENSIVE. Seriously if film rental houses sold water bottles they would cost $50 each. Fortunately, Film Schools are filled with tons of awesome equipment from cameras, to dollies, to microphones, to cranes, and MORE! So if you have an idea for a film but can’t afford the equipment, it might benefit you to enroll in a Film School so you can use their HUGE collection of toys for FREE!
3. Networking and Meeting People – Remember the Film Business is a People Business, and the relationships you make in Film School will be more valuable than any amazing directing skills you may have. For Example, Brett Ratner(director of Money Talks, Rush Hour, X-Men 3) actually got his start in the film business because his old college roommate at NYU turned out to be Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records, and when Russell needed someone to direct his rap music videos he decided to hit up Brett. This relationship also led to Brett directing his first feature MONEY TALKS, when the director dropped out Russell recommended Brett for the job. So remember the relationships you make in film school can lead to great things in the future.
4. Experienced Staff – Experience is knowledge, and at Film School you will get seasoned staff that has already been through the grinder of the film business with both successes and failures. Whether they’ve made it or not, their knowledge will help you learn and grow as a filmmaker, and hopefully avoid some of the headaches and pitfalls that they experienced. Most staff members are also well connected to people in the business and are more than willing to help you out if they feel you are dedicated and passionate about what you are doing.
5. Learn From Others – When you attend Film School you are constantly surrounded by influential and talented people and being in this environment you just can’t help but learn and absorb useful filmmaking tips and tricks from others. As a Film School graduate myself, some of the most helpful tips I learned were from talking with other filmmakers, asking them questions, or stealing techniques that I saw them use on the set of their films.
6. Broaden Your Knowledge Of Film – Being in Film School is not all about making movies, it’s about learning and developing a passion for Film and its history. Film School forces you to watch all sorts of films that you never thought you would see and teaches you to not just watch films but learn from them, study them so that you can perfect your craft. The broader and more knowledgeable your history of film is the more you have to draw from when you start making your own film allowing you to make a richer, deeper, and possibly better movie.
7. Safe Environment To Fail In – Isn’t it nice to make a film and not have all the pressures of messing it up? Of Course it is! Well Film School is the perfect place to fail, because from my experience you learn more from your failures than you do your successes. Also, you get to have your films critiqued by other filmmakers. This may seem scary but it is actually great because they will not sugar coat their opinions and you can get some valuable feedback which will help you become a better filmmaker in the long run.
1. Expensive – Probably the biggest negative about Film School is that it cost a lot of money, and the money that you do spend on it could be put into making your own film. Also, you are not just paying for Film classes but you are also spending money on other non-film related classes that take up more of you filmmaking time!
2. Learn From Books – Half of Film School, or College for that matter, is getting you to pick up a book at READ IT. In terms of technical skills and how to actually make a movie you could probably learn everything you need to know from various film books ( some of which you can find here – Top 10 Film Books). You could also just learn what books the film classes are teaching, buy those books and read them on your own time.
3. Don’t Need A Diploma To Make A Film – On the flip side of having a diploma at the end of Film School, you don’t actually need to have a college degree to make films. No one is ever going to be on set saying, “Excuse me but I need to see your diploma” or “What was your grade point average in college” because filmmaking is not about grades it’s about getting the job done, telling a story, and hopefully making a good movie when it’s all said and done.
4. Could Be Making Your Film – Instead of going to Film School, you could just start making your own film! With the money you would spend on Film School you could probably make one or two low-budget films. In my opinion you would end up learning a lot more than you would in class too, because while Film School is great for the technical side of filmmaking it rarely briefs you on how to get money, gather a cast and crew, or how to find distribution for your film.
So what do you think about Film School? Did you go or Not go? What are some Advantages and Disadvantages? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about going to Film School.
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