February 4, 2013

Should You Go to Film School? A Conversation with Ryan E. Walters

This is a guest post by Cinematographer Ryan E. Walters.

With the rise of popularity and accessibility of film schools since the 1960's & 1970's, aspiring film professionals have had the difficult task of choosing where to begin their career path. Is it best to go to school to get formal training, or jump right in and start working? Today with the plethora of free online resources, it makes the choice of formal schooling less appealing. But what is the right choice, and the best way to prepare yourself for a career in the film industry? Let's take a look at what you have to gain, and what you have to lose by following either path.

Why You Should Go To Film School

The film programs offered at many of the prestigious film schools like AFIUSC, or BFA, offer amazing programs and a wealth of knowledge that cannot be found elsewhere. Not only are a lot of their graduates in the top echelons of the film industry, but many of their graduates give back by making themselves available to the current students. Where else can you rub shoulders with, and learn directly from, some of the greats in our field? By skipping out on going to film school, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn from, and more importantly, network with, the elite in our field.

Film School offers you life experience that is very hard to replicate outside of this unique environment. In any college, or post-graduate school, you are forced to rub shoulders with people from all walks of life. You have to interact daily with people who may not share the same viewpoints, tastes, or philosophies. It is through these interactions that you are able to get a broader perspective on the world around you, which is a critical part of good storytelling. Film School also gives you the unique ability to learn and work in all of the different aspects of filmmaking. Your work then gets critically evaluated by your peers, as well as by experienced professors. Where else can you get this kind of necessary, honest feedback without having to make your first feeble attempts at filmmaking public to the entire world?

By enrolling in Film School, you are ensuring that you will learn from the best and create films that will allow you to grow as an artist. You will develop your network of fellow filmmakers from which to pull from as you set out on your first projects. I don't know of any quicker way to make your dreams a reality, than by attending one of these top-tier film schools. These schools are the closest thing to a shortcut to a career path in the industry. (But there are no real shortcuts ...)

Why Film Schools Are Not The Answer

Let's take a look at the reality of the numbers. AFI graduates roughly 140 students from their program every year, and USC about 850. While these programs offer you the best education money can afford, that is precisely the problem. Tuition alone at these schools runs about $40,000 per year, and that doesn't cover books, thesis expenses, living expenses, etc. By the time you complete their programs you will have amassed anywhere from $80,000-$160,000 in school loans. And let's say you are lucky enough to get a 3% interest rate. When you graduate, depending on your loan, you could have monthly payments ranging from $500 - $1,800.

Film schools tout the successes of their graduates, however I do not see 1,000 new Wally Pfisters or Terrence Malicks breaking out every year. And while having a degree from one of these universities is helpful, the reality is that the vast majority of graduates will start out in the field like everyone else, as a production assistant (PA). This is a performance based industry and no one really cares where you got your schooling, but they do care about your work. So it is highly unlikely that the day after you graduate, you'll step onto a major feature film as a director or cinematographer. There is no shame in starting out as a PA. I started out doing an internship at a local production house as an office PA. So what does a PA make? $28,000 a year, or about $2,300 per month, if you are lucky. But even this number is high. When you first start out working as a freelancer, work will not be consistent. At least not until you build your network of referrals. A more realistic number would be around $15,000, or $1,250 per month. At these income levels, it is easy to see that you are going to need to figure out a way to make more money in order to live and pay your school bills. Oh, and don't count on living in LA without roommates either, as the average cost of a one bedroom apartment is$1,350 per month. I'm not saying that it can't be done. It can. However, it isn't going to be as easy as the school's literature and the hype of Hollywood may be leading you to believe.

Furthermore, with access to high-speed internet, and the wealth of knowledge published in many filmmaking books, coupled with the real life hands-on production experience offered by many production companies, there is no reason why you can't create a more affordable and sustainable learning environment for yourself. Imagine what you could do if you took that same $160k and used it to subsidize your career as you are first starting out? You could put $10,000 towards equipment that you could practice with, $10,000 toward books & training courses and then still have $140,000 to cover your living expenses for the next 4.5 years if you decided to pay yourself $30,000 a year.

Don't be fooled by this option either. Skipping the film school path is not without its pitfalls and its own struggles. If you choose this path, you are going to have to be highly motivated to make your career happen. You will have to push yourself to learn, experiment, fail, pick yourself up, and continue on even when things are tough. People in this industry like to work with people they know and trust. Breaking into these circles will be difficult, and it will take time. There is no way around that. But if you prove yourself, and you are a hard worker, you'll find that your referral network will continue to grow and work will become more steady. Skipping film school will also mean that you will not have access to the people who have gone before you. So do what you can to intern, to work under, or with the people in your area who have been working in the field for a long time, and whose work you admire. This is the fastest way to increase your practical knowledge, and turn your online / book reading into meaningful experience.

So Which Should You Choose?

Both paths have huge positives as well as huge potential negatives. A clear-cut, simple answer for everyone doesn't exist. If you are someone who needs that external pressure of deadlines, and school assignments in order to help you grow, then maybe film school is the right choice for you. Many community colleges are offering film programs of their own these days. And while they are not as prestigious as AFI, or USC, they may allow you to actually afford to work in the industry after your graduate.

If you are highly motivated, self-driven, and willing to find creative solutions to fill in the gaps you will have through self-education (like critical peer & professor evaluation of your work), then maybe you can forgo the traditional film school approach. There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet and in many books that will help you reach your goals. Next week, I'll be offering a detailed list of resources, and educational material that I have found helpful over the years. So be sure to check back. :)

What Path Did I Take?

I tend to live an unconventional life. I didn't take either path, or rather I took both. In high school I took the few media classes that existed at the time. And I also shot projects with my friends on old VHS & Hi-8 cameras. In college, I got my undergraduate in a completely unrelated field: Bible, Theology, & Youth Ministry. Then I did an internship as an office PA at a local production company. All the while I was a veracious reader of every filmmaking book I could get my hands on. It was at about this time that the internet began to take off, and I was able to develop more connections with people in my area and begin to grow my network of referrals. My thirst for knowledge and further training lead me to multiple classes and go to conferences in the community, which finally culminated in taking classes at the Art Institue of Portland. Because I already had an undergraduate degree, I wasn't interested in another expensive piece of paper, so I only enrolled in the classes I was interested in taking. To this day, my appetite for learning has never been quenched. I continue to read all that I can, and when I'm not working on a paying gig, I experiment, conduct tests, and shoot projects with my friends that push me and my craft.

In the end, no one can tell you what is the correct path for you. You can only find and create that path by knowing yourself, and honestly evaluating the resources around you. Only then can you make an informed choice as to whether you should go to film school, avoid it, or figure out an alternative path like I did.

What has your path been? Did you go to film school or not? Was it helpful, or do you wish you would have chosen differently? Are there any bits of wisdom you want to share that come form your own experience?

This post originally appeared on Ryan’s Blog.

[on-set images courtesy of River Valley, a Full Sail University Student Film]


Ryan E. Walters is an award-winning Oregon-based cinematographer. His work has allowed him the opportunity to travel worldwide in the pursuit of telling stories that are visually compelling. His experience includes feature films, documentaries, commercials, and shooting for Comcast, TLC, Oxygen, and the Discovery Channel.

Your Comment

103 Comments

I enjoyed most of my MFA degree in film. Film school gave me a chance to develop as an artist without the pressures of the commercial world. It also allowed me to learn different craft and see which ones I preferred, again away from the working world. I went to a relatively inexpensive film school (SFSU) and I'm very grateful to have manageable student loan payments now. I think getting over $150K in debt for a film education is slightly crazy. I didn't make loads of industry connections but I have gone on to paid industry work, making my own shorts, and teaching others.

February 4, 2013

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sahra

Awesome. :) Sounds like you got the best of both worlds. Nicely done. :)

February 4, 2013

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This was a great read at 7am. Woke me right up to start writing! I went to Columbia College for film for a semester. Then had to drop out due to my financial issues. Sadly, I couldn't afford to go but for the past two years I have been helping out on all levels with Columbia's high end productions due to the friends I made that semester! I'm finishing my core credits at community college but still fighting. This weekend I entered my first film festival and won Grand Prize. The last couple years of struggle has taught me a whole lot and my fight would not be this strong if it was an annoying assignment. I do wish to transfer to film school such as Tribeca Flashpoint because I'm afraid if I go to LA I won't be given a shot. Plus I still got films to make here for now:
http://vimeo.com/m/57830715

February 4, 2013

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Julian Terry

Nice! Tribeca has a great facility. (At least from what I saw when I visited there last year.) That is a smart move to finish your core classes at a community college. Math is math, no sense in paying extra to be taught it at an art school. :)

Keep at it. The struggles you face are just a part of the life and business. I wish I could say it is all smooth sailing, but it isn't. But I can say that it has been worth it, at least for me. :)

February 4, 2013

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In my opinion, if you want to LEARN more about your craft, then by all means, do what you need to do. Whether that means going to film school or learning it on your own, whatever it takes just get it done.
But if you're only going to school because of some misguided notion that it will ensure you a job, then you're in for a rude awakening.

My philosophy with any school of higher learning (film school or otherwise) is that unless you're in a profession that specifically requires the completion of a course and/or degree (doctor, scientist, lawyer, etc) people should only go to school for their EDUCATION, not for a piece of a paper to validate themselves to other people. I've met so many people who've gone to college pursuing a degree in some random field, not because they wanted to pursue a job in that field, but simply because they wanted the satisfaction of graduating with something under their name.

February 4, 2013

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Jeffrey

Great points Jeffrey! :)

February 4, 2013

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This again?

Yes filmschools are worth it, the question Americans should really ask themselfs is why do they pay so much since how much it costs is always the greatest con when asking the question "are film schools worth it".
In Europe 4000€ a year in a private school is already considered expensive yet you guys in northern america pay around 40000$ a year.

You should fight for a cheaper but better education, we can do it, why can't you?

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

So since "worth" is ultimately tied to money, you're saying if you lived here (in the USA), it would NOT be worth it.

February 4, 2013

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Jeffrey

Well if you put it that way then I really can't refute that logic, still don't understand why college studies are so expensive in northern america though. It's cheaper for US students to come study in Europe ironically.

Film schools allow you to create new work contacts not only with the next generation of filmmakers but veterans in several industries, it allows you to gain experience with several projects, experience being what I believe to be most important, it will also share with you perspectives from several people on how to do things, allowing you to evolve based on them or by rejecting those views after understanding them but at the end of the day It will not get you a job. Filmschool is for someone with little to no experience and without knowing anyone in the industry to help, a good way to start, just not for 40000$ a year, for that much you can buy gear, participate in masterclasses and workshops, pay for the expenses an internship with no pay has in big productions.

It's ironic that the USA has the most successful cinema industry yet the filmschools require such ridiculous payment. But then again from what I hear it's not only in filmschools that you pay so much.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

AFAIK, the reason why education (and health care for that matter) is so expensive in the USA is probably a direct result of the way Americans mistrust government so much that their tax base is completely different. Europeans pay more tax per liter gasoline than Americans pay per gallon and income and sales taxes are far higher (and the more you make the less you pay).

February 4, 2013

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Thank you, that is interesting information. So, if I understand this correctly, one could say that the american citizens are the root of the problem? That's almost like a paradox.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

I agree with this in general, but "the more you make the less you pay" is incorrect. If you're talking about proportion of income then you are right in some cases, but ultimately most wealthy people are paying far more than the average citizen. If you make 50 times what someone else makes and they pay (for example) 25% income tax then you would need to pay less than 0.5% income tax to be paying less than them. Nobody, apart from people who are just evading taxes altogether, is paying that low a percentage of their income. Wealthy people actually pay most of the taxes in the United States with the top 1% of tax payers paying over one third of the countries' total tax dollars and the top 50% of tax payers covering virtually all of the nation's tax dollars.

I mean, I'm personally for a lot of social and fiscal reform in the states that would be considered left-leaning, but we need to stop just straight up lying about the facts. Rich people do pay most of the taxes.

At any rate, I enjoyed my experience in film school and think that I learned a lot, but there's no replacement for actual on set experience. You need both.

February 11, 2013

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Nick Wernham

I also think there is a lot to learn from European cinema as well. Sure wish there was more content / resources available online, or in books from European filmmakers, and schools. :) (The American way, is only one option, in my opinion.) :)

February 4, 2013

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Another great post. Ryan, yup totally agree. I think there is a lot to learn from the European way. Also as many people mentioned attending film school in Europe is much cheaper. As a matter of fact I just got accepted to the Edinburgh College of Art (MA in Directing). They mainly focus on documentary. However, down the road I want to focus on narrative. Do you think it will make much of a difference in the real world what the focus of my program was if I want to do narrative?

February 5, 2013

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David,

Congrats! That sounds like a great opportunity. :) I wish you the best of luck in the program. :)

In regards to your question about the emphasis of your degree, no it will not matter in the real world. No one has EVER asked me about my degree. What they want to see is my reel, and my credits. If you can perform and have a good attitude / work ethic it will take you where you want to go. :)

The only word of caution I would give you is that since your focus will be on documentaries in school, you will naturally be surrounded by other people focused on docs as well. That will mean that your primary community will not be focused on narrative work. Which in turn means that your referral base, and your network will be primarilary doc driven. So what you will have to to, is to push yourself to develop a network outside that community where you can develop a referal base of narrative driven work. Doc work is a great place to start out though- as it teaches you a lot about stories, as well as about how to do a lot with a little. It is where Roger Deakins started, and he is one of my favorite cinematographers of all time. :)

February 5, 2013

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Well he has a point, 40000/ year you'd better have a great paying gig right after school to start paying off your debt. You obviously will learn a lot in school, make connections and all that stuff but would it be worth 100k and plus worth of tuition? You decide for yourself, in teh end of the day it all comes down to money, if you are wealthy and can spare this, do it, but if you live out of your weekly paycheck and are considering in getting a loan to go to filmschool , you should consider other options nowadays.

February 4, 2013

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Marcus

Ohh you dont need to go to school to make good connections, honestly, start putting good content in the web and the connections magically appear.

February 4, 2013

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Marcus

Agreed, but I still believe it to be a good way to start overall.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

"In Europe 4000€ a year in a private school is already considered expensive yet you guys in northern america pay around 40000$ a year."

40000 € for a year in Europe is very unlikely. My brother here in Germany is at one of the top business schools and he pays 10.000 € for a year. Another friend is at Regent's UK in London a private top university and he pays approx. 20.000 € a year.

February 4, 2013

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Ferederik O.

Yeah and Femis, the top french filmschool in Paris is also over 30000€ a year, your point? These so called "top" private schools will always be expensive, the difference from what I understand is that we europeans trust in the quality of our public education and in most cases it's actually the best, in the US however you seem to have this idea that only private schools are worth it, correct me if I'm wrong. Besides, the more expensive schools charge that much for master's degrees and upwards not for your simple bachelor's degree.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

La Femis is much cheaper: TUITION $517 for French citizens; $15,334 for foreigners

All I was saying was that the american fees are crazy, totally unimaginable here in Europe.

Here is a nice link about the 25 best film schools, la femis is on Rank 11.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/25-best-film-schools-rankings-215714

February 4, 2013

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Ferederik O.

My mistake, it's actually 30000 for the two year masters degree.
Exactly, those fees are crazy, it's actually cheaper for US citizens to come study in europe.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

My mistake, it's actually 30000 for the two year masters degree.
Exactly, those fees are crazy, it's cheaper for US citizens to come study here.

February 4, 2013

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Raphael Wood

LOL! How TRUE! I think there is a LOT we Americans can learn from you in the EU. :)

February 4, 2013

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If I had money for film school I'd be out making films right now instead. Being poor sucks :(

February 4, 2013

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Jake

That is where creativity and ingenuity step in. :) I agree that being poor sucks. But don't let that hold you back either. We all have to start out somewhere, no shame in that. :)

February 4, 2013

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DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!! I went to the school fo google... I learned everything I know about film making from this blog and lots of google searches. Here is the 1st video I made just from learning everything I know from the internet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqX1xHxKUcE&feature=youtube_gdata

I had taught myself everything within 6 months of making that video. From the storyboarding, camera op, lighting, editing, color correcting and animation. All from the internet...Film school is a waste of money!!! I have a degree in sound engineering and now I owe over 100k. I wasn't about to go to film school when all the info you need is online and FREE.

Please critique my video. I am learning and would love some constructive criticism.

February 4, 2013

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thebrentwilliams

For sure- there are LOTS of great resources out there on the net. :)

February 4, 2013

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Ok, but what do you know about New Wave cinema? How has American cinema changed since the 40's? The 60's? How did German expressionism influence film noir, and how has that affected comedy in the last ten years?

February 4, 2013

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Kenneth Merrill

Great points. And that is definitely a pit fall of only learning on the internet. It is easy for us to only watch what we like, as well as only current material.

However, I don't think that we NEED to go to school to acquire that knowledge either. I regularly watch old films from the 30's all the way through to current day, and I read as much as I can get my hands on. The public library system is a great resource where I am at. I can check out movies for free, and get just about any book on the history of cinema I can think of. (If not, they are pretty good at finding it.)

I do STRONGLY agree, that we need to learn from those that have come before us, and from people outside of the US. :)

February 5, 2013

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I totally agree with you. I am a huge advocate of simple learning by reading, and when it comes to book-learning you can easily learn as much or more from independent study than you can at an institution. I was simply replying to the ludicrous assertion that this fellow learned "everything" there is to know about video-production on the internet. Maybe he wasn't saying that, but unless he was poking fun at himself, he must have thought it was fairly significant. In my experience, though, nothing is more significant than our own history, and it's hard to imagine he learned all of that in 6 months.

February 12, 2013

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Kenneth Merrill

David Bordwell? What does he think?

February 4, 2013

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Kenneth Merrill

This is the same discussion I lead my subscribers through. It's an important one to have, to think critically about the topic.

February 4, 2013

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DIYFilmSchool.net

Thinking critically is key for sure. And what better place to evaluate things then at the beginning - with school. :)

February 4, 2013

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I'm an educated filmmaker. Been in film school and all that and have mixed emotions about it. What is great with film schools is that you learn all the basics there and you make friends with other filmmakers. The problem is if you have to take loans it might be hard to pay it back later... It is an investment but a high risk investment.

It's also true that you will not learn more in a school then on the field. And everything changes so quickly it's actually hard to keep up the high pace after school if you don't have job or funding for new projects.

After school I have started to work as a photographer instead. It has helped me enormously as a filmmaker because we now use similar solutions for photography and video. So it's important that you not only learn to make film. You have to know about other fields of arts and of course you also have to be able to work alone.
Today is the era of one man bands. Film schools don't teach you that. In the real world there might be no sound guy who help you out with the sound, so you have to record the sound yourself and both be a director and a cameraman at the same time. Not excactly what you learn in the school.

February 4, 2013

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Great point. Schools tend not to teach you those aspects of filmmaking. However, hopefully, if people pay attention during their audio class, they can at least apply what they learned about sound to running the audio gear when they are out by themselves.

I'm with you on the ambivalence between the two. Which is why I think there are a lot of good solutions that are a good fit for one person, but may not be a good fit for another. :)

February 4, 2013

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I finished art school (not film school) about 12 years ago and have been working in TV ever since. I did learn a lot in school and the best part was being around motivated peers who really pushed you, which I would imagine would be similar in film school. I focused on animation and illustration. The big problem was once I graduated I owed about $50K which is not much compared to what many owe now, but it put a damper on me financially for a while.

Back then, you could not really learn nearly as much on the internet as your could now. I watched Tom Antos' film tutorials on youtube and learned a ton. The guy is a pro and he gives you all the trick over 20 tutorials, certainly the knowledge equivalent of at least 1 year of film school, probably 2.

I think if your parents are pressuring you to get a college degree, you might as well get a degree in something you like. But the truth is, in Hollywood, it doesn't really give you a huge edge. I've realized that over my career that entertainment is a meritocracy. Sure there are people who are born into it, or people who are really good at smoozing, but really it comes down to your portfolio, how like able you are as a person and how hard you are willing to work.

From my experience, working in TV is no joke. 12 hour days are the average, often a lot longer. My friend once told me that he moved to L.A. because "It's one of the few places that you can make a good living without an education." That is true, but the trade off is you have to be willing to work you ass off and constantly strive to get better at your craft. Forget about 8 hour days, and there is always some hungry kid out to eat you for lunch. You have to constantly learn and stay on top of the game, which is not as easy when you get married, start having a family, etc.... and your time becomes limited.

So is film school worth it? Like I said, if you or your parents want the degree. Do it. But you can learn more by buying your own gear, learning on the internet and just working in production.

February 4, 2013

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Gene Sung

Gene- Many great points, thanks for sharing them. :) This industry is not for the faint of heart for sure. And I can support your assertion that TV days are 12 hours+, the shows that film here in town (Portland, Oregon) average at least 12 hours, many times 14 ...

February 4, 2013

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The good thing about school is the community.

February 4, 2013

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vinceGortho

For sure. :) And the ability to fail in a non-public (internet) environment. :)

February 4, 2013

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With the internet you can learn pretty much all technical aspects of filmmaking yourself within a few months. for free. the only thing film school offers is connections and networking. which you can also get yourself, by making short films and raising hype.

February 4, 2013

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john jeffreys

No one should be going to filmschool to learn filmmaking, filmschool is a guided yet very large investment in your reel.

February 4, 2013

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ryan

you dont really need to go to SCHOOL for that though, do you? Building your reel can be done by yourself and you can grow as an artist yourself through your own personal research, experiences, and such.

February 4, 2013

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john jeffreys

A reel worthy to be above the line of a budgeted feature or commercial I'm not so sure.

February 4, 2013

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ryan

Yep, lots of resources online for sure. :) The other half of the equation is getting real world experience. Books, and online learning (or school for that matter) are GREAT, but they are no substitute for experience- that is where I have learned the most- applying what I have learned. :)

February 4, 2013

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It depends on the individual situation. I'm in a film school on scholarship so I dont have to take out $100K+ loans. I have access to Fresnels, HMIs, dollys, silks, black flags, green screens, studio space, sound stages, microphones, and anything else you can think of. People who are interested in helping you with your film and do it for free. Access to almost any film you can think of and watch as much as you want. A theatre to project your films. Editing stations. After effects stations. I learned more on the internet and out working but that said when you take all those things you can learn elsewhere and apply them to the environment of a film school you have a really good chance to make something awesome. There is access to equipment and people you otherwise would have to pay a lot of money for.

Now if I had to take out huge loans I would never do it.

February 4, 2013

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carlos

But what happens when you graduate and you no longer have access to all of those things for free? Will you know what to do? I'm not sure if this is a good thing as unless you are a renowned name, these vital tools are never just flown to you.
A lot of this is about making your film happen. How you pulled strings here and there to get this piece of equipment and made a good impression on this guy so he let you borrow this piece of equipment for free. I think the struggle in gaining these project necessities is all a part of filmmaking.
Sort of the difference between a filmmaker and a director.

February 4, 2013

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Barret: Well it would be silly to not prepare for the future. On top of going to school I am shooting and establishing myself and my production company in the area. I dont think that school alone is enough and so I am already trying to put as much focus on a professional career and shooting while going to school. Now that I am familiar with the tools I have better insight into what to invest in for my company, what kind of lighting I like. On set work flow, how to direct actors. You take that knowledge and experience with you.

This is the bottom line with film school. You do nothing more than take classes and get grades you're bound fo failure. You take your future into your own hands and acknowledge that film school is just another tool or medium to gain experience you have a better chance.

In film school you get out what you put in. I would suspect that 0.01% of my peers will have a successful career because they think just because theyre in film schools they will make it in the industry. Not gonna happen

February 4, 2013

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carlos

That is AWESOME! Congrats!!! Take advantage of that as MUCH as you can while you are there. Nothing like being able to use all of those tools on a daily basis! :)

February 4, 2013

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I was excited when I saw the topic of this article but was hoping for more in depth analysis. Especially because I'm seriously considering going to film school. I think as a beginner its easy to say that Oh I don't need filmschool, I have my 5d, fs100, scarlet etc... But if you read just one article in American Cinematographer, it will become clear that the level of filmmaking where people are paying to watch your work is far more sophisicated than what you can teach yourself and requires traditional training.

Also at least in San Francisco, to get time off work and then find a group of professional actors and crew to donate time is very very difficult to schedule when budget is very limited. I can only afford to shoot something serious maybe every couple months. At least in film school everyone would be completely free and dedicated. When all that matters is the portfolio, film school offers three years of free time to develop it. Funding my own productions in a secondary market would never yeild as much in the same time. I'm sure the value of filming 15 to 25 shorts with a competant crew would cost upwards of 200,000. I feel if your next short would be good even without resources then you're probably ready, but if your next short will still not be good if you had the resources, then it may not be worth it.

I'm concerned because most MFA programs seem to cater to writer/directors, since I'm only really interested in cinematography, I'm not sure which programs have room for that. I saw on UCLAs site that they have two spots for cinematographers out of hundreds of applicants. Since I'm not supported at all by nepotism, I'm weary of my chances.

February 4, 2013

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ryan

If you believe in yourself, you'll get there. Positive affirmations. It works.

February 4, 2013

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I'm sorry that the article was disappointing to you. I'd be curious to know what a more in-depth analysis would look like to you? (I do want to know.) My own experience, and from watching the experience of friends and people I know, has shown that there are no clear answers- at least not that apply to everyone. It is a matter of figuring out your own path, the resources you have available to you, and then making a judgement call that best fits your situation.

As for film school being 3 - 4 years to develop your reel, and allowing you to be completely focused on it= I think that is idealizing the school environment. If you can manage to get loans, or have enough cash to pay for everything so that you do not have to work at all, then yes, that is possible. But my school experience, and those of the majority of people that I went to school with, was that we had to also work. So we had to juggle school, work, and life, and then find time to fit in our projects for class. (Which meant, we really didn't have a life.) It wasn't easy, and I would dare say that it was tougher then not being in school, just working, and then trying to figure out a way to work on your own projects. School life is not all roses. It forces you to get things done, but it doesn't necessarily open up your schedule ...

February 4, 2013

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Hello Ryan, thanks for responding. Definitely not disappointing, the information is useful. I should have made the specification of MFA programs. I just feel that there is a wide range between proprietary certificate, bachelors programs, and graduate programs, but film school is coined one in the same in these comments threads. I just feel that there are deeper levels of consideration that are not commonly discuses in the comparison specifically with graduate school. How much does a graduate thesis cost? Do loans cover this and if not where does the common student get the money? What resources as far as actors and locations are available in school? Are students covered for general liability and renters insurance? What should a applicants reel look like? I know some programs don't even let you shoot dialogue the first year, some programs are shooting the latest digital tech and some are shooting 16mm. What crew positions would benefit from a graduate education and what roles is it more unnecessary. I understand each persons individual path will dictate where they go and how they get there, but there are more variables that can be discussed in order for an educated decisions. I'm visiting some new york schools in march and hopefully some LA schools in april because there are too many questions that I have not been able to find answers for online.

I totally agree with you that working while going to school is quite hard, semesters of my undergrad I was definitely a zombie juggling the two. But most of the MFA programs I've looked at have a requirement of no full or part time jobs while attending.

February 4, 2013

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ryan

Ah, get what you are saying. :) Those are some VERY astute questions. Unfortunately, many of them are beyond my capacity to answer, as the only way to find them out is to actually visit each school and ask for yourself. As the online literature doesn't answer those questions ...

One of your questions that I can answer is the one about who would benefit most from a masters level program:
- Anyone who wants to go into teaching in any area of film studies.
- Directors
- Cinematographers
- Possibly Actors (not sure on this one)
- Possibly Editors (Depending on where you want to work / what type of work)

Some of the Crew Positions that would not benefit from a masters level program:
- Anyone in the Grip department (On the job training will be better)
- Anyone in the Electric department (On the job training will be better)
- Sound department (On the job & online would be better)
- Makeup / Wardrobe
- PA's (There are people who make a career out of it.)

Just my $0.02 anyway. :)

February 5, 2013

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thanks a lot

February 5, 2013

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ryan

A college education or some form of higher learning in a technical background should be mandatory as a young adult. Pursuing an eduction in something you truly are passionate about is a wonderful thing. I went to a very expensive (over ~$100K) art school in Miami. I chose it out of all the schools I could go to because it still tought on film, mostly Fuji stock S16. It didn't occur to me why at the time (Fall 2008) but I enrolled not thinking of a digital market. All we did was watch and discuss films, literally every genre you could think of. It was an international school so the students were very diverse and creative. By being in that environment I was pushed hard by my peers and classmates. We always had a great time making movies. I worked on over a hundred different shorts all shot on film, experiencing it from all the different departments. I even acted in some.

We're was I going to live and breathe filmmaking all the time? None of my freinds cared about movies let alone filmmaking as much as me. So I do believe that even if you go to a "not so decent school or the best school" at the very least understand you get out of it what you put in. Being around other creatives who are willing to work just as hard as you is what makes great films. The collaboration is key for me. I've worked on numerous lone ranger-run-and-gun-shoots and I feel that they aren't as fun, though the paycheck makes up for it, sometimes. My college experience provided that, along with a lot of other great habits, and a huge network that grows non-stop.

Is it worth the price of admission, regardless of what school you go to? I was "Lucky" because I had the MGIBill. It paid for a good portion but like just about everyone these days I have some student loan debt. I struggled at first, but so far so good. I've worked on numerous projects, from serious music videos, TV shows, reality, even some Adult definitely not NSFW stuff. And I was the only one using a light meter on those adult shoots. It's a filthy habit, carrying around a light meter to work on your hip.

I chose filmmaking, regardless of genre, because of the team aspect. The collaboration that comes with it. I spent over 6 years in the military straight out of high school and I quickly learned that it takes quite a few people to make awesome things happen. That's the magic of filmmaking. Evshoos hoot feels like a small battle only now I shoot celluloid or digital pixels instead of bullets. Had I only read books or watched online tutorials I don't feel I would've had the same outcome.

February 4, 2013

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Jorge Cayon

Great insight. Thanks for sharing! That is true that you only get out of it what you put into it. :)

February 4, 2013

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I went to a one year highly intensive filmmaking course and I think it was the best decision I ever made. I didn't get a degree or put in 4 years of my life learning more about topics I learned about in high school.
I spent one full year in Los Angeles networking, making movies, learning, and doing. That catapulted me once I finished school. I now freelance and am constantly working to improve my career but I would not be anywhere close to where I am now if it weren't for film school. I met countless connections there ranging from set designers to producers to foley guys.
All I spend my time doing now is working and that is all I ever wanted. The article is right, no matter what school you go to, if you even did, this industry doesn't really care. So locate the path that is right/affordable for you, and pursue it. The people that make it out here and find themselves doing what they love are the ones who put in the work and sacrifice. That's the case anywhere.
I couldn't afford the school I went to, it was way out of my price range. I'll be paying back student loans for a long time but I have spoken with many others about their payments. Make sure you're on the right plan for you and after awhile you get so used to them you don't even notice anymore. And they have certainly put my butt on the line numerous times and I have used that financial risk to burn a fire under me and motivate me even more. No reward without risk type of deal.

I don't recommend a four year school if you want to be a filmmaker.
I do recommend a highly intensive program in which you learn through guided experience.
That's a wealth of knowledge, as I've always learned more through doing.

February 4, 2013

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I concur. :) Well put. :)

February 4, 2013

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Film school does not guarantee a job, knowledge, or a good experience in the same way that not going to film school does not guarantee saving money.

Since we all chose one path or the other, I think it's hard for any of us to really judge which is better. I chose to go to a liberal arts school with a great film program. I think that what I got out of it that I couldn't have gotten out of being self-taught was amazing writing instruction, peers to motivate and collaborate with, and an alumni network.

February 4, 2013

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Cameron Savage

No doubt. :) That's why I'm glad that there are many options available to us all. :)

February 4, 2013

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Just an idea. Robert Rodriguez made EL mariachi for $7000 in '90s dollars. Atleast we have got DSLRs. Creative filmmakers will find a way of getting there. Rather take the money for film school, practice on a few shorts and then try to make a feature on my own. I'm sure with forums on the net, any problem faced will have solutions, technical or otherwise. The Mariachi way of going about things!

February 4, 2013

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siddhesh nair

What I appreciate about Rodriguez & El Mariachi, is that he did what it took to get the job done, and he didn't let obstacles stand in his way. He figured out how to make it happen according to what he had available to him. :)

February 4, 2013

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What people either don't know or have overlooked is that El Mariachi had thousands poured into it by the Weinstein's for it's actual release due to it's uneven production; stocks, sound. So, making the film is one thing but, completing or finishing the film for screening and then making prints cost far more than the small figure bandied about as if that were the end of it. Admire his tenacity sure, but don't ignore the facts. Regarding releases in the modern era, things are easier in some ways but, distribution is still where the power lies.

February 4, 2013

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Krys

For sure- there was a lot of money poured into the version of the film that we can watch today. No argument there. :) However, I'm still impressed by what he did. To me, the issue isn't about how much, or how little it took to make the film, but the drive to do whatever was needed to make it happen. Any guy who is willing to stick himself in side a research lab for months on end, in order to earn enough money to make his film shows real commitment, and earns a lot of respect from me. :)

February 5, 2013

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Another thing to consider in the "Film School Debate" is this: when I went to film school (my God, 14 years ago!), an editing suite cost $100,000. A production camera cost $40,000 or more. A Divinci suite: $1 million dollars!!!!! There was no way one could get access to tools to practice filmmaking without a film school or production company job.

Now, you can shoot a film on a DSLR that costs $1000 and go on to win film festivals or score HBO production deals (like that "Tiny Furniture" chick). Editing suites can be had for a couple grand. And Divinci comes free with a BMC camera (that is still brain-shattering to me). The point is, equipment-wise, the barrier for entry into serious production has been shattered.

Oh, and you can learn how to use all of that equipment with a subscription to lynda for $35/month!

I have been paying my student loan off for 10 years and still have a good ten years to go. I tell anyone who will listen to me: don't go to film school, go make a film!

February 4, 2013

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Yep- the cost to entry has come down a LONG way for sure. :) Great point about Lynda. :)

February 4, 2013

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I never went to film school. Here's my story.

4 years ago I started my own business, focussing on video marketing and video SEO at first (or: how brands should deal with video and a branded channel professionally on YouTube). After several talks with both clients and prospects, I kept hearing that they all thought video was hot, but also very expensive to make. And indeed, if you bring a team of people to shoot a video (cameraman, sound guy, director, assistant, etc.), things start to add up quickly.

So I clearly recognised the market potential for a one-man band with high production value (the film look). This led me to steer my career towards video/film production 3,5 years ago. But since I knew nothing about cameras or film production, I decided to take an intensive course in ENG-style camera at a private school (Camera College in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands). This was a very steep learning curve, but I'm glad I took it, because I now understand most any camera out there (save traditional film cameras, but those are a thing of the past anyway). Afterwards, I went back a few times to better my skills in specific areas, such as Grip & Support, Editing and Steadicam, as well as taking other courses, both online and off-line.

In December 2009, I bought my own gear (DSLRs, lenses, monopod, etc) and almost instanltly went to London to shoot my first short about X-Mas in London (https://vimeo.com/9839491).

Ever since then I have been making documentary-style films (web only). I predominantly operate as a one-man band, although this is slowly changing towards co-operation with others I've met along the way. Also, I constantly strive to make each film better than the last one. This approach has paid my way to owning and operating more and better equipment. And thanks to the Internet (Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, this site and various other blogs) I keep learning. Every day. My heroes include Shane Hurlbut, Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet, Tom Guilmette, Tom Lowe and Andrew Kramer. For 2013, I have set my personal goal towards improving my creative lighting skills.

Will I ever make feature films? I doubt it. Not because eventually I would not be able to, but simply because there's so much other interesting work to make. I love my job, because I get to go places and meet people I would have never imagined 4 years ago.

February 4, 2013

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Great story. :) I appreciate your sharing it with us. :) And congrats on finding your own path and making it happen. :) In my opinion, there is no greater reward then being able to get paid well enough to live a decent life doing what you love to do. Keep it up. :)

February 5, 2013

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incredible article. Thank you for writing it Ryan.
This is NO FILM SCHOOL at its core

February 4, 2013

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Thanks. Anytime. Always glad to help. :)

February 5, 2013

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Great article man! really balanced and unbiased.

I have found though a lot people I have met who are out of film school tend to 'know' all the limitations of film making, they seem to 'know' how expensive it is to make a film, so it takes them forever pick up a camera and shoot something. I have been told if I'm not planning on hiring a RED or an ALEXA, they don't want to be involved! I cant help but think that's the wrong attitude, the camera is just a tool, not the be all and end all of a project. I felt as if I was talking to people who had been taught to think inside, instead of outside the box. Having said that I do know some who have flourished in film school, I think it's a really personal thing, if you can see past some of the 'boundaries' put infront of you it's probably well worth it.

The biggest thing for me not going to film school, was the networking, thats something you cant get at the drop of a hat, I have worked and continue to work very hard to get good people around me I can trust.

February 4, 2013

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Lloyd

Thanks Lloyd. I'm glad you liked it. :) I'm not sure it is unbiased, but I do strive to do my best to honestly evaluate choices and approach them in a realistic fashion, pushing beyond the hype. :)

As for film school students "knowing everything"- that can be a big downfall of all of that schooling. Lots of knowledge, and little experience tends to make us all "experts". I have heard some slang on set that takes the initials of some of the most respected film programs and turns them into a pejorative due precisely to what you have mentioned. Cameras are tools, and should be used accordingly. I can't agree more. :)

Networking can be tough. There are ways around it, but going to school surrounded by people of a like mind, sure does help. No denying that ... Darren Aronofsky & Matthew Libatique are a great example of that ...

February 5, 2013

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doesn't matter where you learn, by reading, going to USC or AFI, by being trained in a production company.
at the end of it, if you want to be a director, you should Know how to tell a story. and that NO University, youtube tutorial or book by robert mckee will teach you; Practice, personal experience, and motivation, that's it.

February 4, 2013

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Agreed. :)

February 5, 2013

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As someone who has three Master degrees (yes, I said THREE), none of my degrees are in film though that is the only field I am truly passionate about. The greatest advice I have ever received in filmmaking was from when I PA'd was to go to school and learn business and either minor in film or learn on my own. Far too often many filmmakers get hung up on the art of filmmaking without realizing this is and always will be a business first.

Because I spent time as a high school teacher of TV Production, it allowed me opportunities to study my craft more and pursue educational opportunities that were not nearly as expensive as a film degree. With a Master in Education, a Master in Entertainment Business, and a Master in Creative Writing, I am able to focus much of my current education with the plethora of filmmaking videos and books out today.

Is film school worth it? 10 years ago, I would have said yes. Today, not at all. Films are changing and the outdated Hollywood model and path are changing as well. The internet has not only made things easier to learn at a fraction of the cost but it is changing the way we view things. I fully expect to see feature films decrease in length because many films try to push the 90 minutes or more just so the audience doesn't feel ripped off.

Having said all of that, I still feel this on/off desire to go to film school just for the experience and that piece of paper to validate the knowledge I already have. But since hardly anyone cares what school went to or if you have a film degree, I take the money I would have blown on film school and buy equipment and books like Ryan says. For those with no background in film or college, it is far better to fail and spend the money you would have on a degree on your own productions and gear than to graduate film school and never get a job and still fail.

February 4, 2013

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Patrick Masters

Here, Here! Well put. :) Many of us in any creative endeavor struggle with the business end of things. We end up not putting any effort into the business end of things, as we don't see that as being as important as the "art". But at the end of the day, we need to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and be able to provide for ourselves long term. I know I could still benefit from more business eduction. (Formal or not.) :)

February 5, 2013

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Fantastic post Ryan. You should be more than a guest writer. It's important to be in school and get a degree, any degree. Liberal Arts in this industry goes a long way. I started with film and telecommunication, would through computer science and ended up back where I started. Without an education and being able to draw from life experience you'll never be able to survive past doing wedding videos.

February 4, 2013

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ThunderBolt

Thanks much appreciated. :)

I think there are a lot of things that schooling gives you that are hard (not impossible) to replicate else where. (Exposure to differing views, reasonable interaction with other view points, ability to try and fail in a more limited public fashion, peer review, professional review ...) So going to school and getting any degree helps for sure.

Although I don't think that not having formal education limits you to wedding videos. (And shooting wedding videos can be a rewarding pursuit.) It is more about life experience, and the ability to tell stories well. I have met people who live and breath higher education, who do not have any life experience, and who cannot tell a story to save their life. To me, formal education is just a part of the puzzle ...

February 5, 2013

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Great article. I struggled with this decision for a while. I'm currently a sophomore studying film (concentrating in cinematography) at the savannah college of art and design. but I thought for a while before I came here that film school wasn't for me. Thought I would rather just move to LA and try to work, because for most of my life I've been self taught. but It's actually been a really great experience, It does have it's drawbacks, but it's definitely helped me grow and develop as a filmmaker. I definitely agree with what you said Ryan about school giving you a broader view of the world and helping you grow as a storyteller. My general eduction classes have been super beneficial. I think film school can definitely be a great thing, the main thing is you have to apply yourself. If you don't, it's worthless. You have to shoot all the time, not just take the classes and get good grades. And I honestly don't think it really matters what school you go to either, just as long as it is a good fit for you, has some decent gear for you to play with, and has a program that allows you to frequently go out and shoot and get on sets as much as possible. That's the most important thing.

February 5, 2013

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Yes! Application is KEY! Whether you learn on the internet, through books, or in the classroom, none of it matters if it isn't acted upon!

February 5, 2013

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very inspiring...............
yes you are correct..... plenty of film making resources in internet
i have been studding film making technique through intent for the past 1 year
now i am very confident of mastering it
i am waiting for your detailed list of resources..........
.

February 5, 2013

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shylendrahoode

Thanks. :)

As for the detailed listing of resources, you can find them on my blog- the post is already up: http://www.ryanewalters.com/Blog/blog.php

February 5, 2013

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My first experience on set was working as a boom op for free on a ultra low budget movie. It was a great experience and it lead to more jobs down the road. Never went to film school and as the old cliche goes 'fake it til you make it.' It was almost like a foreign language to me, at first, but after a few days on set I began to pick some of the basics up and beyond. On a couple of these low budget shoots, I was even forced to help with the undermanned grip department. I slowly made some contacts and sneaked my way into editing one of the films I worked on, in the art department of all places. I currently have edited 3 films, one even winning audience & best drama awards at the HRIFF and IFQ film festivals. I'm editing a pilot now you can check out some promos for on YouTube entitled "Femme D' Action." I just recently finished writing my first feature and plan on producing the project this summer with cash out of my own pockets and help from a kickstarter campaign. I, also helped my friend with his project for the Campus Movie Fest this year. I cowrote ,shot, and edited the film. We were lucky enough to be 1 of the 16 out of over 50 submissions screened. You can check that our here if you wish..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdZBvIl5giw. I have made these small achievements without film school. Primarily from on set experience, supplementing that with reading books and websites like this one. When I asked people on set whether I should go or not. They would usually say "You go to film school to meet people in film. You're already doing that so just learn as fast as you can and you'll be fine." I think they were right. I'm done.

February 5, 2013

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Nicely put. And very true. :) The majority of people I work with on set did not go to film school, but learned just as you have shared. And they do great work- many of them are my first calls, and I'm not worried at all that they don't have a degree in film. (Of course, neither do I ... ;) ).

February 5, 2013

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Would have loved to go to film school as I really love intense academic study. I didn't though and actually went the third way. I was so arrogant I thought I was too smart, too interesting and too obviously talented to just be a runner. I got turned away from very lowly researcher jobs despite what I thought was an untouchable cv, so I set up a production company and started carving out a living with two friends learning inthe job, building a company and teaching ourselves how to do the job. It was our very own film school and we were very poor for a couple of years but we quickly found ourselves pitching and winning big jobs and that was incredible. Unfortunately, running a company is a massively challenging business all of itself and it can quickly overwhelm long held ambitions as you have to make sure you pay staff and meet your financial obligations. I went freelance after eight years of learning and building myself a really solid platform for life and luckily have never wanted for work. The amount of experience I have simply because we were givin ourselves jobs o- one else ever would have has ensured that. In two weeks I'm directing my first feature film. For many years it looked like that was forever going to be a pipe dream. It wasn't. I'm not poor anymore, I'm proud of my reel, I 'm repped as a commercials and music video director and I'm soon to be a feature film director. Took ten years but self-taught and loved every minute. Just shows it can be done.

February 5, 2013

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AWESOME! Well done! And way to make it happen for yourself. :)

February 5, 2013

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Great Post! I went to film school and I think it was the best decision I have ever made. I took a 16 month intensive film course, we lived and breathed film and that experienced really showed you who was meant for the industry and who wasn't.

Because of the way my school was set up it allowed us to write our scripts in screenwriting class, do pre production in production class, shoot in our "lab" classes, cut in editing etc. We were even encouraged to use students from the acting course that ran at the same time.

It was expensive, but that experience helped me greatly. 2/3 of the way through I had shifted my interest from directing to lighting and began shooting and gaffing everyone's films. After graduation I took the steps to establish myself within the local industry and have been working steadily since.

Last year a film school friend and I decided to use our industry experience to start a film blog that caters toward doing various jobs on set and we have been far more successful than we ever imagined. This was all thanks to my experience in film school.

February 5, 2013

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Thanks. :)

Your experience just goes to show, that there are many paths to making it happen, but what it most important is the application of skills / knowledge, and the drive to make it happen for yourself. Congrats!

February 5, 2013

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I never went to film school and I already won 8 film fest awards with the pilot season of my web TV series Day Zero (http://dayzerotv.com) within the last year. We released 10 episodes (each mostly filling a half hour TV type slot for over 220 minutes of footage) last year. I am in talks with investors to see if we can fund a 2nd season and hopefully use my partners to get us to television itself. I only started filmmaking since June 2011. :) I was an actor before that for several years (still am). So I don't think one needs film school if one grows up doing amateur projects (I did some stop motion, etc. as a kid using VHS). I use Canon DSLRs right now.

February 7, 2013

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I'm pretty sure you meant to say that you were a "voracious" reader rather than a "veracious" reader, though one could certainly still hope that your reading "represented the truth" and was not just wide-spread.

February 8, 2013

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DamenS

Comments Galore! Phew.

I'm currently Attending the MHCC Integrated Media Program and loving it. Thanks for the shout out!

February 9, 2013

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Logan

Hey Ryan, thanks for the thoughtful advice to my question about documentary vs narrative. I will definitely keep everything you said in mind. Best of luck to you too!

Cheers.

David

February 9, 2013

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Hi Ryan,

Thanks a lot for this. Is this coincidence that I regularly run into someone with the same passion I have?
I plan to go full time into film making in four years time.
Victor Truter
South Africa

February 22, 2013

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Victor Truter

Hi Ryan,
You are really guiding me about I was wondering. Many of the great directors (at least in my country) never attended to a Film School. I was thinking to go to a Film School, but no money, no way... and also I was considering the option of the self learning. I have some experience but I want more school.

Something ideal for me could be a Workshop, like a short term course, 2 months for example or 6-8 weeks, but they are really hard to find, right? Because most of universities, colleges, institutes offer semester based programs within academic calendar and I need continuos training.

I was ilusioned with the New York Film Academy. They have documentary workshops of 6 and 8 months. Just right for me. But other thing is: Who Are the Teachers, professors or trainers! of any school. I do not look for BRAND marketed or prestigious School because is a lot of money. I just look for a great instructors, experienced and able to teach with passion.

The not going to a formal school is a good option for me. You know why? Because in Latin American there are a lot of events, like festivals of documentary, short films and so on... I have a place there where to show my First Works, but of course at the same time I will continue reading, reading, discussing with people and watching movies.

What do you think...? Thx again Ryan.

August 5, 2013

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Mario

I need some help on this. I am currently in the military and decided to go to film school. Im in Hawaii and there is nothing here that comes close film school. So I was wondering if anybody knew about any courses online which I am having trouble finding. Thanks.....

August 7, 2013

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Armando

Voracious not veracious.

March 11, 2014

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Jordan

I think the American Cinema and Film-making arts are formulaic. They have a great system that sells movies, however when it comes to deeper emotional content I would say that the European style film-making is better and more sincere. Personally I don't like the USA education system as it is a profit machine. It's not about giving good education it's about getting students in and taking the money. Exactly the opposite of Europe. I'm thinking of doing an MFA and Europe or the UK is looking more attractive from many perspectives.

July 26, 2014

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WelshGuy

Looking back, I would probably recommend individuals to major in something like Business and minor in film. Film school is great for networking and getting a rudimentary feel for the industry. But, in all honesty, you're going to do most of your learning outside of the classroom on your own time. With a major in Business, you also have another degree to fall back on. But, the business degree also prepares you for the business side of the film industry wither it's contracts, economics, or how to market yourself. After school, no two paths are the same. Some people start out as PAs. I know DPs who went immediately into shooting local commercials and music videos - built up a reel - and eventually got serious representation. I know DPs that started in craft service. It really just depends.

August 16, 2014

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RidingtheDragon

I did not attend any film school but desires to go. What I do is learn by doing and also reading and watching videos online. I also work with people who went to a film school and try to learn as much as I can from them. Practice makes perfect and self education equally works. At the end of the day it is your works that will speak for you not your school.

August 16, 2014

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I went to my state college who didn't have a real good film program. I took one screenwriting class and I've been hooked on it since 2008. Although he taught me basics of screenwriting and basics of plot structure, I learned more through books and reading online articles and videos from actual screenwriters, not the professor who blew smoke up my butt telling me my first script was great - which I knew was probably not my best work yet. I switched majors after doing my General Education in college so I didn't go into college thinking I wanted to do film. If I were to do it over again, I'm not sure if I'd choose to go to UCLA, USC, or another LA college. I believe you should learn from the professionals, but you have to have the gusto to get out there and just film something, not just talk about your great scripts or great ideas all day, which most do. So which school you choose I think matters a lot in film, but also it has to fit your personality. Who says that you'll make it in the industry after you have that $100 - $150 K in debt? Let's just focus on making great movies with great stories.

August 16, 2014

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Jason

You can not be a doctor without school but you can be a filmmaker without school.
So I think school is the shortcut to be a PROFFESIONAL filmmaker.

August 16, 2014

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Ylli zymberi

Video Art as taught by video pioneer Nam June Paik was what my art school in Duesseldorf was good at. So learning animation was largely on my own but having a bunch of artists and before this engineer friends at IIT Delhi did help. I may say a straight road may have been better but after a point all learning is self-learning.

August 18, 2014

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Gul Ramani