November 29, 2015 at 3:30PM

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12 Month Film Program or 4 Year College Film Production Degree?

I am at a bit of a crossroads in my life in terms of choosing what path of film related education I want to pursue. To me there are two options, go to a trade school like Full Sail University or go to a 4 year university like Chapman, LMU, or USC. The main question I want answered is, does going to a trade school like Full Sail put me at a disadvantage versus going to a 4 year university? Are production companies, or anyone that hires in the film industry, really looking at what school you went to, or is all about the work you do?

My current situation is that I am attending a university with no film school or program in it, long story short I messed up on my college application process. I am in my first year here and I know that I don't want to stay. The two options I am looking at are transferring to Chapman University or attending the 12 month program at Vancouver Film School. Does anyone have experience with VFS, and if so how was your experience? I am not too confident I can get into Chapman university or USC or UCLA so VFS is looking better right now. I am a relatively experienced film maker for my age, 19, so I'm looking to further what I already know, I'm not just starting from blank here. Also if I go to VFS I don't have to take calculus or chemistry which I dread taking, because I hated it in highschool and have a hard time focusing on it because it has pretty much nothing to do with making movies, which is what I want to do for the rest of my life, I'm set on that. So what are your thought on what I should do? I would love to hear from people who went to a 4 year college and those who went to trade schools. Thanks!

5 Comments

I'm in the same exact position. Senior in High School and I can't figure out whether I want to go to VFS, or a 4 year college. Decisions...decisions..

December 1, 2015 at 10:30AM

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Riley Whitcomb
Director, Cinematographer, Editor
84

I haven't attended Vancouver Film School myself, but I worked with people on projects there and worked closely with VFS people later on and asked them about it too. They all had really good knowledge and projects and connections right away.
It depends what deparment you go there, I'd recommend Film Production or the 3D/Animation departments.
The good thing about VFS is it is very focused and you really do a lot of projects in a short time. You get connections, live and breath film in a great city where there are Hollywood film shoots all the time as well.
If you need more personal development and see whats out there, an education thats a bit more spread out and takes it's time might be better, but if you are set on film then I think you will get a lot out of VFS.

I personally did digital media at an university, and I liked it since I needed more time and also had different subjects as well like interactive media and web, which I still frequently fall back on, so I'm still glad I did that.

December 8, 2015 at 7:41AM, Edited December 8, 7:41AM

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Philip Drobar
Video Editor
263

I would suggest learning on your own and skipping school altogether. I went to what I thought was best school in my area, but got really not much out of it after paying almost $200K.

Don't expect any job connections, or to be taught anything relevant in the industry.

Everything professional I leaned working as an intern or online.

Film programs haven't adjusted to the new landscape our market is facing. Talent is worthless and equipment is king.

Buy yourself a RED, you'll take work from people with over ten years of experience including me.

December 9, 2015 at 8:26AM

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Yuuuuup, the money you have now will not be there when you get out. Well maybe not money but spend your credit you have now to make several small films and maybe a feature when you're ready.

Good rigs, good glass, good support, good light and good audio. Even if you break the bank you can liquidate most of it and make something back to move on with. Get into hiring crew and you'll have far better experience that will teach you volumes beyond school.

Not that school doesnt have its benefits as well. Just not to my liking.

Chris Hackett

December 10, 2015 at 8:07PM

If you want to work in film you just need to make a few connections and intern and/or PA on some shows. If you want to end up shooting or directing you need to just go out and do it. Being a PA probably won't help you there. Get a decent camera and some other gear (it doesn't need to be a Red) and start taking volunteer preditor jobs.

That said, there is some full-time employment for a producer, shooter, and editor out there, but you may need a bachelor's degree. That may be changing, but looking at the job postings out there a lot of companies still want at least a bachelors. If I were in your shoes I would look for a four year program somewhere that has the means to help me make the right professional connections.

I don't know anything about Chapman. Full Sale is supposed to be a good education, but they turn out so many students you have to wonder if they will have the time to really help you build your network. They have always seemed too impersonal to me. I had a great experience at Tribeca Flashpoint College in Chicago. Full disclosure, I work there now. I'm not telling you to go there, but maybe research them and account for that in your decision. Nearly all of the work I have gotten has come from the teachers I had there and/or connections I made through the school.

P.S. Don't just talk to the admissions people. Whatever school you talk to, they are salesmen. Any school worth going to will have actual teachers that are willing to talk to prospective students. Talk to some teachers and ask about former students' success stories.

December 11, 2015 at 8:56AM, Edited December 11, 9:05AM

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