Reducation_x-224x147Amid the hubbub of new product announcements this item has flown a bit under the radar -- this Fall, RED will start offering a 16 week digital-cinema training course.  It aims to take students from pre-production to production to post-production while developing their own projects with the guidance of working professionals.  At first glance, it looks like a pretty interesting opportunity -- you get to make projects on RED equipment, while learning the tools, craft and technique from experts.  But what will it cost?  And what are the pros and cons of this sort of program?:

First, here are the details:

In the course of a sixteen-week program, you’ll start by developing projects and then bringing those projects to life. Pre-production, Production and Post Production are all taught by real world professionals that make the world’s biggest movies, television shows, commercials and music videos,

Each program is limited to twenty-one students. You will learn and gain working experience in the roles of Exec Producing, Line Producing, Directing, Cinematography, Lighting, Data Management, Offline Editorial, Online Editorial and Distribution.

During REDucation X, you will create and have a selection of completed works to demonstrate your skills to the professional motion picture industry.

REDucation X will be headquartered at RED Studios Hollywood and will utilize locations throughout Los Angeles.

The cost for the sixteen week program is $15,000.

The program runs from October 1st, 2012 to January  25th, 2013, while the application deadline is May 31st.

Now, I can appreciate how cool it would be to go through that process -- the promise of getting to use top of the line real-world equipment, having experts providing training and guidance, and having several work samples in the can at the end of 16 weeks.  But the other side of me says -- at $15,000, this isn't going to be cheap.  Sure, if you're looking at going to NYU or USC and willing to drop $40,000 dollars on a year's worth of tuition, this is a relative bargain.  But even when going to those schools, you can try getting lower interest student loans through the government or banks -- while for these kinds of unaccredited/no-academic-credit programs, you're usually looking at paying $15,000 the hard way (unless RED is offering some kind of financial aid, which their website doesn't mention).  This also doesn't factor in the cost of room/board/transportation, or how intense the course will be (i.e full-time or part-time) -- will I be able to work on the side, or will I have to take 4 months out of my income-generating life?

So there's the straight cost that makes me blink.  The other thing is the opportunity cost -- what else could I do with those $15,000?  If I had $15,000 to spend on my film goals, and was starting out, I think I would spend it differently.  One alternative would be to volunteer to work on other folks' shoots, learning the tricks of the trade on the job, forming the trust and social network that makes future collaboration possible, and getting a sense of real-world production costs.  As you learn, you can start planning your own project, mapping out something that could realistically be done with the resources at hand -- while picking the brain of anyone willing to give advice.  Once ready to pull the trigger, you could spend the money on a proper project.  The  downside to this approach can be that it may take a longer time, and you may not always get a chance to pick the DP's brain when your job is to keep pedestrians away from the set.

All the same, I'm sure there are folks for whom the REDucation X model will work -- folks who don't have access to nearby productions to work on, or have the money and simply want to learn straight from someone who's supposed to teach them.  There are pros and cons for each, and I guess folks will know which works best for their temperament of circumstance.

Does this sounds like an attractive alternative to film school?  How would you spend $15,000 towards your film goals?  What other alternatives will save you money while gaining practical knowledge?  Share below!