Sundance 2016 has officially begun, and earlier today Festival Director John Cooper, Executive Director Keri Putnam, and Robert Redford took part in the Day One press conference, talking about the fest and answering audience questions. During the Q&A, Redford was asked what kind of advice he had for younger filmmakers, and what he thought about film school.
Check out the video around 33:10, or read the answer below:
I guess film schools have become important, they didn't exist when I was starting out. Maybe SC, but now they've become more prominent, there are film schools all over the place. I'm not sure that that's [film school is] the answer as much as experience. As much as getting out in the world and seeing what's going on by firsthand experience. Make an adventure for yourself. Hit the road.
Don't go from school to school — to film school — and then make a movie — you can. But you're going to be relying on what you saw, you're going to be relying on the effects that that filmmaker did — you know whoever it is — they created this thing with a camera, they did this thing — "So I want to do that."
To me, what's more important if you want to tell a story, and you want to own the story you're telling, get out in the world, hit the road, and have some real life experience that's going to feed your mind. And then you'll come back and say, "I just went through this thing, I want to talk about that."
It took me a while to realize that the country I grew up in was really about winning. Everything mattered. And I was told as a kid — because I was active in sports — and the word you got was it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. I found that was a lie. That everything mattered. And I thought OK, I want that to be a subject of the work I do, that winning is everything. So I would say that that came from my own personal experience of getting out in the world.
It seems like the main point is not that film school is bad or that you shouldn't go, but that life experience is important for storytelling. It's something that's been said by many filmmakers and actors before, that you really need to get out and see the world to know what kind of stories you're drawn to and what kind of stories you want to tell. The more life experience you have, the more you will likely be able to relate to all sorts of different stories, and you'll be able to bring something personal to every project.
For more, see our complete coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
No Film School's video and editorial coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by Blackmagic Design.