April 28, 2016 at 9:17AM, Edited April 28, 9:21AM

How much is to much for spending on Film School?

So I have applied and gotten into two film schools. One is a state school thats film program isn't the best, but the Cost of Attendance is only about 23,000 a year. The other school is Columbia College in Chicago and is ranked as one of the top film schools in America. In addition, I've toured both schools and have knottiest a major difference when it comes to the drive and skill level of the students. The students and professors at Columbia seem to be way more driven and passionate than the ones at the UW state school I'm looking at. But there is one catch, Columbia is around 43,000 a year, and unfortunately my family is unable to support any of the tuition, but I have been able to secure a large scholarship through columbia bringing the Cost of attendance down to about 30,000 (for all four years). Now in order to go to this school I would have to take out between 10,000 and 20,000 in loan if I wanted to attend for my freshman year (there are allot more scholarship opportunities each year I attend columbia so this number will go down over the years). With the state school I would have to take out between $0 and 10,000 in loans after my scholarships. But is it worth it? how much is too much? What I worry about is getting out of school and having to get a job outside the film industry to simply pay off my loans. I want the best education possible, but don't want to sign my life away in loans. Im especially interested in anyone who is in or has had an issue like this.

5 Comments

There is no answer to a question like this, you will hear all kind's of opinions. I say go with your gut. I personally went to a cheaper film school and do not regret my decision as I met a lot of friends in the same boat and had some great teachers. My best film teacher I ever had was actually before film school at a community college. I also had access to some decent gear and film cameras, something that would of been tough to get on my own. I didn't need top of the line stuff, because honestly, starting out you really have a lot to learn before you can justify top gear on a (no offense) crappy student film. When push comes to shove it's really about you and what you want. Some suggest skipping school altogether and using the money to buy your own gear, I think it's all about finding a balance that works for you. It's a tough choice but one you will ultimately have to make for yourself because no one knows you and your skill level or goals better than yourself.

April 29, 2016 at 2:03PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1636

I will try to put the situation into perspective so maybe you could make a wise decision afterwards.
In film school people go to:
a) learn the basics of their craft (directing, cinematography, producing, sound etc)
b) have access to filmmaking gear so they can shoot short films
c) meet similar-minded people at a similar stage of their career (the beginning)
d) invest those years into studying film and filmmaking, without having to worry about daily work, in order to expand their art and find their voice.

From the above reasons, the first two (a,b) in most cases could be better achieved on your own, for a fraction of the cost needed for tuition.
e.g. You cannot write a good script unless you invest some years in screenwriting. No film school will turn you into a good screenwriter on the day of your graduation. Regarding the gear, with only a small amount of your first year's tuition, you could rent the best gear for a few days.

So you are left with basically the final two reasons (c,d).
Where will you get the best fellow students, so you could work together in the future?
Where will you be more immersed into film and filmmaking?

And now you have to think how much are those reasons worth for you.

The truth is that in the cases where film school has tuition, film school graduates end with a big loan which they have to find a way to pay it back. So think of yourself in 3 years from now and see how will this be possible for you. Will you set up your own local business and make videos? Will you get a low-payed job in TV or film? How will you support yourself? etc. After graduating, do not expect to get a dream job. It does not happen in 99%.

Personally, I would not invest every cent I had, plus a hefty loan, only to film school, no matter how good it is. [ Do not forget that most of them are businesses, which make a profit, so they have to look good in order to attract customers/students.]
Good investors plan ahead, think of the future and invest in many different assets. Gamblers do the same thing - never put their money on just one horse.
And success in filmmaking is a big gamble.

April 29, 2016 at 8:05PM, Edited April 29, 8:16PM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3164

I'd go to the state school. I went to two very expensive schools, and came away having taught myself more than I learned at either school in their combined 2 years and $90K in debt. I'm now weighed down like a boat-anchor as I get my career started with my own business while I pay these damned loans.

To me, you need film school for:

1. Access to education-edition programs (because Maya is expensive)
2. Access to high end computers... because the editing labs hopefully have nice, 12 core xeons with GTX 1080s in the mail and most people can only afford 6 core i7's.
3. Instruction from people who know what they're doing.
4. Access to cameras and mics.

Any school can provide these things. At worst, the film school might not have the greatest professors and that's ok. You don't need to study under Steven Spielberg right now. You need someone to put on a powerpoint and say "this is a 35mm lens, this is a 60mm lens, and this... is the lens they use on spyplanes. Pick the right tool for the job." It doesn't matter if your professor can load up Avid and zip through editing an 8 film in the course of two classes, that's not what you need right now.

There's some concern about how the school's curriculum is setup, but in general, anything that gets you through film theory and shows you the tools is good enough. The only reason not to go to the state school is if they're not teaching current technology. If you walk into their edit labs and they have you editing on Sony VTR's... I'd run and not look back. As long as they teach you Avid or Premiere, you'll be fine. I'm not sure if you'd be as-ok if they taught you FCP-X, I don't think that's got the widespread use FCP 7 had.

Once you have the basics down, you can worry about learning the hard stuff. By the time you're worried about the hard stuff, you'll probably have a job, a subscription to digital tutors, and you can do what everyone does: experiment until it works... The exact same thing you'll do in school and the thing that'll teach you more than anything else.

May 21, 2016 at 3:03AM

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Sam C
1

$1.00 (one dollar).

March 17, 2018 at 3:50PM

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Owen Mulligan
Writer/Filmmaker
121

Yes film studying can not be cheap. It' s not only money for software and cameras and mics. But for academic help too. Film studying is like any other studying: exams, grades, essays, homework. I'm studying graphic gesign and we always need to write different academic papers. Recently we had an argumentative essay and I really had problems with it. I used https://essaybison.com/write-my-argumentative-essay-service/. I would it to any student in any field of study.

November 30, 2018 at 8:54AM

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