One of the best articles I've read on here!
I think most people miss the whole point of film schools. I got my MFA from a top ranked film school, yes it costed me a bomb but the returns were worth it. Its true that you can learn everything there is to learn ( maybe) from books/websites/essays etc. You have tools which are cheap now and can shoot your own stuff without the need of traditional 35mm and all the expenses that came with it ( like in my time). What i got from film school is this
1) Film school not only teaches you the techniques but also WHATS IMPORTANT. You can learn all the smoothest camera moves and VFX tricks online, but if you're lucky a good flim teacher will tell you whats at the heart of story telling and how and why thats the most important thing. Basically film school consolidates all film information into levels of importance, that i think is gold.
2) The three years i spent i film school, all i did was eat, talk and watch films and filmmaking, no other distraction, i really understood what worked for me and what didn't, without the costly mistakes that one could make in real life leading to career ending sordid tales.
3) Classmates, they live with you your whole lifetime, Zack Snyder, Michael Bay, Tarsem would gaff/AC/Shoot each others projects in school while being classmates, Tarsem and Snyder still collaborate together and use a bunch of their classmates for shoots even now.
4) Amazing contacts: Yes, you get to meet some cool producers/directors etc some you get to keep in touch with
5) People take you a little more seriously when you tell them you got a degree from a A List film school, its true, ive seen people change their tone with me when i mentioned the school i went to.
I think of all the things listed, the most important thing i got was the essence of storytelling. I mean i could have read a hundred books, watched all the amazing video essays on this site, watched commentaries etc, but being taught academically the importance of storytelling and what's really at the heart of it and how everything ties upto that, could have only been taught in a classroom.
Interestingly 7 out of 10 Nicholl fellowship winners last year were film school graduates.