Film school is an amazing experience, but in many cases having a film school diploma will do absolutely nothing for you. There are countless working film industry professionals with film school educations who have not once had to show their diploma and some haven’t even made a resume.
This is the continuation of the “5 Reasons NOT to go to film school” blog, but made into one post as to not confuse.
5 Things to Think About Before Attending Film School:
- Schooling can cost you up to $30,000 per year. Why not take that money and invest it in a camera or lighting package or both?! You can use some of that money to shoot a short film, music video or even a super indie feature. Yes, schooling will give you the basic knowledge you need to make movies, but that doesn’t guarantee you a job when you get out. Also, when you finally do get out and are starting to work you’re going to probably have student loans to pay off.
- The Truth: Yes, School is expensive, but there is a reason why. You will probably be taught by industry professionals, have access to thousands of dollars worth of lights, cameras and sound gear. Full class rooms filled with editing machines and in some cases access to studios that normally rent for thousands of dollars per day. Not everyone needs or wants gear and to be learning in the trenches.
- Why spend 2 or 4 years taking classes to then start in the film industry at the bottom. You could have spent those 4 years working as a P.A. and making money all while learning about film making. Yes, the school environment is a nice safe place to make mistakes with little to no consequences, but do you really want that? It’s a safety blanket and in some cases students come out of film school and are unable to deal with the real pressures of the industry.
- The Truth: It takes time to hone your craft, time that you will spend anyway. So, why not spend it in a safe environment where you can experiment and immerse yourself in film making? Getting to immerse yourself in film and experiment for 2 or 4 years is invaluable and not everyone needs or wants to get on set right away. Not everyone is a Tech or PA and schooling will teach you a whole other side of film that working on set won’t right away.
- Unfortunately, the sets you put together as students are nowhere near the level of real film sets. Why even bother? You’re getting all this experience that you think is useful, but when you show up on a real set you will be completely useless. You won’t know the etiquette and you might not even know the tools you need to do the job.
- The Truth: Any experience is good experience and the things you do as a student will ultimately give you a better understanding of film as a whole. You might not know all the tricks or how a film set is supposed to run, but who cares? Have fun, learn and experiment. Do all the things you won’t get to do as much when you start to work. With the internet and sites like this you can really get a head start on learning about the things you need on your first day of work and if you really want, you can get on professional sets as a student and bring all that experience back to class with you.
- While in school you build up a false sense of confidence and begin to think that you will be directing the minute you graduate. You start to think that your time at school was you paying your dues and think you deserve a top job right away. You confidence might be shattered on your first real set and may stop you from ever wanting to try again. If you start working on sets right away and make that your learning experience, then the confidence you build will be real and helpful.
- The Truth: There are some people that this actually happens to, but most of us aren’t completely diluted. It does happen though, many of the people I went to college with stepped on to one film set, got yelled at or just couldn’t handle doing menial tasks and never went back. Don’t let this happen to you!
- The sooner you get on to set, even as a production assistant the sooner you can get into the department that you want to work in. It takes a few years to get yourself into a place where you are working steadily in the industry. The sooner you start meeting people and building your skills the sooner you will be making enough money to live. If you are in school for years it will take you even longer to gain long-term employment. Being a self-employed film professional is very tough, the sooner you jump into it the easier it will be to stay employed.
- The Truth: This one can be hard to argue. The truth is that the sooner you do ANYTHING the sooner you can get employed at it, it’s obvious. You could still be in school and working on set though. You have weekends, vacation time and some schools will even allow you to miss some classes if you are out getting practical experience.
Those our 5 Things to Think About Before Film School.