Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Film School Important?

First of all, my apologies for the week-long break. I needed it, though, to stay enthusiastic about this here blog.

Let's go ahead and just pick up where we left off. It's Monday, and that means I'd like to pose a question that I think will be pertinent to many if not all of you.

First, though, I need to thank DJB for being the sole contributor last week. He shared some good thoughts, and I would encourage you to go back and read what he has to say. I myself would like to add one thing to one part of his comment:

Be literate. You cannot create anything new without knowing what has come before. Read, watch, listen.

While I agree absolutely with this principle (along with the rest of what you had to say), I would also say that there is no way anyone can be literate enough to know all of what has come before, and when it comes to telling stories, there really is nothing absolutely "new," in the strictest and most literal sense of the word, to say. However, one can never be too literate. It's vital to fill your eyes, ears, and brains with great artistic works, whatever their form. In that way, it is possible to then synthesize the best of what has been done and make it your own, contributing in your unique way to the body of human expression.

On to the new question:

Is film school important?

Is it necessary? This probably isn't a black and white question by any stretch, so I expect any answers to take some pains to explain their own context and justification. Of course my own hand is relatively obvious--for heaven's sake, I call myself an "expert film student." However, my opinions on the subject are certainly not cut and dried, so I'm very interested to hear what others think.

Comment away!


  1. No! I've done more networking outside of film school and learned more by just doing things and learning from others. a film degree won't get you a job, but your skills and talents will. A lot of the people that have come from programs to become amazing directors were pretty much already amazing. But let's remember the myth of people being born with a certain talent is a myth. What's interesting to not is that art schools will preach that talent comes only through hard work and I believe that. Sure some people maybe more prone to learn quicker but that doesn't mean they were born with the talent to be great filmmakers. But I don't even know why we call it film school anyways most people don't even learn how to use film. I personally don't care to, I'm fine with digital video since most of the devices I use play it.

  2. Yes. It's important. But you have to take advantage of it. Go in knowing you don't know everything. Can you learn a lot on your own or getting out on a set and just doing it? No doubt about it. But film school allows you to do this and learn from some older, more experienced filmmakers who are trained to teach. It's their job to help you be better and prepare you for that world. And they spend hours with you just to help you figure it all out. And I love them for it.

    Film school has been one of the greatest things ever for me. I've learned (probably) one billion things. I also overheard a conversation yesterday that my brother (who is now at Columbia to get his masters in film) had with one of the top creative directors at an advertising agency in NYC and he said he wished he had done what my brother did. I thought that was pretty interesting.

  3. I think Babetta brought up a very important point: film school is only important if you take advantage of it and/or make the best of the experience. If one simply jumps through the hoops and does the bare minimum, they won't gain anything. This is true for every academic pursuit, but most especially for the creative arts. Young filmmakers have to go above and beyond to be successful in this field, and a film degree can help.

    Let's be honest though. The most valuable thing one takes away from a university-level education is not the degree, it's the experience. Being in film school, surrounded by other talented and aspiring filmmakers is an environment, when utilized properly, that can surely benefit you. As Urban Media said, networking is absolutely possible even if you aren't a film student, but there are also learning opportunities only available to film students. I'm blabbing now.

    Bottom line: film school can be a career-changing decision if you make it so by going above and beyond and by utilizing the experience.

  4. Because film is such a networking centered career path, I honestly can't understand why anybody wouldn't take advantage of film school. What better way to get your name out there than to work with fellow learners? On top of that, I've heard horror stories about mistakes being made and people more or less being blacklisted because of the mistakes they made. Film school is the perfect place to make all the mistakes almost consequence free! But just as everybody else has mentioned, it is what you make it. If you don't network, don't work hard, don't learn and drink everything in, then of course film school is useless. If you work hard, make mistakes, learn from them, network like crazy and immerse yourself in the filmmaking experience, I firmly believe you'll be a more valuable asset to the industry than if you'd jumped straight in.

  5. I am currently earning enough money to raise my family of 3 comfortably and happily. I work from home 95 percent of the time, the other 5 percent being spent on set or in meetings. I am a casting director, writer/director/producer of commercials, as well as writer and director for a webseries that will star Danny Trejo, Snoop Dogg, and possibly Brandon T. Jackson. Every opportunity I have now is directly related to something I learned or somebody I met at film school. Is it necessary, no, but it sure as hell helps.

  6. To me yes a film school with give you more advanced Technic! Film Director Career


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