Should I Attend Film School? Best Guide To Everything You Need to Know & More -2022

Should I Attend Film School?

The filmmaking industry is competitive, and there is no single path to success. Many people who work or have worked in film did not receive any formal education in the industry, though a tailored educational program can be extremely beneficial.

Because this is a very complex topic, it will heavily rely on you as a person. Please find a guide below to help you in determining what you need to think about and consider when making this decision.

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Do you want to go through with it?

Should I Attend Film School?

Okay, let’s get real. If you want to make movies, you’ll have some ideas floating around in your head. Successful creatives, such as writers and directors, have an innate desire to create something. They have ideas that stick in their heads and compel them to put them into action in the real world. Do you want to make films or be recognized as a filmmaker? 

Those are two very different things, and you must be honest with yourself about which one you belong to. If you like the idea of being called a filmmaker but don’t want to make movies, now is the time to jump ship.

I had many film school friends who were only interested because they didn’t want “real jobs” and liked the idea of working on flashy movies. They created some interesting projects, but they lacked the internal drive to create. They saw filmmaking as a chore rather than an opportunity. 

None of them have accomplished anything noteworthy, and the majority of them have left the industry with college debt but no relevant degree. If you walk onto a set and are overcome with excitement and anxiety, you will be fine. If you walk onto a set and feel a sense of dread and anxiety, it’s probably not for you. Filmmaking should be enjoyable. You’ll never make it if it’s not.

Film School

Should I Attend Film School? Best Guide To Everything You Need to Know & More

Should I Attend Film School?

Do you intend to enroll in film production or a film studies program? A studies program is not intended to provide you with the tools or experience required to make films from a craft standpoint. 

It is designed to provide you with the analytical and critical thinking skills required to dissect films and understand what works and what doesn’t. A program that combines these two, with an emphasis on production, will benefit aspiring directors and DPs.

Is there a film club at your prospective school? Every semester, my school had a filmmakers’ club where we would all go out and make movies. If your school has a similar club, I strongly advise you to join. 

I made four films for my classes and shot six. I was able to shoot 15 films through my school’s filmmaker club. It significantly boosted my experience, and I was able to work through many of the rough patches of attempting to learn a craft while still in school.

How is your training going? Are they enlightening and challenging? Are you remembering dates, names, and ideas, or are you discussing ideologies, life experiences, cultural aspects, and landmark achievements? You’re paying thousands of dollars, more so than you’ll make for a couple of years or so after graduating from college, so you’d better get something out of it.

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Film school is always a dangerous proposition. Attending school provides you with three significant benefits: 

  1. Theory’s foundation (why we do the work, how the experts did it, and how to do it ourselves) 
  2. Establishing your first network 
  3. Making blunders in a sandbox

These are the only benefits of attending film school. It makes no difference if you get to use swanky cameras in school or anything else like that, because I assure you that for the cost of your tuition, you could have rented that equipment and created your own material. The disadvantages, as you may have predicted, are as follows:

  • Cost 
  • The threat of no value
  • Cost once more 

Seriously. Film school is exorbitantly priced, especially for an industry where you don’t make a lot of money until you’re established (and that can take a decade or more). 

So there are a few factors you must address: 

  • How much debt will you accumulate if you earn a degree in film
  • How valuable will the degree be to you? (Are there any notable alumni? Is it a success or a failure?) 
  • Can you add value to your resume by participating in extracurricular activities?

Opportunities for Advancement

Should I Attend Film School? Best Guide To Everything You Need to Know & More

Should I Attend Film School?

Don’t be concerned if you lack the skills or a degree. It is simple to enter the industry if you have greatly contributed to the development of: 

  • The ability to listen and quickly learn
  • A positive attitude 

In the film industry, it’s often that unpaid interns are allowed a film set to gain experience and potentially be hired in the near future. They are judged solely on these two criteria. 

  1. If they have to be told twice how to do something, that’s a bad sign. 
  2. If they treat the work with contempt, that’s also a bad sign. I can think of a few people who came in out of nowhere, asked for a job, and became professional filmmakers within a year.

I remember seeing an inexperienced student a few years ago who drove from the middle of Canada to Vancouver to learn all the parts of the film industry because he couldn’t pay for college. 

I recently discovered that he has a popular YouTube channel with nature documentaries and is well-versed in most camera and grip equipment. 

He was successful because he cracked a smile and made jokes with everybody he met because once he was taught something, he was ready to go. These are characteristics that will propel you forward in life (and not just in film).

So, how do you get your foot in the door?

Should I Attend Film School? Best Guide To Everything You Need to Know & More

Cold Calling

Locate the production listings for your area (I’m not sure about the area you live in, but most major cities with a strong film industry have film production listing resources that you can run through a list of upcoming productions, calling/emailing each one asking for an intern or PA position.

You’ll be fine if you include some humor and friendly jokes to humanize yourself. When I first moved to LA, I did this and ended up camera interning for an ASC DP on film within a couple of months. It’s effective!

Rental House

Working at a rental house gives you free access to the equipment as well as a revolving door of clients in the industry to meet.

Filmmaking Organizations

Discover some film production organizations in your region and join them. Don’t worry if you can’t seem to find any groups! You have more choices.

Film Festivals

Attend film festivals to meet and befriend filmmakers. Demonstrate that you’re keen to learn how they do what they do and that you’d be happy to assist them on set in any way you can.

Eventually, you’ll have a newly founded network that you can work to develop by utilizing the other options listed above.

Related Article: Best Tips On Getting Accepted Into Short Film Festivals

What you need to do right now?

Should I Attend Film School? Best Guide To Everything You Need to Know & More

Should I Attend Film School?

Okay, enough babbling! You must now decide whether you want to continue your career as a filmmaker or pursue a more secure major (like business). 

We understand that it’s a difficult decision, but you’re an adult now, and this is what that entails. You have control over your destiny, and you can’t rely on anyone else to make that decision for you. 

Once you’ve made a decision, take ownership of it. If you decide to go with film, keep everything I’ve said so far in mind.

However, there is one thing you must do: create. Go outside right now and film a movie. Make use of your smartphone. That iPhone, Samsung Galaxy has way better video quality than the crappy filmmaking camera I used in film school. Don’t be concerned about the equipment or the mistakes. Don’t measure yourself against others. 

>>> Smartphone Filmmaking 101:Ultimate Guide To Mobile Filmmaking

>>> Best Smartphone For Filmmaking In 2022 – Video Recording

Simply create something and observe it. See what you like and don’t like, and make changes to your next project! This is the time for you to experience what it’s like to make a film.

You’ve already made an excellent life-changing decision by not attending film school. It’s such a colossal waste of money (& time). YouTube, Vimeo, and one or two dedicated film education sites can literally teach you everything.

Of course, my advice will differ considerably on where you want to go in the field (pre-production, production, or post-production), but the general version is as follows:

Final Draft 11

Buy A Computer

Video editing tips

Purchase a Macbook Pro (or Mac Mini or iMac). MacBook Pro is probably the best choice because of its portability. I’m not a PC hater by any means, but when it comes to make-or-break situations, you can count on a Mac. They’re simply more dependable and stable.

Own A Camera

Best Filmmaking Cameras For Making Short Films

Purchase a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera with 2-3 lenses and a high-quality tripod. I’m not an expert on cameras. I’m hoping some real experts can weigh in on what you should buy to get started. I own a Sony A7R III because it produces impressively sharp and well-rendered video in both 4k and 1080p, and the video looks great even in low light, with minimal visual noise.

Own An Editing Software Program

Download the Adobe Creative Cloud. This provides you with an entire arsenal of professional software. If you’re hesitant to invest in software, you can experiment with iMovie on your Mac to get a feel for video editing and see if it’s for you. Do not, I repeat, do not purchase AVID Media Composer. Learning to edit on AVID is comparable to learning to drive a bus when you can’t even drive a car. I’m not a fan of AVID.

Watch Youtube Clips

Begin by watching how-to videos on how to use your camera. Vimeo and YouTube have you covered. It will take some practice to get the hang of this. You can begin editing with the filmed footage. Once again, all of the materials were obtained from YouTube. There are editing tutorials everywhere on Youtube that can cover almost all of the fundamentals.

Online Film School

Learn filmmaking from experienced instructors via online platforms like Masterclass and Udemy.

With Masterclass and Udemy, you can learn the tricks of the trade from well-known filmmakers and instructors at a low cost. You never know what information they may provide that will help you become a better filmmaker.

I pay for Masterclass every year, and when you can learn from filmmakers like James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and others, there is always something they can teach you to help you become a better filmmaker.

Related Article: James Cameron Masterclass – 7+ Amazing Reasons Every Filmmaker Needs To Enroll Today!

Conclusion

Should you go to film school? According to the information presented above, there is no clear path to success in the filmmaking industry.

But whether you enroll in film school and gain valuable experience, or you jump right into the industry with no knowledge and just be willing to learn, if you follow the advice above, you can be successful.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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