To Film School or Not To Film School: Crash Course Film Production #14

To Film School or Not To Film School: Crash Course Film Production #14

to film school or not to film school that is the question or it might be if you're interested in becoming a filmmaker and it doesn't have an easy answer some filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola Martin Scorsese and George Lucas attended film school and have thrived making feature films on the other hand James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh have both won Academy Awards for Best Director without ever attending a single class everyone's experience is going to be different but there are some things that you can generally expect to get from going to film school and with some careful consideration you might be able to chart a course that's right for you and emerge is the next big thing the world's first film school was founded in 1919 as with many early film schools the focus of the Moscow Film School was on studying films that already existed rather than actually making movies the theories developed by the students and teachers in Moscow eventually gave birth to the Soviet montage film movement in movies like battleship potemkin and man with a movie camera in 1929 the University of Southern California's School of cinema arts was founded by early cinema big shots like Mary Pickford Ernst Lubitsch and DW Griffith USC has maintained that close connection to Hollywood right up to the present day counting George Lucas Judd Apatow in Star Wars Episode 8 director Rian Johnson among its alumni and in 1965 two major film schools were founded in New York City one at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and the other is a part of Columbia University's School of the Arts although younger than the Southern California schools NYU and Columbia have caught up in terms of the success of their graduates Mike Lee Martin Scorsese and Brokeback Mountain director Angley all went to NYU while Columbia boasts Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow James Mangold who made 3:10 to Yuma and Logan and Jennifer Lee the writer and co-director of a little movie called frozen these days there are film schools in almost every state in the US as well as many other countries around the world you can find them in big international cities like Paris London and Beijing two smaller places like Austin Texas Mahwah New Jersey and Anchorage Alaska some are well-known like the programs at Cal arts the American Film Institute or AFI or the University of California Los Angeles better known as UCLA others are hidden gems like Emerson College in Boston or Denver's Colorado Film School the point is if you decide that film school is right for you you have options no matter where you live so what will you learn if you go film schools can be undergraduate or graduate programs at universities colleges and community colleges they might be freestanding degrees at those schools or they might be housed in other departments like English Fine Arts Theater Media Studies or communications most film schools will teach you to both study and make films education isn't necessarily just about practicing a trade it can also be about exposing yourself to other ways of thinking writing creating or watching in other words it can be time for experimentation classes on film history theory and criticism will introduce you to film filmmakers film movements in various ways to think critically about them while courses on things like screenwriting cinematography directing and editing will give you the skills and experience you'll need to produce your own films these same subjects are taught in many film schools but teaching methods can differ most schools follow either the conservatory or the liberal arts approach conservatory schools like the American Film Institute the New York Film Academy and to some extent NYU focus on educating world-class artists and technicians devoted to a single field within filmmaking very early on at a conservatory school you'll choose a track with help from faculty and advisers and you'll study that subject almost exclusively you might decide to become an editor or a cinematographer a director sound designer and your classes and exercises will be geared toward the craft art and technology of that particular role as a result conservatory schools tend to turn out graduates who excel at their particular job and know it inside and out if you're looking for a broader understanding of cinema and its place in the world or you don't know which track you want to pursue yet the liberal arts based film school might be a better fit in practice liberal arts film schools offer students the chance to try a variety of filmmaking roles and gain a deeper understanding of the whole filmmaking process rather than just one specific part of it and while students will still learn how to line up a shot or make a rough cut they'll also be encouraged to think about cinema and its larger cultural economic historical and political context of course you'll also find film schools that split the difference between these two approaches providing a broad liberal arts education for initial courses and pivoting to a more track based curriculum for the later ones so what does film school really get you first and foremost time school gives you the time to focus on the craft of filmmaking in a structured environment time to fail learn from your mistakes and try again and time to experiment and find your artistic voice while you're given critical feedback from teachers and your fellow students depending on where you go film school might also let you move closer to a filmmaking hub be it New York or Los Angeles or even Chicago Atlanta or Austin just being close to the action can be a powerful motivator for aspiring filmmakers in terms of Technology many film schools give you the opportunity to get your hands on a lot of the equipment you'll find on sets like jibs dollies cameras or microphones while an expert helps guide you and you'll learn to collaborate film is an intensely collaborative industry and medium and being forced to rely on and work with your peers is a big part of the film school experience even more importantly film school gives you access to a community of people who are just as obsessed with films and filmmaking as you are that network of teachers mentors and trusted peers will become your allies as you develop all your create projects and find opportunities to work in the film industry many film school graduates think of this community as one of the biggest benefits of their formal education and of course you'll earn a degree a degree can have value as a symbol of your passion commitment and follow-through but sadly it doesn't guarantee you a job or career and that leads us into some arguments against attending film school it's expensive not only will you pay tuition but you'll have to fund your own films and don't forget you might have to move to a bigger pricier city to pursue your dreams not to mention film is an exceptionally competitive industry that often depends on who you know and how good you are at your job there's a lot of luck and timing mixed in with the tenacity hard work and talent required to succeed also your learning style might not be suited to a classroom some people thrive in an academic environment while others do better with a hands-on approach or more unstructured exploration if that's you film school might not be the best option but if you decide film school is too expensive or not a good fit there are a number of other paths you can take to become a professional filmmaker many directors started out working as crew members on other people's films before making movies of their own Alfred Hitchcock began as a title designer and worked his way up to directing classics like psycho and rear window before dreaming up the Terminator aliens Titanic and Avatar James Cameron got his start as a set painter for famous b-movie producer Roger Corman Cameron reportedly mastered so many different skills that today his crew members talked about upping their own game because he can probably do their job at least as well as they can this kind of apprenticeship approach was even built into the structure of some international film industries until fairly recently up until at least the 1980s in England for example most directors were obligated to put their time in and as an assistant director before they were even given the chance to make their own films in the 1990s though a list directors like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh took an entirely different path instead of apprentice' makers they both studied hundreds if not thousands of films on their own with a focus and intensity most film students couldn't muster their feature film debuts Reservoir Dogs and Sex Lies and videotape both display an incredible grasp of storytelling film grammar and tone at a level remarkable for self-taught directors Paul Thomas Anderson acclaimed director of Boogie Nights and there will be blood let the difference he was an intense student of film long before he got to film school and then he dropped out after the first day the proliferation of things like blu-ray special features and online tutorials make this kind of DIY approach more possible than ever before lessons from the screenplay on YouTube and the website and podcast script notes are great resources for screenwriters while sites like cinematography comm can teach you tips and tricks about cameras lighting and special effects in fact the falling cost of film equipment and the ability to distribute your work on the Internet has done more to change the film school equation in the last decade than anything else you can build online communities and peer groups of like-minded filmmakers from around the world which might make film school less necessary for you and it's not like Warner Brothers is gonna turn you down for a directing job because they find out you don't have a degree think about it this way if you want to become a doctor you need to go to medical school right if you can afford it and your grades are good enough you'll graduate in boom you're a doctor it doesn't guarantee you a job but it does mean you're very likely to find work in the medical field it's also the only way to become a doctor for filmmakers film school is just one of the many paths you might take that's the great advantage and drawback to pursuing a career in film you can get there any number of ways but none of them are guaranteed so is film school the right choice for you I can't tell you that but luckily the person who can tell you is watching this video right now it's you I'm talking about you take some time and think about the environments and what you learn best the communities you could build and be a part of and what you can afford and remember whatever form of your education takes it's the work you do and the kind of collaborator you become that matter most today we talked about the history of film school and the different approaches they take to educating filmmakers we discussed the benefits of film school from access to equipment peer groups and mentors to the time to make mistakes and we looked at other options from apprenticeships to self education and building your own community of collaborators online next time we'll focus our attention on the history and exciting current state of television production crash course film production is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios you can head over to their channel to check out a playlist of their latest shows like space time it's okay to be smart and physics girl this episode of crash course was filmed in the doctor Cheryl C Kinney crash course studio with the help of these nice people and our amazing graphics team is thought cafe

44 thoughts on “To Film School or Not To Film School: Crash Course Film Production #14

  1. Can anybody list a few resources online to look up to for cinematography, any websites, courses, education platforms and other creative places. Also community forums & collaboration places for filmmakers!! Thanks.

  2. The biggest benefit to going to a film school besides all the knowledge you gain in the subject is actually the people meet, the friends you make, and the connections you build. When your studying in a school where "literally" everyone is passionate about film and is there to learn how to make films, the possibility of gaining experience by making films with friends and like minded people is incredible. Plus you never know that friend you make in college could one day become the next big Director, Actor, or Producer or Writer. And you will be happy you know and are friends with that person.

  3. Personally, I had a quite bad experience in film school that made me hate the field. It doesn't mean it will happen to you, but think a lot before deciding to take that path. I do not regret a bit, I have learned so much, but right now, not sure I am going to work in this industry.

  4. I’m surprised they didn’t even mention Steven Spielberg. He applied for USC film school and was rejected multiple times. Now look at him, he has a street named after him in USC and an honorary degree!

  5. You should mention College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. If you want to know what we have done just look up the number of Student Emmy Award winners we have had in the last three years. We do what other film schools won’t!

  6. To me I think film school is not worth it…I took a break from film school to start working as a PA. So far I worked on two TV shows shot in New York City. My network in connecting with Key PA's have really payed off. I usually find out what TV/Movie productions are shooting in the NYC area. I usually take trips out to these film sets and ask crew members if the Key PA is around, so I can talk to them about getting work. If you live in either NY or LA I recommend using this method. It's really helpful.

  7. thank you for making this video. I’m a freshman right now and I’ve always been interested in engineering but after I shadowed an electrical engineer and seeing everything they do everyday it just seems so boring and I’d never want to do that as my career. I want to do something creative and not some cookie cutter type job. I spent hours on hours editing and working on a documentary for this national history day competition and over that time I realized how much I actually love editing and doing gfx. I never really considered doing film because I always thought it was just this extremely exclusive field but after seeing this video explaining he structure of film school I think that’s really what I want to do.

  8. i suggest to join if u can afford, we humans lose motivation and passion really quick and if you are that kind of person like most of the people get in and make friends with like minded people and keep making shorts.

  9. Coming out of medical school. I want to do something related to film but right now have no experience or knowledge about it. The first thing I want to do is find other ppl interesting in film so I can at least start getting done exposure, how best to do it?

  10. if you want a more subjective discussion which i would say is a slightly better or at least more in depth, try the Lindsey Ellis video on this subject.

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