Four reasons why I don't recommend film schools and colleges. I don't think they are the best way to learn or the best way to break into the film industry.
I went to a university in London called SAE Institute which offered a film making degree.
The reason I wanted to get into the film making course was simply because it was the subject I was most interested in. I wanted to become a film maker. What`s wrong with studying a subject that suits my curiosity?
The course was two days a week of theory, each three hours long. The Rest of the time was up to us to use equipment available there and make a film. It was a two years course.
I mainly learned the technical sides of editing by teaching myself through online videos and articles, because my tutors were too busy dealing with other students. What I learned most through the film making course was I had to take the initiative and learn it myself. Never wait for others to teach you.
Five years later, I am working in a TV Industry as a cameraman. I was asked by a friend of mine if going to film school was good or not.
My answer is, No.
I think film making course was a waste of my time and money. I did not need to go there to learn what I had learned.
Let`s go through the reasons why I think film making course is not necessary.
1) Not the best way to learn film making.
I remember, I learned more by working as a production assistant for a week than studying film making for two years at a university. It was more intensive, richer and direct learning experience.
At university, you tend to spend more time with your classmates with hardly no film making experience. I learned a lot more by watching and absorbing the guys who make living from film making.
You can apply for a production assistant position through film making websites that get updated daily. Filmmakers need a spare hand constantly and are more likely welcoming for any helping.
I see it like learning a language. The best way to learn is to live and work in that country you want to master the language. University is not necessarily the best way to learn.
2) Not the best way to break into the film making industry
Even after graduating a film making course, you will not have the trust of the industry for your skills just yet. Your skill is not likely to be a professional standard. You will be seen as a beginner and a learner. I think people will want to hire you as a production assistant initially, no matter what you specialized in your film making course.
As said before, industry needs production assistants. Why not support yourself through that money you are thinking of investing in a film making school, while you can learn on a professional field? You will be able to build your C Vs, have professional show reels and you will have far more contacts. You are going to be much closer to breaking into industry than after graduating a film school. University merely delays the timing to be immersed in the real world of film making.
Of course, this takes discipline.
3) Film schools cannot offer you a lot
Film schools can offer a degree. But so what? In an industry that works with who you know and who you can trust, the paper means nothing. You might as well study something else that will help you bring something new to your style of film making.
Plus, most resources are available online, on youtube, on blogs. Etc.
Sure, you might have a show reel at the end. But to be honest, most of the graduates show reels are rubbish in quality. They simply cannot compete other professionals on the field.
Yes, film school does offer equipment. But you can get hold of them for a small cost comparing to attending a film school.
Feedback from professors? Hmm… it’s better to get from the guys who actually work in the industry.
4) There are many filmmakers who never went to film school.
The list here: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000337922/
I think film school makes you "feel" like you are working towards a career. I don`t deny that. I did learn few things or not.
But the truth is, those guys who make it in the industry do it through the mind set of approaching and pro activeness and persistence.
Schools can make you less proactive and be on the receiving side. You begin to expect to be taught your way through. I remember there were students in my university who complained that they were not taught enough by their tutors. They explained me that they paid to be taught and they were unhappy with what they got! They have the right to complain, but I believe that is a wrong mentality to have. Only the proactive guys and people with good connections make it in the industry.
Although I went to a film making school, I am against them. It is too expensive and the return is small.
Do you agree with my thoughts? Do you have different views?
I am a documentary/News cameraman based in London.