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Old October 23rd, 2010, 05:28 PM   #1
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Help! Career Guidance!

Hello everyone, I currently attend a 4 year state University in California, and i am 19 and a sophmore, and i still dont know what to major in. I Love Shooting and editing short films, mostly sports films like Mountain biking and motocross but i dont know how well that would translate into any type of career. The school i go to has a good program for communication design with an option in media arts and i was just kind of wondering what kind of job i could get with a degree like this? I was told by someone in the business that it is best to get a general degree like liberal arts, and then pursue your filming passion as a hobby, do you think thats the best way to go? or should i go to maybe a more film specific school?

Basically, I just wanna know what kind of job i can get with a some sort of film or media degree, or is it best just to have a general degree, and then keep honing your passion as a hobby until you can land a job. I really don't have any interest in free-lance type work like weddings and such, so if thats all ill be able to do after going to college for 4 years, then i want to know.

Any insight you guys have would be greatly appreciated
thank you
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Old October 24th, 2010, 01:59 AM   #2
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To be honest, most people who do a film related degree don't end up working in film or TV or related areas. I suspect that's what the person in the business was basically saying. It's all what you make of whatever degree you do and film makers have all sorts of degrees, each of which brings something to how they view their meduim.

Sport films are a market and there's a whole sector of the industry built around sport. If that's what's you're passionate about perhaps you should gear yourself towards that and check out the requirements for working in that area. You may find that journalism may be a better approach for example.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #3
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IMHO the best thing you could do would be to get a Business degree that would be useful in any field.

Good Luck!
David W. Jones
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Old October 24th, 2010, 11:57 AM   #4
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I'll just echo the very good advice that's been given above, and add this: the degree won't get you the job. Your skills and reel and how well you interview will.

The benefit of the degree from a film school is it may help you make contacts or otherwise open a few more doors so you can get in and interview. And the experience you may gain from crewing for others in your class may help you as well. But ultimately, it's up to the skills you develop along the way.

Some employers actually have a bias against film school grads, because they may think every kid fresh out of film school wants to be the next Coppola or Scorsese right out of the gate, when all they need is a cable-puller.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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so sounds like a specific degree won't really do much? When i was at orientation last year, one of the professors was bragging about how the students that graduated from this program went on to film for deadliest catch and some other discovery channel shows like that so it made me think that employers would look at this school for future employees, but i understand what you mean. if your talented in this field, then you can get a job without some degree. I still don't know. I don't have much passion for anything else, but i feel like jobs are hard to come by in this industry, at least a job that i'll like. I don't want to be a camera operator for a news show or something like that, and just sit there completely stationary, i would want something more creative, but other than freelance work, i feel that there isn't much of that kind of work out there
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Old October 25th, 2010, 09:08 AM   #6
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Hello Micheal,

You are in a very classic situation that most college students encounter. I went to UC Davis and majored in Engineering, probably one of the most specific udergraduate majors. I am still working as an engineer but also am working on movies and documentaries and am in the process of making a transition to filmmaking as a full time job.

From my perspective, you shouldn't think about going to a major university and majoring in a specific subject in the same way you would look at being trained at a vocational school. If you are going to a UC keep in mind that their philosophy is that they are not training you to do a specific job. UC schools are not know for their "practical" training. Their goal is to train the students to think in a certain way that will allow them to be effective at their chosen field. So, it is very possible to get a degree in one major and work in a completely different industry.

Your degree will really be what you make of it. So yes, you could very easily get a degree in say business and make a career in film. However, one of the major advantages in getting a degree in the field you think you want to go into, is that most of the professors you will have for your upper division classes will have contacts with industry leaders in that profession. The most likely reason the professor you spoke with talked about graduates from the school going on to work on Discovery Network shows is because someone has a connection with someone at Discovery. Networking is perhaps the most important thing to learn how to do if you want to go into the film industry. I just attended a discussion about how to increase film making activities in the Northern California Area, and from the panel discussion it was apparent that networking to get projects completed was one of the keys.

So should you get a degree in film or some other type of media arts really depends on you. If you are really passionate about film making you will probably end up in the film industry no matter what you get a degree in. If you are passionate about it as a hobby, no matter what you get your degree in you will most likely only continue to do it as a hobby. Remember, the film and entertainment industry is a business. Like any other business you'll have to climb the latter. I know many people who have degrees in film and media arts and are trying to make it in movies. One is currently working as a nanny as she also finds jobs where she can working on movies, and another is directing commercials for a local media company.

There are a couple of advantages in getting a degree in film. First, you could make some really good connections with other people who have a higher likely hood of working in the industry, that will give you a boost in your networking. And, the professors you will be working with will have a higher likelihood of having contacts in the entertainment industry. You will also be trained to think like a filmmaker which could help.

However, I took a class with a well know and established DP and in talking with him he commented that my background in engineering should be a very good combination for a filmmaker. So, it isn't necessary to have a film degree. Just remember, that like any other business, you won't start out being a director or producer. Your first job on a movie may well be holding a clipboard and just checking in props.

Just a point of view from someone without a film degree trying to make it in movies.

Garrett Low
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Old October 25th, 2010, 01:20 PM   #7
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Thanks Garrett, so now I understand that a film degree isn't really necessary to work in the industry, which helps a lot. The only problem is that it seems to be the only thing I am passionate in. Picking another major would likely bore me to death, which is what I'm worried about. I go to Chico State, and aside from its party reputation, it is a very good state school. I don't know if I could handle a business major, things don't soak in unless I have some interest in them, so i feel like it would be hard, or at the very least, extremely boring.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #8
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Consider why a film exists in the first place ... that is, to tell a story about something. You may have all the technical knowledge possible about filmmaking but unless you have something worthwhile and interesting to say, your films will be flops. While a technique-specific curriculm like film school conveys valuable technical knowledge, a more humanistic liberal arts education can help make you a more rounded person who can analyse life's experiences and generate ideas about them that are worth paying attention to. The technical aspects can be learned on your own from independent study and from books. So I would say by all means get as much formal education as possible but consider majoring in a subject such as english, history, philosophy, music or art history, poly sci, classics, etc that develop you as a person and cultivate your overall intellectual, observational, and analytic abilties rather than focussing more narrowly on technical issues. Perhaps minor in film studies or production.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #9
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thanks for the advice Steve, that seems to be the general theme of all the advice I'm getting. Now i just have to pick a general major to pick that I will be interested in
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