Thinking about Film School - Page 12 at

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
Let's talk about anything media related.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:14 AM   #166
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Somewhere in the Negev
Posts: 1,189
Que s'Adiche, Paisan!


I love your enthusiasm. But don't go to film school because you are bored. Use this time to make movies and enter film festivals, the best film school one-two punch you'll ever have! And, look at the money you'll save! Just write, write, write and shoot, shoot, shoot and experiment.

Remember NIKE? Just do it!

At least take off an entire year to make a few good shorts to get a taste of the glory and madness of this unreal industry.

Interesting, if true. And interesting anyway.
Hugh DiMauro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 01:08 AM   #167
Regular Crew
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Minnesota, USA
Posts: 39
film school?

I'm a junior in high school and soon I will have to start making choices regarding my career, as well as my college education. I thoroughly enjoy making short DV films, I am enrolled in all the TV production classes at my school, I have learned programs like Vegas, Photoshop, and Flash. I have learned about audio, and lighting. I have entered shorts into film festivals. Basically, I really like this work overall.

However, I do not know what kind of career possibilities I would have getting out of film school. My dream would be to work as a director of photography in features, but again I don't know how realistic that would be. I would also like the idea of working as a freelance business, making documentaries, etc.

Any of the previous lines of work would make me very happy. On the other hand, I don't know if I would be able to find work, or make a living off those lines of work.

Any advice?
Ernesto Llano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 06:16 AM   #168
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: chattanooga, tn
Posts: 721
Ernesto, I honestly think you're a lot better off without film school. I think you can learn more on a few sets in less than a year than you can learn in 6+ years of undergrad + grad. Not to mention the fact that film school often works out to cost as much as medical school (since you get to buy your own film stock and whatnot). When you get out of school, you'll probably just end up working as PA anyway, which is easy enough to get into without school.

Then again, film school gives you access to a lot of really cool "toys" that you wouldn't get to "play" with otherwise. There's the potential to meet a lot of interesting people. You'll spend all of your time in a filmmaking environment, which isn't always true without school if you have to do other work to get by for a while.

I really think the benefits of film school are not worth the cost and/or time investment. Just try to get some work on a set, doing whatever. Even as a PA, you can try to help the gaffers out, or the sound crew, whatever. You can learn a lot that way, even in just one day.

I'm sure others will give you differing advice. Listen to all of it, and weigh your options carefully. Don't make your decision too quickly--a lot of time and money are involved.

By the way, I'm not saying you should skip college... just that majoring in film might not be best. It never hurts to be educated, no matter what you end up doing. I just don't see that film school is all that educational most of the time. I'd suggest majoring in a much broader, more general kind of subject area--the basic "liberal arts" education. You can make short films in the summertime and during spring/xmas break, and learn a lot on your own along the way. Then get into film stuff for a living when you graduate.

Just my $0.02.
-->jarrod whaley.
Jarrod Whaley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 06:33 AM   #169
Regular Crew
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Toronto Ontario
Posts: 85
Jarrod has it pretty much right, except I am in the same position as you, I am entering my last year of High School and I am soon going to make a decision on to where I will go after I graduate.

However with what Jarrod said, there are some points that can be arguable. For instance whether the school you have entered has a strong film background and is an actual "Film city" is also a point to consider. From all the research I have done into post graduate programs, I believe that a broader program which encorporates production and film studies is the best suiting for anyone who wants to go to a film school. Personally I hope to join York University and enter their BFA program for Film Production (and achieve my life goal to be a Cinematographer), as I know and from testimonials that York is one of the best universities for film studies in Canada.

I guess its all based on dedication and good choices.
Shervin Mandgaryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 09:20 AM   #170
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 180
Well, I'm 40, I've produced corporate videos and one documentary, and graduated with honors from a 2 year film school program. What film schools are good for is giving you an over-all perspective of the industry, the roles and responsibilities of various positions. They also help you "speak the language" so that when you go to work in the industry you have a much better understanding of what's going on, and potentially may move up the chain faster.
If you're dead set that you want to be a DOP, and also make your own films, then I'd say skip film school. Use the money to buy yourself a Canon XL2, learn how to use the electronic cinematography settings, and shoot shoot shoot. There are some really good books and videos out there that can explain a lot about working with light, but nothing beats actually doing it. Start watching everything from a DOP perspective. Even if something is a crappy story or poorly acted, what about the cinematography?
If you're not sure that being a DOP is for you, and wonder what it might be like to work as a gaffer or assistant director, then go to film school. It'll give you a chance to meet and work with new people, but you may find that you have to put the brakes on some of your own projects, and learn stuff that you're not that interested in.
If you go the indie route, don't get caught up in going HD right now. The reason I suggest the XL2 is because it has all the programable settings similar to high end cameras, but without the cost. Concentrate on making your films look great, and have a really good story. If you look around in the forums, and on-line, you can find some examples of some really good work that's being done by people pretty new to the industry.
Cal Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 09:27 AM   #171
Major Player
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 204
It depends where you go to film school.

Going to a film school in Nowheresville, USA won't give you much unless they have A-list faculty. But going to an institution in a major film city is a different story.
I'm almost done with my BFA in film from the City College of New York (ccny). The faculty is amazing, the equipment is OK, and my classmates are great. In any undergrad institution, you'll be in classes with 70% idiots, but that 30% left is why I consider film school to be a great way to get yourself started. Success at filmmaking and success in this industry is about talent (which you either have or don't), about skill (which film school definitely helps you acquire), respect for your craft and it's history (which film school DEFINITELY gives you) and who you know (that 30%). Having skilled peers to work with on a constant basis is valuable.
Also, if you start with the "real-world" thing, you'll be doing PA stuff first, I guarantee it - unless you know someone - and it'll be that way for a while. In film school, you'll be doing above the line jobs from the start.
Yes the real-world stuff is very important. What's great about going to film school is that you've got the summers off (3 months) and winters, too (over a month). You can do BOTH. You don't have to choose one direction. Also, sometimes, you can get valuable internships on professional productions THROUGH your school.
Anyway, that's my opinion. I think film-school is a great way to do your thing.

Dave Dodds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 10:09 AM   #172
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brookline, MA
Posts: 1,447
I think the point of film school is to network and test expensive equipment. The rest you can do on your own.
Emre Safak is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 11:03 AM   #173
Regular Crew
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Minnesota, USA
Posts: 39
Thank you very very much for all the responses. I liked Jarrod's idea of graduating in a broader category and going into film, since that will probably give me the most options.

What about the careers after college? I just don't really understand how one can make a living off making movies or documentaries. I mean let's say I get out of college, and do a good documentary, I probably won't make any money from it unless it is so good that it gets played in theaters, or TV. However, I would have to fund the project.

So it almost seems like I would need a separate career in order to fund my filmmaking career, wouldn't I?

What about freelance video companies? Is it very tough to make a living on that front?

Thank you very much,

Ernesto Llano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 11:24 AM   #174
Major Player
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 254
Originally Posted by Ernesto Llano
I probably won't make any money from it unless it is so good that it gets played in theaters, or TV. However, I would have to fund the project.
Only if you're producing it. Making money off a film or documentary is dependant on who's running the gig. Some offer you money as youo go along (a payroll if you will) and some say, "hey, I have a great idea, help me make it and MAYBE we'll make money, wanna give it a shot?".

Originally Posted by Ernesto Llano
So it almost seems like I would need a separate career in order to fund my filmmaking career, wouldn't I?
Not entirely...just save, save, save! You can find funding in many, credit cards, parents....heheh...It's all about finding a way to come up with the money. Fund raisers, etc.

Originally Posted by Ernesto Llano
What about freelance video companies? Is it very tough to make a living on that front?
Definately. Look at a lot of the people on this forum. Many work for production companies who offer video services to other commercial companies to work on commercials, tv spots, etc. Many also do wedding videography on their own or work for an established wedding videography company. There's a lot out there, you just gotta search.
Roger Rosales is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 11:26 AM   #175
Major Player
Join Date: May 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 516
i think this is a tough question to answer nowadays. with many private, 4 year undergrad programs approaching the vicinity of 100k, there's almost no way you can justify that expense going to film school, or any liberal arts program, IMHO. that's not a comment on a liberal arts education, just a knock against the state of education in this country -- it's clearly tilted towards the people who have, and not the have-nots. i have to say my time at nyu film in the late 80s and early 90s was pretty rewarding and certainly a lot of fun, but the burden of paying off student loans was a monkey on my back til only recently, and only after a fairly decent career in advertising allowed me to pay it back a little faster than i would have otherwise. i would say you certainly don't NEED film school. before the mid to late 80s, there were few films made by film school grads, because big film programs were relatively new, and its not like films weren't made prior to the mid 80s. most filmmakers at the time would ask "why are you in film school? just make films." but who wants to study to be an engineer or doctor, when you want to be a filmmaker?

i can look back now and ask myself if there was anything i learned that i couldn't have learned on my own, and the answer is no. but there is something to be said for a classroom environment, either in an actual classroom or on a set, being with people who share similar interests and goals, and actually putting out work. it's a tough call.

i would ask you to look at all your options. the breadth of interesting programs being offered in schools nowadays is pretty astounding. i just went through a round of interviews with recent graduates who majored in web design/flash and 3d. if i had those kinds of choices when i went to school, i don't think i would have chosen film as a major. and that's not to say, i wouldn't have pursued film...

in any case, whatever you do, pick something you're passionate about! that way, when you're putting that student loan check in the mail, at least you'll know why!

good luck.
Henry Cho is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 11:55 AM   #176
Regular Crew
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Minnesota, USA
Posts: 39
Thanks again for all your responses. Regarding the cost of film school, I haven't found a film program that I am interested in yet, however, I am doing very well in school, straight A's and everything, so I'm hoping that I'll get a scholarship that will pay for most of my education. Also, I understand all the cases made for NOT going to film school, but I definitley want to go to college, and like Henry said "who wants to study to be an engineer or doctor, when you want to be a filmmaker?"

That is mainly why I am seriously considering going to film school. However, I don't want to go to film school and then not be able to find a job. So maybe, like Jarrod said, I could graduate in a more broad area and then find work as a filmmaker?
Ernesto Llano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 12:03 PM   #177
Major Player
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 180
I know I've already posted, but I think Henry is really touching upon an important point. When you go through a film program, you will be forced to learn things that you may not have much interest in. But you may find, as I have, that in retrospect many of the tedious lessons learned will serve you well later. We had an assignment where we were to produce a 1-2 minute short video that was instructional. My group chose how to mount a set of snowboard bindings properly. But as part of our assignment we had to do a full production book which included location survey, lightling plan, script break down, shot list, storyboards, call sheets, the works. Recently I had a shoot where we did eight short instructional videos in one day. We HAD to be organized, and from my experience at school, I knew what to do to be prepared. The shoot went very smoothly, and the client felt I was very professional. The footage came out great.
Now, you don't have to go to school to be that organized, but if you're kind of a "ah lets just wing it" personality, you benefit from an environment that forces you to do the leg work as well. As I said in my first post, school will allow you to speak the language of film... what is three phase power? Why did the gaffer get mad at me when I plugged in an extension cord for the coffee machine? Economy of setup?
You can find out all that info by reading books, but you have to be motivated.
Also, if you're thinking about school, maybe consider colleges north of the boarder. Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto all have worthy film schools, and are also home to alot of feature work, so they might be worth considering.
Cal Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #178
Inner Circle
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Port St. Lucie, Florida
Posts: 2,614
My Take!

I think going to film school is great but, it is like going to school for a degree in criminal justice with the goal of being a law enforcement officer. It just does not work out most of the time.

Many or most of those who get a criminal justice degree, are unable to get hired as law enforcement officers when they graduate, not because of their education, but because of mental, physical, or emotional problems. I have seen it too many times. Even if you do get hired by a department, you have to go through a police or sheriff's academy for training, where a third or more drop out because they can't handle it, or just get kicked out. And, the first thing that they try to do in the academy is to have you unlearn all you were taught in college!

So, then what do you do with that degree? I always recommended those who want to be law enforcement officers to just get hired and then take classes, or get a degree in business or another field then apply for jobs in law enforcement. There are no shortages of openings in law enforcement, just a lack of really qualified people.

I think most of the good people in the film industry have worked their way up from other positions, such as gaffers etc. Many that I have met have done just that. This does not mean that the education is not important, just maybe secondary to real world experience, and natural talent. Talent, drive and ambition are generally more important than formal education. Just look at Bill Gates and Walt Disney.

JMHO for what it is worth.

Chapter one, line one. The BH.
Mike Teutsch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 02:12 PM   #179
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 4,750
I know a DP who graduated film school without knowing what a sandbag was. From what I've seen, film schools aren't that good at teaching you more than the basics (although knowing what a sandbag is is pretty basic).

Regardless of whether or not you go to film school, you should definitely do things on the side. PA on shoots to see what happens out there in the real world. Shoot your own stuff to experiment and learn from that. You kind of only need gear good enough to learn on.

Of the people who are working now, they generally got there because they had the drive to do things on the side. They also have an aptitude for what they do. If you just start working, you'll probably find out much faster whether or not you have that aptitude (technical aptitude, creative aptitude, and just as importantly an aptitude for working with people). It may be beneficial to take a year off before you go into university... then you'll definitely know whether or not you want to be in film.

If you were going into film school anyways, taking a year off probably isn't going to make any difference. It could also help you, because you have a better understanding of what you want to get into, where your weaknesses are, what you don't know. You could make a lot more out of going to school, where you get some gear + crew to shoot your own stuff. In Canada, $5k tuition a year might be worth it for the gear you get (this depends on the institution though!!).

If you find out that film school isn't for you, then you save yourself a bundle of cash and four years.
Glenn Chan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 27th, 2006, 02:16 PM   #180
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Belgium
Posts: 2,195
I began at the film academy in Belgium, but I've quit a couple of months ago, because I had the feeling I was making their movies, not my movies.
Now I've found my own team, and I'm busy... making movies.

In the 7 months I was at the academy, I didn't learn anything I hadn't read about here or experienced myself...

Just my experience...
Glenn is right: it's about your OWN PASSION and DRIVE!
If you have that, you will get there, with or without academy.
If you don't have it, no film school will get you there where you want...
Mathieu Ghekiere is offline   Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

(800) 223-2500
New York, NY

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Texas Media Systems
(512) 440-1400
Austin, TX

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

(800) 323-2325
Mineola, NY

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:17 AM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2018 The Digital Video Information Network