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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old August 9th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #226
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I understand where Alan is coming from in a sense. I of course have not received the formal film training but can understand that "formal education stifles your creativity". To me I'm just thinking of the stress of quitting a full time job and trying to find some part time job that probably won't pay enough. However I do understand that by going to school I will find people that share the same passion I do and people that want to make films when they're not working or in school just like me. I will be able to make contacts and work on actual sets. Two of my friends attend this school and have worked on several paid sets, they of course still maintain a part time job.

Right now the only constraint that I find for myself and my film making is the people to help out with my projects.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 10:06 AM   #227
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There are lots of good points being made pro and con film school here.

As far as a film school degree leading to or being necessary to get paid work on "real" sets, that's something that is generally not true, unless the contacts you made while in school were what got you in the door in the first place. It is unusual that making a cold call or going for an interview to work as a PA will be any more successful simply because you have a degree--as a matter of fact, a lot of people prefer NOT to hire film school grads for entry-level work because they have a reputation for having an attitude that they are "better" than the requirements of the job at hand, being it sweeping the floor or running errands etc.

I went to NYU film and dropped out after a year with a lot of the sentiments that Alan shares now. I went to work right away as a PA and was shooting small projects on the side, and got a job at a production company as the staff shooter/editor a couple of years later. The rest--well, my IMDB listing can speak to that.

Considering who I was and where my focus was at that time, I really wouldn't have had the patience to sit in a classroom of any kind for four years, and in fact I never returned to college (and working in the film industry, not possessing a degree has never been an issue to date). However, in the vein that Mark and Benjamin have described, it is the experiences and knowledge gained in college that may well inform your future work and interests and aesthetic for the rest of your life. My advice to young people is often to study art or liberal arts as an undergrad, and if they really want formal education in film to then go to one of the specialized programs such as the Rockport Film Workshops or AFI where you will have access to working professionals in the film industry who are keeping up with the fast-changing world of production because they are actually in it.

These days, I'm tempted to think that a substantial education in film can be had by reading a lot, studying films on DVD (and listening to commentaries) buying a camera and NLE system and just making as many films as you can. Every city now has tons of folks doing just that, and the internet has connected everyone to share results and techniques via sites like this. But if your desire is to work up the ranks of the traditional industry, just get out there and talk your way into a production company to get PA work by being friendly, eager to do anything and persistent without being annoying; then once you are in, use your common sense, anticipate, be pro-active and pleasant and you will be hired back. But use whatever oppportunity you have to watch and learn how everything works, from the structure of production to whichever discipline interests you the most (I learned many of the essentials of lighting from observing the DP's on the jobs I worked on as a PA).
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Old August 9th, 2007, 11:22 AM   #228
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I think it's intersting how many comments there are about film school's stifling your creativity. I went to film school and I didn't go there to learn to be creative, I went to learn the equipment. Creativity is something you have or you don't have, and no school can teach it to you.

My opinion as someone who went to school: a big "it depends." And it depends mostly on rather or not you can finance it. If you have the money and time to spend, and want to go, then go for it. If not for the techincal know-how, then for the networking. It's great to have teachers and students to bounce ideas off of and ask questions to. If you don't have the dough, don't go. Like I said, the main reason I went was to learn the equipment and I'm sure I could have done the same by taking the thousands of dollars in tuition and investing it into some equipment.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #229
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I went to film school and stopped after 6 months.
Everything I know now comes from the internet, self study, books, and making films.

It's different for everyone, for some it works, for other it doesn't.
But I had the feeling I was making THEIR films, and not my own anymore.
And I learned A LOT more spending one week on the set of another self-taught filmmaker then in my 6 months in film school.

My advice would be: think carefully, don't let me or anyone else decide for you, BUT also think about instead of putting the money to a film school, putting it towards equipment or just to make your film. (Also be carefull not to get in financial trouble!)

As Charles Papert here said (and he can know it!), nobody in the film industry asks you for you degree. They just want to know if you deliver the goods or not.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #230
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I took a few film making courses then stopped. I think I recieved the most benefit from photography courses that taught composition and style. The rest was self-taught.

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Old August 9th, 2007, 03:32 PM   #231
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Alright so I believe that I've made up my mind. After contacting the school and finding out that they aren't offering any night classes that apply for what I would like to learn I am going to stay independent. They only offer classes based on the volunteering from the teachers around their other jobs or something like that. Yeah, I've got no idea either as to what they meant. But yeah I was going to go in mainly for the grip/electric courses. I really want to learn lighting but I think I'm going to buy up some books for myself and just learn on my own.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 03:42 PM   #232
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Yes there are many great books out there (you can look it up in our 'Read About it'- forums here) and also dvd sets with Hollywood Camera work things. I haven't read or seen both of them, but I heard many great things about them. I think a lot of learning to light is also just experimenting.
I wish you the best,
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Old August 9th, 2007, 03:54 PM   #233
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I'll be sure to check out that section Mathieu, thanks!
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Old August 9th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #234
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Maybe you're thinking too big? Traditional schools are a big commitment in terms of time & money. Smaller, shorter workshops might be closer to what you're looking for. Keep your day job, and just take some vacation days.

As Boyd mentioned, the New York Film Academy has shorter sessions you could sign up for. And I've heard really good things about the Maine Workshops.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 08:46 PM   #235
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Since this is a frequently asked question, some other threads on the topic...

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=11156

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=10208

If the teachers are as hopeless as you say they are, how are the other students? Do you feel you have good competition amongst your comrades? Is there anyone you see as likely to excel in the industry post-graduation?
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Old August 9th, 2007, 09:11 PM   #236
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Robert at my school there seems to be no self motivated students other then myself. I have found that most people like the idea of "being in the movies" and not actually making them. Most people want to be an actor or director or producer but don't want to actually act, direct, or produce.

This discussion has actually inspired me to drop out of film school. I am going to business school instead. I figured having a business degree will help me get financing for projects I want to do make in the future. I have loads of connections with investors so this seems to be a good education path for me.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 09:59 PM   #237
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I would definitely recommend taking as many business classes as you can. One of my biggest regrets from my university education was not taking more business electives.

Also, any sort of "How to start a business" seminars. There are some in my area provided free by the local business development corporation, which is funded by the government. I'm sure there is an equivalent to this service everywhere.

You can never learn enough about the business side of things.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #238
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Film school or not

Whil I don't work in the industry anymore, I did work for a major market ABC affiliate for a number of years. I had over 50 people I was competing against for a job there. My reel of my productions is what got me hired.

So some thoughts if I were in your shoes, with the experience I have:
1) Are you gaining contacts that will be in the business during your career? If not, find another school. A lot of business is done thru connections. These folks are the ones who will typically get you your first job. Beware though, if you are immature or a prima donna in school, they will sink you before you get started. Don't be a jerk.

2) If your school is not fulfilling the needs above and you have no other options, then focus on getting what you can out of it. Think about it. What do you NEED to be a successful director or producer?

I will suggest project management, sales ability (to line up capital), budgeting, accounting, some finance and understanding of the filmaking process as well as the technical aspects of filmmaking. Add to that the connections to people who are where you want to be.

There is always a search for fresh talent, but it takes far more than a creative ability. It takes discipline & focus to take an abstract creative idea and turn it into a finished product. This is what separates the successful from the not.

I doubt the creative can ever be taught, but the strructure of taking the wild-eyed creative and slotting it into the constraints that a movie would require is a talent unto itself. This is sharpened by the above skills. There are thousands of aspiring filmakers out there - what separates the successful from the not? That is what you should study.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #239
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Wow thanks for the great replies everyone. I really appreciate it!

As far as what I was intending to do with the school, I just wanted to go and beef up on the technical skills of lighting and other grip work. I really wasn't seeking a degree. Right now I am working with a production company based in Durham NC called Eno River Media Productions, as was mentioned before. With that I have many contacts in the field and ample opportunities in the future I'm sure. The company is non-profit right now and we are just about to move into our first ever office/studio. All of the people that work with the company are volunteers, both graduates or current students of film school and independent film makers such as myself.
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Old August 10th, 2007, 10:07 AM   #240
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In this business nothing can replace the experince you get out in the field, it's what's going to get you future work, period. However if school is a possibility I feel that you can learn a great deal there too. A combination of both is always best. Granted when you're woking on a job no one's going to ask you "Who is Marconi and what did he invent?" I'm just saying that school has it's benefits too.
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