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-   -   Do film degrees get any respect outside of the industry? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/open-dv-discussion/80980-do-film-degrees-get-any-respect-outside-industry.html)

Derek Lewis December 4th, 2006 09:51 PM

Do film degrees get any respect outside of the industry?
I am going to Columbia College next fall for film, but yet I'm not sure I want to.

I am self taught in all the major NLE's, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, and shooting film and video, and photography. I am at a community college (for film) and the atmosphere is amazing and everybody wants to help each other. I have a friend down at Columbia and he says everybody is out for themselves and wants to be the best in the class, and that doesn't sound good and or fun...but besides film, I have no idea about what I want to do for a career.

Any imput on getting a film degree, and whether I sould bother or not?

Theodore McNeil December 4th, 2006 10:53 PM

This is debate that has been raging since the first film school class graduated.

My suggestion is to get the most well rounded education you can get.

I went to film school a little later in life (I was 26) and I found all the kids in the course boring to talk to. All they knew were movies.

The other problem you described is true. There are too many wanna-be chiefs and not enough wanna-be natives in film school. I was in a class of 50 and I think 45 of them wanted to be directors.

However, to break the rules you have to know them first. I suggest go to film school, but only take the bare minimum classes you need to fulfill the major. Fill out the rest of your credits (and brain) with some other subject that has absolutely nothing to do with filmmaking.

The irony is that the more you know about the non-movie world, the better. When you make art everything you know has a way of ending up on the canvas. The deeper pool of knowledge you can draw from, the more interesting your movies (or TV ads or training videos or etc...) will be.

And as an added bonus, you won't be boring to talk to.

Emre Safak December 4th, 2006 11:29 PM

It is nice to have a cushion to fall back on, so study anything with commercial prospects for the peace of mind.

Going back to what Theodore said, a film-maker has to have interests besides film. Otherwise what would you make films about?

Joe Winchester December 4th, 2006 11:52 PM

Learn as much as you can. Your portfolio is what gets you respect, so do whatever it takes to make the best work you can.

My step bro went to Columbia College for film and has alot of good things to say about his experiences. Good luck.

Leo Pepingco December 4th, 2006 11:56 PM

I believe this quote applies to to good film makers. Basically, good film makers are not directors, but artists who happen to be directors. Also, Film is not about film, its about your life, and the world around you.

Writers dont publish books, but they write them the same applies in the following quote.

"When an actor comes to me and asks about thier character, I say it's in the script. When they ask me what thier motivation is, I tell them 'your pay cheque." - Alfred Hitchcock.

Film making is more than just making a film.

Dean Bull December 5th, 2006 02:09 AM

Just to jump into the fray...

I had a similar experience. The community college was way more fun and supportive, while the state school was very much a place of large ego's, kids thinking the big time, and all that.

But... you know what? I made better films in the State School. Not because of the competition, but more so in that you suddenly see that to achieve you have to slaughter those around you!

Of course, once you are out of school that attitude also becomes seriously flawed -- but I would say that professionally the film maker world is much closer to how the state school was, and much much less to the artsy camaraderie of my community college.

The one major benefit I got from state school was to exercise my artist ego angst in a controlled low stakes environment, and once I was over it, not let that stuff draw me away from my real goals professionally.

So go to school and cut some throats, get in some fights with the staff, make the movie you feel passionate about, be the best, and most importantly -- get to know thyself.



Mark Bournes December 5th, 2006 08:54 AM

Yes go to Columbia, the more education you get the better. Plus it's something to fall back on. You can't hurt yourself by going there, take every advantage that comes your way and learn something from it. My biggest piece of advice is to enjoy the time you have there and make the most of it, trust me you wont regret it.

Charles Papert December 5th, 2006 09:56 PM

To the title of this thread, one could add "...and furthermore, do film degrees get any respect INSIDE of the industry?"

Not to diminish the benefits of a solid education, but in my experience, the answer to that would be "not really, no".

Don Bazley December 6th, 2006 10:37 AM

As a college professor (and video producer) I feel like adding my .02 to this thread. I teach video production at a community college and also at a local private college that has a cinema program. I always have studnets at the community college facing this same question/issue. It's always a challenge to help these students because I'm from a video background. I'm glad to see a general consensus in the responses that are similar to what I advise.

- I agree that the more education you get the better... especially general education. If you already know After Effects etc. you should realize that you're already miles ahead of people in the previous generation in some ways because the tools availabale are simply amazing. As others have poineted out here, it's not all about that though. Use film school to learn more about lighting, compostion, scripting, thickening the skin. Get as much general education as possible in a areas that interests you. I suppose history, sociology, psychology would provide some inspiration for a filmaker. Many students don't seem to realize this aspect. As someone else said, you have to have knowledge of the world, a story to tell.

- One big mistake I see students make is getting too confident too early in life. This is true with my fellow students when I was in college as well as my current students in some cases. There are students that think they are big shots and know it all even though they are just starting to learn, then there are those that may really be the best in the class, yet are always humble and trying to learn more from everyone they meet. Want to guess which group mostly ends up being successful?

- There are many other ways you can learn more about film (I'd say this board is one valuable resource). Do some research and find someone that is doing what you want to be doing. Be blunt and indicate your interest in learning. Some people will be helpful and some will not. Many people that are "there" often see themselves in younger people trying top get "there" and are can be quite helpful. I believe relationships are the most important thing.

- Regarding Charles comment... I think he makes a very good point in his post. I always believe that more education is always a good thing. At the same time, students studying any media should realize that you aren't in a nursing program where you will get a license and job upon completing the degree. The college degree isn't ticket to a successful career. The ticket is having a desire to learn, some talent, dedication and simply working constantly to become the best you can be. Go to fim school but also learn as much about your world as possible.

Everyone that has responded to this thread has offered some valuable insight. I hope this also helps in some way.

-Don Bazley

"Follow you bliss"
- Joseph Campbell

"All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity."
-Robert K. Kennedy

Andrew Kimery December 6th, 2006 01:32 PM

It's been my experience that the effort you put in is more important than the name of the school on your degree. Bigger schools might have an advantage in terms of networking w/alums and having established relationships w/some people in the industry (maybe easier to get internships and things like that), but as far as practical advantages once you graduate I would have to say the school you go to really doesn't matter.

Once you graduate people care about your work experience, not your diploma.


Peter Wiley December 6th, 2006 05:40 PM

As a former college teacher I second Don's advice. Few things are more valuable to creative work than a good liberal arts education. History, art history, theatre, literature -- a broad multicultural education -- will serve as a source of inspiration and understanding for life. As corny as it may sound, it will never be easier than it is for you now to devote yourself to learning.

Money and success in cinema and video production lie less in the nuts and bolts of the craft of production than it does in the development and control of ideas and education puts you in the way of the great ideas.

Chuck Fadely December 6th, 2006 06:46 PM

One word: internships

The better the University, the better the internships.

Another word: knowledge


The real world is a cruel place. Avoid it as long as possible.

Don Donatello December 6th, 2006 06:48 PM

IMO - i wouldn't worry/think about what hollywood thinks about a film degree - it's what you think of it and get out of a degree .. to get a degree you will have to take classes outside of film area ... remember film is a BUSINESS and if you plan to do more then just be a grip i recommend a basic business class , basic accounting , writing classes, perhaps a critical thinking type class and whatever else takes your interest ...

Derek Lewis December 8th, 2006 03:47 PM


Originally Posted by Don Donatello
IMO - i wouldn't worry/think about what hollywood thinks about a film degree - it's what you think of it and get out of a degree .. to get a degree you will have to take classes outside of film area ... remember film is a BUSINESS and if you plan to do more then just be a grip i recommend a basic business class , basic accounting , writing classes, perhaps a critical thinking type class and whatever else takes your interest ...

I've actually taken 1 or 2 of each of those classes you mentioned.

Thanks to all of you for your advice and support! I talked to my parents and my film professor and I think I might stay here and go to MSU for Supply Chain Management as I originally planned, then go to Columbia. I'm still not 100% sure, but it sounds like a good plan.

Calvin Wallace December 31st, 2006 06:46 AM

Sorry to bring this thread up again, but after reading the responses I felt inspired to continue my education at college and get my degree.

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