The filmmaking industry is competitive, and there isn’t one single path to achieve your goals. Many who currently work and have worked in film didn’t receive any formal education in the industry, although a tailored educational program can certainly be beneficial.
The Benefits/Pros of Film School
A tailored film program can give you a foundation in the fundamentals of filmmaking, including the history of the process, technical skills, and a grasp on what each individual on the set is responsible for handling. Other benefits include:
When you enroll in an educational program, the school you attend will provide access to professional and expensive equipment and facilities you can use to perfect your skills.
A film-focused educational program surrounds you with people who are as interested in film as you are but may choose different areas of specialization.
The film industry is one where connections make a big difference in the overall success rate, so going through an accredited film program can help you form those connections and network with others in the field.
The instructors at film schools also typically have experience and knowledge in the field, which they can share with their students and serve as mentors. Those same instructors will judge your works and give you valuable feedback.
A degree from film school is valuable, no matter what type of work you pursue in the industry. Across all industries, those who have degrees earn more than those who do not. Additionally, earning a degree shows your persistence, dedication, and willingness to improve your skills and perfect your craft.
Cons of Film School
- Sinking time into a career you might not like. Film schools like NFI offer 9 month Cinema Production Program so you don’t have to invest four years of your time into a degree.
- Costs – Film School can cost more than $20,000 a year to attend and you want to be want to make sure you will be able to find a job in the industry post-graduation. Top film schools such as NFI have a 95% in-field job placement rate (Source: Tennessee Higher Ed Commission).
Questions To Ask Regarding Film School
As you consider the options, you may want to ask yourself several questions as to whether film school is valuable for you.
What School Should I Attend?
Spend some time researching film schools to determine the right fit, based on your career goals. An online educational opportunity may also be a good fit, especially if you have other commitments.
Why Are You Going to Film School?
Ask yourself why you want to attend film school and what you hope to accomplish and learn from it. By defining the answer to this question, you are more likely to get the most out of the experience and find a school that is the right fit.
Is the Undergrad or Grad Film Program Field-Specific?
One of the main advantages of film school is the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in all aspects of the filmmaking process. If you enroll in a program with separate course tracks from the start for editors, cinematographers, directors, and others on the set, you may not get that overview and history of filmmaking.
Is There a Culture of Watching Film?
It is crucial to watch and discuss films from all genres and time periods to immerse yourself in the culture of film. Every film school should have some type of infrastructure in place that encourages and allows students to view great films and talk about what they see.
Who Is Teaching You?
Look at who provides the education in the program you’re considering and how much experience they have in the film industry. Accomplished filmmakers often work as adjunct or visiting professors at film schools, allowing students to learn from their experiences.
Will You Leave School With a Community?
The network of alumni at the school you’re considering can greatly benefit your career, but you need a way to connect with those graduates. You also want to complete your education with a community of peers who share your passion for film. Look into the sense of community at your school and how graduates can interact with one another after they complete their final courses.
What Is the Difference Between Film School and University?
Film school typically focuses only on filmmaking courses, while a university will offer a broader range of subjects for students of all areas of study.
The Budget Issues – Can I Afford It?
One concern that may arise around attending film school is the cost of the program. Financial assistance like scholarships, student loans, and the gi bill are available to students if you choose to pursue this avenue.
Does Film School Help You Get Jobs?
Attending film school may give you a leg up in the filmmaking industry, usually in the form of connections. However, experience is highly valued in this field, so working on a film set can often help you gain that experience and start working your way up. Make sure to maintain a portfolio of your work throughout your program as you gain experience.
Do I Need a Degree To Become a Filmmaker?
While working as a filmmaker doesn’t require a degree, going through a related program can help you gain the skills and knowledge needed to be prepared for your career.
Reel Truth: Is Film School Worth It?
In most cases, film school is worthwhile as it provides helpful information and resources about the process of making a film and what goes into the finished product.
Investing in Your Future Career
Attending film school allows you to invest some of your time and money to make sure it’s the right career for you, as well as gaining the knowledge needed to make a high-quality film.
Is Film School Necessary? Top Indie Filmmakers Respond With Film School Quotes
You can read more about what some of the leading indie filmmakers in the industry said when asked whether film school is necessary to pursue this career.
A Short Overview of Careers in Film
A career in the film industry can be financially beneficial and personally rewarding. Those who pursue careers in this field can choose from a wide range of focuses, including editing, screenwriting, producing, directing, and designing aspects of the production. Another option is cinematography, focusing on the science and art behind creating images.
What Information You Might Use From Film School
Most film graduates report that the most useful information they gained from their programs is around the basics of storytelling and filmmaking. Topics might include character development, act structure, creating believable heroes, and conflict and resolution.
Making the Decision
Before making the decision as to whether to attend film school, it’s helpful to review the program you’re considering to determine what you would learn and what type of networking events are available to students to help form connections. You may also want to assess your own learning style to determine whether you could gain the information needed on your own or if you perform better in a structured program.
Not Convinced? – What To Do If You Decide Not To Attend Film School
If you decide not to attend film school, it’s important to start looking for jobs to gain relevant work experience. The film industry is highly competitive and experience is valued.
As you consider your next steps on your journey to become a filmmaker, it’s helpful to understand the benefits of attending film school and how an educational program can help you further your career and form necessary connections. Attending the Cinema Production Program, a 9-month training for filmmakers is an excellent way to learn how the filmmaking process works to prepare you for a career in film.