Beginning a series of article about Film School and its validity in the modern film industry climate, here’s the first of our articles.
IS IT ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW?
Really good film schools are expensive – you potentially need to spend a lot of money just to make connections.
Those connections can actually make or break you however and the right hookup could potentially make you a millionaire director. Such connections are very rare just like big breaks for actors, people like Harrison Ford spent his day job as a carpenter before he was discovered.
It’s often delusional to believe one will be discovered in such a crowded, and dog eat dog, atmosphere. Common sense suggests that only exceptional talent gets noticed – talent which rarely is there before you went to film school unless you already know how to make films, which would suggest you don’t really need to be there.
WHAT DO I SUGGEST?
One strategy is to learn how to make films first, then attend a few film classes after you already know how to make a film. Not get a film degree, just a few classes.
If you’re going to be noticed by a professor, it would show in that first class somewhere. You could make lots of friends from that one contact even if you moved away to another film school or just stopped taking film classes.
You can have have access to all those freebies from even a single or light class load as you would for a fulltime load. In short, you could milk the hell out of the college experience after you already know how to make the kind of projects you want to make – including getting more professional commentary on your own work.
It’d make it the frosting, not the cake.
SOME ALTERNATIVES OUT THERE
There are less expensive film schools that can give you access to much of that ‘free film school material’ stuff like access to equipment and finding other people interested. The greatest talent won’t necessarily be there, but you can often still improve from the feedback, and use the connections and access to material to churn out something better.
You could definitely upgrade film schools, though, if you didn’t want to graduate from one of those schools seen as a lesser film school. You could take a half, or even less time, class load to extend your access to actors, critiques, and material to 8 years or longer – not getting into debt (this is a biggie in the modern economy) and spending alot of that free time in self study, and actually trying to make films.
In the age of the internet, physical meetings are not required – find someone who gets 10 million hits on Youtube and introduce yourself with a film short showing similar ability. The same kind of discovery process which can happen can even hook you up in Hollywood circles.
Or even just post your film somewhere for all to see. YouTube is tried and tested, but something like Vimeo is getting bigger and bigger and arguably offers more prestige.
FILM SCHOOL ISN’T EVERYTHING, OF COURSE
It’s important to remember that the film school doesn’t “make” you, it just adds to opportunities. Individual creative drive seems to matter alot more.
You can meet people at community theaters too if you just want to find actors, possibly access to last year’s costumes or work out some borrowing of lighting equipment in exchange for helping out.
The thinking out of the box skills, thinking on your feet that a guerrilla filmmaker needs can’t be taught really – there’s no better way than figuring out how to make do without or work around real world hassles.
A college education film degree makes you mentally dependant upon needing formal structures, often needing others to tell you what to do, and someone to fund it, and usually lots of experts telling you why it’s impossible to make on your budget and why we need to wait for permits and permission and the rest of it.
This prevents you from likely getting most films made that you want to get made.
I’ve got more to say on this. Stay tuned for the next part.
Here are the other parts in this series on Should You Go To Film School?