Written by Ryan Uytdewilligen
To film school or not to film school, that is the question! The budding filmmakers of tomorrow are faced with this weighty choice – rush out into the world and make movies on their own or take the time to get a formal education.
It’s a risky business seeing how job security at the end of your education is far from guaranteed. A quote from the much loved auteur Quentin Tarantino simply spells out for young filmmakers that “he never went to film school, he went to films” yet respected and renowned director Martin Scorsese as well Hollywood mogul George Lucas have both learned their crafts in an educational setting.
So where is the best place to start? If you’re scratching your head and looking for that launching pad, look no further. A diploma may not necessarily be a requirement for stepping on set, however, receiving a formal education in the field might conjure up more opportunities than you many think.
Access to the Tools of the Trade
If you have access to software, cameras, equipment, editors, lighting, sets, and actors, by all means, skip class! But for most, finding those essentials can be daunting. Film school gives you valuable access to, and helps you understand the tools that go into making a movie.
Editing, sound design, and animation use very distinct and complex software that would absolutely require instruction. Many softwares often come included with the cost of tuition, or your school of choice should at least get you a nice discount. Most film schools have everything you need to make short films and projects right at their disposal. Courses that ensure you are at the top of your game from day one with hands-on experience via state of the art equipment; some of which can be borrowed to make projects post-graduation for a fraction of the cost of rental, or for free!
A Space to Learn and Grow
Through an established curriculum to teach and showcase student work, film school allows the student to develop skills in a helpful and safe environment. You’ll receive knowledgeable guidance and feedback from industry-experienced professionals who can help dust you off when you make a mistake. You’re bound to make an error somewhere, but of course, mistakes are the best way to learn. Critique by peers will also prepare you for giving and receiving notes in the industry.
Outside of school, you will not receive that kind of immediate and helpful feedback, and instead your work may be subject to the cruel commentary of the internet. Making mistakes early, and receiving constructive feedback in a supportive and professional environment will ease an otherwise intense pressure.
A Sense of Direction
The most common question asked, besides “how do I make a movie” is “how can I get a start?” Film school has built in classes that steer you in the right direction. In many cases, you’ll have to make your own humbling beginnings; but that’s okay! Specialized classes with not only leave you with material to show, you’ll also learn where to look for jobs, how to query who’s hiring, and how to market yourself with confidence in a successful pitch meeting or interview.
Instructors who work within the industry are always looking for bright new talent to hire and connect with projects and jobs. Lucky for them, that bright new talent will be staring them in the face year after year. They know companies and producers and might be shooting projects on their own. So be nice to the ones who teach you, because not only could they become a future co-worker someday, they’ll likely become a reliable reference and even a boss. That’s instant networking you won’t find anywhere else.
You will develop your first projects and create a portfolio. For most jobs in the industry, proving you can do the work with readily available mind-blowing examples is a must. Film school will provide you with opportunities to development sample work that may otherwise take you years to properly create without it. No matter the stream, you’ll come out with a sense of direction because you’ll have professional examples to share. If it’s good, the school may even share it through their web pages and social media too! This will further spread your name to your school’s vast network that surely comprises of many working filmmakers. Plus, many film schools also host their own festivals and industry showcase nights, getting your work in the big screen and in front of an audience!
Make Movies Together
Nothing will compare to the people you meet on the way. Film school allows many to connect with like minded individuals who may have similar passions and favourite films. You’ll make lifelong friends through film school, and maybe even collaborators who you can develop projects with going forward. Countless companies have been formed by graduates coming out of school together while an established network of folks in the same boat as you can give you the proper motivation, support, and even critique with projects going forward. Making connections and has never been so easy!
You’re Held Accountable
With an access to equipment, people to perform every required job needed, and the proper environment, comes the most important aspect of your journey! You’ll be held accountable for making something! At some point you’ll have a set to decorate, find actors to cast and scripts to edit! No matter what position in film you want to fulfill, there will be opportunities for you to step up and actually do that job. And if you don For many, stepping on a set and getting to be this creative is a dream. But if you go to film school, at the very least, this wild wonderful dream of making something will become a reality!
So when the credits roll on the post-secondary decision, to film school or not to film school comes down to opportunity – your opportunity. Because no matter what choice you make, you’re going to have to bust your hump to carve out a start. It’s all about what you make of the opportunities given to you. Going your own way can seem attractive for the pure freedom of that path, but the ultimate reality is that you can’t be sure you’re doing the job right or that you’ll get opportunities at all. In other words, you can’t do it alone!
If you are interested in film school and would like to look at the programs we offer, feel free to check out https://infocusfilmschool.com/programs/