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There's still an overwhelming belief by aspiring filmmakers that film school or a major will qualify them for an industry job based on their degree. Saying "I want to make movies" isn't good enough. Hundreds of different jobs get a movie made and released...
..Hi! I'm relatively new around here and have only begun to scratch the surface of what the archives hold.
But there does seem to be one constant in regard to the question of filmschool that I see in many forums, here and elsewhere, and in the emails I receive.
All too often, here and elsewhere, someone will ask the question, "What is the best filmschool?" That question assumes that everyone wants to do the same thing for a living and that there is one school out there that can fulfill everyone's needs. Then, I often see a slew of school suggestions without concern as to what the soon-to-be-student really needs for him/her. What one person needs out of a filmschool is not necessarily going to be applicable to what someone else needs. This also doesn't take into account factors like finances, geography, a person's situation (overhead, debt, spouse, kids, age, previous experience, etc.).
My overall concern is that, like my own experience many years ago, aspiring "filmmakers" still aren't being given the true picture of what it takes to create an actual viable sustainable career in the professional industry. Most filmschools won't or don't tell these kids because filmschools are a big source of income and reality isn't as glamorous as talking about classic movies and movie stars. There are countless books and workshops out there that claim to tell kids how to "make a movie and be successful!" but they fail to explain the oft-times harsh realities of the business. The art aspects of filmmaking are indeed important, but without a grounding in the business and financial necessities involved, all of that art/process education is all just theory that will never have a chance to be practiced.
So, for anyone aspiring to create a career in the film industry, I always urge them to first figure out PRECISELY what job it is they want to do for a living. Saying "I want to make movies" isn't good enough. There are hundreds and hundreds of different jobs that have to be done to get a movie made and released.
The second step for the aspiring "filmmaker" is to investigate what having that job truly entails and what it is truly like to have. It might sound glamorous and exciting, but you can only know what it really takes by finding others who actually do it and observe them and ask questions. In fact, this should be the process for anyone who wants to do anything. ALL High School students should be required to "shadow" a professional BEFORE a university and major is chosen.
Then the aspiring filmmaker should learn what it truly takes to get there. It is highly possible that filmschool is NOT the right choice and not necessary at all. There are valuable things that can be learned by a higher education, but very few jobs in the film industry require a film degree. Cast and crew typically are never asked "where did you go to school?" or "may I see your film degree?" A film degree just doesn't matter. Ever. BUT, if a "filmmaker" wishes to be a Producer or an Executive of some sort, a Business and/or Legal degree very well could be a much better choice. Knowing the process of film production is indeed important, but getting that film degree is usually not necessary for anyone who actually makes a living doing this.
So, what I'd prefer to see is less emphasis on throwing random names of Universities in answers to questions and more concern toward what young people are really interested in doing and what it takes to get there. Going to a University is valuable for so many reasons, but it's more than an expense...it's an investment into a future. Those going to college are the consumers who are buying a product and it's important that they know what it is they are buying. Who would pay thousands of dollars for a product without knowing if it will deliver what it promises? And what most film students THINK they are buying is a ticket into the world of the professional film industry. But it just isn't the case.
College Confidential is an excellent forum for aspiring students to learn the ins and outs of higher education, but simply answering the question of "where should I go?" isn't always as simple as it seems.