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TO FILM SCHOOL OR NOT TO FILM SCHOOL,THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION.

In my humble opinion: the question ISN'T should you go to film school. The question IS: Should you GO INTO DEBT to go to film school? The answer to that question, in my humble opinion is NO. No. Please don’t go into debt for film school.




Let’s talk about the two biggest benefits of film school and why, in my humble opinion I don’t think you need to go into debt to get those things:


Thesis Film: One of the biggest benefits to going to film school is that you will have access to the equipment you will need to make your first film. You will leave film school with a film under your belt. For some, this might seem like a good enough reason to go into debt for film school. But consider that making movies is a lot cheaper than it used to be, and that - NEWS FLASH: your first film is probably going to… well... it's not going to be that great.



I would argue that you might be better off filming your first film with your cell phone for thousands less. Ultimately, what you need to learn as a filmmaker is how to tell a story visually. That is a skill that will take practice to master. Why not break yourself in with some ultra low budget films, get your sea legs (film legs?) and THEN go into debt actually making a film that has a better chance at being good, now that you’ve gotten some experience and begun to find your voice?




The second best thing I think a film student gets from film school is...


Contacts: If you thought I was going to say “amazing instructors/mentors”, I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that you wont find those in film school. You MAY get lucky and find some GOOD ones… but mentors worth going into THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF DEBT for? I don’t believe so, in my humble opinion.





The best way to learn how to make a film is by doing it. Anything you can be taught at school, you can teach yourself. However, the most valuable thing I HAVE seen people get out of film school, especially the big ones - is the contacts they make with fellow alumni. Graduate USC? You are now in the USC club- you can throw that around town like an ace in your pocket. Same for NYU, UCLA etc. Having gone to these schools will ABSOLUTELY give you an up in the networking world if you run into someone that happened to go to the same school as you. Is this something you should go into years worth of debt for? I'm going with no.



There are plenty of other ways to make contacts. Namely, make films and go to film festivals with your films and meet fellow filmmakers - be a good person and a hard worker and a non bullshitter- I would be willing to bet you'll go just as far as the USC graduate next to you.


There IS one more factor that might make film school worth it for some people and that is school structure. If you’re someone who benefits from the structured environment of a class schedule, complete with enforced deadlines that the school creates with dire consequences (namely wasting THOUSANDS), then film school might be a huge plus.


But again, there are ways to help yourself enforce deadlines and stay in a structured environment and for me those places are local workshops. Find your nearest writer's group. Make deadlines. Meet fellow writers. It's a must!


Am I saying that your probability of meeting a great writer sitting next to you in your local writer's workshop is about THE SAME as meeting a great writer at NYU Film School?!!!


Yes. Yes I am.



Am I knocking film school? No. Well, maybe. This is only because I have seen so many film students graduate with wide eyes and wonder thinking they're going to be shuttled to the "next level" in the entertainment business only to find out that the money they spent on film school means pretty much nothing in the real world and they have to start at the bottom like everyone else. UNLESS!!! They’ve managed to learn how to be great a storyteller in film class. Funny enough, that seems to be the last thing film students learn in film school. In my humble opinion.

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Joy
Joy
Sep 16, 2023

Here is a post from a film student about the 5 things (she thinks) you should know about film school.


https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxQn9PrpWCh/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

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Jay Clifton
Jay Clifton
Sep 05, 2023

I love reading your blogs, Amanda, they are so much fun, it's like hearing you talk. And yes, I'm convinced I don't need any film school. Would like to meet some people in Italy who know how to make a film though...m

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Ha thanks Jay!

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Joy
Joy
Sep 01, 2023

Go into debt for film school. Chile please! I got kids! A friend’s kid graduated this past May from SCAD film school. She’s won several writing and film awards. With the strike going on, she’s got no job and her $75k education debt just showed up on my friend’s credit report. I’ve also learned that a great network is the people you’re in writing classes/groups with. I’m a fan of so many of you all’s work and that’s the thing I’ll remember WHEN I get the chance to have a TV show produced!

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