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Is Film School Worth the Time and Money?

Jul 3, 2008
Anybody who goes to the movies is aware of the huge number of new films produced each year, and anybody who has sat through the end credits of a current Hollywood blockbuster knows that a lot of skilled people are employed in their production. To learn these skills, many aspiring movie makers attend one of the many film schools that have come into being during recent decades. Some of these students have gone on to great success after graduation.

But there are a lot of people with plenty of desire and potential who don't have the financial resources to attend film school. Should these people give up on their dreams and get into some other line of work, or can the enter the business by some other means? Is it even possible that film school might not be the best route, anyway?

It's up to the individual enthusiast to decide whether or not film school is the best way to gain entry into the field, but it's always good to examine all of the available options.

I'm telling the following story in the hope that it will be helpful for future motion picture professionals who are trying to decide whether or not to attend film school. It's about an acquaintance of mine and the way he got started in the movie business. I don't know his current whereabouts (he travels around a lot) so I haven't gotten permission to use his real name. I'll call him Paul.

One day Paul learned that he would be receiving an inheritance. It was his mother's job to decide the way this money was to be spent. The only condition was that it was to be used in the furthering of his education. She asked Paul what kind of career he wanted to go into.

His reply was that he hoped to get into the movie industry. In his estimation, film school would be the obvious way to get eventually enter the business. This career goal suited his mother just fine, but she had another idea about how Paul could learn the necessary skills.

What if he used the inheritance to make his own short movie. That could be his film school.

This seemed to be a good idea to Paul, so he got to work. What he did first was to find a local special effects technician who would be willing to help him out. He located one who also just happens to be somebody I know. Let's call him John.

Here's the deal that Paul and John made: John would go out and find a bunch of his fellow special effects people and ask them if there were any effects that they had always wanted to create but had never found a project that needed them. A list would be made of these effects and Paul would put together a screenplay that would call for as many of these effects as possible. They would then all collaborate on the film that would be made from this story. There wasn't enough money available to pay the technicians for their time, but Paul would pay for all of the building materials.

The response from the effects crew was enthusiastically positive and together they put together a very entertaining and well made short film. Everybody had a great time completing the project and Paul learned a lot about how films are put together. He also had a nice portfolio piece that would come in handy at future job interviews.

Of course there are a lot of people who went to film school and are doing very well, but Paul's story is certainly not unique. Many of the top professionals in the industry learned their skills by making their own films.

There are quite a few directors(Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, John Waters and Robert Rodriguez are just a few examples) who have been known to publicly state that they learned filmmaking on their own and that in their opinions this is the best way to go.

With the availability of affordable video equipment and helpful software, just about everybody has access to all of the resources they need to make independent films. They can even get their movies seen by uploading them to the internet.

Once again, there are a lot of people who have found success in the motion picture business by going to school to learn their skills. At the same time, plenty of folks have made it to the top via other routes. Check out as many options as you can before making up your mind. Best of luck to you all in the future!
About the Author
If you want to embark on a career in the film industry and want to know what the best way is for you to get into the movie business , visit Flashfink's Squidoo page to see if going to film school is right for you.
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