Film school banner

The Question of Film-school: Four Considerations to Help You Make a Decision

The Question of Film-school: Four Considerations to Help You Make a Decision

Since the 1970s, film schools have been on the rise as Hollywood hopefuls seek out training to prove themselves as filmmaking professionals. With over 100 schools in the US that either offer a film degree of some kind or are a dedicated private film school, there are definitely options available. 

However, in the digital age, through the help of the internet and YouTube, filmmaking knowledge that had previously been locked away behind Hollywood sets or film school campuses, is now easily accessible to the general public.

 When considering a career in the film and entertainment industry, it is important to exhaust all your options in order to take the path that will help you succeed in your movie-making journey. The purpose of this article is not to sway you in either direction, but to give information to help you make your decision. 

As a person who chose to go the film-school route, I have seen first- hand pros and cons to both camps; but since the internet is full of “pros and cons” lists about film-school and people who will very adamantly share their opinion on this topic, I would like to simply present you with four considerations to ponder when it comes to the question of attending film-school.

1. What is your cost vs. the benefit?

This is a huge factor in any career path, but it is significantly valuable to consider in the film industry. Many career jobs in today’s world require at least a bachelor’s degree before you can even get your foot in the door for an interview.

This makes the entertainment industry one of the last of its kind, in that a degree is not always a guaranteed benefit. No one cares about how much money you paid to a university to receive a piece of paper that says you know stuff.

They care about how good you are at what you do. So before you make the plunge of spending thousands of dollars, consider going to a two-day film school or a work shop of some kind. Utilize the free resources online such as YouTube and experienced filmmakers’ blogs.

While film school provides the benefits of structure, learning, and access to professional individuals who are there to guide you and help you succeed, it in no way guarantees you a Hollywood job.

2. Will you stay dedicated?

If you struggle with structuring your time to make the most out of your learning, then clicking through YouTube videos and blog links won’t get you very far. Taking the self- taught route should be as vigorous and exhausting as film school because it takes just as much (if not more) work to practice, learn, and create movies on your own. 

Neither path will give you success for free, you will need to stay dedicated and focused with whichever direction you choose. For this reason, you may find that in order to succeed, you need the structure and guidance of professionals giving hands-on experience and advice.

3. What area of the industry do you want to be in?

This is a question that gets largely ignored in the film school discussion. Going to a film school to learn a specific trade such as VFX, Set Design, or Animation is a lot different than a blanket program that teaches you a little bit about everything.

If you look at an aspect of the industry that you are passionate about, free resources may plateau as far as knowledge that is accessible to you, so going to school for that specific trade will enable you to learn from professionals and give you the knowledge that puts you a cut above the average YouTuber and makes you a master of your craft.

For the specific areas of animation and VFX, there is a lot to be learned online and from books and workshops, but staying on top of the this rapidly growing field, where the technology changes daily, can be very difficult. This is where school is extremely beneficial and well worth the investment.

4. What are you doing right now?

Before you even consider film school, stop and ask yourself: What am I doing right now to advance my career in the film industry? It is unwise to pursue a film major without experiencing the simple essence of movie-making.

One of the greatest directors of our day, Christopher Nolan, never went to film school, and he continues to produce some of the most mind-blowing works of art. How did he get to where he is today with virtually
no training? He started making films as a little kid using the equipment that was available to him.

As time passed, this passion grew in him and he began to learn more and more about film, he added friends to his crew, began purchasing better equipment, and now he makes the incredible blockbusters we know and love.

This is the same story for many famous directors such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and James Cameron, to name a few. This is because when it comes to the entertainment industry, the degree or certificate is not what matters. The talent you are able to put forward is what speaks loudest.

In summary, to get your foot in the entertainment industry, knowledge and experience are essential ingredients. Knowledge and experience come through learning and practicing. Your learning and practicing are ultimately dependent on how hard you work. Is film school worthless?

Only if you make it worthless and choose to not spend every minute trying to be the best at what you are doing and getting the most out every single class. Teaching yourself by reading and following YouTube videos can be a waste of time if you heart isn’t in it and you lose focus.

Both routes require you to work your butt off, to take criticism well, learn from your mistakes, and, above everything, never give up.

First time here? ActionVFX creates action stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

Remember to connect with us on our social networks to stay updated on our latest news, giveaways, announcements and more!

Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - Linkedin