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To School or not to School


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#1 G . Stephen Bruno

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 07:42 PM

Hello Everybody,
I see many students on this sight, i for one, also list myself as a "Student", although, I do not attend any school. Can a guy like me make it with asperations alone? Truth is I can't afford to go to school, and definitly can't afford not to study. Do any of you have any tips, experiences with trying to make it with out the degree.

thanks-
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#2 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:22 AM

Hello Everybody,
I see many students on this sight, i for one, also list myself as a "Student", although, I do not attend any school. Can a guy like me make it with asperations alone? Truth is I can't afford to go to school, and definitly can't afford not to study. Do any of you have any tips, experiences with trying to make it with out the degree.

thanks-


You can make it without a degree. The most important thing is that you pursue your passion 100%. The best thing that school can do is put you in a situation where you can surround yourself with persons of similar passion both to inspire and to reinforce your passion. Film making is an art that requires a group effort. Make friends, get connected, participate in any way you can in the art and never let go of your goal.
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#3 G . Stephen Bruno

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:52 AM

You can make it without a degree. The most important thing is that you pursue your passion 100%. The best thing that school can do is put you in a situation where you can surround yourself with persons of similar passion both to inspire and to reinforce your passion. Film making is an art that requires a group effort. Make friends, get connected, participate in any way you can in the art and never let go of your goal.


tHANKS Dickson,
thats the type of supoprt im in need of these days, with the birth of my daughter, and troubled finacial issues,life is suddenly caotic and school is definitly out of the question. Man, I (love) motion picture, always have. I honsetly can't see myself doing anything else. well, i can, but lets be optimistic. Bye the way, thanks for putting me in contact with Todd clarke, He is sending me that Auricon! should get it anyday now. , i belive it runs at sync, so even though i prob wont shoot sound-on-film, i still will be able to do some tests with dialog... what a deal!

thanks

Edited by G . Stephen Bruno, 02 December 2005 - 10:55 AM.

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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 11:45 AM

Stephen,

If you can't leave Arkansas, keep your ears and eyes open for any productions that come to your area and try to get a job or internship wherever you can. Chances are that it would be a PA position, but just try to make any connections you can-- Especially with local crew. That way you might be able to start a local working relationship. If you know what area of film you want to go into (writing, directing, cinematography, edititing, production design, etc.), you should start practicing to hone your craft as much as you can.

Good luck!
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#5 G . Stephen Bruno

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:02 PM

Stephen,

If you can't leave Arkansas, keep your ears and eyes open for any productions that come to your area and try to get a job or internship wherever you can.



thanks matt,
Originally i am from Southern California, migrating from Glendale to Arkansas a couple of years ago I am moving back to Glendale, This move should help me, the reason for the post is just to get some direction once i get there and settle in, how easy is to get a decent production(entry level) gig, with out the degree, should i stick to the deferred, no/low pay productions just to establish the contacts?
I'm not to PROUD to work for food...LOL
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#6 solomanpro

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:51 PM

This is my opinion: I think it´s hard but not impossible! I´ve never could afford to go to film school. And if I had the money I definetly spend it on doing a film. I recently bought a bolex and a lightmeter, and now I am learning how to use them. After all the knowledge that is teach it can be found in any book. But creativeness is another thing. If you are creative and you have something to say, nothing will stop you. I´ve always work with video wich is great: quickly and cheap... a very good method to learn to tell stories. But I think film-making can´t be taught, you have to learning by yourself (at school or outside). You should watch any kind of movie trying to analise them, knowing how a film is, in its esence. Asking yourself why a movie that maybe you don´t understand is recognised, and why Spileberg is doing that poop today!
The problem nowadays is that some people look if you have any title but if you are really good, you´ll have no problems! It´s is horrible when you have no money and have to do things that you don´t like, but if its your real dream you´ll get it one day!!!
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 04:45 PM

There is absolutely no question that one can learn to make movies outside of a film school, so that isn't even an issue.

The trickier question is whether going to film school will accelerate the process of getting work in the film industry, which is hard to answer because anyone who succeded in the film industry without getting a film degree is proof that it isn't absolutely necessary, and anyone who succeded after going to film school may or may have not succeded anyway.

In other words, it may help to go to a film school, mainly to meet people who may hook you up with contacts and jobs after graduation, but whether it helps enough to be worth the investment in time and money is questionable.

In my own case, I worked for three & a half years after college (BA English Lit, UCLA) in an office job, shooting films on the weekends, mainly in Super-8, which I has started shooting in high school. So this was a ten-year self-learning experience, not for pay. While I was at UCLA, I shot some Super-8 stuff for USC students under the table (they weren't supposed to have help.) By the time I was 25, I started shooting Super-8 for cheap music videos and karaoke videos, mainly hired by one young guy producing them in batches (he was given $10,000 at a time to produce five karaoke videos per contract, so he directed one or two and farmed the rest out to people like me.) After a few in Super-8, I convinced the producer to let me try some in 16mm, which I learned to use on the spot basically.

By this time, I had some dozen Super-8 short films to my credit as director/DP/editor, plus these karaoke videos, but I felt like I had no clue as to how to take the next step up. So I went to graduate film school at CalArts when I was 27, where I quickly learned that I already knew much more about shooting than most of the students. So by the end of my first semester, I was shooting 16mm thesis films for other students, some with budgets over $20,000. By the time I left, I had shot over a dozen 16mm thesis films.

After graduation, my early job contacts were through a few other students, but these were for tiny feature films which got the ball rolling on building my resume.

But every now and then in any career, you find yourself in a rut trying to push up the next level. All your contacts only lead to the same type of work. I had shot over a dozen 35mm features but they were mostly of the straight-to-video and cable kind (I still see them pop up on Lifetime Channel...) So I started doing indie features aimed more for the film festival crowd, which paid worse but didn't have the aura of cheesy low-budget genre fare. So that was a risk, but I shot two films that got me Spirit Award nominations (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork) and this got me an agent, gave me enough work to qualify to join the union, and soon after that, I was invited to join the ASC, and at least the budgets have finally climbed up somewhat.

But my experience won't be yours. I think everyone hacks their own path through the jungle.

Edited by David Mullen, 02 December 2005 - 04:46 PM.

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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 05:50 PM

"There is absolutely no question that one can learn to make movies outside of a film school, so that isn't even an issue."

Gee we sure are lucky we all work in a field that does not require any formal education, phew!

Imagine an aspiring surgeon saying, "I've bought a scalpel and some rubber gloves so I'm going to skip med-school and just practice on people until I get it right."

Or there's the aspiring lawyer who says, "Law school? Bah who needs it, I'll just watch lots of Law And Order and learn as I go. So there will be a few wrongful convictions big deal."

R,
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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 06:22 PM

"There is absolutely no question that one can learn to make movies outside of a film school, so that isn't even an issue."

Gee we sure are lucky we all work in a field that does not require any formal education, phew!


Richard,

I hope you're joking.... David did go on to qualify his statement....

and the thing is that actually, cinematography doesn't require any formal education. Film Schools are a comparatively recent thing. Before them, generations of DPs' learnt their trade on the job. I went to Film School, but I'm not sure that I learnt anything there that I couldn't have learnt on set, or for myself.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 06:49 PM

Somehow people managed to make movies for the first sixty years or so of cinema history without film schools... Freddie Young's lack of an MFA didn't seem to stop him from being able to shoot "Lawrence of Arabia".

I'm not suggesting that the job doesn't require a high degree of technical knowledge -- I'm just saying that one can learn it outside of a film school. I did.

In fact, most of the film schools only teach a rudimentary level of cinematography, just enough to load a camera, expose a scene correctly, etc.

Actually, as far as technical trades go, I'm not even sure that cinematography is one of the more difficult ones to learn the basic technical aspects to. At least, I didn't find it too hard, not compared to electronic engineering, for example, my dad's profession. He helped on the design of the guidence system of the Sidewinder and Cruise Missile -- I can assure you his Master's Degree was a lot harder to get than mine...
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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 07:28 PM

Yes my post is 90% satirical.

The other 10%.....

No one ever says I'm going off to LA to be a brain surgeon, they say, I'm going off to LA to be an actor. Actors are lucky, you can be a daft twit (as many are) and earn 10 times what a brain sugeon does!

The main reason I think people should go to film school is because they will need that BA when 90% of them are not working in film five years after graduation. The degree will be needed to fall back on and pursue a new career, I've seen it dozens of times.

The other odd thing about film is that a high school drop out can be given a 100 million by a studio to make a feature. Then again the president can be a high school drop out and he has his finger on "the button."

Now that's scary :)

R,
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#12 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 06:51 AM

The other odd thing about film is that a high school drop out can be given a 100 million by a studio to make a feature. Then again the president can be a high school drop out and he has his finger on "the button."

Now that's scary
--

That's such a sad, warped sense of the industry..

You're aware of the fact that that's simply not true, right?

You don't have to be a genius to get a basic understanding of how movie making works. Especially on big budget levels.. think about it.. would you let someone with absolutely no prior experience in any film production DP, direct, do wardrobe, light, edit or act in your 35mm anamorphic 100 million dollar feature???

Like most other careers in this world it's all about focus, determination, experience, connections, a POSITIVE ATTITUDE, luck, a nice smile, hard work and an insatiable curiousity and passion for film/art/acting/directing/screenwriting/special effects/lighting...whatever.

That said, pessimism, sarcasm, arrogance and hostility will definately help keep you OUT of the film industry. It'll make you so bitter you'll end up hating the very industry you fell in love with in the first place.

Now that's scary.

;)

Edited by TSM, 03 December 2005 - 06:54 AM.

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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 02:02 PM

"That said, pessimism, sarcasm, arrogance and hostility will definately help keep you OUT of the film industry. It'll make you so bitter you'll end up hating the very industry you fell in love with in the first place.
Now that's scary."

Back to the old stand by I see..."You old farts are useless and cynical, you won't be a huge success like me."

This coming from the guy who has zero professional credits, and isn't even in a film program any where.

BTW, are you so sure that there are no big Hollywood people who are pessimists, sarcastic, arrogant, and hostile? Geez you really haven't been around the industry much. I'm not saying every one is like that by any means, but there are plenty who are, and they make a lot of money and have Oscars on their mantle.

R,

PS: When I said a high school drop out could be given a 100 million to make a feature I was implying that this would be an individual with prior experience in film production but no formal education. Unlike a surgeon who could not cut into a patient without years of formal education and a license from the state to do so.
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#14 G . Stephen Bruno

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:21 PM

somehow people managed to make movies for the first sixty years or so of cinema history without film schools


((( ding ))) So true, thanks for putting it in perspective David. the thing is, and it might be my version of "pestimistic" i fear that (in this day and age) the politics involved call for the degree, After hearing that you made it in at first with out one, it is really reassuring. I am curious as to what other experiences some of you have also had... first attempts, first gig, how you got a foot in the door, etc...

Also, For some of the more experienced DoP, what would you look at if you were recuiting help. would YOU hire someone with out much Experience?

thanks everyone..

Edited by G . Stephen Bruno, 03 December 2005 - 03:22 PM.

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#15 Jason Debus

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:31 PM

Hello Everybody,
I see many students on this sight, i for one, also list myself as a "Student", although, I do not attend any school. Can a guy like me make it with asperations alone? Truth is I can't afford to go to school, and definitly can't afford not to study. Do any of you have any tips, experiences with trying to make it with out the degree.

thanks-

This is just my perspective, but I think school can accelerate many things that would otherwise take longer on your own. I studied on my own for many years, but after I started taking Cinema classes, studying on my own felt like baby steps and school felt like there was some real progress to be charted.

Granted, I already knew many of the things that they were teaching me. But there are holes in your knowledge that school would fill.

Access to equipment isn't a worry anymore. There are tons of student programs (if your holdng a valid student ID) that will give you deep discounts (20% on film stock) as well as free rental of equipment for filming your shorts/features. We had a guest DP the other day that told me I could get a 16mm camera from Panavision for cheap and/or free rent because they are really friendly to students.

You also meet tons of like minded people that you can network with and build a base for possible future work.

The cost at my school is quite affordable, $26 a credit (usually 3 credits per class). And I don't have to take the other classes that don't interest me, I can just take cinematography. They offer night classes if you work a day job. Plus they are flexible if you actually get some real work.

I just read recently that Roger Deakins is teaching at UCLA. I don't think I could get into that school, but heck, who wouldn't want to learn from Roger Deakins?

In my opinion, I don't think school is a waste of time because it's making you a better filmmaker.

EDIT: It doesn't appear to me a degree is very important in the film industry. There are many positions that you can get work right away at your current level, ie: Production Assistant. I'm going to school to make myself a better filmmaker, not for a degree.

Edited by Jason Debus, 03 December 2005 - 03:38 PM.

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#16 G . Stephen Bruno

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 04:12 PM

The cost at my school is quite affordable, $26 a credit (usually 3 credits per class)


Jason, E-mail your school info, thats sounds interesting.
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#17 Jason Debus

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 04:33 PM

Here's the link to their Cinema/TV program:

LACC Department of Cinema and Television
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#18 David Silverstein

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 05:34 PM

Bottom line. If you cant affored film school at all. Theres no way you can take loans out or anything then. Use some of the money that owuld go there to make a low budget indie film and off you go is my words of advice.
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#19 dkm

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:10 PM

HI stephen bruno

we i read about your situation i thought , man why can't i ask for suggestions and tips for my situation.
to make a long story short, i LOVEEE motion pictures and cinematography, i would want to do it as a career in my life.....but...............my dad hates it and has send me to study business.
wat can i do. i cant afford to learn it in a school. i am now in canada. i dont know wat to do.

can any one tellme wat can i do. please
u dont know how much i LOVE thi s art
but mu dad doesent have faith in me.
:(
pls reply
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#20 George Stratford

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 04:04 PM

Cool topic but very complicated
I just recently got into film, Well actually video because I would like to learn on cheaper equipment and post.
Some advice for the last poster, My father is a lawyer and my mother is in politics and getting a degree in something (non arts) was one of their obsessions for me to do. I chose not to listen to them because I wasn`t sure what I really wanted to do. This did not help my family situation, but at least I can follow my own passion, without their help I might add. As far as film school, It would be a great experience and I would probably go If I could afford to, but I can`t. So instead I bought over 30 books on all aspects of making film, watched tons of movies with new perspectives and read many great forums like this. There is a lot of education out there to learn just about anything, as some other posters have said. Meeting contacts is the same as any other sort of proffession that obligliges. I`m also a musician that did not go to music school,but have played over 100`s of concerts through people I have met in clubs, friends of friends,adds, flyers you name it. Just be outgoing,never stop doing what you love to do,make good work, try festivals, and lastly I think a positive attitude really turns people on to you and will make the harder times better.


Coady Marshall :)
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