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Film school vs use the money to make a feature


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 03:59 AM

I think use the money to make a feature an study on your own bucause they're gonna have you make a film anyway so why not make an ultra low budget feature instead. What are your thoughts and why?
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#2 jdtranetzki

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 06:33 AM

that's always a common dilemma, so to speak. pros and cons depend on personal character more than anything else. if you value the learning process, than being in the womb of school is perfect. it fosters no real external pressure and time to establish a good group of friends and artists, and allows you to make mistakes while you experiment. the same can be said without school of course, except with school you don't have to worry about bills (if you go the student loan route).

for me, school offers a means of others constantly challenging your thoughts, and that is a good thing, because it keeps you looking forward outside of your comfort zone.
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#3 Jason Debus

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:07 AM

Film school offers an environment to study the art (and commerce) of filmmaking. It's probably not the best idea if your just starting out, but if you have some base knowledge about photography, art & technology then it's a great oppurtunity to help develop those skills.

There's no reason why you can't have both, there are affordable film schools, where do you live? Going out on your own and making your own film, to me, has a higher potential to waste your hard earned money on something that could be great, but most likely turns out mediocre. You may learn some things, but you may also learn that you are not fully prepared for what you are facing.

I've seen a lot of bad student films as well, so school is no guarantee that you'll make good films. But I think it at least gives you a fighting chance to succeed, where on your own your sort of on an island.

I see your profile lists your title as 'Director', shouldn't it be something else if you haven't actually directed anything??
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#4 JP Creatives

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:28 AM

I think use the money to make a feature an study on your own bucause they're gonna have you make a film anyway so why not make an ultra low budget feature instead. What are your thoughts and why?



I partially agree with this, however I feel like without going to film school I would have missed out on learning a ton of stuff, and I don't mean stuff I learned in classes. The community is something you really can't get anywhere else, because without going to school how will you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of people interested in the same thing (unless you are already working in the field, which would make this dilemma negligable). Then you will always find one or two professors that make the tuition somewhat worth it.

However Film School definitley has its downs, and besides the cost, it can feel like you are still in school instead of actually being a filmmaker, you are a film student. Plus, many of the same people that make school interesting are out for themselves (understandably so) and no one has really learned their place. Most people want to Direct or DP and thus you have a bunch of Directors and DPs gripping for your production.

However, my experience was tremendous, and my outlook on the world was vastly changed for the better, something that probably wouldn't have happened, had I stayed home and read books on my own, the whole time windering what film school would have been like. After 2 1/2 years of school I had enough and felt like I had gotten the most I could out of school and dropped out to do stuff on my own, the best of both worlds I suppose. I don't regret not going, and when I had enough I left, because if there is one degree that doesn't matter it is the Film Degree.

Maybe a 2 year program is right for you, if you are unsure you want to commit to something that will take 4 years.

Good luck,

JP
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#5 Marco Leavitt

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:35 AM

To me, it depends who's paying. Rich parents? Film school all the way. It's a no brainer. No money? Man, that's harder. You will graduate tens of thousands of dollars in debt to be trained in a field with abysmal prospects. Not sure I'd do it -- in fact I'm not. But props to people with the balls to take a chance at their dream like that. I think it makes sense to take the no budget route first, and if after a while you really feel like you have a shot at making a movie that can do something, either find financing or get that loan after all. That's the route I've taken anyway. Maybe it'll work out, maybe it won't, but I'll tell you what -- I have no credit card bills. :)
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 07:32 PM

Well since the vast majority of people who want to work in film will not. Then having a four year degree will at least enable you to do other things in life, where the doors might other wise be closed.

It's a tough world out there for some one with just a high school diploma, how can you make a decent living? Work at a good union job at GM? Too bad GM will be gone in 2-3 years.

How about driving a truck, decent money, but what a tough life. The US and Canadian economies are shifting away from all labour based jobs, how can we compete with pennies an hour paid in China or The Phillipines?

A university education is no guarantee of any thing but at least it can open doors. When I was in university every class had 3-4, 30-50 year olds in it. They all said the same thing, "boy I wish I had got my education when I was younger."

Making a film and expecting it to crack Hollywood is a long shot. The statistical odds of you being able to live well with a university degree vs not having one are much greater. There is tons of data to support this.

There is only one thing more expensive than going to university, not going to university.

So what if you graduate with student loans, big deal, millions of people do. You pay them off and you have the degree.

As for needing rich parents for film school, give me a break, there are plenty of other ways to get through life without relying on mom and dad to pay the bills.

R,
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#7 Marco Leavitt

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 08:08 PM

Oh, I definitely think going to school is a wise choice. I worked my own way through school too, so I know what it's like. I just don't know how far a film school degree will get you in the business world. That's a good question to ask in here actually, as presumably there's quite a few film school graduates who post in here. If you don't make it in the film world, what's a film degree worth? I ask that out of genuine curiousity and respectfullness, so please don't think I'm being snotty.
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#8 jijhh

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 09:22 PM

The thing about film school that a lot of people overlook when considering making a feature instead is the lifelong benefits that a film school community provides, most particularly NETWORKING. Now I'm not saying go out there and apply just to schmooze as many people as possible, but meeting different artists and people in your industry that will eventually end up in the same line of work as you will be endlessly helpful when it comes to getting jobs, circulating scripts, screening your work, etc. . It's a people business and connection and collaboration with others is huge.

You may make a feature, get it out there, win tons of awards at festivals, and get a distribution deal; you're psyched. However if you don't win, which I've experienced numerous times in the increasingly competitive indie market, you're back to square one with a lot less cash. Film school can give you a lot to rely on, and give you a little more time to ease your way into the industry.
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#9 monster vs robot

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:50 PM

I've seen both sides of the fence. I went to Art school-almost as bad as going to Film School. I have to agree with one of the previous posters saying it's all about networking and your fellow students. I learned more from my friends and classmates than I did from the instructors.

After graduation and $50,000 in debt I began working in a video store. All too familiar to people. I risked it and decided to make a low budget feature, which cost me another 4 years of my life and $22,000, which I borrowed and worked off by pumping portable toilets.
The thing about Art School (I'm guessing Film School as well) is that they tend to deal in theory, craft etc... try telling your Landlord or Phone company all you know about color theory or Eisenstien as a form of compensation.

Through my film I came into contact with industry up-and comers and eventually through those contacts made inroads into the commercial film business. I learned more by making a film than I would have in a Masters Program- for the same cost.

If you graduate from Flm School and haven't knocked them dead at festivals odds are you're starting at the bottom. Today, when I hire a PA or a Grip or a DP, I don't care if they went to college or not. In this business you are judged on your abilities and personality. I have never been asked if I went to film school by anyone.

I hate to sound like someone's parent, but you seriously have to look at how you can pay your bills while you're writing scripts and shooting shorts. Have a backup plan of attack either way. Good Luck!
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 12:27 AM

Film school offers an environment to study the art (and commerce) of filmmaking. It's probably not the best idea if your just starting out, but if you have some base knowledge about photography, art & technology then it's a great oppurtunity to help develop those skills.

There's no reason why you can't have both, there are affordable film schools, where do you live? Going out on your own and making your own film, to me, has a higher potential to waste your hard earned money on something that could be great, but most likely turns out mediocre. You may learn some things, but you may also learn that you are not fully prepared for what you are facing.

I've seen a lot of bad student films as well, so school is no guarantee that you'll make good films. But I think it at least gives you a fighting chance to succeed, where on your own your sort of on an island.

I see your profile lists your title as 'Director', shouldn't it be something else if you haven't actually directed anything??


Jason, I actually have directed a Hell of a lot of things, but be that as it is, I see there seems to be a cncensensis that film school is the way to go, let me tell you why it's not :D . I have spent my time in the golaug of academia and discovered one thing, most of the professors in these clone factories are little tin Napoleans that rule their make believe kingdoms is some delusional fantasy that by berating and destroying the independent thought of their students they will somehow make up for their own failed lifes and broken dreams, after all if they had succeded they wouldn't be teaching at some univerity to start with.

Although I was a drama student and not a filmmaker at the time, I'm sure the same applies here, once I left the univerity an ventured out into the real world, I discovered virually everything I had been tught was worthless, that what they were doing was training highschool drama teachers not professional actors and I had to start basically from scratch. As far as contacts go, if none of your classmates succeed what good are they to you career, you'd do better to hang out in LA or NY where WORKING people in your proffession congrigate. They'd be a hell of a lot more useful to you than some classmate you knew 10 years ago in one of your classes.

Thirdly noone gives a rat's ass where you went to school, they only care about what you can put up on a screen, take a look at Kevin Smith or the Wachowki Brothers. Smith briefly attended an accellerated program then quickly dropped out when this "hands on, no theory" program started out by teaching 3 months of theory. He took the 5 grand he was refunded from the school and made Clerks along with a bunch of maxed out credit cards, and as far as I know the Wachowskis didn't attend ANY school at all and worked in construction before they sold Assasins. This is only the tip of a very large iceburg.

The only compelling argument for attending the 6 years (if your lucky) of University trainning to get your degree (under grad and masters) is so you can teach other drones at an accredited university. True, this is a safety net but if your not willing to gamble on your talent perhaps you are already better suited to teachin than to filmmaking already, after all those who do, do and those who can't...well you know the rest. Quite frankly I'd rather bet on myself than play it safe and teach film thoery at some community collage.
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#11 jijhh

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 01:03 AM

You might as well have just posted your answer instead of the question, it would have been just as easy.

First of all, generalizing about professors at colleges makes no sense whatsoever. So maybe you didn't like their methods or what they thought of your work; part of learning is being challenged which is one of the most important things about college in general not just film school. Should film schools fill their faculty with established, award-winning filmmakers only? A teacher of mine said to one of my classes "No one knows how to succeed better than the people who have failed". I don't agree fully with what he said, but I definately don't think that there is some dire need for genius filmmaker teachers in film school because "unsuccessful" ones aren't capable of teaching good filmmaking. They are teaching THEORY, which can LEAD to good filmmaking.

About "no one caring where you went to school", thats not entirely true either. Sure, when you send something to a festival or screen it, no one watching cares where whoever went to school, but when you're fresh out of school and you're basically starting over at entry level set jobs to try and work your way up (as many people are), where and if you went to school most certainly do matter. You seem to have a very all or none mentality about this whole issue, where you're either going to make it big right away or not at all, which really isn't how it works for most.

Yes, we all know that Kevin Smith made Clerks with almost nothing and PT Anderson dropped out right away and Quentin Tarantino did nothing but work in a video store, but its not going to happen like that for most of us.
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#12 Rik Andino

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 01:58 AM

I just don't know how far a film school degree will get you in the business world.
If you don't make it in the film world, what's a film degree worth?
I ask that out of genuine curiousity and respectfullness, so please don't think I'm being snotty.


Well a film degree---which is actually a Bachelors in Art with a concentration (or major) in Film it
Well it can get you many jobs just looking for a college graduate with a BA or BS
Like some teaching careers where they're just looking for dedicated college grads
Or a military career as an officer, or business career in marketing and advertising (your prod.)

But most important it will get you into the Grad School for Business...where you can get that MBA.

And since you took film classes you should have a high GPA that will qualify you.
"Art classes are easy" like my friends who study science and engineering always say.

So you see a college degree in anything is very useful...
More useful than no college degree.
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#13 Nooman Naqvi

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 01:10 PM

There is only one thing more expensive than going to university, not going to university.


Beautifully said. Would you recommend a person go to engineering school & pursue filmmaking as a minor?

That way he'll have an engineering degree plus some foundation in filmmaking. Later that 22/23-year-old engineer, from the 50-60k/year paycheck, can save up & make an indie-movie and start his gradual move toward the film industry? Would you agree or disagree?

Example, University of Texas at Arlington (4th tier) or University of Texas at Austin (1st tier) are cheap public colleges that have a film program + a good engineering programs.
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#14 Nathan Chaszeyka

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 02:23 PM

I have spent my time in the golaug of academia and discovered one thing, most of the professors in these clone factories are little tin Napoleans that rule their make believe kingdoms is some delusional fantasy that by berating and destroying the independent thought of their students they will somehow make up for their own failed lifes and broken dreams, after all if they had succeded they wouldn't be teaching at some univerity to start with.


I agree with most of what has been said in this thread from both sides of the discussion except the abot quoted post. Generally when people have closed thier mind to the idea that there could be merit in the other option, they make hasty generaliztions and stand behind them as fact. It appears that is what you are doing here.

Perhaps you didn't look around and find the right "gulag" to spend time in. And your shortsighted quib about teaching at a local community college is laughable.

I attend a Community College with a very strong 2 year film program. I'm not under piles of debt, as a matter of fact my tuition is roughly $3000 a year including books and fees. On top of that, the program head at my college has worked a lifetime in the film industry and decided to retire to teaching as his health began to fade from the stress. My cinematography professor is an emmy award winner, a founding member of the Society of Camera Operators and member of the director's, camera operators, and editor's guilds. The other members of the faculty have all worked professionally in Hollywood or New York and have equally impressive credits.

Perhaps writing off all professors as "little Tin Napoleans" isn't as easy as you would like it to be.
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#15 Ricardo Diaz

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:22 PM

Beautifully said. Would you recommend a person go to engineering school & pursue filmmaking as a minor?

That way he'll have an engineering degree plus some foundation in filmmaking. Later that 22/23-year-old engineer, from the 50-60k/year paycheck, can save up & make an indie-movie and start his gradual move toward the film industry? Would you agree or disagree?

Example, University of Texas at Arlington (4th tier) or University of Texas at Austin (1st tier) are cheap public colleges that have a film program + a good engineering programs.


I am about to graduate from UT and I had a great experience in their film department. But as I understand it you cant minor in RTF. You can be a RTF major and do business foundations or get a minor in something else. I would reccomend the RTF with business foundations. Also get very involved with the Burnt Oragne/UT film institute. Its on the job training, that can got me contacts with local film professionals and several paid jobs in everything from production, locations, and my favorite camera. Good luck on your decision and Hook'em.
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#16 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 12:28 AM

I agree with most of what has been said in this thread from both sides of the discussion except the abot quoted post. Generally when people have closed thier mind to the idea that there could be merit in the other option, they make hasty generaliztions and stand behind them as fact. It appears that is what you are doing here.

Perhaps you didn't look around and find the right "gulag" to spend time in. And your shortsighted quib about teaching at a local community college is laughable.

I attend a Community College with a very strong 2 year film program. I'm not under piles of debt, as a matter of fact my tuition is roughly $3000 a year including books and fees. On top of that, the program head at my college has worked a lifetime in the film industry and decided to retire to teaching as his health began to fade from the stress. My cinematography professor is an emmy award winner, a founding member of the Society of Camera Operators and member of the director's, camera operators, and editor's guilds. The other members of the faculty have all worked professionally in Hollywood or New York and have equally impressive credits.

Perhaps writing off all professors as "little Tin Napoleans" isn't as easy as you would like it to be.


In a community collage? You got phenominally lucky my friend. Perhaps if I had attended your community collage instead of the university I attended I might not have the attitude towards formal education I do. Oh and thanks for correcting my spelling of Gulag. Spelling has never been my stong point However, I still firmly stand behind what I said, there are some good professors out there of course but they are far outnumbered by the little tin Napoleans I mentioned before. Most schools are not geared to turning out filmmakers but but instead to turning out teachers. Now if you want to settle for being a teacher or your goal is to be a teacher, that fine. Many responces here state how going to collage gives them that option should they fail. My opinion is if you can't bet everything on yourself and fail then pick yourself up and keep trying till you succeed, you don't belong in this business to begin with, because every swing dick with a video camera is trying to be the next George Romero and if you don't have the balls to stick it out you will fail, without a doubt. As Yoda said, don't try, do. Unless your montra is "Failure is not an option" teaching is a much less heartbreaking way for you to go'

It's interesting I been following Film school on IFC which is about 4 student at NYU film svhool trying to nmake a short for their anual student film festival One quit school before she ever made a film and the one guy who got the most negative critisism, the Italian guy who made Heart of Spider, was the one who got offered a job to direct a Volvo commercial which he took. The onter guy who made The Adventures of Supernigger was also heavily criticed, then the film was invited to screen at Lincoln Center, but the one other student who got nothing but praise for her work from the professors later said she wasn't sure if she wanted to make films and got no offers which only goes to prove most professors, even in prestigous schools, don't know what the Hell they're talking about and things haven't changed all that much sence I was in school.
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#17 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 07:58 PM

to nmake a short for their anual student film festival One quit school before she ever made a film and the one guy who got the most negative critisism, the Italian guy who made Heart of Spider, was the one who got offered a job to direct a Volvo commercial which he took. The onter guy who made The Adventures of Supernigger was also heavily criticed, then the film was invited to screen at Lincoln Center, but the one other student who got nothing but praise for her work from the professors later said she wasn't sure if she wanted to make films and got no offers which only goes to prove most professors, even in prestigous schools, don't know what the Hell they're talking about and things haven't changed all that much sence I was in school.


I took a film course while teaching Physics at a major southern private university. I produced two abstract music videos using Beatles music - the best on "Happiness is a Warm Gun". I was helping out the university's Public Relations Department on some audio recording projects and was able to borrow the use of their industrial/broadcast quality video gear, old style 1" Ampex VTR, Marconi cameras, etc. The professor teaching the course didn't know what to make of what I produced - it was 1972 or so and the concept of a music video was somewhat unknown territory. He asked me what grade he should give me and of course I said "an A". So I got an "A". Damn I wish I still had the tape!
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#18 Michael Collier

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 09:19 PM

I've been following that film school show. Its good. I like the guy who directed supernigger. Sounded like h actually had something to say, and is the most likely to be seen around in the comming years. The guy who wrote heart of spider is has his head too far up his....well you get the idea.

After all the crap leah gave her crew, she doesnt want to make a film. How lame is that (best scene is where she makes her crew sit outside the house all morning while they rehearse, and one of the guys says 'so were not really making a movie....this is more like therapy)

I think in the end it depends on where your at. I have been making films since I was 11. At least 2 a year since then and feel I have a grasp of most concepts that can be taught. Now its a matter of establishing my artistic patern. How I define the world in my movie, and how I represent that through the camera. That is experience thing in my opinion. Now if you have never shot anything in your life and need to know the facts about the proccesses in hand, then its useful. I went for 2 years until people started ripping off my work (they put it on their demo reels) and found in 2 years I had not learned anything from professors, just from the projects that I enterprised.

Making it in film seems tough. I dont think film school or solid work would get you in. My plan is to throw myself against the gates until they break open. I get more and more production work these days, so I am getting experience and at the same time I am building a business that will work, Hollywood production budgets or not.
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#19 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 04 May 2006 - 01:50 AM

I got to be honest with you. I didn't like any one of these people. They all seemed like jerks. The Italian guy was an a**ho** w/ a short man syndrome, a big mouth and a bad attitude. I can't for the life of me figure out why his entire all voulenteer crew didn't walk out on him the first day of shooting. I would have, probably after I kicked his scrawny, 5 ft 0 ass for giving me lip. Leah was a space cadet trying exorcize her demons by putting them on film and the way she treated her crew was inexcussable, the girl who quit was just plain pathetic and the guy who made Supernigger way too self-rightous. and seemed to be riding some kind of soapbox like he was the first one to discover bigotry. On that note, doesn't it seem the least bit hypocritical that he makes such big issue of race and then dates a white girl who he treats like crap. "I can't make a 10 minute phone call because I'm too dedicated to my art!" PLEASE. When I'm on location I call my girlfriend 3 to 4 times a week minimum and it never once intefered with my "Art"! The guy's a jerk.

Of coarse, in the end, their personalities (none of which I would give 2 cents for) matter in the least. The only thing that matters is what's up on screen. Peckenpaw was a absolute jackass, but he made good films. After watching this series, I would really like to see all of these films, if for no other reason than to see if I agree with the professor's critics. I kinda thought the idea for Heart of Spuder was stupid, but now i'd kinda like to see what he did with it that impressed people enough to give him a commercial. Supernigger I'd like to se because the last scene looked good. The acting, from the few short sequences I saw looked real good and the production value looked good. Leah'sfilm I could probably take or leave but I'd give it a shot just for the hell of it.
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#20 EricUlbrich

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Posted 04 May 2006 - 02:16 AM

ok so let me make one small comment. The people on the show film school are only one thing...IDIOTS. If thats what you think film school teaches you...then you really dont have a very good understanding of it. As far as professors go, my production design professor did Blade Runner...Yeah thats right Blade Runner. On top of that I have a cine teacher that is ASC, so out the window to the theory that people who teach film have failed at film. I agree that grades in film school are useless however I must reiterate what my friend Mr. Bartels stated: (by the way Art is a key grip, who's credits include this years best picture, Crash, Red Dragon, World Trade and a whole slew of productions, here is his IMDB profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0058457/) He stated and I quote: "go to school, refine your passion and art, pay your dues, and people will respect and notice that." If someone who just recently worked with Oliver Stone said that, I would listen. Yes sometimes it sucks, yes sometimes you have to do what you dont want to do and deal with arrogant people, but it prepares you for the real world. You say that your a director, isnt your job reliant upon gaining as many life experiences as possible? Constantly refining yourself? and exploring all your options? How can you relate to an actor if you havent walked a mile in your characters shoes? Yes everybody wants to be the next Kevin Smith, the next Tarintino, but the fact of the matter is, it wont happen, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. As far as contacts and netoworking in film school goes, I have had an amazing experience. One of my friends is working on a development deal at Miramax, and I recently went to Sundance to meet with and talk to the cheif of production at the Weinstein Company. I'm just saying that you want to refine your art and film school is one option. If you have your heart set thats great, but then I wonder, why are you asking us?
Cheers,
Eric U.
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