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seeking advice regarding film schools


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#1 Maty Grosman

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 11:09 PM

Hi,

I'm not sure whether this is an appropriate place to post my question, but I failed to find a more appropriate one yet...

My aspiration, in the long run, is to be writing and directing for film. I believe that in order to do so properly I need to acquire a strong base and understanding of all the technical elements involved in the process of production, from camera operation, to lighting, to editing, etc. Ultimately, I believe the best way to learn would have been joining an able crew, and learning from people who do what they do best. But that seems quite impossible to me; unfortunately, with all my good intention and abilities, I doubt anyone would take a person with no experience or background in the field under his wing. So I started looking into film schools.
My first problem lays with the courses. As I said, the reason I consider attending a film school is to have access to equipment and technical knowledge which I would otherwise not be able to acquire by myself--whereas courses such as film history, creative writing etc. (although I?m sure they can be very interesting) I will be able to learn on my own, and for a fraction of the cost. (That is to say nothing about elective courses, which have nothing to do with the industry)
My second problem (or rather question) is regarding the broadness and intensity of the knowledge I would actually acquire. I have in my area (Toronto, Canada) a few alternatives to choose from, mainly, a four-year program at Ryerson University costing approx. $26,000, and an intensive (according to advertisement) 15-month program at the Toronto Film School, for the same sum. Each and every institution promises to bring their graduates to an "industry-level" upon graduation, yet I cannot help but feel skeptical about such a statement. Moreover, upon doing some research to find out what people who had previously attended film schools could actually say in their behalf, the most recurring statement was that they "met a lot of people and made voluble connections" (or something along these lines). This is NOT the reason for which I plan to attend an educational institution, to say the least... As to the content of these programs, all I could find were short and somewhat vague descriptions, which merely left me even more puzzled then before.
At the bottom line, what I am getting at is that $26,000 is A VERY big monetary investment for me to make, and I cannot find any means of ascertaining whether it be justified by what I will end up receiving in return. I'm afraid I might find myself a year (or four) from now, fresh out of school, and with nothing to show for it except for some graduation paper, a list of contacts, and a $26,000 loan hanging over my shoulders.
Lastly, there is the option of investing some of this money towards a decent HDV camera and a few good books, and slowly learn on my own. Yet, as much as I tend to favor this approach, it has its own drawbacks; mainly where I started from, that with a camcorder and a few books I can only do so much, while there is so much technical equipment and knowledge which I fail to see a way of obtaining or attaining on my own. Even more importantly, I would have nothing to do with film, and I don't think I'll be able to learn and build high theoretical constructs without feeling it with my own hands...

Well, this is pretty much my dilemma spread-out on paper. I hoped that people who are actually working in the industry might have some useful insights, which may lead me to a fresh perspective on the subject. I thank anyone who have read this far, and would greatly appreciate any comments or advices you may share.

Thank you.
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#2 Morgan Peline

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:46 AM

Hi,

Why don'y you just buy a cheap camera, buy a mac, buy the geurilla filmmkakers hand-book, write a script make a film. Watch many movies. Show your films to people and just keep going. Much, much cheaper than spending $26,000.
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 09:53 AM

I'd look into the New York City schools. There's a HUGE student film community in the city, a large selection of schools to select from in a wide price range, crew available from the rankest beginners to people who have worked on Oscar winners, etc. etc. There are rental shops who like to help out students, shops like BH Photovideo, enough professional shoots going on all the time to give you a chance at a entry-level crew slot or a least a chance to hang out and see the pros at work, etc.

And it is the greatest location city on earth, I've shot a lot of still photography on trips to the City and you can point a camera in just about any direction and get a breathtaking photo.

I've only worked once in film in NYC - but it was gaffing on a Pierre Gaisseau ("The Sky Above, The Mud Below" director) film. I got the connection through a well-known avant-garde dancer I had been lighting for, NY can be like that, you get a chance to do something great just because of who you hang out with.

There are also a host of actors, designers, and craft students who will probably jump at the chance to get involved in a student film for the experience themselves. So you've got every resource needed in the City to make quality student films.
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#4 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 01:26 PM

Well, I'm not working in the industry but...

26,000 dollars a year? Or were you saying 26,000 for all four years?

If the latter is the case, then that is not a bad investment. If you go to school I would suggest maybe picking up another major along with film or at least a minor. A lot of people don't want that, they just want a film education, I think that is why you see so many people flock to places like Full Sail (which I am sure many people have found success in, but I'm sure many other people have wasted money.) All I'm trying to say is, if you go to college, try to find a school that will give you the best educaion, not just technical information you could probably teach yourself through practice. As long as it doesn't go the other direction you were talking about and simply teach abstract theory oriented concepts without any hands on experience.

An expensive lottery ticket? I don't know.
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#5 ArturKummer

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 01:59 PM

Try the UCLA extension film and television program.You can either finish the certificade program or just take especific classes .They have really good cinematography classes(you can base your whole certificate around them as I did)if you are more in to directing I would suggest a very good class called "Cinematography for directors" as a starter.Its not so expensive,very hands on and its in los Angeles a place wher you can breth film technical knowledge.

Good Luck



www.uclaextension.edu
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 03:12 PM

Toronto is still a major production centre for US and Canadian films, plus you'll have tons of gov't red tape to deal with if you decide to try NY or LA. You can't just pack up and legally work in the USA. All of my friends from Canada who work in the US film industry got in under NAFTA using the T1 permit. For this you need at least a four year degree from a university, also makes a H1B much easier as well. Many of these guys went to the film program at Ryerson, probably the best in Canada.

A four year degree from Ryerson will never be a bad thing. There's no way you'll get around the cost, education costs money you just have to accept that. Or does it? An economist once said, the only thing more expensive than going to university is not going to university.

I would steer clear of the schools that advertise on television, for them it's a business, they really don't care what happens to you after they have your money.

I doubt you would produce any thing of substance working on your own with a Mac and HDV camera, and no formal training.

You could work your way up the crew ladder, but that is a 15-20 year commitment.

R,
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#7 Rik Andino

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 02:36 AM

I hoped that people who are actually working in the industry might have some useful insights,
Which may lead me to a fresh perspective on the subject.
I thank anyone who have read this far,
and would greatly appreciate any comments or advices you may share.


Well I can say don't spend 20+ grand to just learn how to be a filmmaker...
That's kinda stupid, ain't it...? (I know cause I sorta did it.)
Go to college to get an education or if you need a degree...
If you don't need either just going to filmschool isn't going to be as useful as it seems.

I can promise you that when you come out of film school
You will be no where close to industry standards...
You'll just have a little bit of knowledge on how the process work.
Every professional has learned most of their skills on the job...
Filmschool was just a good foundation...but by no means a necessity.

First thing you gotta realize that in a film set there are different jobs and specialties
You can't expect learn everything because there's too much and there's no need for that.
Pick the specific job you want to do and focus on that.

You said you want to be a writer/director
Well then the only way to become one is to do it...
Take writing classes to help your writing skills
Study some acting and take a few course on directing to help you work with actors...
Study a little bit of cinematography to learn about composition...
But most important practice directing by directing films.

Also it behooves you to learn to colloborate with others...
Find a student cinematographer you can work with...
You guys can develop together because film requires lots of colloboration
It's best when director learns how to properly communicate with other crew members...
That way they can accomplish more.

Filmschool is good but often not necessary
And then go there expecting miracles...
Becoming a good filmmaker takes dozens of years of practice.


Filmschool may be a good place to start
But the best thing to do is to practice the craft.


Good Luck

Edited by Rik Andino, 27 September 2006 - 02:36 AM.

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#8 Maty Grosman

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 10:30 PM

Hey,

Sorry for the delayed response, I didn't have a chance to check in lately.
I thank everyone for taking the time to post their views in my absance, it is greatly appreciated.

I decided against film school for the time being, but trying to work my way in--and up.

Thanks again.

Maty.
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#9 Sarah H.

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 08:48 PM

Hey,

Sorry for the delayed response, I didn't have a chance to check in lately.
I thank everyone for taking the time to post their views in my absance, it is greatly appreciated.

I decided against film school for the time being, but trying to work my way in--and up.

Thanks again.

Maty.


I'm a student, and like you, I struggled with the idea of film school vs. getting a liberal arts education.
I decided on the latter and found a "study abroad" program - The Los Angeles Film Studies Center through my school.

Now, I'm probably in the minority here as far as my progression into the film world, but next semester I'll be living in L.A. attending this program and thereby getting a beginner's education in film AND working as an intern at a Hollywood film production company (not sure which one yet).

All that to say, there doesn't seem to be one specific path that every filmmaker takes in order to make it big. Experience & connections are huge too!

Hope things work out for you!
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