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Going it alone or filmschool


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#1 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 02:22 PM

I was wondering what peoples opinions are about a 'hypothetical' situation- what would be more beneficial/rewarding/educating-

a) going to film school with the money you had saved up
b)or investing all that money instead by jumping straight into a making a short film with all your savings and taking the bull by the horns as it were ?


thanks
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#2 Nathan Milford

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 02:42 PM

Howdy,

There are at least a dozen threads on this issue. Take a look in the Cinematography Education sub-forum or use the search function. You'll find a wealth of opinions one way or the other.
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#3 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 02:45 PM

Howdy,

There are at least a dozen threads on this issue. Take a look in the Cinematography Education sub-forum or use the search function. You'll find a wealth of opinions one way or the other.



thanks, should have known its already be discussed! :rolleyes:
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#4 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 02:46 PM

GO ALONE!!!!!! DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!


BEST
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 02:58 PM

They both have their ups and downs. It just always depends on a) what school's you're considering and what are your networking prospects there, and B) Do you REALLY know enough about filmmaking to dive right in and make the investment in a film that will potentially never be seen except by a YouTube audience...and again, what will your networking prospects be if you go it alone with a small crew?

You can make a difference and get noticed at a school just as easily/difficult as you would if you were to spend money on your own film.

The only reason I didn't go to film school was because I felt I was already on the right track as far as getting experience and meeting the right people, so going to school would have been overkill and I probably would have been ahead of everything covered in my classes.

Get some unbiased opinions from other film students at various film schools and make an assessment. In the meantime, there are millions of indie filmmaker stories.
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#6 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 03:15 PM

It really depends. The question is, what do you really want to do? For the sake of argument, I'll assume that you have aspirations to become a Director based on the question. That said, think about what each of the given options will give you in the end. The filmschool route will (hopefully, depending on the school you choose) give you a background in film theory, probably some semblence of "real" experience, and access to like-minded aspiring filmmakers like yourself. And a degree which is, by and large, meaningless. Point being, nobody will give you a directing job just because you have a degree in film.

The independent film route. Assuming you've never made a substantial movie before, it will be an eye-opening experience and education. Typically at this level, you are the one who has the most invested in the project (financially and otherwise) so you are by and large the Producer as well. You'll discover that all the theory that was taught in filmschool is all well and good, but when you are on a budget and have limitations, creativity can often be subverted by the reality that you just have to get the scene in the can one way or another. Ideally, you'll stick to your guns and make the movie that is in your head, but even the most influential Directors have to break for lunch six hours after crew call. Point being, film theory is a wonderful thing...it really is. But there are very practical concerns that many filmschools fail to explain to the legions of hopeful Directors who walk their hallways.

I don't know that there are hard numbers, but the truth is that many (if not most) people who aspire to direct, don't. Look at the back of any callsheet and you'll find hundreds of names yet only one Director. Many aspiring Directors wind up doing one of those other jobs in the industry. Not that it's a bad thing. You're working in the industry, meeting people who may be able to help you get to your goal. The only other option, really, is to make that short film and hope to God that someone out there with power will see it and hand a Directing career to you on a platter. Maybe you are that talented. I hope so. Truly. :) But if not, be prepared to do something else while you continue to strive toward that goal that so many other people have as well.

So, filmschool? Maybe. Just know that a film degree in and of itself is no guarantee of anything. That said, a higher education in general will give you the tools to succeed at just about anything you do in life, film industry or not.
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#7 Josh Brokenbourgh

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 04:22 PM

I think either choice is incidental to success. I think it's a great question. It defines your future.

Ask yourself this:
What do you want to contribute to film. (Innovation, etc.)
What do you want from film. (Personal success, etc.)
Do you know if you like school?
Do you have people around you willing to contribute to your film?

What I know:
I tried doing it on my own in light local broadcast and failed (bye bye -$10k).
I waited after failing to understand what I learned.
I realized my passion for movies, entertainment and film.
I moved to a larger city that had more to offer.
I thought about where to get an education for about a year.
I chose an ok school, now I know I would go somewhere else, but decided to keep going for personal reasons.
I always keep my goals on my mind.
I have decided to go to graduate film school after my b.a. in digital film and video (regardless of the countless people that say the only thing I can do with a ma in film is be a critic, that's b.s.)


I feel like I have a decent amount of time to really work on things that I love. But at the same time have solid deadlines that require a finish- you make many mistakes- but it's one way to learn or innovate.

That's my opinion.


Good luck!
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#8 Brian Rose

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 06:07 PM

I am currently in film school, so I will try to do my best to give an unvarnished, objective stance. There are definitely pros and cons to getting a degree in film. First off, I would recommend studying film as a grad. Use your time as an undergrad to get a good solid degree in something like business, or English or History, as I did. You have to plan for those rough times between projects, when you'll have to get a regular job to make ends meet. A good, solid degree as an undergrad will at least impart some skills you can apply to a range of jobs, until you get that big film gig. That said, on with the pros:

Film school is great for meeting people that share your interests, knowledge and level of committment. That was a major reason that I chose film school. Also, film schools are great for getting access to expensive equipment that would likely be unavailble to you if you went the indy route. Now, this requires research because not all film schools are created equal. Here at SIU Carbondale (Steve James of "Hoop Dreams" is an alum), we've got an array of 16mm, from Bolex to Arri SRs, super 8 to a brand new HD camera system. It's a great way to lay your hands on a lot of good (and not so good) equipment and learn their ins and outs. FSU has just about the best equipment out there. There are others as well. Supposedly, NYU needs some work in this department. A film school is also a good way to get your foot in the door for film festivals, though this depends somewhat on the school's reputation.

Now the cons: Money, is of course, a factor. If you are going the film school route, I say look for an affordable school, or one that offers aid. My school is giving me tuition plus living expenses, so I am essentially being paid to study and make films. There are others out there. FSU, for example, pays all the costs of production. Also, there is the matter of faculty. Faculty are kinda like studio bosses. You wind up butting heads sooner or later. Most are great, supportive people. Others can be arrogant prigs who will try to mold and steer you into making what they make. It's actually a good lesson in creative autonomy. Sooner or later, you'll be forced to say "no" to one of these authority figures...a very useful word that too few people know how to use. What about the degree? Well, if you want to teach, an MFA or DFA or PhD is very useful. But if you want to MAKE movies, the degree itself is worth about as much as the paper it's printed on. That's just how it is, and it is something you should keep in mind as you enter a film school. In a way, it's rather nice. You don't have to worry as much about getting stellar grades, because who's gonna care? All that a company will want to know is "What work have you done." It's less burdensome knowing that grades and degrees are secondary to the work itself.

Ultimately, it's up to you. On the one hand, I'd say that if it was between NYU and making your movie, I'd go for a the latter. Frankly, only a sucker would shell out 30K a year, plus living, and then another 50K for their thesis, when they could've used that money to make a nice first feature, or a nest egg until a job opens up. But if you can find a nice film program that is affordable, or will give you aid, it is worth considering. Hope this helps!
Best,
Brian Rose
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#9 AdamBray

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 07:04 PM

My experience with school is lots of kids with no experience who all have egos and think they are the next Quentin Tarantino. I would have to listen to them debate about QT every day and talk about why he sucks and how they could do better. Oh and RR and the $7,000 El Mariachi discussion I'm sick of also. And none of these kids wants to be the boom operator. Nobody wants to act. Nobody wants to be the gaffer. Nobody wants pull focus. Nobody wants to work the slate. Nobody wants to be the key grip. EVERYONE wants to be the director. Too many chiefs and not enough indians.

I would skip film school. I would look around for some short week long or two week program courses or whatever to get you're feet wet and meet like-minded folks. If you need people, just put an ad on Craig's List. You'll find them. I don't think there's a whole lot you can learn at film school that you can't learn on your own. It will just take you a little longer and you'll have to learn more trial and error.
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#10 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 07:07 PM

Neither.

Take the money and use it to live off of as cheaply as you can in Los Angeles while working every production job you can find, for money or for free, getting in as many doors and making as many connections as possible. If your patient, passionate, and ask questions you'll be amazed how much you can learn and how fast you can achieve your goals.
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#11 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 08:21 PM

BRAVO ERIC, BUT.... my advice will be to similar to Adam's take a course for a week or 2 or non but study on your own go to other people filmshoots, start from way down there pick up a broom stick anything.... work your way up.
Conviction, persistance and true passion will make it happend for you ......
Meanwhile write, and write or team up with somebody and create an small project and make it, once you are done, make something bigger


This is for MAvericks not for sissy humans.... you need to know how to walk the walk

Best
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#12 Robert Glenn

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 01:04 AM

Majored in media with a concentration on film. Half the faculty were arrogant a-holes and half the students were arrogant a-holes. Some of the people I knew went on to do some crew work in tv and so forth. A couple I know are doing film festival stuff overseas.. or something.
I went to college to buy myself time. I'm still buying time with a job in education, but I am a little wiser I think. I learned a LOT while at school.. a good bit in my major, but much of my learning came from just being in college's learning and social environment.
If you are clever and have already written material that suits a low budget, then you should definitely make a movie. If you haven't... well either move to hollywood and be pimped until you get established in one of the trades, or go to school.
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#13 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 01:25 AM

James Cameron is quoted as saying something to the effect of " I got a $40,000 film school education fro 12 dollars in library late fees" BUT he took the time to GO to the library andLEARN what the Hell he was doing before he set foot on a set. I'm a FIRM believer in using your money to make a film, Hell I've dedicated my life to it, but I've also a firm believer in NOT throwing your money away. Study and learn everything you can on your own. Filmmaking is an unbelievable compicated process which it why there are so many specialized professionals on a movie set and a good independent director should have at least a working knowlage of ALL of the jobs associated with the process as well as the ins and outs of securing distribution, financing, fund-raising, publisity and the dozen other jobs that are tagents to the process. If you've got someone paying for it, you can just have someone hire all the people you need, but if you're using your own money, you're also a producer with limited funds so you're gonna want to be damn sure you know what needs to be done, what's possible and what's not! It's a lot tougher row to hoe but the up side is NO ONE tells you how to make your movie and there is something in that. B)
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#14 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 04:57 AM

I'm going to film school this year in the Netherlands (we only have one film school), because:

a ) I got accepted, hooray!
b ) it isn't that expensive, you pay the fixed price per year that you pay for every higher education (about 2000 dollars)
c ) I get to learn from a lot of experienced people in a failsafe environment.
d ) it will get me a good network of people by the time I graduate.
e ) it's a relatively small school with very dedicated, and for all I know, very friendly people.
f ) I want to have a degree, because I think it's a good thing to have and otherwise the government will turn my subsidy into a loan.

For me there is no difference between 'going it alone' and taking a film education. There is just me and my goal, whatever gets me there the fastest is good.

Edited by Alex Wuijts, 13 May 2007 - 04:58 AM.

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#15 David Bradley

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 06:00 AM

I think its been forgotten to say that there is no beaten path into the film industry. There are plenty of examples of successful film makers who went to film school - just take a look at the USC alumni.

there are however plenty of people who never made it to college and have done incredibly well for themselves.

I reckon the best bit about film school is that you get access to equipment that would otherwise cost alot in rent. It also helps build contacts. It also gives you time; time to make films and conentrate on developing your craft rather than working in 'the real world'.
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 01:31 PM

Would you advise going for a dp who is at a simliar level? Someone with more experience might be underwhelmed at my pathetic attempts at direction...


The more experienced crew you have, the easier your production will go and the more you'll learn, probably.

For instance, I'm about to DP a short film for a kid who's never shot film before, so he has no idea what to do. I told him, just let me handle the shooting and ask me whatever questions you have along the way, and I'll do my best to give you insight as I go.
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#17 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 03:19 PM

The more experienced crew you have, the easier your production will go and the more you'll learn, probably.

For instance, I'm about to DP a short film for a kid who's never shot film before, so he has no idea what to do. I told him, just let me handle the shooting and ask me whatever questions you have along the way, and I'll do my best to give you insight as I go.


Sounds like I should hire you! ;)
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#18 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 12:29 AM

Thanks for the insight, I think jumping straight into a short film would be quite a liberating experience, in the sense that there would be no restraint from being in an institutional setting. I would like to direct - and to hire a dp and have friends help out as much as possible. It does seem such a steep edge though, to jump like that!


It is. I'm in a similar situation as you. I'm trying to save up money for a films chool that I'm not even sure I'll get into!

Basically, if you have the money, GO FOR IT! Nothing is more important than a solid education, don't pass that up.
However, if your tight on budget, try taking filmc courses, night classes, or workshops that could help you gain knoweldge, and apply what you learn (for much cheaper I might add) to your films and hope for the best.

As well, being a student myself, I am constantly making films for student film festivals and workshops in hopes to get heard (or rather seen). You just gotta give it a go. Either way you choose, DON'T GIVE UP.

Hood luck with everything :)

Dan Goldberg..
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#19 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 02:47 PM

I'm a current film student, so perhaps my view is skewed towards attending college...but, I believe although there are NO guarantees and NO direct routes to anything in life, especially in the world of cinema, school is an environment that some will thrive within.

It's an opportunity to learn, observe, create, network, and make films, while also learning about things outside of the film world so that you attain a diverse and broad view of the world around you. Where else can you have one on one discussions with people who know a whole lot about topics from photography to philosophy. It's very different from just reading a book. A book can not answer questions nor can it strike up a conversation with you.

You could blow 100,000 on a film and no one may want to see it, or it may suck, or you could blow up abd be the next big thing. Either way, every choice you make is a gamble, I chose filmschool because it seemed to offer me an opportunity to learn and grow as a person, not just as someone who wants to do film (although, I eat, breathe, sleep, and ream film!!), and I think I will have more to offer at the end of my academic journey than if I did not attend filmschool.

I think filmschool is an investment but it is not for everyone. You need to find your path and if filmschool is on there, then go for it. I'm in undergrad and will be looking to enter a grad school next year (keeping it positive!!).

So, whatever your choice give it your all and don't look back, only ahead.

K.
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#20 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 04:23 PM

I'm surprised Phil hasn't chimed in yet. Usually he jumps on threads like these. ;)
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