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Film School - Yes or No?


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#1 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 04:04 PM

I have worked for the past year as a 2nd assistant Cinematographer and Production Assistant, I'll put a link to some things I have done before below. Anyway, I'm at a crossroads, I want to be a professional writer/director/producer (ala Tim Burton, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, etc) but I'm not sure where to start. I have directed/produced some simple stuff, mostly just things for fun or documentary style stuff. I'm curious, is Film school worth it? Or should I just go out and keep up with the PA work, and work my way up from there?

From Production Assistant, where should I go? Assistant Director?

Here's a list of some of the projects I worked on:

Up All Night #2: Mario and Sonic at the Olympics

Production Assistant, Runner, Setup and breakdown.

Up All Night #3: Rock Band (Ft. Janina Gavankar)

Assistant Cinematographer, setup and breakdown

Up All Night #4: Burnout (Ft. Janina Gavankar)

Assistant Cinematographer, setup and breakdown.

Up All Night #5: Army of Two (Ft. Janina Gavankar)

Assistant Cinematographer, setup and breakdown.

Epileptic Gaming #145: Thursday
http://link.brightco...bctid1365762163
Live Producer.

World of Warcraft Altaholic

Producer, Editor, Director

EG Does Fort Bragg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytqUDDF-tHk
Editor

Haunted Houses of Hawthorne
http://revver.com/vi...s-of-hawthorne/
Live Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Editor


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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 05:09 PM

Attending film school is going to make you a much better film maker but it isn?t going to guarantee anything as far a work goes. However if you want to teach a degree is important. Also if you attend a good film school the connections you make can become invaluable as they begin to establish themselves in the industry.

If you are ready working albeit at a PA level you may want continue that and take extension classes in film making given by film schools. You may learn much of what you desire and be in an immediate situation to apply the knowledge.

The benefit of being a PA is you can get exposure to all the aspects of film making. You may want to steer yourself to working as an assistant for the producer. If you hook up with the right one it could be magic.
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#3 Aaron Covington

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 12:15 AM

write a feature.

that's what they'll tell you in film school
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#4 Steinrock

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 02:50 PM

As a Graphic Arts student I find that the school acts as a kind of safehouse where you can explore your ideas and advance the knowledge that you
have. I do not know how film school is but I assume it is very similar.
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#5 Miguel Cruz

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:55 AM

My short answer is no. However, there are a couple of ways to look at this. If you just want to go to college, then yes, study film. However having the degree isn't an absolute necessity. It's not like being a lawyer or a doctor where there are state mandated requirements.

The real issue comes down to how much do you already know. For me film school was most useful in the introductory course as that was my first exposure to the raw mechanics of the art. Up until that point I had largely been a passive viewer and didn't know anything about editorial pacing, shot composition, or camera movement and how they all work psychologically. From that point on, I learned the rest by paying attention to the techniques in the movies I was watching outside of class and trying to mimic them in the videos I made with my friends.

But my school (University of North Texas) might have been different. Other programs might be more intensive to where you really learn something in class.

If you already know a great deal and are fairly confident in your abilities to put something on screen, you might save some money and start making feature films. A buddy of mine said that he read a quote from Steven Soderbergh saying something to the effect of, "Take the money you're going to spend on film school and just make a film."

That's not altogether bad advice since a number of prominent directors started out making low budget films on their own dime that ended up doing good enough business to become bigger players.
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#6 Gregory Almond

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 08:36 PM

As a current film student, Albeit not at a prominent film school, I would definitely recommend it. Schools have equipment, and connections. At my school, the teachers are not the best, but that also forces me to do my own learning and experimenting. But among all of those things, the most important thing is to be around other people. It is invaluable.

Think of it in a sense of six degrees of separation, people know people. On top of that, being an effective film student will show off to others what you are capable of. Getting that recognition from the staff is wholly important, because often they can give good words to others.

For instance i have my internship at a Grip and Gaff rental shop where the Owner gaffs for many different productions within our area. Plus if i so desire to eventually join the Union, the costs are less if i am working here.

So think of it as a Domino effect, while directly film school is not the end all be all, giver of secure future, it is an aide for that networking that can be difficult.

Personally, i am terrible at networking, because i feel awkward about asking people for help getting work, however my instructors have graciously given me opportunities i know i would never dream of having if i hadn't gone to school.

Gregory Almond

~ Oh, and i also agree absolutely with Miguel, it isn't about the degree. Develop a good reel, that can be done at school, Just don't count solely on your senior project to get you revered in the film business, thats why they recommend to just write a script.
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#7 Gregory Almond

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 08:42 PM

The more i look at everything, the more i would say the best school to go to for you is where you are at, on the set working.

Experience is the better school.

Gregory Almond
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 07:25 AM

If you want to be a writer/director, you'll have to make a leap from being an AC and looking at the world with wider view. University or College is a good place to discover cultures, subjects, try out things like acting etc.. Believe it or not you can't learn everything from just watching films, you need to explore other things, otherwise you don't have the understanding of people that make good filmmakers.

A good film school with good lecturers will allow you to explore and make mistakes. You could also do other courses and do film as a post grad course. There are a lot of media graduates out there and it might be worthwhile getting a degree in the subject you wish to make films about.
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#9 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 08:50 AM

my short answer is yes.
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#10 Niki Mundo

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 01:20 PM

I would say go but only if it's cheap to go. Avoid diploma mills that cost an arm/leg. $20-50K for a film degree is a huge waste.

Go to a community college that has a film/video program.
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#11 Dax McKeever

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:31 AM

...since a number of prominent directors started out making low budget films on their own dime that ended up doing good enough business to become bigger players.
[/quote]


I've heard this idea numerous times, and it doesn't exactly hold true when you think about the additional advantages. A family relative? Political film ties? PURE LUCK? Of course, many legendary filmmakers entered this career in a different era; when cinema was deteremined by the 'art of the camera'. Now, [no thanks to the internet] it is more dependent on [positive/negative] publicity & propaganda that sells. I mean, look at the crapp on television and films. And no offense to Mr Scorsesse, who has a large history, but he has much better work in the past than what he won an Oscar Award for.
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#12 Fiona Sheridan

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 02:56 PM

I live in New York and I was recently introduced to the New York Film Academy. I was reading about it and supposedly this school can offer you good connections into the industry, but it is very very espensive. I am just so confused...it seems like it is almost impossible to make it in the film industry.
Should I go to a film school or should I not go?
ahh haha I am just very confused
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#13 Glen Alexander

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 03:47 PM

,,,. Believe it or not you can't learn everything from just watching films,,,



Watch Mystery Science Theater 3000, the first 5 years with Joel, watch all of the really bad ways to make a movie and get big laughs while doing it.
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#14 Glen Alexander

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 04:20 PM

I did post-, post-grad classes at UCLA and USC and found them to be very 'business' orientated towards the film 'industry'.

I'm shooting first film, this August and have done about 7 months prep. If you have the vision, drive, and passion, then put on your hob nail boots and hit the trail. Many, many people realize how hard it is to make a film and will help out along the way, they were there once as well. This forum is a great place to get help that you couldn't afford. If you want to learn skills to 'work' in the industry then an 'instution' might be a good choice.
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 04:30 PM

I don't know what you're talking about;
Manos: The Hands of Fate was waaaayyy a head of it's time!
And c'mon, Santa Clause Conquerors the Martians is a searing view into the wounds this century has inflicted in contemporary family.

I go to film school. I enjoy it, and I get to learn a lot of the theory and try things out. But, yes, in the end, the networks you make here are far better. Perfect example, one of the former professors here works as a colorist at a reputable post-house. Today, while I was doing a tape to tape and complaining 'bout my day job, he said, he brought up a possible internship- a foot in the door during nights. A big deal, though it'd be a departure from what I really want to do (DP,) it would really help (financially a bit of course) because I'd become far more intimate with post allowing me to expose with a mind towards maximizing efficiency. This is something I'd've not had, probably had I not taken his course.
But in the end, it's a crap shot. You hear success from both sides of it, you know? And you hear/see failures from both. I think it comes down, in the end, to the individual's drive and stamina. A lot of college is bullshit; reciting back books to professors in a lecture you couldn't care less about. A lot of it is amazing, such as a semester of bollywood films w/o subtitles, or a screening on film Noir one a week for 6 hours. Of course, Making either a bollywood film or a noir would also lend valuable lessons.
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#16 Glen Alexander

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 04:39 PM

Ok Adrian, ha ha

What about 'Lost Continent', the Lippert masterpiece?
or the aptly named "Tormented", by Bert I. Gordon? ha ha
or those stinkers "Master Ninja " 1 or 2 ...

Manos, ha ha, the directed must have said, I don't care use EVERYTHING we shot.... get some stock footage... i don't care if it's the wrong landscape... wrong country...

I seem to recall the undergrads at USC, thought that tuition was more of a cover charge.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 02 May 2008 - 04:41 PM.

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#17 Alex Plank

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 05:18 PM

I live in New York and I was recently introduced to the New York Film Academy. I was reading about it and supposedly this school can offer you good connections into the industry, but it is very very espensive. I am just so confused...it seems like it is almost impossible to make it in the film industry.
Should I go to a film school or should I not go?
ahh haha I am just very confused


I have a friend there. His teachers are great and quite well connected. It costs an arm and a leg, however.

I'm paying in-state tuition for my university.

-Alex
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#18 Enrique Lombana

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 08:19 AM

Hi Tyler,

Whether you want to write, produce, or direct, or even be a novelist, you're going to have to get your work out there. So if you believe a structure like atmosphere like school will help you do that, then that's you're route. If you learn on your own, by reading books or naturally connecting with other filmmakers, maybe that's your way. But either way, the end requirement of what you're trying to do is getting your work out there, otherwise, what do people have to see?

Hope this helps,
Enrique
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