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#1 Aaron De Pry

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 05:05 PM

Hi, I am new to this forum and I signed up so I could get some advice. I recently graduated from UCCS (a state school) with a 4 year degree in Communications. Film and video has been a hobby of mine since high school. These past couple years I have advanced that hobby into a part time job shooting a couple music videos and 2 feature length documentaries as well as intern with a local production studio. A lot of what I have learned concerning lighting and camera technique has been from books but it have served me very well. Now, with a degree under my belt, I am looking into several MFA programs around the country (USC, UT Austin, FSU, ect.) as options for film school. Which leads me to my question; Is film school worth the money? and is it necessary? It seems to me that paying upwards to $50,000 a year (USC) is a pretty huge gamble for an industry where your chances of making it are already pretty slim. One of the things that I fear and have seen in other art institutions is that academia is generally not conducive to a creative environment. It is, as if, the very structure of many colleges stifles creative thinking in favor of academic achievement and test scores. Are there any non-traditional schools that are worth looking into?

Another routes that I have been considering is to go on and get an MA in Communications or an MBA and continue doing film work. That way I can have something to fall back on or at least something that can make me money in a down economy. But I fear that those degrees might work against me in some ways. One of my professors, a USC grad, said that there is a bias against people with college degrees in the film industry. I have no idea if that is true.


It is a very difficult decision for me, hopefully you guys can shed some light on my predicament by sharing some of your own experiences with film school.
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#2 Daniel Jackson

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 01:04 AM

Whether or not a film school works for you will be down to you. Many people do well using them, but you must do some research to find the right one for you. Also factor in the costs, not just for the coarse but also for living expenses etc. Will it be close to where you live? will it be full or part time? There are many things to consider.. Good luck with your endeavors.
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#3 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:37 AM

I heard a very worrying report regarding a CBS investigation of LAFfA. How they were supposedly scamming their students.


Unlicensed L.A. film school must pay fines, refunds


The Los Angeles Feature Film Academy, which operated out of a loft apartment, pledged on its website that students would get a chance to make 'real feature films … that are released worldwide.'
September 09, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer

A Los Angeles film school has been ordered by a state agency to shut its doors for operating without a license and pay $80,000 in fines and tuition refunds to two former students.

The Los Angeles Feature Film Academy pledged on its website that students would get an opportunity "to train alongside working professionals" and make "real feature films … that are released worldwide." One student complained that instead, she spent tens of thousands of dollars on a program that was run out of the owner's loft apartment on West 5th Street near downtown Los Angeles.


The state's Bureau for Private Post secondary Education ordered in a July 1 letter that the school pay a $50,000 fine for operating without a state permit and that it refund more than $30,000 to the former students.

William Wesley, the school's owner, said he was not aware of the requirement and has asked the bureau to reconsider its fine. He said he didn't have the money to cover the fine or restitution.

"We can't pay it. … I have no idea what the bureau is going to do. Put me in jail? I can't afford to pay it," he said.

One of the former students, Ingrid Patzwahl, said she was so impressed with the school's marketing that she traveled from Germany to attend, with hopes of making a feature film that could launch her career. After she arrived in California, she was surprised to see that Wesley operated out of an apartment.

"He set up a table and some chairs for the students, so it looked a little bit like a classroom," Patzwahl said. "He had some professional film equipment. And a big TV. I was shocked, of course, and wondering. But I thought, 'Maybe this is the American way of vocational school.'"

Patzwahl said that she complained to Wesley about the curriculum and that he ultimately responded by suspending her from the school and refusing to refund her money. That led her to complain to the state. Wesley said Patzwahl was disruptive and that's why he told her she was no longer welcome at the classes.

The state agency has ordered Wesley to refund more than $15,000 to Patzwahl.

In an interview, Wesley defended his school's curriculum and acknowledged that he taught classes out of a loft at the Bixel at Fifth apartments.

"It was used at times for classes and then also living there," he said.

Wesley said he considers the fine unfair because he was unaware that he needed a permit from the Bureau for Private Post secondary Education.

"The regulations are really tough for any school, unless they're bringing in a huge amount of money," Wesley said. "We didn't know about it. ... We didn't know they existed."

He said he responded by renaming the school American Feature Film Academy and reducing fees to no more than $2,500 per student, low enough that the school no longer falls under the bureau's authority.
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#4 Markshaw

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 09:37 AM

I hope that folks realise that not all film schools operate like them.
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#5 Daniel Jackson

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 07:00 AM

Unfortunately mud sticks. This is gonna do nothing to help the reps of legitimate schools.
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#6 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 06:27 AM

This Wesley character sounds very shady to me, lowering his fees so that his students are not no longer protected.
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#7 Markshaw

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 07:04 AM

Film schools may not be "essential" however they can be a very good way to learn the trade.
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#8 Adrian Samuals

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 07:37 AM

There are many good and reputable film schools around the country, it's just a matter of doing your homework before enrolling.
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Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Opal

Glidecam

CineTape