About Filmmaking Schools
What should you consider when choosing a filmmaking school?
First, are you serious about making films (as opposed to going to filmmaking school because it sounds like fun.) Do you have, in the words of Robert Wise (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Andromeda Strain, The Sand Pebbles, The Sound of Music, West Side Story) the three requisite Ps required to become a filmmaker? In other words, do you have passion, patience and perseverance?
If you don’t have these qualities, filmmaking school will most likely not help you with a career in film. However, if you are passionate, patient and have perseverance, filmmaking school may lead to a career in film. NOTE: we said may lead to a career, not will lead to a career. No film school can teach you to be passionate, patient and persistent. You either are, or aren’t.
Second, can you afford filmmaking school? Tuition for filmmaking schools vary greatly with some costing $100,000 or more by the time you graduate. So, unless you’re independently wealthy, you will probably have to finance your tuition. This means you will have to pay back your student loan after graduating. Now how big of a hole do you want to be in financially as you start your professional life?
Some schools offer filmmaking as part of their overall academic programs. This means you are paying for, and spending time on classes that have nothing to do with filmmaking. Other film schools specialize in just film related programs and are usually, but not always, a less expensive option. The Film Connection’s program for aspiring directors and filmmakers’ current tuition is $13,040 (subject to change).
Third, how much value do you place on graduating with a degree?
Degrees sound great, and your parents–who may be helping you fund your education–probably place a great value on you getting a degree. However, in the film industry, degrees don’t carry much weight when it comes to the creative careers of filmmaking. So, unless you dream of being a motion picture accountant, in which case you first want to get certified as a CPA, carefully research your options and see if getting a degree is something worth spending lots of time and money on. It’s not the “ticket” into the industry which many people believe it to be.
What does carry weight in the film industry is your reel (similar to a trailer for a film, your reel highlights film projects you have worked on while attending filmmaking school). Our Film Connection for Film Production & Editing students graduate with a reel, a screenplay, and actual hands-on experience in the industry.
Fourth, how long is the filmmaking program?
Filmmaking schools’ programs can be as short as six months or as long as four years. The longer you are attending filmmaking school, the more time will pass before you start working in the filmmaking industry. All of Film Connection’s programs are designed to last six months.
Fifth, does the filmmaking school offer an externship?
An externship places you inside a film production company where you’ll observe and participate first-hand on film projects that have a budget. You’ll learn how things are done in the real-world, which often differ greatly from even the best curriculum. You’ll be exposed to all aspects of filmmaking, from finding the financing through the final edit and all steps in between. You’ll be working with professionals in the film business. Those professionals could range from line directors, to location scouts, to screenwriters, producers, directors and editors. Not only will you have the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in-industry, you may also find yourself being recommended or hired by them on the next project they work on. But bare in mind: you will also be subject to real-world deadlines which are often stricter than those imposed by film school. The Film Connection Film Production & Editing Program provides extensive externship opportunities for all of its students. You will know, prior to enrolling, where you externship is located (usually within a 30 minute drive of where you live) and who you will be learning from during your externship.
Sixth, how many of the filmmaking schools’ graduates have gone on to achieve successful careers in the film business?
This is a statistic that is hard to research. You could look at the school’s job placement statistics but they are filled with disclaimers and often don’t provide an accurate picture. Instead, we recommend that you talk with the Job Placement Department of the film schools you’re researching to get an idea of how proactive they are in helping their students find work upon graduation. Do they set up interviews with film production companies for you or is this something you have to do on your own? Do they prepare you for job interviews by reviewing your resume and your reel and ask you questions your interviewer might ask? Is the main goal of the school to graduate you or to get you hired? Many filmmaking schools have newsletters touting their students’ successes. Will the filmmaking school give you contact information for these students so you can directly ask them how large a role the film school played in their success?
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The choice of which filmmaking school is best for you comes down to a number of factors, many of which are included in this article. Do your research, decide which factors are most important to you, and self-evaluate your passion, drive, ambition, perseverance and patience. Then, and only then, apply to the film school that best fits your needs.
Film Connection graduate Victor Cobb had his original screenplay for Misguided Behavior
optioned and made!
Film Connection student Isabella Jones Gets Hired and Edits Full-length film!
Film Connection graduate Joe Paciotti Connects inthe Gig Economy