College Courses in Film


College courses can be ideal when it comes to learning academic subjects like philosophy, English lit or history.  They are even very appropriate when it comes to studying professions such as law, medicine or psychology.

College courses are a little more dubious in respect to more creative professions like filmmaking.  Obviously a college course is a good way to study certain aspects of film, like cinematic history or film theory.  These kinds of courses can actually be pretty entertaining.  Sitting in a darkened classroom watching and analyzing classic films from directors like Kubrick and Eisenstein is way more fun than the average college course is likely to be.

But the relevance of such a course to someone who is actually interested in making films for a living is questionable to say the least.  Just as you don’t need to learn about the history of teeth in order to become a dentist, you arguably don’t need to study film history in order to make films.

So what of college courses that are designed to actually teach someone to make films?  Obviously there are good film courses and bad ones.  And people are different so while some people who attend filmmaking classes might get a lot out of them there are others for who it will all just be a waste of time.

Filmmaking is after all, a hand-on process.  Like most hands-on processes, the best way to learn it is by doing it.

Undoubtedly there is a tremendous artistic element to making films.  But by and large filmmaking is a craft.  And like any craft, talking about it only gets your so far.  To really learn how to do it, you need to do it.  So while college courses in filmmaking are indeed helpful for some, they’re not for everyone.

But the good news is that you don’t need to attend college courses in order to work in the film industry.  In fact there are very successful people working in all different levels of the business who have never taken a single course in film.

The film business isn’t really like other businesses.  Having a college degree, even from one of the best film schools like NYU or USC, is often irrelevant when it comes to actually getting a job in the business or being allowed to make a film.  Many people find careers in the film business simply by getting an entry-level job and working their way up to a position that suits them.  Others find funding for the film they want to make and quite simply just go out and make it.

There’s no harm in taking college courses in film, but the bottom line is that to work in the business it’s really not necessary that you do so.

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