CAN COLLEGE COURSES HELP ME LEARN FILMMAKING?
Young (or old) aspiring filmmakers today are often faced with a dilemma: how to refine their skills and launch into a filmmaking career without wasting time and effort, and without breaking the bank. The most reputable film schools often have a wait list or are very selective—and the cost can be enormous. Additionally, many students complete film school only to find themselves still struggling to find a niche in the industry. If you’re considering a filmmaking career, you might be asking yourself: can college courses help me learn filmmaking?
The answer is yes—and no. And maybe.
The fact is, you need an education to learn filmmaking—but there is not a set way to get that education. Many high-profile filmmakers got where they are without ever attending film school. College courses can help, but it also depends on what sort of course it is, which school is offering it, and where it fits into your particular learning path. Simply taking a course here or there may or may not do you any good. The same holds true, by the way, with enrolling in a school full-time and earning a degree. It all depends on how the school teaches the material, what is in the curriculum, and what sort of connections the school offers you when you graduate.
When considering a career in film, the first step is for you to take the initiative for learning the trade. Don’t depend on college courses, or college itself, or anyone else to spoon-feed you the knowledge you need. Take the responsibility for your own education, and learn it in any way that is at your disposal—whether it is by reading books, or by watching hundreds of movies, or by finding a mentor in the field, or actually making some movies, or taking a course or two along the way. Even if you go into film school, don’t rely on the school itself, but utilize its resources to the fullest extent. In effect, you are your own best teacher when it comes to filmmaking, and everything around you becomes a potential resource as part of your learning experience. If you have this attitude, college courses can definitely help you learn filmmaking; if not, it’s iffy at best.
If this simply adds more confusion, look at it from another angle: because there is not simply one turn-key way to learn filmmaking, you actually have more options available to you than just taking college courses or attending film school. You really can draw from many different avenues, college classes being only one of your options. The key is to ask yourself what gaps in your knowledge might be filled by the college courses you’re considering. If the specific subject matter is something you know little about, the class could probably help you. Whether you take the course or not, however, take control of your own learning experience.