Can Film Schools In Los Angeles Help Your Career?


If you’re checking out film schools in Los Angeles in the hope of launching a career as a Hollywood film producer or director, there are a few things you ought to know before you enroll in one. It is frequently assumed that film school is necessary to have a career in film, and it is also frequently assumed that young filmmakers who go to school in L.A. have a better chance of breaking into film.

To begin with, you need to know that neither of these assumptions is necessarily correct.

First, let’s consider film schools in general. Were you aware that there are a large number of successful film directors and film producers who never went to film school at all? Among the names on the list are some you’ll no doubt recognize: Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino, to name a few. Additionally, there are a disturbing number of film school graduates who never get their “big break,” weighed down with student debt and having no job prospects. These two facts really make the point that attending film school is no guarantee of success, and that NOT attending film school is no guarantee of failure.

With this in mind—are film schools in Los Angeles a better bet than other film schools? Not necessarily. The fact that a film school is geographically close to Hollywood does not mean it is connected to the film industry. You could potentially invest four years and tens of thousands of dollars on an L.A. film school, and be no closer to your career than if you went to film school in New York, Austin or Timbuktu.

Here’s the inherent problem with film education in general: the film industry is sort of a closed system. You need more than just a film education: you also need connections. (A little bit of hands-on experience doesn’t hurt, either.) Unfortunately, most film schools do not provide students with the chance to make industry connections—and this is as true for L.A. film schools as it is for schools in other places. No matter how close you live to Hollywood, and how much you pay for school, if you have no connections, your education is worthless.

One way to bridge this gap is to attend a film school using the mentor-extern approach. A mentor-extern school believes, along with many industry professionals, that the best place to learn filmmaking is within the industry itself—so the school places its students as apprentices inside actual film production companies. This is a great way to learn because it allows you to form industry connections and gain real-world experience as you learn the ropes. It is also very affordable.

Can film schools in Los Angeles help your career? Only if they can connect you to the industry itself; that’s why the mentor-extern approach is worth a look.

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