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Deciding on a Film School in Los Angeles

01/05/2012

Are you a film student trying to decide on a film school in Los Angeles? If you are, you already know it’s no easy task. There are probably more film education opportunities in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the world. However, not all film schools are alike, and the best school is not necessarily the most expensive one. How do you narrow it down to the one film school that is best for you?


This isn’t a question that can be answered for everyone with one article. What we can say is that it begins with the right perspective about film school and how it relates to your future career as a film producer, director or editor. You goal in attending film school should not necessarily be to earn a degree in film (although that’s not a bad thing), nor to attend the school with the highest level of prestige. Your goal should be to get your career off the ground, and film school should be moving you toward that goal. If the film school has no industry connections and can’t help you get to work when you graduate, it simply isn’t worth the money—no matter how great people say it is.


That said, let’s take a quick look at your options for attending a film school in Los Angeles:


YOU COULD GO TO A COLLEGE-LEVEL FILM SCHOOL. This type of film school is abundant in Los Angeles—colleges, universities and media arts schools that offer college degrees in filmmaking, like UCLA, USC, Loyola Marymount, or CalArts. These film schools are frequently selective in admission, take several years to complete, and are usually quite expensive when all is said and done. Some may offer internship programs, but in many cases gaining industry connections is still a challenge.


YOU COULD GO TO A FILM TRADE SCHOOL. Examples include the Los Angeles Film School and the Hollywood Film and Acting Academy. These types of schools usually offer shorter-term, career-focused training, and usually cost less than college programs. However, you should do your homework ahead of time, because some of these schools may be even less connected to the film industry than college film schools.


YOU COULD LEARN FILMMAKING ON THE SET. That’s right; you could learn by actually getting into a film production company and working as an intern or apprentice (extern). That’s how many successful film industry professionals got their start. If you don’t have the connections yourself, or if you want a structured education, you might consider a school using the mentor-apprentice (extern) approach, like Film Connection, which trains you by placing you as an apprentice (extern) in a real film production company. This is one of the cheapest school options available, and many believe it’s also the most effective.


Bottom line: you need connections as well as an education if you hope to have a career in film—so look for a film school in Los Angeles that offers you both.

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