Finding a Good Movie School



7/20/2012

If you plan on becoming a filmmaker, you’re probably on the hunt for a good movie school—a school that will teach you how to make movies. Film schools are in abundance these days across the country, ranging from short-term trade schools to advanced degree programs at prestigious colleges and universities. The options are so many, in fact, that deciding on the right school can be a difficult task.

The truth is, you don’t have to attend the most expensive film school, or the most in-demand school, in order to launch a successful film career. In fact, you don’t even actually need a college degree or diploma! There are plenty of successful filmmakers who never even went to film school; they found alternative ways to learn, and they found inroads to connect to the film industry. The point is, there is no single pathway to success in this business, and while film school can help, you can’t rely solely on your education to get you where you need to go. You need a good blend of education, experience, and industry connections, and your film education will only be a part of that blend.

That being said, here are some key things to look for in finding a good movie school:

  1. A good movie school will teach you to make your own movies. In other words, you want a school that doesn’t just teach you the technical skills on class or group projects, but one that will teach you the process of moving your own film idea from concept to completion.
  2. A good school will offer plenty of hands-on training and on-the-job experience. This doesn’t just mean the school offers a practical approach (most film schools do that); it also means that the school offers the chance to gain experience on real film productions in real film companies (whether through internships or apprenticeship (externship)s).
  3. A good film school will provide one-on-one instruction with a film professional. There are aspects of filmmaking that are not suited to a classroom lecture setting. The more personalized instruction you can receive, the better.
  4. A good film school will enable you to connect to the film industry itself. This quality is actually quite rare in film schools because most of the training actually occurs in on-campus classrooms and production facilities. Without industry connections, however, you’ll find it difficult (if not impossible) to find work in film.

If your film school doesn’t offer these elements (particularly the chance to make industry connections), you’ll have to find a way to gain them on your own. One good way to make sure all these bases are covered is to enroll in a film school that uses the mentor-apprentice (extern) approach, because this kind of school will place you as an apprentice (extern) in a real film production house.

Finding a good movie school is not easy; the key is to look for a school that helps connect you to the business while it educates you.