How Los Angeles Film Schools Won’t Help You



02/04/2012

If you’re dreaming of a career in Hollywood as a film producer or film director, you might be looking at one or more Los Angeles film schools. It’s easy to assume that going to one of these schools would increase your chances for a successful career in film.


However, before you spend the tens of thousands of dollars involved in getting such an education, you should know that going to film school in Los Angeles (or anywhere else, for that matter) is no guarantee of success. The film industry is a highly competitive business, and there are some key ingredients to your ultimate success that you won’t find in most film schools. Getting an education in film is always a good idea, but going deep into debt is not—especially when your job prospects remain low after you graduate. Here are some ways in which most Los Angeles film schools can’t help you.


THEY CAN’T CONNECT YOU TO THE FILM INDUSTRY. Los Angeles film schools may be geographically close to the Hollywood film industry, but that doesn’t mean they are connected to the film industry. The film business is rather a closed system, one in which you need network connections in order to get hired. In most film schools, the only connections you’ll likely make are with other un-connected film students, and some full-time teachers who don’t work in the film industry. This is true whether the school is 10 miles or 10,000 miles from Hollywood.


THEY CAN’T PROVIDE MEASURABLE LIFE EXPERIENCE. Let’s face it—degrees and diplomas are meaningless to the film industry. The people doing the hiring don’t care where you went to film school—they want to know what projects you’ve worked on. Most film schools educate their students in isolated environments away from the real action—and your work in film school generally doesn’t count as real-world experience.


THEY LOAD YOU DOWN WITH DEBT. Most film schools are very expensive, due in part to the way in which they educate you, which is simply not very cost-effective. This means that many film school graduates are loaded down with thousands in student debt, with no job prospects (because they have no connections). Often, they must take jobs outside the film business in order to pay their debts.


These factors are precisely why many film industry professionals feel traditional film education is a waste. They would much rather you apprenticed in a real film production company, where you could at least make some connections and gain some experience while you learn the ropes. This is why a growing number of industry pros now endorse the mentor-apprentice (extern) approach to film education. A film school using this method actually places its students as apprentices to be taught in real film production companies.


A film education is important, but Los Angeles film schools won’t necessarily improve your chances for success. The mentor-apprentice (extern) approach may be the exception.