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How to Decide On the Best Film School for You

7/1/2012

There are quite a few film schools around the country that promise to prepare you for a career in film; how do you decide which is the best film school for you? Is the most expensive film school automatically the best? Or the school with the most advanced equipment? Who decides which film schools are “better” than others, and how do they come up with their conclusions?

Believe it or not, the best film school for you is not likely to be based on any of these criteria. You don’t have to pay $100,000 or more on a film degree in order to qualify for a lucrative career in film, and while it helps to be trained on up-to-date equipment or software, the training alone won’t help you get hired. As for the ways the film schools are rated, many of the school ranking lists end up missing the one key factor which could make or break your career.

It might surprise you to learn that even some of the highest rated film schools face a difficulty with their students when it comes time for those students to get hired. Why? Because it takes more than just an education to get a job in film; it also takes some work experience, along with inside connections. Ironically, for all the money that film schools charge for their film degrees, the industry itself has little or no regard for those degrees! The people doing the hiring in this business want to know what prior projects you’ve worked on (i.e., experience) and who recommends you for the job (i.e., connections). Beyond these things, the film industry doesn’t really care where you got your education. And this is where so many film schools fail their students: they provide an education, but not the experience or the connections the students will need in order to be hired.

What does this mean for you? It means the best film school for you will be one which enables you to gain the experience and connections you need, along with the education. Many film schools simply don’t do this, and this is why many within the film industry now endorse the mentor-apprentice (extern) approach as an alternative education method.

What is the mentor-apprentice (extern) approach? Simply put, a school using this approach will place each film student in a real film production company (rather than a college classroom), where that student will be an apprentice (extern) under a working film professional. All training occurs one-on-one, on actual film productions, providing the student with personalized instruction as well as verifiable work experience. Furthermore, by learning the ropes inside the film industry, the student is able to form valuable inside connections, which makes it much easier to land jobs.

Don’t be fooled by the size, price or “ranking” of a film school. The best film school for you will help you connect to the industry while it trains you.

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