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FILM SCHOOL!

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I am thinking of attending film school and was wondering if any of you guys went and if it was a good experience.

I want to attend a school with great courses. I have already decided that the "Hollywood" schools like USC and UCLA are not an option because I want a school with a focus on independent and avant-garde study of filmmaking.

I am looking into my three top choices:

California Institute of the Arts

Columbia College Chicago

Biola University

Please write if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this matter,

Also pray that I make the right choice of school!

-Thanks!

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Posted · Report post

Well first of all you have to decide what you you want to get out of film school. Would it be actual filmmaking skills or are you interested in theory and networking with the "next" Tarkovsky. If you're interested in theory I can understand the desire. But if you're primary focus is on making films then the next best (and far cheaper) thing to do is buy all the books on directing, screenwriting, editing theory that you can. Of course there are books that stand out from the pack but those are easy enough to find.

Second of all, are you interested in a Christian college experience or secular, because Biola and Columbia are far different. Biola is very good for it's LA proximity and built in connections with the Christian community in Hollywood. Of course you'll probably find most people there more interested in actually making Hollywood type films, though there is interest of course in independent cinema.

Since Columbia is in Chicago, it's definitely more of a breeding ground for independent films. Of course historically there has never been much money in indy filmmaking. So your motivation in that regard is a pretty big factor.

The other Christian film school that I'm thinking of is Regent in Virginia Beach though I'm not sure what your interest in being associated with Pat Robertson is. That wouldn't be my first choice either.

If you're interested in the cream of the crop you could always try AFI. They're pretty pricey however. Or NYU if you're interested in East Coast filmmaking. You could also try Sundance. They're even more selective than AFI I believe.

If you want to save a bunch of money and learn almost as much you could go buy a camera and editing equipment and start making a bunch of films by yourself. Nothing beats learning all the mistakes from scratch. And if you picked up a liberal arts degree to boot, that gives you a broader knowledge outside of film from which to draw.

If your interested in filmmaking books the ones I'd recommend are as follows.

Film Directing: Shot by Shot (sort of dry but very useful)

In the Blink of an Eye (amazing book on editing)

Masters of Light (great book on perspectives on lighting)

Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434 (one of the best books on screenwriting)

The Tools of Screenwriting : A Writer's Guide to the Craft and Elements of a Screenplay (a different type of screenwriting book)

Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television (excellent book that goes a long ways towards demystifying the direction of actors)

Thats about it. If anyone has other suggestions I'd love to hear them also.

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Posted · Report post

My take on this is probably a bit unorthodox. It's informed by my wife's experience of film school and by long conversations with a good friend who's a filmmaker and teacher at a fairly prestigious film school.

If you want a career in the film business, go to the best L.A. or N.Y.C. school you can get into and intern as much as possible while you're there. Do it while you're young, make connections, and work your way up. This doesn't necessarily mean going to the best film school, by the way. A friend of mine knew that he wanted to work in sound design, so he went, instead, to a technical school, got very good at that particular job, and has built a great career.

If you're interested in being a filmmaker -- in other words, if you're interested in writing and directing your own stories -- focus your undergrad years on getting a really strong education in the humanities. Study literature and history and philosophy and religion. Learn about storytelling and how to be a good critic (of others' work and your own). Take every film history course that's offered and spend your spare time watching and thinking about as many great films as you can get your hands on. Then, if you still want to make films when you graduate, and if you still think you need to go to film school to learn how to make one, get an MFA.

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Posted · Report post

I am with mdsteves and Darren.

Most of the people I know in the business didn't go to film school and the ones who did are doing more administrative and AR work. I have a two-year degree in film/audio and I got frustrated at the competition back then, and I knew people in the business. It is worse now because there are many more film students today than the 15+ years ago I went through school.

If you are not a big do-it-yourselfer than you probably want to consider film school so that you have an "expert" offering you the key bits of knowledge. However, if you can read and shoot on your own (digital video makes this a great option today - no film processing!$$$) and work your way toward a different degree, I think this is a great way to go.

You may want to check into Loyola University in Chicago. They just began a World Cinema degree, which offers a theoretical track and a more pratical filmmaking track. But they also focus on analysis and history. This is not an M.F.A. program though.

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Posted · Report post

try looking into the University of Texas' Radio-Television-Film plan. it is what i am in and it is pretty legit to me

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Posted · Report post

My wife went to Cal Arts (not as a film student, although she took some classes from film instructors and worked on student films). I hesitate to recommend the school to Christians, because the environment there is oppressively anti-Christian. Most people of faith we knew there had a difficult time of it. Our experience with the theatre department is that the faculty try as hard as they can to alienate and "tear down" students psychologically, and consider any student a failure who doesn't develop a "f*** you" attitude toward the faculty, all authority figures on campus, and the world in general. That's certainly not true of all the faculty, but it was the prevailing approach!

It's hard to judge someone's maturity and resilience from a few board posts, but hipster, my best guess is that you wouldn't handle Cal Arts all that well. There must be schools that take a healthier approach to developing students.

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Posted · Report post

hmmm... read all your posts and i was wondering if regent and biola are the only Christian colleges that you'd recommend. what about huntington? i just read an article on their new digital media program.

i'm interested in looking at Christian colleges and i wonder what schools you guys think are worth checking out (to study film/digital media). also, do you think it is hard, as a Christian, to go to schools like NYU (which i am also interested in)... and be able to stand firm?

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Posted · Report post

hmmm... read all your posts and i was wondering if regent and biola are the only Christian colleges that you'd recommend. what about huntington? i just read an article on their new digital media program.

i'm interested in looking at Christian colleges and i wonder what schools you guys think are worth checking out (to study film/digital media). also, do you think it is hard, as a Christian, to go to schools like NYU (which i am also interested in)... and be able to stand firm?

I went to FSU (grad). I assume it's in the same ballpark as NYU and the others from a "morality" perspective. Child pedaphilia comedies and what-not. I saw christians respond in various ways to the environment. I think the question's more one of the student's temperment and maturity and not of the school itself.

I think undergrad's probably a different story, so I hesitate to say this too strongly, but if you want to learn how to navigate the "real world" of filmmaking and hollywood, you need to have experience living and working with real world filmmakers at some point. It doesn't hurt to actually befriend them as well. I have trouble with some of the "us vs. them" mentality that some christian schools seem to breed. Unless of course you want to make us vs. them films. Then it's a great mentality.

At the end of the day, no one can make that decision for you though.

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Posted · Report post

Hipster and Ordinaeriegirl: What schools did you choose?

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Hipster and Ordinaeriegirl: What schools did you choose?

haven't chosen yet... still in the process. but my top choice right now is biola. i decided that i would go to a Christian school for undergrad (hopefully to get a good foundation)... then a "big name" school for masters. because where you go for masters is more important (than where you go for undergrad) on your resume...

i'm still praying about it though.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I've been thinking about this, too, but my situation is a bit different.

I live and work in Central Asia (but I'm American) and have been working in live theater here for five years. Now, though, the climate is right for making an English language film, and I feel like I'm being "called" to give it a try. I am not a filmmaker, but have wanted to be for a long time. But it's cheaper to work in live theater, and so I've always done live theater. Now, though, I have some money saved up, and can afford to buy a camera and other things. So, I am planning on shooting a low budget film here when I return from the states in Jan 2008 (I'll be there from June 2007). I've been considering taking a summer session at a film school, but have been having trouble finding something I can afford (USC has what looks like a good one, but it's over $1000/credit hour). Any ideas for a short term program that won't break me?

Also, what sort of equipment should I look into getting? Camera, editing software, computer, etc.

Edited by sadida

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Posted · Report post

I've been thinking about this, too, but my situation is a bit different.

I live and work in Central Asia (but I'm American) and have been working in live theater here for five years. Now, though, the climate is right for making an English language film, and I feel like I'm being "called" to give it a try. I am not a filmmaker, but have wanted to be for a long time. But it's cheaper to work in live theater, and so I've always done live theater. Now, though, I have some money saved up, and can afford to buy a camera and other things. So, I am planning on shooting a low budget film here when I return from the states in Jan 2008 (I'll be there from June 2007). I've been considering taking a summer session at a film school, but have been having trouble finding something I can afford (USC has what looks like a good one, but it's over $1000/credit hour). Any ideas for a short term program that won't break me?

Also, what sort of equipment should I look into getting? Camera, editing software, computer, etc.

depends on how "low budget" is your low budget (regarding equipment). :-)

for camera, the panny dvx-100 (a or B) would be good... or if you wanna go HD, the hvx (for more $$, though). the 24p is fun stuff (depends if you're a fan of that or not) and it is just one of the best cameras for the $, in my opinion (and a lot of others, too!). go to dvxuser.com...

editing software: it depends on your comp. mac or pc? for mac i'd go final cut, for pc i'd go premiere. and then there's avid. don't go for those "easy editing" softwares...

yeah... that's my two cents. :-)

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Posted · Report post

Thanks! I'll look into these choices you give.

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Posted · Report post

This is a most quiet board. I was hoping for a bit more activity to help me sort out things, rather disappointing. :(

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Posted · Report post

This is a most quiet board. I was hoping for a bit more activity to help me sort out things, rather disappointing. :(

Since this is the only thread you've posted on, I imagine you don't have a feel for the board overall, but this community is more of a "critic" focused forum - the primary discussions take place around discussing and evaluating art, not creating it for whatever reason. But if you're really looking for info on film schools and equipment, you can probably find a lot of boards out there with a lot more information than what you'll get here.

Just the way it is.

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Posted · Report post

This is a most quiet board. I was hoping for a bit more activity to help me sort out things, rather disappointing. :(

Since this is the only thread you've posted on, I imagine you don't have a feel for the board overall, but this community is more of a "critic" focused forum - the primary discussions take place around discussing and evaluating art, not creating it for whatever reason. But if you're really looking for info on film schools and equipment, you can probably find a lot of boards out there with a lot more information than what you'll get here.

Just the way it is.

Fair enough. The thing I was hoping was that this would be a place where I could discuss making film with other believers. Any idea where that sort of place exists?

By the way, love your av. I just hosted a film discussion night with some students, and we watched "Shawshank". Funny little tidbit: in Russian (I live in the former USSR) they translated it "Shawshank Escape". How's that for missing the point?

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sadida wrote:

: . . . they translated it "Shawshank Escape". How's that for missing the point?

Well, when the film first came out, at least one critic DID complain that what happens in the film isn't really a "redemption" at all ...

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sadida wrote:

: . . . they translated it "Shawshank Escape". How's that for missing the point?

Well, when the film first came out, at least one critic DID complain that what happens in the film isn't really a "redemption" at all ...

The obvious redemption is what happens to Red (Morgan F). If you are looking for Andy (Tim R) to be redeemed, it's there, but it's a bit more subtle. I'd be curious to know what that critic meant by that statement.

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Posted · Report post

This is a most quiet board. I was hoping for a bit more activity to help me sort out things, rather disappointing. :(

Since this is the only thread you've posted on, I imagine you don't have a feel for the board overall, but this community is more of a "critic" focused forum - the primary discussions take place around discussing and evaluating art, not creating it for whatever reason. But if you're really looking for info on film schools and equipment, you can probably find a lot of boards out there with a lot more information than what you'll get here.

Just the way it is.

Fair enough. The thing I was hoping was that this would be a place where I could discuss making film with other believers. Any idea where that sort of place exists?

By the way, love your av. I just hosted a film discussion night with some students, and we watched "Shawshank". Funny little tidbit: in Russian (I live in the former USSR) they translated it "Shawshank Escape". How's that for missing the point?

Missing the point maybe - giving away the story, definitely!

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