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Film schools: Recommendations?


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:20 AM

I've been asked by someone who has a son and daughter both interested in pursuing film studies and filmmaking. They don't know where to start when it comes to considering schools that have what it takes to equip them for careers in film.

Does anybody here have some film schools to recommend?

#2 Darren H

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:52 AM

I think the most important follow-up question is: Are you interested in "film studies" and "becoming a filmmaker" or do you want to work in the TV and motion picture industry? Because those are two very different things

If it's the latter, then internships and experience are often more important than education. Of my friends who are in some way associated with filmmaking, the guy with the best career studied sound design at Full Sail, earned a top internship in L.A., and went to work right after graduation. Sixteen years later, his IMDb page is 118 credits long. My wife, on the other hand, went to a very well-respected film school (Florida State), but because we weren't willing to move to L.A., and because she didn't pursue many internship opportunities (and make essential professional connections), she graduated with few options and quickly soured on the whole idea. In other words, a career in film is built the way most careers are built: through a combination of talent, hard work, experience, and connections. Talent and hard work can happen anywhere; experience and connections are more likely to be made in places like L.A. and NYC. If your friends send their kids to schools in other parts of the country, then they should be encouraged to spend their summers working internships.

If the goal is become a "filmmaker," then my honest advice is to get a solid undergraduate education in the humanities (maybe even in film studies if that's a major at the school they wish to attend), watch a great film every day, read constantly, study photography, learn to write and to recognize what makes a great story, and buy a decent D-SLR and microphone and go make short films on your own. After graduating, they'd have the option of going on to a graduate program in film production (this is the path Isaac Chung and several other of my filmmaker friends took). In my experience, the young people who have managed to make interesting films pulled it off because they were 100% committed to making films, and they've made great personal sacrifices to do it.

#3 Follow My Film

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:47 AM

Lots of wisdom by Darren H! I concur with most of his points, if not all.

As an "emerging" filmmaking living in LA (coincidentially my hometown), I see wide-eyed folks making the pilgrimage here all the time, wanting to "make movies." Half, if not more, of them have attended film school somewhere (programs seem to be popping up all over the country). In the end, and this is based on a whole lot of conversations, the absolute best thing film school provides is connections! Many film school grads end up working with their colleagues, and, maybe, alumni. Other than that, a film school education is no more valuable than, if not less valuable, than actually making films.

The problem many film students face is the bursting bubble, i.e., they make films in the comfort and supportive environment of school (the bubble), but when they graduate (the burst), they are left on their own, without equipment, peers and due dates to empower them. As a result, they end up doing very little. Most write a script that never gets made. Unfortunately, most films schools teach big production methods, including writing big production scripts, but that's not helpful in the real work of indie film, where you cannot make a big production film right out of film school (who's going to fund it?). So many students end up frustrated, lost and fizzle away...

But, if your friend's kids are hellbent of going to film school, I would suggest they find one where there is no graduate program in film. Why? Because graduate programs often trump undergrads; most resources and teacher attention goes there. But if there is no grad school in film, then all attention is given to juniors and seniors!!!

If I was to go to film school, I would go to Bard College for one primary reason: Kelly Reichardt teaches there!!! http://www.bard.edu/...details&id=2155 Again, what's most important to me is being the focus of attention, having plenty of opportunity and a killer faculty that actually makes films, rather than folks that have a couple obscure credits on IMDb.

Personally, I concur with Darren that another major, such as English, would be better, then, get an MFA in film! Not only are you the cream of the crop as an MFA student, but you can also teach and write books with an MFA. (Wish I did that...)

#4 Darrel Manson

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:55 AM

I would hope Nathaniel gets time to respond to this (although he seems to be more interested in teaching than filmmaking last I talked to him) and why he chose the school he chose.