1. What Kind of Filmmaker Are You?
Filmmaking is a uniquely individual career. Some directors isolate themselves on set and communicate with the crew only through their assistant director. Others may walk through the set each morning and shake the hands of crewmembers while asking about their personal lives. Some cinematographers work with the same camera crew for their entire career and others love to mix it up.
The point is, that your vision for your film career needs to play an important role in your choice of film school. No one else can tell you where to get your film education; no one else understands what you want.
2. What Do You Want to Learn?
Make a list of your top 10 favorite films. Now take that list and write down what, specifically, you liked about each film. Was it the lighting, the cinematography, the writing, the directing, the variety of locations, the special effects, the editing? Once you have that list look over the list and see if there are any trends. If you notice that you have a wide range of interests in film you will be most happy in a school that has a broad-based curriculum which allows you to experience a variety of filmmaking roles. If you find your interestes are very narrow and include only one discipline, such as writing, you may want to consider a school that asks you to choose a specific focus for educational experience.
3. Where Do You Want to Be?
Sometimes the lure of a particular school clouds your judgment. If you love the outdoors and need to clear your head with an occasional hike through nature, you will most definitely not be happy in a big city film school program. It may sound exciting to move to New York or California and ply your craft in the hustle and bustle of the urban environment, but if solitude and time in nature feed your soul you will quickly become disenchanted.
Think about what you do to relax. Think about the last time you felt happy and satisfied. Now I realize that most creative-types rarely feel satisfied…but just try to picture yourself learning in an environment that matches your personality.
If you enjoy large groups of people, corridors flooded with bodies racing to and fro and hours of theory–then you know you want to be in a large university setting. In this kind of environment you will spend two to three years studying the history and theory of filmmaking and then, if your project is chosen, you will get to make your movie during you final year.
If you feel at home in smaller groups and want to get to know all of your classmates by name as you help each other create truly amazing films–you may want to consider a smaller film school that focuses on hands on collaboration and low student to instructor ratios. This type of program will put gear in your hands immediately and you will be making movies your first month.
4. What Can You (or Your Parents) Afford?
If you are a trust fund baby you can skip this section. No matter how much money you have saved or how much money your parents can contribute–ALWAYS apply for scholarships and financial aid.
If you come from a low-income family or are supporting yourself on a near-poverty level income you may qualify for some wonderful grants. The advantage of grants is that the money does not have to be re-paid.
If you qualify for student loans be sure to accept only the bare minimum of funds needed to pay for your education, housing and books. It is very easy to take all the loan money offered and buy things you really don’t need…after you graduate you will be kicking yourself when the grace period ends and your monthly payments start up. That awesome flat screen TV won’t seem so great as you pay that loan interest over the next 20 years.
If you can comfortably afford a “big” university education, running in the $ 50,000 to $ 200,000 dollar range–and you can repay those hefty student loans–then you may want to consider the four-year (or more) option.
If you are like most Americans, you would much rather pay pennies on the dollar for an education that prepares you for the film industry workforce in one to two years. If this sounds more palatable to you and your wallet then you want to consider the many wonderful certificate and AA film programs available.
5. Where Do Your See Yourself in Five Years?
If you see yourself wiping rehearsed tears from your eyes while you quip about how heavy the Oscar statuette feels…don’t go to film school! Successful filmmakers make movies because they love the craft-not because they seek fame and fortune. The reality is that hard work, dedication and a spirit of collaboration are the only tools that create success in the film industry. No one makes a film alone…not even Michael Moore. Someone has to hold the camera while he eviscerates his interview subjects.
If you see yourself working for a traditional Hollywood production company then you need to choose a school that focuses on internship/apprenticeship positions that lead to that career path. If you see yourself wearing a variety of “hats” and having hands-on involvement with every aspect of your film projects then you need to choose a school that prepares you to handle any facet of the filmmaking process.
Smaller film schools with hands-on curriculum and mentorship teaching styles will allow you to experience every part of the filmmaking process. If you want to have a meaningful role in an independent production company then this is the type of school that will prepare you for that journey.
Make Your Choice
In the end you are the “decider.” If you commit yourself to following your dream of becoming a filmmaker, you will succeed. The school you choose will help you on your journey, but no school can promise success. So be honest with yourself about your goals, your skills, and your true level of determination. Choose your school and never look back-success includes enjoying the journey, not just the destination.
Rue, filmmaker and Director of the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking, is dedicated to mentoring the new generation of filmmakers. Leveling the playing field and enabling all future filmmakers to get the information they need to become the award winners of tomorrow is her full-time job. Copyright of the article belongs to Rue. All Rights Reserved.
Young people have made this ‘How To’ video on filmmaking – as part of the Shelter Film Project. The Shelter Project aims to create a network between young people living in the UK, India and South Africa, by creating short films that explore the theme of Shelter. Shelter is a universal theme, which can be explored and understood in a diversity of ways. It invokes questions around personal experiences of home, of place and community, friends, family and safety in a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. The project aims to bring young people together from a diversity of backgrounds, through creativity, to explore and share ideas around the projects themes. Young people in the South East (UK), India and South Africa are invited to produce a visual response through digital media (Video cameras, Mobile Phones, Photos etc) which will be shared on an online platform. This will give young people the opportunity to gain a greater understanding and to connect with other young people across the globe and explore similarities as well as differences between their lives and others. It will provide a space for young people to talk about issues that are important to them, their social and political environment and how they as Global Citizens can bring about change. If you would like to know more information, or want to get involved in the project, send us a message on here and we will get straight back to you 🙂
Question by : What are some good colleges for filmmaking?
I’m about to graduate high school and I’m still unsure of what I really want to do. Filmmaking is one of my main interests and I want to know what some good colleges would be for it? My friend said I should go to FSU and I’ve checked out their website but can’t really find any good info.
Please & thank you in advance.
Answer by xo379
The following are considered the best:
U Michigan Ann Arbor
Give your answer to this question below!
New York Film Academy Offers the Best Hands-On Filmmaking, Acting, Cinematography, Producing, Screenwriting & Documentary Programs. With Degrees, Accelerated Courses & Intensive Workshops. Schools in New York City, Los Angeles, and Around the World. www.nyfa.edu
Video Rating: 5 / 5