Question by Whitney W: Is it very important to go to a top film school if planning on working in the industry?
Im currently a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in “pre” film production, which means that I have to take a few film studies courses before I can apply to the production program at my school. I would be applying in the fall; however, I don’t want to do film at asu, and it’s not like I hate that school or anything. I guess I have my doubts about the program because it’s new (its first graduates just graduated last week). I really would like to do film at one of my dream schools, either UCLA or USC (USC also offers music business, which is something else I’m interested in). I am %100 sure that I want to work within the entertainment industry, that’s something I’ve hoped for for most of my life.
I would explain more but Im not given enough characters to do so. Anyways, my point is: is it important to go to a top film school if one is hoping to make it into the film industry?? My mom doesn’t think so but I do
Answer by RoaringMice
It can help to go to an elite film school, yes, but you can also do just fine coming out of a non-elite film school if you do the right sorts of work experiences while you’re studying. You want to make sure that you graduate with the right sorts of experiences, both on campus and off. Do at least one internship in the industry – heck, do more than one. Do every local production that you can, every student film you can fit in – a variety of roles, get a lot of experience, and network the heck out of those experiences. Do unpaid work for your local tv stations. Do anything you can to build a portfolio, a resume, and a network of contacts.
Another hurdle you’ll need to overcome is that Arizona isn’t exactly a hotbed of film production. Unless you plan to stay local when you graduate, you won’t have the network established in a place like NY or LA to help you find that first job. Most industry jobs are found via who you know – via networking. So if you do an internship, do it in LA. And when you come out of ASU, don’t be shy about calling on your classmates who’ve moved to LA. Don’t be shy about asking professors for introductions to people in the industry.
People do get into film from all sorts of schools. Going to an elite program can give you an edge, but it’s no guarantee. And going to a non-elite program can work just fine, so long as you network and etc. Lastly, if you’re in-state Arizona, the advantage you have is that you’ll graduate from ASU with far less debt than you would if you’d gone to UCLA or USC, and thus you’ll have more freedom when you graduate to actually work in the industry without a huge debt hanging over your head.
If you do decide to stay at ASU, see if you can’t do a summer film program at UCLA, USC or NYU.
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