So you have two options. You can go to film school and shell out substantial amounts of money, or you can use that money to start making films. Hmm... What did I do? I went to school. Was it the right choice for me? Well it’s too late to worry about that now. Let’s take a look at both options.
Option #1 – Don’t go to school.
The internet is an amazing source of information. Heck, if it weren’t for the internet, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. You can learn almost anything on the internet1. So you can take some of the money you would have spent in school, invest in a camera, and then research, study, and practice to hone your craft. There are also plenty of books out there that are very resourceful and informative as well. Just check out a used bookstore and you can pick up a decent amount for only some pocket change. The internet is also a great place to network as well. There are many sites, groups, forums, etc. all over the web that you can join and are all about filmmaking. Find some like-minded people and start making films. The first film you make may not be great, or even good for that matter, but you’re learning and you will (hopefully) improve. At least you are a working filmmaker.
Option #2 – Go to School
Some people suggest not going to film school because it costs you quite a bit of cash that you could be putting towards your films. Now I went to school. It wasn’t technically film school. I hold a degree in Audio/Video Production. I went to a technical college. Tuition was cheap, classes were small, equipment was at my fingertips, and I received training from professionals. I’m happy with the route I went. I supplemented my learning with the help of the internet and various books as well. Now with the advancement of digital technology, students are getting more hands on experience instead of sitting behind a desk only learning film theory. You'll also (hopefully) make friends with other students who you can use for projects or who may refer you for other work. I suggest if you attend a film school, that you utilize all the equipment and resources you have available to you while you are enrolled as a student.
I know many people who have gone down both roads2. I don’t believe one option is necessarily better than the other, those views expressed are subjective. In fact, most people who chose to bypass school, when looking for crew people or help, first post flyers around the local film school, so they kind of go hand in hand. It all depends on your preference. Either way, the goal is to make films, how you get there doesn’t matter3.
Happy Filming, Schooling or Both,
Jeremy Randall Johnston
1. For instance, did you know that Christina Ricci suffers from botanophobia (fear of plants), and is especially afraid of houseplants.
2. And some that go both ways.
3. Unless you had to kill somebody to get there. That's sort of frowned upon.