Anything Goes : Film Connection VS Film School? by Ellecina Eck

Ellecina Eck

Film Connection VS Film School?

Here's my...dilemma. I'm graduating from high school this May, and have been accepted to a university already. It's not purely a film school, like in the vein of Full Sail or the New York Film Academy or anything. They do have a great film program; I visited, and they have a lot of great equipment that the west coast doesn't even have. I'm pretty set on going there. But I know that a degree is generally worthless to this industry. It's typically about who you know and what you're good at, correct? Has anyone heard of Film Connection, Tuition is $9,800 for 6-8 months of one-on-one mentorship with a working industry professional near your hometown. So you work with a filmmaker that professionally does what you want to do (for me, it'd be producing). Plus, for those 6-8 months, you're working on an actual set/project; whatever your mentor's working on, you're working on it too. So you make real-world connections on a working set. Which is crucial. can probably guess my question, but here it is anyway: which sounds like the more beneficial to a fledgling producer? Student films don't count as real-world experience, and I'd be spending 2 1/2 years of my life at a real university learning in a classroom when compared to 6-8 mo. on a real project(s). My parents are kinda set on the current school I'm accepted to...and I am too. But I also want to do what's best for my career. I don't want to join the masses of graduated film students that are struggling to find real-world work.

Deneen Barnes

Ellecina, please look into this a little more thoroughly. If this is the same program I looked into a few years, ago, it is a COMPLETE farce! I read comments from students like yourself that paid the tuition, and if they were lucky to even be connected with a "Mentor" were given very menial jobs which didn't prepare them for anything. Most of the others said that they paid the $$$ and received no mentor and had to go through weeks or months of phone calls trying to get their money back. The only way many of them got their money back was through legal action. I, too, was very eager to try this route, but the more digging I did on the program revealed is as being a total scam. What's a shame is that is such a great concept...what better way to learn the industry than from industry professionals?! Too bad all they want is your money. I don't want to tell you what to do, but a degree is something no one can ever take away from you. Education never goes to waste. I think you are under-estimating the value of an undergraduate degree in film. I would ask around and see what industry professionals think about the value of a degree. Good luck!

Simon © Simon

Get a BA in Business! Do film on the side. Film is business, only the widgets have a different name. Along with a BA in business will allow lateral in everything that makes money be it for profit or non-profit. You are kinda right about a certificate or degree is not worth as much as knowing someone. However it will always boil down to your Resume. BFA in Arts-Means you can act and paint. Or a BA in business means you can do Math, statistics, run a company, Who By the way knows how to make a movie......

Stephen Mitchell

Here is how I would answer you: Pretend you are someone with control over $50M (or $1M or $100K) and are considering giving that money to someone so they can make their film. Who would you be looking for as the recipient of your funds? What credentials or qualities and experience would you want to see?

Verne Andru

There are a couple of sides to this IMHO. When I came up there were no film schools per se [not like what we have today], so I learned old-school by the seat of my pants - still am BTW. The general lack of skilled people allowed one to start at the bottom and work your way up. Unfortunately that's not the case any more. After a decade or so in the biz the schools started appearing and I found myself working in shops where there were cliques of "alumni" that were seriously playing into studio politics - you were either one of them or you didn't count. It's a tough business at the best of times and this certainly didn't help. Fast forward a few more decades and I'm teaching in one of the better film schools in the world. The upside is that students are exposed to a tremendous amount of info and hands-on experience that is difficult and time-consuming to get doing it the way I did it. The downside is that, from the schools POV, it's all about getting bums-in-the-seats and spitting out grads like popcorn. A lot can be said for the connections and learning you can get from attending a good school [emphasis on good], but the $ costs are extremely steep. The flip side is that the business is fragmenting and there will be a continuing move away from the old monolithic studio model to smaller more vertically targeted specialty shops. The cost of technology and delivery systems continue to evolve empowering more and more storytellers. But this comes with a cost - the easier you make something to do the more people there are who want to do it and basic supply and demand means there are more [people, product, etc.] vying for less [dollars and eyeballs]. IMHO when evaluating a school look at where it is situated relative to the companies you want to work for. Most of the better schools function as feeder institutions to industry, so if there are no industry connections you may end up with a nice piece of paper but not much further ahead than not doing it at all and being quite a bit poorer for the exercise. Alternatively there's the possibility you could attend a no-name school, produce an indie on graduation, post it on Youtube, get a gazillion hits and be in-demand. Such are the dynamics of things in this day and age. A bit long-winded but I hope this helps and I wish you all the best going forward.

Ellecina Eck

Wow, thanks for the responses, everyone. I'll definitely keep all of your advice/feedback in mind as I think about this decision. Great advice to think about!! Many thanks!

Russell Buchanan

Do both if you can buddy, if you want to be a producer you need to have connections, this business is all about being in the flow of traffic that is learned and has credentials, someone will always ask where you went to school. If you can quote a good name school and have a credit then you are off to a good start and better than just attended school no matter how good your grades are. Get something under your belt asap and don't stop there as it's a long journey. Yo will need to learn everything from casting to P&A so go for it onset with your cred accepted from school.

Chase Bartels

Most jobs in Hollywood require a college degree. It's a way they weed people out.

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