Filmmaking / Directing : Is Film School Worth it? by Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson

Is Film School Worth it?

I am currently taking film classes at Scottsdale Community College and am beyond dissatisfied there. The hours are brutal and the classes aren't teaching me much. I'm thinking of transferring to ASU's Herberger Institute by the Fall and getting a BA in filmmaking practices, but now I'm starting to consider the possibility of scrapping college all together and just try finding jobs and building up money. Does anyone have any advice?

Chris Courtney Martin

I think it depends on where you go and how you leverage it. Film school was the right choice for me. But it was a fairly easy choice to make because there was a wonderful film program at a school that was right in my backyard and I had a scholarship. We had incredibly valuable experiences like a Los Angeles summer program and six months of internships built right into the curriculum. I also met some great collaborators there. I say all this to say, if you're going to pay for film school, it mostly makes sense if you're going to a school that offers you something special.

Chris Courtney Martin

And just to be clear-- I'm mainly a writer, so if you're focusing on a more technical branch of filmmaking, my experience might not translate to yours.

Doug Nelson

Is it worth it? I don't know. I graduated in engineering at UA in the mid 60's then went on to CU for an MBA - the tuition wasn't so steep back then. It was worth it for my professional career, no doubt. But today, a full blown degree costs a whole lot more - in any field. I don't know what the tuition is at a school like UCLA or any other upper escalon film school but I'm pretty sure it more than the $1,400 per semester I paid. Weigh the anticipated return on your investment and the likelihood of achieving your goal.

Dan MaxXx

flip a coin. For every film school rock stars like Coogler, Singleton, Lucas there is an equal bunch of non-film school rock stars like Ava Duvernay, QTarantino, PT Anderson.

Landis Stokes

My film school experience got me a job quickly and promoted quickly. People I met who did not have specific film school training moved up because they learned quickly and built great relationships.
At the end of the day, NO ONE CARED I went to film school (still don't). They only cared that could do my job, be helpful, be kind, ask questions if I was not confident in my task, be honest about mistakes - (lying is the quickest way to burn bridges ), and know when to keep my mouth shut (check your ego at the door, it's a team sport).
Film School will not teach you everything you need to know but it does give you a good "hands on" foundation (depending on the school) in every aspect of production... but so can a few hours of Youtube videos...
You have to figure out what will work for you. I've met producers who were lawyers, cameramen who worked in the news, and editors who were once police officers; with no school training. Meanwhile a half (or less) of my graduating class still work (some apsect) in the entertainment biz.
I wanted some formal training in every side of production, so I could understand every job. Film school was a good choice for me. You have to figure out what will work for you.
*But no one cares if you went to school. They only care that you can do your job without being a jerk.
Best of luck to you!

Royce Allen Dudley

You can go to film school for 4 years and spend $200,000 / have $200,000 in debt, or you can get a job sweeping out a grip truck and get paid for 4 years as you navigate department preferences, work for many different people, and build contacts and reputation among working professionals rather than competing students.

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