Author Topic: Film School  (Read 22884 times)

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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Film School
« Reply #45 on: October 12, 2006, 02:52:48 AM »
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The only value I see in film school is having a productive environment and good connections. Both are valuable to get in the door, but neither have anything to do with becoming a good filmmaker.

The problem I see with film schools is that they are like a trade school in preparing you for one job but have a low percentage of guranteeing you shit. Yea, film schools suck. I've never cared for them much myself. Now I'm learning by way of Bernard Shaw that college promises you little of anything when it comes to acquiring intelligence.

(I'm still hoping for a job out of the deal, though)


soixante

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Re: Film School
« Reply #46 on: October 13, 2006, 01:44:28 PM »
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The best reason to go to film school is to meet people and make contacts.  The whole six degrees thing really works. 

There's a Chinese expression:  a wise man knows everything, a shrewd man knows everybody.

Of course, if you're resourceful enough to meet people on your own, you can save on tuition.
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pete

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Re: Film School
« Reply #47 on: October 13, 2006, 02:17:08 PM »
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the best reason to go to film school is getting a diploma doing something you probably would be doing anyways.  also I think there are people out there who just wanna have fun learning (aka wasting money) through their undergrad years, and film schools are easy A's.
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Re: Film School
« Reply #48 on: October 13, 2006, 04:27:52 PM »
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The best reason to go to film school is to meet people and make contacts.  The whole six degrees thing really works. 

There's a Chinese expression:  a wise man knows everything, a shrewd man knows everybody.

Of course, if you're resourceful enough to meet people on your own, you can save on tuition.

I work in the film department without being a film major (My major is Philosophy).  We'll see if that turns out to be smart.  I'll be interacting with all the production classes.

Minoring in Theater Arts is also allowing me to take classes like stage, lighting, costume design and also interacting with actors, crew, in addition to tapping into a history that I consider to be richer and more interesting than cinema's, mostly due to how long it's been around, and therefore the larger number of great people that have worked within it.  (Though modern theater is in far worse a condition than cinema is--cinema's really not in a bad place at all; theater is currently mostly TERRIBLE for a lot of the same reasons that people go to concerts only wanting to hear Beethoven's 5th).

I also want to work for the publicity department of our art event series department (Oh yeah, by the way, Spike Lee is giving a talk in Santa Cruz through our Arts & Lectures Series on Monday, November 27th).  I recently interviewed for the position, and I'll find out next week if I get that job or not.  I think that will help me out even more than the film department job, actually.

I'll report back 2.5 years from now regarding whether these were good ideas or not.

the best reason to go to film school is getting a diploma doing something you probably would be doing anyways.  also I think there are people out there who just wanna have fun learning (aka wasting money) through their undergrad years, and film schools are easy A's.

I don't know if you're joking or not, but...

This is exactly why I am not a film major.  Spend 4 years and lots of money doing something I would be doing anyways and missing out on, uh, education.  A film diploma is arguably as good as no diploma, from what I've seen.  And easy-As are a great way for the lazy to get lazier, and thus, less in a position to ever actually get up and make a movie.  I figure I need to use school to strengthen what wasn't going to be strengthened anyway.

But, like I said, I can't really say yet whether or not I have anything figured out.  I might very well be making things harder than they have to be just to wind up in no better a place, or maybe even a worse place.  I really don't know.  If we're all still here in 2.5 years, someone remind me to give an update.

polkablues

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Re: Film School
« Reply #49 on: October 13, 2006, 06:55:44 PM »
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A film diploma is arguably as good as no diploma, from what I've seen.

This is true.  At no point in anyone's film career will not having a degree in film ever be a dealbreaker.  It just doesn't come up.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

pete

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Re: Film School
« Reply #50 on: October 13, 2006, 07:09:49 PM »
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that's not really fair, because 1) you're measuring a degree by its capitalist purposes, and 2) even then, did anyone's diploma in anything ever make a deal?  in fact, most liberal arts degrees really aren't all that profitable.  I started this as a joke, but I really have to say I got a bit annoyed by Matt's assertion.  It assumes that most film students use their degrees as some kind of career ladder, and then shoots it down immediately afterwards.  I kinda feel sorry for your feeling modern theater, a film degree, and career-free learning institutions to be beneath you.
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matt35mm

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Re: Film School
« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2006, 07:59:08 PM »
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that's not really fair, because 1) you're measuring a degree by its capitalist purposes, and 2) even then, did anyone's diploma in anything ever make a deal?  in fact, most liberal arts degrees really aren't all that profitable.  I started this as a joke, but I really have to say I got a bit annoyed by Matt's assertion.  It assumes that most film students use their degrees as some kind of career ladder, and then shoots it down immediately afterwards.  I kinda feel sorry for your feeling modern theater, a film degree, and career-free learning institutions to be beneath you.

I'm not talking about profit at all.  I guess both you and Polka misinterpreted me.  I meant that most people with a film degree never do anything with what they learn, period.  They get the degree, and work at some crummy office or do a lot of thinkin' about this, thinkin' about that, and never go anywhere.  Oh wait no, they rack up a huge debt buying Final Cut Pro and the newest camera, and then work at some crummy office and think about doing stuff.  This is simply what I see, and I'm relentlessly being a meanie about that because I guess it's something that I fear and therefore consciously guard against.

Also, I don't feel like modern theater, film degrees, or career-free learning institutions (but this was that misinterpretation, remember?) are beneath me.  I feel like they're beneath what they could and therefore should be.  They are behind and they are dragging a lot of people down with them.  Dragging LIVES, and that's a big fucking deal.  There's a big difference between elitism and demanding that things live up to their potential, so please understand that I am for the latter, not the former.

And do you think that I ever expect my Philosophy degree to get me ahead career-wise?  It's all just about doing your best to figure out how to do what you want to do the best you can do it.  I am simply guessing that philosophy will do more for me as a person/artist than a film degree these days ever could.

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Re: Film School
« Reply #52 on: October 16, 2006, 09:14:27 PM »
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I'm all for film school.  I don't see what the difference between studying film and say communications is.  Now there is a BS degree.  Sure you can read about all of the production postions online and study films and whatnot.  But what that doesn't give you is on-set experience.  Which I think you greatly need, unless you are some kind of wunderkind and make the next 'it' flick.  Currently I'm working as a PA on a feature, nothing to brag about, but...  Half of my fellow PA's haven't attended film school.  Since it's low budget we end up helping the G&E and even the Camera departments.  Do any of them know what a tweenie, or a duck bill, or a whip, or say how to operate the fisher Dolly that lives on our productioin truck are? No.  Do you really need to know what they are to direct? It's debatable but I'd say yes.  There are some many peculiarities to working on films that it's best to have at least a general know how of all departments.  And if you wanna direct you're going to have to deal and work with all of the departments.  You'll have to understand that a grip won't give a flying fuck about your movie if he/she isn't feed every six hours.  And all of this is assuming you already have a solid understanding of film history.  Which sadly it seems that most people out here don't.  I don't think it's happenstance that at least in America's case many of our great filmmakers have attended film school.

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Re: Film School
« Reply #53 on: October 20, 2006, 12:52:04 PM »
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Ten reasons you should go to film school
Source: DV Guru

Last week I listed 10 reasons you shouldn't go to film school, figuring the anti-establishment argument would be the more controversial of the two (thus posting it first). Many who took exception to my points didn't seem to understand that I was also planning on posting a follow-up article exploring the flip side of the argument (although, in my mind, the reasons to go seem a lot more obvious). Hopefully these points will give a prospective film schooler some food for thought.

10 reasons you should go:

1. Peer connections.
Your classmates may be the most valuable resource you'll ever have. Go through the program, make friends, find alliances, and when you get out, stay in touch with everyone. As long as you realize there's life after film school and don't burn your bridges while you're there, you'll be able to find collaborators for your own projects, or possibly get a job on another classmate's project. While you're there you may even meet a writing or producing partner--the Joel to your Ethan Coen. That's not a good comparison, since they're brothers, not classmates, but... you get the point. Also, peer connections aren't the only advantages that come with a film school degree; you'll also get...

2. Industry connections.
Because film is a so-called "glamour" industry, everyone and their mother wants to work in it; this means the barriers to entry are more prohibitive than they are in, say, the hospitality industry. Breaking in is hard. But going to a program like USC or NYU gains you instant connections to an alumni network. This can be in the form of your professors keeping in touch with previous students who now work in the industry, it can be through your school's career services, or it can even be in the form of finding out at a job interview that your would-be boss also went to your alma mater (suddenly your job prospects are looking up). But for many of these interviews, to even get your foot in the door you need...

3. Technical know-how.
While listing 10 reasons not to go to film school, I asked, "can art be taught?" While that inspired some debate, I don't think there's any doubting that craft is certainly teachable. One commenter noted in support of the "art can be taught" argument that, while in film school, he was being taught how to draw; I would argue that being taught to sketch "mediocrely" [sic] is, in fact, merely an instruction on craft. So while no one can teach you how to be the next Scorcese, they can teach you camera framing, continuity editing, or high and low-key lighting. If you think you want to specialize--that is, if you want to be an editor or cinematographer, for example--then film school can certainly give you the technical knowledge to be proficient in those areas. And while you're learning the technical aspects of film, you're also getting....

4. Intelligent feedback.
Your professors and peers, being educated and theoretically intelligent when it comes to film, can give you sophisticated feedback on your own projects and ideas, and help mold you into a better filmmaker. Outside the haven of film school, it's not easy to get together a group of film-aware individuals, and have them critique your project. Considering that film school typically takes place during your formative years, the collective wisdom and advice you receive during your attendance could help inform your whole career. And much of this advice comes from...

5. Mentors to push you.
Shooting a no-budget DV flick with all your friends in it, and then showing it to that same group of friends and getting their "that's me on screen, this is awesome!" feedback, may not be the best way to develop your inner auteur. If you go to film school, you may or may not meet a great professor that inspires you in your studies, but if you do, that experience alone can be worth the price of admission. A good professor can push you to work harder and be more daring than you would be on your own; even if you don't find any particularly great teachers, however, the professors can collectively teach you...

6. History and theory.
Even if you want to make experimental, avant-garde films, you're still standing on the shoulders of giants. Not knowing theory and history is the equivalent of saying ignorance is bliss. Many young aspiring filmmakers cultivate a belief that "truly" creative films are created in a vacuum--and it's easy to buy into this, given Hollywood's current penchant for remakes, adaptations, and other "homages"--but skipping an immersion in history and theory is one sure way of shooting yourself in the foot, not only in terms of your own knowledge of what's been done before, but in terms of...

7. Credibility.
Diplomas are a necessity in many professions; film is not one of them (I'm still waiting for someone's "directed by" credit to be capped off with a "Ph.D"). Nevertheless, industry vets looking to separate the wheat from the chaff will often take you more seriously if you graduated from film school; at the very minimum, it shows you're serious about it (because, as already stated, everyone and their mother wants to be in movies). Of course, what truly matters in film is not where you went to school, but what's on your reel and what credits you have to your name; that is, what you've actually done. And in order to accomplish things, you need...

8. Time for your projects.
If you opt out of film school and do the 9-5 thing, pursuing your own projects on the side can be prohibitively difficult (to a certain extent, this depends on what your day job arrangements are). Working a day job and saving up your money to work on your own blood-sweat-and-tears project has a certain romantic appeal to it, but you'll need funds, equipment, free time, and last but not least, collaborators. Film isn't like writing, where you can sit down and do it yourself; for the most part, you need someone in front of the camera, too. And even if you're shooting a documentary all by yourself, you're most likely going to need large chunks of time set aside to shoot, which you might not be able to swing with an employer who expects you to show up to work every day. Film school gives you the collaborators, framework, and the time and space to work on your film pursuits (unless, of course, you go to a film program where only one in ten gets to actually produce his or her project, and everyone else becomes crew...). Also, if you stay in film school, you're more likely to...

9. Stay the course.
If you throw yourself into the working world, you'll tend to go where the opportunities are, and often times they aren't always film-related. I'm not saying that you'll come out of school with your sights set on being a writer/director and somehow end up becoming an air traffic controller, but I am saying that it's likely you'll take some detours along the way. Having elected not to go to film school (at the graduate level) myself, I'm speaking from experience--while I'm currently doing graphic design at MTV, I'm not doing film or video per se on a daily basis. If you go to film school, by contrast, you're setting aside three years to focus on film alone, and it's one way of ensuring that you won't get sidetracked. No matter how focused you are, however...

10. You either have it or you don't.
Yeah, it's the same as my #10 reason not to go to film school, but that's exactly the point; it applies to both lines of reasoning. If you're truly motivated to express yourself through the medium of film, ultimately... you're going to find a way to express yourself through the medium of film, degree or not.

No "10 reasons why" list is ever going to make up anyone's mind about film school (nor would a "3,457 reasons why" list). Ultimately the decision of whether or not to go to film school is dependent upon personal, not general, reasons: whether you enjoy the classroom environment, how well you get along with professors, how independent you are, what your level of film education and technical abilities are when you're making the decision, what type of films you eventually want to make, how you want to make them, and a hundred other personal factors.

Still, these are ten pretty fundamental reasons to go (or not). If you've read both arguments and crave further food for thought, check out MovieMaker's interviews on this very topic.


http://www.dvguru.com/2006/10/20/10-reasons-you-should-go-to-film-school/
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Re: Film School
« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2007, 01:50:46 PM »
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Today, a friend of mine just told me he got into USC. I didn't even apply there, for a variety of reasons. Now, though, I feel slight pangs of jealousy - and it seems like everything I dream of is more realistic for him and remains just pipe dreams for me. So...I came to xixax hoping your guys would put me back in line.

soixante

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Re: Film School
« Reply #55 on: February 01, 2007, 05:27:14 AM »
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Film school is but one path to getting into the film industry.  There are a lot of people who went to film school who never got anywhere in the industry, for a simple reason -- lack of talent.  Quite often, high test scores on the SAT can give someone an edge to get into film school.  That has nothing to do with talent or creativity.  Film school can hone pre-existing talent, but ultimately creativity can't be taught.  You either have it or you don't.  Often, people spend lavishly on film school, graduate, and find themselves in the same position that high school graduates occupy -- square one.

Hollywood is truly egalitarian, in that you don't need any particular credentials or degrees to break in.  If you have talent or great ideas, you have a good shot.  You can't practice law without a law degree, you can't be a doctor with a degree, but you can be a filmmaker with merely a high school diploma.  I'm not saying it's easy to break in, but people from left field break in all the time (Stallone with his first Rocky script, Tarantino, etc).

I think film schools are behind the curve.  They were cutting edge in the late 60's and early 70's, but now that wave has passed.
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Reinhold

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Re: Film School
« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2007, 02:22:53 PM »
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there are other options related to film study as well... my cinema studies degree is liberal arts so it's well-rounded, but i'm concentrating on film theory and i write, etc. in my own time.  it's great.
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

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Re: Film School
« Reply #57 on: February 12, 2007, 12:54:27 AM »
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Where’d You Go to Film School? In My Bedroom
Source: New York Times

WHEN David Basulto decided to become a movie producer, the first thing he did was enroll in a class at a film school in Los Angeles. The second thing he did was drop out.

“I absolutely didn’t learn a damn thing from the course I took, so I went out and bought a couple of books,” Mr. Basulto said. Home-schooling worked where the classroom failed. After 45 days Mr. Basulto, who is 41, had raised enough money to produce his first feature, “18 Shades of Dust,” directed by Danny Aiello III, and had written off the traditional filmmaking education process for good.

Film schools “teach you a lot of theory, teach you to shoot on old, archaic systems,” he said. “They’re not cutting edge.”

The systems used at, say, the University of Southern California’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts are anything but archaic. But Mr. Basulto’s point is worth noting in the era of miniDV digital video cameras, Final Cut Pro editing systems and YouTube auteurs with development deals. Thousands of new filmmakers are just diving in, many with the help of instructional products claiming to provide low-cost, high-impact alternatives to film school.

Sold on DVDs and CDs, with names like “Film School in a Box” and “Make Your Own Damn Movie,” these programs, often conceived by people with no formal film training of their own, offer surprisingly detailed tutorials on a variety of film-related topics: blocking, editing, even fund-raising and distribution. Priced roughly from $50 to $500, they can instill confidence without the bother of hundreds of thousands of dollars of a formal education.

Whether they can really teach how to make a good movie remains open to debate.

“You’re talking about an education process that takes the teacher out of the process,” said Michael Taylor, chairman of the film and television department at the U.S.C. School of Cinematic Arts.

“I think you do learn by doing, and we teach by doing in our film school,” Mr. Taylor added, “except it’s guided by a faculty who sort of know what they’re doing.”

Still, some established film schools have welcomed these programs as supplements to their existing coursework. “I think that the DVDs are great support materials,” said Paula Froehle, associate chairwoman of “below the line” curriculum — technical skills like lighting and editing — at the film department at Columbia College in Chicago. “Certainly there are times that I reference them, because I think they can function as a more dynamic textbook than a lot of the written material that’s out there.”

Virtually all the available filmmaking software rejects traditional, theory-based education, offering instead what purport to be practical crash courses in how to make a cheap but professional-quality movie. “Film School in a Box,” a video editing program, for instance, offers its users 15 hours’ worth of unedited footage from “The Confession,” a suspense drama that was shot in one take from 11 different cameras. Using the completed film as a point of comparison, users can construct their own version.

“Let them learn to edit movies, not old TV,” said David Kebo, the program’s co-creator and co-director of “The Confession.” He means that literally: Mr. Kebo tells of working on another feature, “Mojave,” with an editor whose film-school training in the 1990s began with recutting old episodes of “Gunsmoke.”

Other programs derive from a sense that existing instructional materials are incomplete. When the director Per Holmes, for instance, decided to shift from nonlinear music videos to traditional narrative films a few years back, he ran through the existing literature in two weeks. Unfulfilled, he decided to create his own master class. The result was a comprehensive instructional DVD set called “Hollywood Camera Work,” which teaches advanced blocking and staging techniques. The course resulted from a “tremendous amount of watching, pondering and systematizing,” Mr. Holmes said.

Offhand dismissiveness of traditional education is an article of faith among the makers of such software. “You have the people who come out of the other end, and they don’t know anything, and they’re not ready to make movies,” said Mr. Holmes, who said he would rather not bash film schools, many of which use his product.

To Jason J. Tomaric, 30, a film director and creator of a DVD course called “The Ultimate Filmmaking Kit,” “the big problem I’ve seen in film schools is that you’re taught by academics who have never made a movie before, let alone had one distributed.”

Mr. Tomaric’s DVD, like most of its competition, claims to offer hard-won lessons from the trenches of independent film — in this case from his production of a feature film called “Time and Again,” which cost $2,000 to make and was released in 2003. “We actually did it,” he said. “We made a movie that got distributed and made a profit.” Not surprisingly, the distrust runs both ways. Many educators say that a few hundred dollars’ worth of software cannot replace years of study, never mind the network of industry connections that often pave the way from school to a first job in the industry. “Asking what role does the film school play is like saying what role does the liberal arts college play if one has access to an encyclopedia?” Mr. Taylor said. “The idea that you can do it yourself is, I think, rather ridiculous.”

Tom Denove, vice chairman for production in the film, television and digital media department of the film school at the University of California, Los Angeles, contended that educational software often misses the real point of making a film: the inherent power of a narrative. “What’s lacking in so many films from people without a film-school education isn’t the technical expertise,” he argued. “It’s the ability to turn that expertise into a compelling story.”

Even so, democratization appears to be an irreversible trend in cinema. The thousands of movies each year now submitted to festivals around the world are testimony to a guerilla mentality that says no one needs official permission to make a film; and the advocates of teaching software often see themselves not so much training, but liberating new filmmakers.

“We try to inspire people to understand that they do not just have to work for Paramount or Sony — that does not necessarily validate their lives,” said Lloyd Kaufman, the longtime president of Troma Entertainment, whose book-and-DVD combination program, “Make Your Own Damn Movie,” offers lessons on everything from script conferences to presentations to potential investors to creating inexpensive yet realistic special effects.

As Mr. Kaufman sees it, those who want to make a movie should, and avoid the studio system entirely: “They don’t have to pitch movies to 23-year-old idiots who have never heard of John Ford or Charlie Chaplin.”
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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pete

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Re: Film School
« Reply #58 on: February 12, 2007, 10:35:45 PM »
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this whole tired debate reminds me of a bunch of karate guys sitting around arguing about whose kungfu is the best.  what does it mean that the film school doesn't work or the film software doesn't teach you how to tell stories?  the only arguments they can make against each other are silly testimonials--so and so didn't learn a damn thing in film school...etc.  the softwares are still as theoretical as the film schools, since the students still aren't "making films".  herzog says his film school requires everyone to walk 3000 miles.  that's film school.
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picolas

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Re: Film School
« Reply #59 on: February 13, 2007, 11:42:54 PM »
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