Is Film School Worth the Price?
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Sep 26, 2011

Is Film School Worth the Price?

In the Journey to Becoming a Filmmaker, is Film School Worth the Price?
Green reel tangle (pablo 008)
At various points in their filmmaking career, whether it’s in the middle of a first film or after several, almost every budding filmmaker asks him- or herself the following: “Should I go to film school?”

It’s a complicated question, and there isn’t one correct answer. However, the answer you arrive at will mostly likely depend on the following factors: your financial circumstances, and your ability to learn, work, and network independently.

As you consider the question, take a brief survey of filmmakers you admire: what was their path to becoming a writer, director, or editor? Did they go to film school, or did they do it themselves? Did their career after film school warrant the cost of film school? No two paths to becoming a filmmaker are the same, and it can be not just informative but downright inspiring to learn about the spectrum of ways people can get their foot in the door in the film industry.

Next, assess your own skills. Are you good at learning independently and intuitively, or do you need more structure? Almost any filmmaker will tell you that the best form of learning is to simply undergo the process of making a short film on your own: securing your crew, working out your camera and lighting angles, communicating to your actors what you need from them, or testing out your editing software. If you have the discipline to do this by yourself, you may not need to pay the cost of film school.

Similarly, one of the major reasons people attend film school is for the networking opportunities. In film school, you’re instantly connected to like-minded individuals, strong mentors, and powerful alumni who work in the film industry. Through collaboration and mutual understanding, classmates at film school create bonds and professional connections that can last long after film school, sometimes even throughout their careers. However, if you’re an outgoing spirit who is unafraid of asking for informational interviews, seeking out mentors, and making friends at film festivals, you can network without the help of film school.

Our official recommendation lies in the happy medium: online schools like New York Video School provide the structure, professional instruction, and even the social network of a standard film school, but the learning comes at just a fraction of the cost of film school. Depending on their skills and interests, students can choose from hundreds of tutorials, including storytelling, lighting, audio, and editing. Members can also join groups, seek out collaborative partners, and attend special events.

In short, just as there’s no right way to tell a story, there’s also no instruction manual for becoming a filmmaker. But by asking yourself some important questions, you’ll arrive at the solution that’s best for you.

Author Bio: Abby Price is a freelance writer and filmmaking enthusiast. She has made several documentaries, and no, she has never been to film school.