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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2010 :  01:21:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know that's kind of an odd title, and everyone hates filmschool threads, but this is a bit of an odd question.


I'm pretty solid on my resolution at the moment to attend film school through a university undergraduate setting. As I may have previously mentioned on these forums, I am extremely passionate for music and very passionate for film (at the moment, I feel like I may have burnt myself out these past weeks watching endless videos on Vimeo ;) ) but I still am fairly resolute on my decision to pursue film.

Now, generally the most common opinion on film schools through my experience is, basically, that it would be better to use the money filming your own movie. That's a grossly oversimplified paraphrasing of the matter on my part, but that's not the issue at stake here. The issue is that I think I may be a bit of an exception to that simplified label.

For me, one of my values is having a broad education. Though I am entirely the same as everyone else in having dislikes for certain classes or material, I can appreciate it all. University, in my opinion, would be an opportunity to further enhance my education through more specialized and (hopefully) intensive course work, in one of my last opportunities for learning in an academic situation. I am more often than not irritated with the perceived culture and workings of "academia," but I do do well in academic settings and I don't see how going to study more liberal courses (such as history, anthropology and language, all passions and interests of mine) could possibly be detrimental to my development.

Furthermore, the university I wish to be accepted by resides in a francophone centre. I have been a French immersion student essentially all of my academic career thus far, and I believe that to fully immerse myself in a French (especially Qubecois) environment would be the best way to greatly enhance and, hopefully, solidify my fluency in the language. This would be facilitated by attending a university for film in this case given geographical location (note: the school itself is english, but, well, Montral is downright French ;) ).

Thirdly, I don't want to let myself get tacked down to this place, my present home. The city in which I presently live, and in which I have lived in virtually all my life and where I am now finishing grade 12, is my home. However, I don't know if I really love the city. I recently travelled to a much larger city, and found it revealing to my character and perspective just how comforting it felt to see tall buildings. Or bustling cultural centres. It may sound strange to summarize it in this way, but it's basically how I feel. I also have many issues, emotional turmoil and family issues associated with this place (particularly the family issues, which probably will become even more detrimental if I decided to stay at home for shcool) which I think I could really benefit being away from. This isn't simply wanting to run away or anything (lots and lots of things and people I have to love here), but the expected desire to "spread my wings" and expose myself to more of the world. Going to school, especially university, for film would allow me that opportunity, or at least the grounds for the opportunity. (I'd also like to mention that I don't think that my desire to expand my horizons is an infatuation based on the experience of a new city: I have been feeling this way and been planning this for a long time prior)


So, if you actually got through all of those extensive paragraphs, congratulations! And... :) my question is:


Are there any other opinions, thoughts, or feelings that anyone could offer me on the matter? I excessively brood over decisions, and this time, like I said, I'm fairly resolute with my present direction. Of course next year everything could change dramatically, but apart from that I'm wondering if anyone (particularly the members of this forum, because a more objective perspective, as opposed to a family member's or friend's, would be nice to have) has anything to add or critique concerning my personal case.



There you have it, a non-traditional "should I go to film school" thread. :)

masterspud
Junior Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2010 :  03:18:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It sounds like you have already made your choice so I see very little point in posting this. None the less, I actually share similar interest in why I would like to go to film school, largely moving to a new city. But lately I've been wondering if it's the school that makes me want to go there or if it's the adventure of going to a new place. I think it's a question you should ask yourself. It's possible you could just go to the city without attending film school and learn just as much, if not more, from working with professionals. Just a thought.

I'm new...Yeah, so what?
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2010 :  13:28:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by masterspud

It sounds like you have already made your choice so I see very little point in posting this. None the less, I actually share similar interest in why I would like to go to film school, largely moving to a new city. But lately I've been wondering if it's the school that makes me want to go there or if it's the adventure of going to a new place. I think it's a question you should ask yourself. It's possible you could just go to the city without attending film school and learn just as much, if not more, from working with professionals. Just a thought.

I'm new...Yeah, so what?




Yeah, good point. I'll think about that a bit. In part I think it actually is the school (I don't have much faith in the program in my city here, but my scepticism could be ungrounded), but probably most of it is finding a new experience in a new city. It also comes back to me wanting to learn things apart from production though. At the moment I would love to specialize in production and minor in eastern history, or anthropology, or Chinese language, etc. That's something that I don't think I'd want to miss out on.

And of course everything could change next year. And besides, even if I go to school for two years and want out or something, its easy enough to do that and the debt wouldn't be insurmountable. I'll be just an adult by the next academic year, I have a lot of time to work this stuff out still.

Thanks for your response masterspud. :)
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Aspiring mogul
Average Member

483 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2010 :  00:01:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have substantial university education, so I would advise you to go to university. I presume that university in a francophone area would be McGill University or Concordia in Montreal, Quebec, and they're both good for undergrad programs, but I don't know anything about their fine arts specifically.

I also agree with your desire to get a broad-based education, because that will make you a better person. I don't know how old you are, but, if you're under 30, you will almost certainly enjoy your time in university - I did, and just about everyone I know has the same feeling. In fact, we all say university was one of the best times of our lives.

When you go, take the time to do the courses that interest you, and be sure to try some of everything, just for education's sake. You'll probably be required to take a writing course, and, if so, take the lessons to heart, because, once you learn how to write properly, that skill will be with you for life.

Last, but certainly not least, go, go, go! :)
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2010 :  00:44:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aspiring mogul

I have substantial university education, so I would advise you to go to university. I presume that university in a francophone area would be McGill University or Concordia in Montreal, Quebec, and they're both good for undergrad programs, but I don't know anything about their fine arts specifically.

I also agree with your desire to get a broad-based education, because that will make you a better person. I don't know how old you are, but, if you're under 30, you will almost certainly enjoy your time in university - I did, and just about everyone I know has the same feeling. In fact, we all say university was one of the best times of our lives.

When you go, take the time to do the courses that interest you, and be sure to try some of everything, just for education's sake. You'll probably be required to take a writing course, and, if so, take the lessons to heart, because, once you learn how to write properly, that skill will be with you for life.

Last, but certainly not least, go, go, go! :)



Concordia is where I'm going to apply, I had been considering McGill for music for a long time but they don't have a film program there. And yeah, like I inferred a bit in my original post I'll be turning 18 this year (whoa, that feels weird to say). So school would make a lot of sense. :)

Thank you Aspiring Mogul though for reminding me of another reason for me wanting to attend university: enhancing my writing ability. I think I occasionally demonstrate through my posts on this forum a relatively strong command of the written medium, but I still want to be given a direct challenge to improve my craft. This semester alone I have matured immensely in my writing and I am now starting to regard my writing as a craft now that I fully appreciate the sense and power of editing and revising your material. My hope would be that university would facilitate that development.


Paying for the education is going to be a pain though. Tuition and normal living expenses combined with film production costs? Let's hope those scholarship applications pull through.
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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2010 :  09:34:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is an excerpt from the book, What I Really Want to Do: On Set in Hollywood, regarding the issue of filmschool:

quote:
Do I really need to go to filmschool?
The real answer is no; you dont have to go to film school to have a career in the movie industry. A USC graduate has the same chance of becoming a Director or anything else in the industry as the really weird but artistic kid down the street. In the end, its about who you know and what you can do once given the opportunity.

That said, immersing yourself into a community of like-minded individuals who are all striving for the same goals can definitely have value. As youre studying the theory of filmmaking and gaining some practical experience while making short films of your own, youll be learning from others around you as much as they are learning from you. While the specifics of what you can learn from a film school will vary depending on the school you attend, the general benefits of further education are invaluable in every aspect of life as well as to your career. By its very nature, filmmaking is a collaborative enterprise, so developing the skills to communicate effectively is a necessity. Higher education in general can help you learn how to do that, and your experience in a film school environment will require you to put it into practice.


If I go to film school, will a masters degree help?
Again, not really, unless you are looking for a career at the studio executive level, where your work experience and education mean more than your technical or creative skill at actually being on set and making a movie. However, for those actively working on set, a career in the motion picture industry can be lucrative, but quite often, it is not. There are some individuals who are able to work practically year round, but the vast majority of people may get only one feature film a year to work on full-time and must fill in the rest of the time with DAYPLAYING or with other non-industry-related temporary work. Its in your best interest to have an education and/or a second career to fall back on if times get tough.

So, if you have the means and desire, definitely take advantage of the benefits of obtaining a higher education. That said, nothing takes the place of real-world experience. Go to school and also find a production company, TV station, or equipment rental house in your area and ask for a part time PA position or an internship. Then work as hard as possible and learn as much as you can while constantly searching for new contacts elsewhere. On every level, the entertainment business runs almost entirely on networking.


I also regularly recommend that those who wish to work Above-the-line, that they concentrate more on curriculum which will help their specific career choice while only minoring in film studies. For instance, aspiring Writers should spend less time watching and making movies in school and more time taking classes in History, Political Science, Sociology, Literature, Mythology, and Writing. While it's important to know the mechanics of how movies are made and how stories are structured, if the school experience is too film-centric, then what will the aspiring Writer have to write about?

In the same way, aspiring Directors should concentrate on everything the Writer does PLUS art studies, photography, and personal communication courses, because having interpersonal skills are required to impart ideas, instructions, and desires.

Producers should also have much of that background (of Writers and Directors) PLUS they should have accounting and legal experience. Logistics are also crucial to a Producer's job so anything that teaches how to put complex projects together is a must.

Again, the point is that A) a degree in film studies and/or production will not get anyone a job no matter what the school tells you and B) while you're taking film classes, you should be concentrating on curriculum that seemingly has nothing to do with the filmmaking process.

Below-the-line crew will rarely benefit from a film degree. While the experience and curriculum could be helpful for anyone interested in working on and off sets, for most crew, just getting out into the world and working their way up the ladder as soon as possible is the key to building a long-lasting career.


Addendum: I also want to add that aspiring Directors should get involved in the University and/or local theater. While film acting is different than for the stage, the experience in working with Actors without all the "film stuff" on your minds (all of you) will go a long way.


Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com

Edited by - bjdzyak on 11 Jan 2010 11:18:03
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2010 :  16:59:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for your response bjdzyak!

quote:
Originally posted by bjdzyak
In the same way, aspiring Directors should concentrate on everything the Writer does PLUS art studies, photography, and personal communication courses, because having interpersonal skills are required to impart ideas, instructions, and desires.

Again, the point is that A) a degree in film studies and/or production will not get anyone a job no matter what the school tells you and B) while you're taking film classes, you should be concentrating on curriculum that seemingly has nothing to do with the filmmaking process.




Absolutely, that has been mostly my intent. The first year or two of the degree seem to be mostly general arts courses so not only would that encourage the extra concentrations that you've mentioned but also would make it simply enough to transition to another degree apart from film production.

I also appreciate your candidness in saying "no" to the question of needing to go to film school to have a career. I realize the nature of breaking into and getting work in this industry, I simply would like to be in an encouraging environment for artistic, technical and mental development. I actually have some people I know who work actively in the industry here (off topic: I got a job offering once from one of these people to log video for them, but nothing has come of it so far. I should bring that up again with him...) and I hope to find a "lower" position to work in over the summer and hopefully some part-time work during my final high school semester. Hopefully my networking at this point will bolster my opportunity for work in that sense, and I also have completed a "set protocol and safety" course which, according to my province's motion picture association, is a required credential for anyone who hasn't already been working in the industry. So I think I may be at a bit of an advantage compared to many people in my position and at my age (hopefully!).


Thank you very much for your excellent suggestions Brian.

quote:

Addendum: I also want to add that aspiring Directors should get involved in the University and/or local theater. While film acting is different than for the stage, the experience in working with Actors without all the "film stuff" on your minds (all of you) will go a long way.


Ah I've been meaning to do this for awhile now. Good advice. I haven't acted in years, it probably would be excellent for character and experience to throw myself into that environment again.
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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2010 :  18:33:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You're welcome.

As an additional addendum (I'm writing these down for inclusion in the next release of the book! :) ), I want to reiterate the value of stepping OUTSIDE of the school environment while you're there to get practical experience with working professionals.

This doesn't have to be with a narrative film at all. MOST types of production tend to deal with the same issues and roughly follow the same working protocols. More or less.

So, get out there and contact local production companies or the local PBS affiliate or a local equipment rental house. Or all of them. Let them know that you are willing to work for little or nothing (save the 'nothing" offer until they turn you down). You may be carrying cases, cleaning cases, getting coffee, running copies of paperwork around... but at this point in your life and career, don't let that stop you from getting in there. I promise you that they will appreciate your enthusiasm and drive and will want to have you around their sets more often.

But don't stop there. Use those contacts to get yourself an internship in a post-production house or edit bay. You want to observe the process all the way through. You're not just looking at the technical aspects of editing and other post. You're also observing the politics and "schmoozing" that goes on. Once you're in the good graces of the Editors, they'll eventually confide in you the kinds of "tricks" and other mind games that are used (and often necessary) to get a job done.

Point is (again), school can help in a lot of ways and I encourage everyone to attend a University. But majoring in a film program isn't necessarily going to be the best use of your time or money. This isn't to say that it is entirely useless, so taking film classes within the school environment with other like-minded people can be helpful. But recognize the limitations of that path so that you can supplement your own progression along the way with other non-film-centric curriculum and with off-campus opportunities.



Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com
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