So, you want to be a filmmaker. You and thousands of film school students.
Should you join them, betting that their path is the one true way to moviemaking renown? Or can you chart your own course with the confidence of one who knows their talents speak for themselves?
Mounting evidence suggests that the latter choice is the better one. Not because film school doesn’t have its advantages — it does, and plenty of them — but because history teaches us that there are many paths to success. This is all the more true in creative industries.
Let’s draw this out a bit. If you’re keen to make it big in Hollywood (or any other -wood), you should think twice about applying to film school. At the very least, you should wait until you’ve gotten your feet wet in the industry. Here’s why.
1. Film School Is Expensive
Film school is expensive: thousands and thousands of dollars in tuition, room, and board expensive. And, unlike some professional grads, film school alums aren’t guaranteed plum roles right out of school.
2. You’ll Find Plenty of Company Among the Self-Taught
Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick, to name a few extremely well-known filmmakers and producers, never went to film school. Nor did lesser-known film luminaries, like prolific executive producer David Mimran. In short, don’t let anyone convince you that there’s no hope for the self-taught.
3. Moviemaking Is Less Expensive Than Ever
Film school might be more expensive than ever, but moviemaking itself? It’s a bargain these days, thanks to low-cost, high-quality digital equipment and increasingly powerful editing tools. Being an independent filmmaker remains tough work, but it’s no longer a multi-year ordeal just to make a movie.
4. For Indies, Expensive Film Equipment Is a Thing of the Past
Cellulose? What’s that? As an independent filmmaker, you can bypass the expensive equipment and accessories and focus only on what’s absolutely necessary to get the job done. No need to take equipment on loan from a film school vault.
5. Your Degree Won’t Necessarily Land You a Job
In some fields, a professional credential isn’t optional. Want to practice law? You’ll need a law degree from an accredited university and admittance to the bar in at least one jurisdiction. Passionate about medicine? One medical degree, coming up.
Film school isn’t like that. As we’ve seen, some of the biggest names in the business have no formal training, and you’d never be able to tell.
6. Talent May Take You Farther Than Book Smarts
That underlines an important point: In this business, talent and connections are more important than book smarts. Work on cultivating both and you’ll find a long, spotlight-studded runway ahead.
Film School Can Wait, Maybe Forever
We’ve made a compelling case that your film school dreams can probably wait.
Whether they can wait forever is up to you. That determination will come after much self-reflection — a gut check as to whether you’re cut out for life on the studio lot or better suited for some other role.
Either way, making it in the movies is tough work. There’s honor in merely trying, so here’s to giving it your best shot.