Note from Nick: We’ll be running content from our friends over at the International Academy of Film and Television in Los Angeles on CHUD, hopefully sharing some new voices and opinions and eventually creating a conduit from the Sewer there and back again. If you’re in Los Angeles and pondering films school, find them at IAFT.net.
A Call to Action for Film School Kids
by Pete Wassell
Don’t waste your time in film school.
Hold it now! I do not mean don’t go.
I mean when you go, don’t spend your time partying and drinking and doing all those things college kids do other than get an education. Big difference, right?
This is true for every major program, but film students are especially susceptible to the coasting-through lifestyle. That’s why people look down on film school. That’s why your degree–brace yourself–is worthless. No one cares about your film degree. I used to put Bachelors of Film Production on my resumé, and guess what, I was probably passed over for more interviews than I was brought in for, and specifically because I was a film school graduate. No one wants you, you don’t have any skills, you’re lazy and pretentious…
So don’t be lazy and pretentious.
Here’s how to succeed at film school, and how to use it as a way to start your career:
After paying tuition and book fees, the equipment is there for you to take. When I went to school it was still 16mm cameras (I know I sound old, but I swear to God I’m only 26). Nowadays, film schools have 60Ds, 7Ds, 5Ds, Panasonic AF100s, AG-AF 150s etc.! What does that mean? It means a third of your budget for a short film is taken care of. A third of your budget for a feature is taken care of. You can write a script, get your actor friends together and shoot it with HD quality equipment that you can then cut in one of the numerous editing bays at your school, burn it to DVD and have something to show someone, all without paying an editor, actors, writers, directors, cameramen, equipment fees, and all that heavy stuff. Oh yeah, your theatre department has costumes and props, and a lot of art department kids want to build things all the time–make friends with them on the first day.
Film school is a bastion of young creativity and ambition. If you take it seriously and you want to learn how to be an artist, there is literally nothing in your way except laziness, fear, and did I mention laziness?
I wasted a good amount of my time in film school doing things that children do, instead of preparing myself for my future as an artist. I’m playing catch up now because of it. However, the time I did spend creating things with my friends were by far the most fun and the most rewarding. I can expose film, and I know how digital cameras work on the inside.
I can’t edit, though. You know why? Because I didn’t understand the potential of being a good editor coming out of college. Editing is one of those things you can learn at film school. You can spend all day and all night teaching yourself AVID and Final Cut and Adobe. Then, when you get out of college you can start as an AE and work your way up to editing a TV show, or reality TV, or music videos, or movies, or trailers! Those people make upwards of $2500/week. I don’t know if I could even spend that kind of money.
Though, it isn’t all about making money.
It’s about learning how to express yourself through the most beautiful medium on the planet. No other art form blends visceral entertainment and thought-provoking prose and observation the way film does. I love film. Can you tell?
If you want to learn how to express your own thoughts and ideas this way, film school is an amazing way to do it. Take 4 years out of your life to learn about the different sensors in digital cameras, and the post workflow for RED footage. Learn about the F scale and how it affects focal length.
If you want to be a Producer, get on the horn and start locking down locations, and raising money. Learn how to draw up a budget, and where you can cut corners. Don’t piddle away your time in film school. Don’t wait! Seize the opportunity, it’s sitting there right in front of you! Take the necessary steps and put everything you have into making films the way you want to make them.
To be successful you need to know everything, and guess what? You can learn everything in film school. You just have to get off the couch and do it.