• Do you need to go to film school? Here's your answer

    Securing a career in the film industry is an interesting – and often difficult – journey and there are many roads to the holy grail of being offered regular, interesting work. Many creatives, technicians and above-the-line movie industry professionals learned their trade through universities, colleges, courses or specialist schools. Directors Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit), Ang Lee (The Life of Pi), George Lucas (Star Wars) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) all made their start by learning at institutions such as the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, New York University and Columbia University School of the Arts.

    24th Mar 2018By Matthew Whitehouse & Andrew Wooding

    The X-Files screenwriter Benjamin Van Allen attended film school at Southern Adventist University, I Kill Giants cinematographer Rasmus Heise studied at the European Film College and The Handmaid's Tale editor Wendy Hallam Martin enrolled at Sheridan College.

    But the question remains – do you actually have to go to film school to succeed?

    Mandy News makes a case for why you should and shouldn't start looking at courses to further your career.

    Why you should go to film school
    Good film schools should offer you a range of brilliants benefits including kit rental, work placements with top studios/production companies, accomplished guest lecturers, excellent course leaders and a broad range of practical and theoretical teaching.

    Everything you need will be in one place, making the process of reaching your goals easier than if you don't enrol somewhere. You'll also be able to make lots of mistakes in a safe, creative space surrounded by supportive creative people with no real world danger if you fail. Furthermore, if you are someone who really needs structure from somebody/something, you will benefit from being guided through the learning process from start to finish – something you may not receive out in the real world.

    If you make the most of film school, then you might emerge with a string of contacts, a reel to show people, experience, skills, knowledge and friends.

    Film school also offers you such a range of experience that you can learn what you might want to specialise in – not everybody wants to direct – by trying everything out.

    But you by no means have to go!

    Why you don't need to go to film school
    Over 10 years ago, technology was prohibitively expensive and resources for learning were limited to the library or teachers.

    Film school felt like a much more obvious and reasonable choice – you'd receive access to a wealth of equipment and could collaborate with peers.

    But, these days, almost everything is available online; networks, information, tutorials, cheap kit, success stories from top people and even jobs. You can learn video editing, VFX, compositing, the fundamentals of framing and cinematography on YouTube. You can educate yourself with film history from your bedroom.

    Technology has become so accessible that you can literally shoot and edit a short film entirely on your phone. Not that you have to – you can get full, professional edit suites without breaking the bank these days. Adobe offer their Premiere Pro suite for a monthly subscription and Final Cut Pro X is only £399 ($565).

    For around £1500 ($2120) – a fraction of the cost of a three year film course – you can buy lights, a camera, a green screen and mid-range computer and teach yourself.

    So, if you feel you are truly independent spirit, self-motivated and can learn better on your own then don't waste what could be as much as $100, 000 (£70k) on film school when you could just as easily spend that money cutting your teeth with shorts or making your debut feature.

    Filmmakers who grabbed a camera and learned on the go include Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), David Fincher (Gone Girl), James Cameron (Avatar), Kevin Smith (Clerks) and Richard Linklater (Boyhood).

    As always, whether or not you need something is down to you. This is not an assessment that anybody can make for you and you can prosper or fail with or without film school depending on your attitude and approach to it.

    All in all, whether you attend film school or not, if you make good content/provide good services, put yourself out there and meet people, there's no reason you won't get noticed.

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