Tag Archives: money

The One Reason to Attend Film School

Film school touts many benefits for those willing to enroll and pay to work instead of work for pay. Learn how to make films and tell stories is one of the supposed benefits, along with access to equipment and a respected credential, not to mention the great people you’ll meet along the way.

When it comes to graduate film school, unless you know you want to teach and get that terminal degree, there’s only one benefit that could possibly be worth the cost of attendance: the Network. The people you meet, work with, and establish a rapport with are your keys to the industry. The degree means next to nothing if your work doesn’t speak for itself—in fact, there’s a decent chance the degree will work against you, showing that you’re overqualified for the entry level positions you need in order to get your foot in the door of the industry. Chances are you’ll still have to start as a PA anyway, whether you’re fresh out of graduate film school, undergraduate film school, or an accomplished filmmaker with a high school degree.

The equipment is something you can get yourself. The money you pour into film school could have got you tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. That said, forget equipment! No one needs fancy gear to make good movies. You need to be able to tell stories, and that’s something you learn from reading, writing, watching movies, and paying attention in general, whether you’re in film school or not.

Film school is for those who have money and want a structure that will keep them focused on (somebody else’s version of) their craft. You could save thousands by being unemployed and just focusing on your craft without being attached to any one school, but your resume might take a hit when there’s gaps without an official employer or school attendance. The best route for anyone who wants to get into the industry is to just start working in the industry. Work your way up. Skip the schooling. You’ll make connections like you would in film school, and have to fund yourself like in film school, but you’ll probably spend less and have a better chance at getting paid sooner. And before long, your film school peers will be coming to you looking for work.

Make no mistake, I highly respect the work and devotion to craft I see in my film school peers. These people are passionate about film and highly talented. I think they’d be better off blessing the industry with their abilities rather than hanging around, paying tens of thousands of dollars, for a behind-walls education in the hands-on blue-collar people-centered industry of film.

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Your Ideal Imaginary Career

Two vexing questions torment most college students sooner or later. They are: What’s the best career for me? And how will I get paid for it?

I’m wondering about these things more and more as I approach the end of my sophomore year. I hear a lot about the virtues of practicality—searching out a job that will pay and actually exists. This is surely important, but as I see it, I still have two years of relative freedom to pinpoint the career I really want, whether or not it pays and/or exists. Call me idealistic, ’cause I am. But this approach is practical too—the more I know about myself, what I like and what I’m good at, the more I’ll be able to communicate who I am and what I do to others and find the most appropriate career for me. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay. But it’s well worth my time to hunt down that ideal career now when I can, before I get too distracted, so that later I’ll be able to find the closest thing that actually does pay and exist.

The question remains, How do I find my ideal (if imaginary) career? The answer is this: listen. Be aware of yourself and your innate feelings about different subjects and activities. Notice how your feelings change in different environments—are you motivated to do this thing on your own, or only when competing against other people? (I’m very motivated to do mathematics in a classroom setting, but the motivation suddenly and completely disappears when I’m on my own.) What is it about this subject that keeps you engaged?

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

You want to find a subject that you care deeply about, and that means you’ll experience a variety of emotions toward it. Sometimes the activities you’re best at and most interested in can be the most frustrating, but that happens naturally. It’s much easier to hate a family member than a stranger. Just make sure that your ideal career is something you really and deeply want, not something you only want to want. It’s a subtle difference, but if you start doing what you think you want to do now, the truth will emerge soon enough.

Search out, hunt down, and find your ideal career. If it’s imaginary, call it a goal. It’ll give you something to work towards, and half the challenge is knowing what your goal is. The key is finding something that you care about.

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