Howdy Film Jammers! It’s our 50th Film Jams episode! So for the big 50, we wanted to ask the age old question: Should you or shouldn’t you go to film school? We’re including our thoughts from two of our Film Jams team members who went to film school themselves.

The Cost of Film School

Film school can cost upwards of $30,000 per year and that’s a lot of dough to lay down. For the same price as one year of film school, you can purchase a brand new cinema camera like a C300 mk II or Sony FS7, nice lighting package, a sound kit, and an editing computer for $30,000 or less. You could be ready to start your own video production business or work as a freelancer. (If you want to see what we mean, watch our video How to Start a Production Company With Under $10,000!)

Should You Go To Film School? The Cost Video Production
You could buy a cinema camera (no not that old thing!) for the same price as a semester of film classes!

The Power of The Internship

Intern at a small production company, because their internships are a lot more hands-on. You can learn a lot just from being on set at a small production company, including what to do, what to say, how to manage clients, and more. You basically get to see a lot of the ins and outs of production: all the things that you often don’t learn in a classroom at film school.

The thing that makes internships so effective is that you get to see the entire production process from beginning to end. Your classes may show you each individual part, but you don’t often get to put all the puzzle pieces together as a whole.

Networking in Film School and Beyond

Filmmaking is all about networking. People you meet on set can become some of your best friends, people you hire, and/or people who hire YOU for jobs. Building a nice big, fat network is really important to being successful in the film industry.

During film school, network and stay in touch with people from school. They later may be important contacts to have in your rolodex.

If you’re not in film school, networking when you’re on a job or at a film festival can lead to great connections too. We’ve ended up partnering with people on films and productions from meeting them at festivals, online, and through social media.

Networking is really important! Make sure to get your name out there, and start producing content so you always have something new to share with your network.

Learning in Film School

Everybody learns in different ways. Some from books, some from hearing, some from sign language, and some from video. But we think everyone learns from doing.

In film school, you may get the chance to produce a film every semester for your classes. This is the time where you’ll definitely learn the most. It forces you to get organized, recruit a team, and troubleshoot like you would in the real world. You spend a lot of time studying Film History and other subjects that were definitely interesting as well but doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the freelance lifestyle that comes with a lot of filmmaking careers.

Should You Go To Film School? College The Learning
There’s lots to learn about filmmaking inside and outside the classroom.

When you get out of film school, if you’re going the freelance life, you have to start finding clients, handle billing, pay contractors for their work, and more; that’s all stuff you’re going to have to learn from doing. We wish that film school taught more about the business side and not just the creative and history of film production. 

Is It Worth It?

Does your degree really matter? Or is it more about your demo reel and the people you know? At the end of the day, people in the film business really look at what you know. They don’t care if you got a C in math. But having a degree is a nice box to be able to check off on an application if you can. Most times though when we hire freelancers, we look at their demo reel first, and then everything else. So definitely make a kick-ass demo reel!

There’s so much content out there that nowadays you can get on YouTube or and learn a lot from videos: “8 Camera Tricks to Shoot Better Video” or “How To Film A Car Scene At Night Without Driving” or “How to Direct Child Actors: 7 Tips“. It’s possible that you don’t need film school and there are other options to learn.

Ultimately, if school is something you want to do, and you think you will get value out of it…do it! Or….just watch Film Jams twice a week (and maybe some other Youtube channels on filmmaking), buy yourself a decent cinema camera, small lighting kit, audio kit, and get filmmaking!

What do you think, fellow filmmakers? Do you need film school? Did it help your career or are you $50,000 in debt? What are the reasons to go to film school in your opinion? And ultimately….is film school worth it?

If you have any questions on the techniques used in this video, please let us know in the comments!

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Music by Jeffrey J Byron:

Filmed on location at: in St. Petersburg, FL

Special Thanks to the St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission Digital Creator Program

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