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  • Writer's pictureJanett Salas

Do I Need To Go To Film School To Work In Film?

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

I get this question a lot and If you’re watching this video you’re probably wondering if going to film school is a requirement or if going to film school gives you an advantage working in the industry?

In my opinion, the answer is no.

Film school is similar to art school or music school, where you learn great valuable things but to be a filmmaker or artist or a musician, you don’t need a degree to do it. To be an architect or a doctor, you definitely need a degree to get a job, but in artistic fields like the ones I mentioned, it doesn't prevent you from working and it’s not seen as a negative if you don’t have a degree.

Why You Might Want To...

But one of the biggest values of going to film school is the connections you make with your peers and other really talented people who are joining the film industry alongside you. Those peers are the ones you can reach out to for work and vise-Versa.

It also can be a slight benefit to you if you give your resume to someone who went to the same film school as you. Alumni from the same school often look out for one another. I've seen this happen.

How About the Big Film Schools?

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you go to a fancy film school or your state school, it’s all about the hustle and who you know at the end of the day.

For those that are trying to be directors and want to immediately get a directing job right after your graduate, going to a fancy school may help, but you still need to have a kick-ass portfolio, a network, and probably be charming as hell to convince someone to trust a recent graduate with a real project.

Most people get a kick-ass portfolio and the skills to create that by simply putting in the time on set and working on a variety of projects. That is possible at film school, but it’s also possible without it.

The most notable advantage is the students that receive a Master's degree in film from those prestigious schools. Being accepted is rigorous, but for those that get in, they create films in those programs that kick-start their careers.

I’ve worked on set with people who went to USC, NYU, and other big film schools, and I went to ASU.

Not to put ASU down but it's not at the same level as those film schools, yet a USC graduate and I are doing the same job. So to me, that tells me, it doesn’t matter.

Why You Might Not Want To...

I’ve also worked with others that didn’t go to film school. People who have graduated with a marketing or engineering degree and decided to switch career paths. Those people were both seasoned professionals and also newbies in the industry.

Last but not least, I’ve even worked with people that never went to college, but have tons of experience working on sets and have become experts at their craft simply by putting in the hours.

Now, if you scroll through my channel, you can see I made a ton of videos about film school and my projects in school. I personally am really glad I went to film school.

It gave me the confidence to approach a set and make mistakes because I was “learning” and a “student”. I feel like if you don’t have that to fall back on, it can be intimidating.

I was able to be mentored by my professors and a gained a team of people to collaborate with. In general, I earned my Bachelors’s degree, which is crucial for 90% of other jobs. It allowed me to intern and gain experience simply because I was enrolled at a school. Film school also held me and my classmates accountable, we needed to film and create in order to pass our classes. I don't think we would have created as much as we did without going to film school.

And graduating from college just sounds better than not graduating from college to the standard American parent.

BUT, if I’m being 100% honest, it did not prepare me to make a living in the film industry. I took classes in screenwriting, directing, film history, and editing, and the only class that taught me skills I could immediately apply after graduation was my editing classes and even then not really, because they taught me AVID, which I’ve never used professionally. I’ve edited all of my paid work on Premiere, but it taught me the concepts and fundamentals of editing (I guess).

I may be reaching, but I did take knowledge from my other classes (writing, directing) to be a digital video producer for my first big girl job, but I wasn’t working in the “film industry”.

I wish film school taught me how to create production paperwork, how to drive a production van, how to negotiate, how to run a meeting, how to write a commercial script, how to work with a client, how to understand accounting and legal. But even without knowing those things, I still stumbled upon each one of them and figured it out, and I’m sure you could too. (Hint: Google).

It all just depends on what you want to do and more importantly what you can afford to do.

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