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Q:Going to film school or not? With todays technology, Why?

Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 12:43am

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marcus u

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Hello,

I've read the biographies of the most successful directors. The vast majority of the big big boys went to film school.

BUT, back in the days when Lucas and Speilberg etc. were coming up, the technology was impossibly expensive for normal folks. I mean the camera's were like $50,000 plus, and film was and is monstrously expensive, etc. etc. etc.

One almost needed to go to somebody elses lab to "blow things up."

Right?

But a few years ago I took a film class at the local JC.

Most of the students were mean and bitter, and the weirdest thing was that nothing, NOTHING occurred in the class that wasn't being accomplished in the bedroom's and garages of these kids anyways.

I was about 10 years older than most the class and had to deal with that wonderful situation (any whove been through that would understand) some of the young folks were totally totally cool, others... well.

Anyways no sidetrackin'...

Here's my point. With the amazing, amazing technology available to anyone, ANYONE! today rivaling and in many cases matching what the big boys have (example: Maya 3d can be got in a PLE version for free until you make money with it. Maya was used on... oh... everything... Star Wars, LOTR, Titanic etc etc etc/ other examples: are that any editing suite Adobe, FxHome, Vegas, etc can all do the same stuff as a giant pro system.)

and anything you can't do is the type of stuff that won't make or break a great story/movie etc anyways.

So...

1. What would happen in film school that wouldn't happen from the garage or the back bedroom?

Thanks for your feedback,
~Marcus:)
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 12:59am

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visualchaos

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Hey man,

I sort of asked Sean Falcon, who did visual effects for Broken, the same question and here was his response:

Hope this helps out a little:

Sean Falcon wrote:

Hi Lee,
Thanks for the comments....glad you enjoyed it. If there is one thing I can tell you about the Vfx industry....it is this: be a jack-of-all-trades. Now when I say that, I dont mean you have to master every aspect of the field (as you'll learn...thats impossible), but try to get a firm grasp on everything. 3D, 2D, tracking, compositing, particles, dynamics, textures, editing, motion gfx....etc. The more you know, the better of a chance youll have at landing a job, and at the same time you'll be looked at as being more valuable because of the knowledge you posses. (plus youll have a better demo as well) smile. In the Maya vs Max case....Im not going to jump on any sides (even though I am a Maya guy), but I can tell you in big fx houses (ILM, Sony etc...) they usually use maya. They also do use max as a lot of places do (the planet BG in the Sw ep. III intro was done in Max while the ships were done in Maya). But the strength that I see in maya is its flexibility, scalability and vastness. Fx houses have to have the most advanced software to make things happen, and Maya is one of those infinitely scalable products.....as in if the package doesn't have something, they can write it into the package.
So I would definitely learn Maya, (I started off in Max as well), and I think you'll see what I mean about the power that is stuffed into that package...it is amazing. But keep your options open for everything and learn as much as possible....its rough out there.
As for training, the best resource I know of is the Gnomon Workshop. They have incredible training for students taught by HUGE industry professionals. They have everything on DVD. Usually ranging around the $60-70 mark...but its worth it. They are filled with info, but also very fun to watch because the demos are awesome. As far as school goes, I went to the Art Institute, but I would recommend a school in Cali somwhere close to the action. Gnomon actually has a school, so that'd be a good bet. The main thing is your skills, wether you go to school or not, those skills have to be polished.

www.gnomon3d.com
www.gnomononline.com
www.thegnomonworkshop.com


Those are the gnomon links. They are heavily into Maya (watch teh dvds and youll know why). They also have some max training as well as tons of other stuff (the drawing dvds are amazing.) I would start with the intro to maya dvd to get your feet wet and then take it from there.

Hope this helps, all the best,

Sean
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 1:50am

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ben3308

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marcus u wrote:

1. What would happen in film school that wouldn't happen from the garage or the back bedroom?
One word:

Connections.

I would go to film school just to both keep doing what I love doing, and to meet people in the industry, which is something you can't do from your garage. Sure, after school I may just get stuck holding the boom for a few productions, but meeting and networking with people along the way will make it all worth it.

In the business, it's not what you have, it's who you know.
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 3:16am

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Serpent

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Like ben said, connections. Also, working with Pros in the industry in that kind of team environment can't be obtained alone or in a garage. You have to learn how to work like this and they have to know you can if you want to get a deal. If you want to go Hollywood, go to film school. If you want to make indie films and maybe you'll get picked up at Sundance, but you're really just doing it for the passion, maybe film school isn't for you (not to say it isn't, but you'll need to think about little connections and things you can learn.) I'm not speaking from experience, but from common sense and feedback from many other filmmakers.
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 9:53am

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Jazzmanian

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I suppose if you grew up in a household with people in the industry or had a lot of friends who worked in it, you might feel that way, but it's hard for many of us to imagine. I signed up for evening adult education in film and media studies because as soon as I got interested in this and began playing around I immediately began to realize there was a vast ocean of stuff that I just didn't know. I watch all of Tarn's tutorials, and the Izzy Video Tutorials and read everything I can find here and elsewhere online, and I *still* find myself making stupid mistakes all of the time. And while I will often picture a particular shot in my head and it looks simply beautiful in my mind, I never seem to be able to make it come out just that way on the screen.

From my reading and watching here I know about the rule of thirds, and the 180 degree rule, etc. etc. but there's still so much more to learn, both about fundamental filmmaking and all of the technelogical aspects of project and all of the applications involved... it's hard to imagine that anyone couldn't benefit from some formal education in filmmaking.

Plus, as has been noted above, contacts and networking can never be underestimated. Even if you don't immediately rocket to Speilberg level fame on your first effort, one of your colleagues from school may hit it relatively big early on and that might open some doors for you.

I think it was best summed up by one of the opening scenes of Animal House where the camera zooms in on the motto engraved on the base of a statue...

"Knowledge is good."

biggrin
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 11:46am

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er-no

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Its not always down to who you know. Its how you act and what you can offer. Are you different to anyone trying to get into the industry? What makes you different and right for the role you're going for.

What I've learnt, after near non-stop work going from tv series to feature films is that the industry isn't glamour, its not fun and its not easy. Luckily I've never been in the position where I have had to do 'work experience', and I've managed to wrestle my way in quickly and fly up the metaphorical ladder people speak of.

I didn't know anybody in film or tv two years ago, aside from my mate being the stuntman who has now go onto doing great things for himself, but it is often the case a good mate who works in the industry won't vouch for your name, as its not something you can do in the film industry (and you'll understand that once you're there).

As for film school. Yeah, I was there for two years, didn't learn anything and didn't enjoy it. I could teach myself most of the things film school could teach me alone.

It's one thing knowing people. A completely different thing to be able to respond and know where your place is. On set/off set etc.

A couple of months ago I had an interview with the national film school here in the UK. The youngest person they've ever had on the Directing course was 27, so me going in to the interview at 21 they were a bit baffled. They've asked me to reserve application this year and apply again next year with another short. smile

But thats my point for anyone. Your age and behaviour will be the thing holding you back in the tv and film industry. At times I've had to fib a little about my age, because I've actually been advised to, not that I'll give any of the examples of that on here. Maybe I'll save that for my biography in years to come wink

I'm pleased with what I've worked on, because I know I did it all myself. And being an assistant director on a variety of things doesn't sound halve bad either.
cool
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 1:28pm

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Bryan M Block

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There are other reasons-

1. If you get a bachelor's degree from a university, ANY bachelor's degree from ANY University- you will have overcome an obstacle that may or or not be thrown in front of you later in life when you want to get a better paying job. I understand the "10 years older" thing as well- I just graduated from The Ohio State University in December and I am 36! I was easily 10 years older than most of my classmates and I was older than about half of my professors.
So if you want to go to "film school" I'd suggest finding a university with a film major instead of one of those 2 year A/V schools.

2. Basic things like learning to light properly, framing shots, learning to edit , how to plan and organize film shoots, legal issues, working with actors, etc.. etc.. etc.. aren't changing much at all- those are all very important skills that need polishing and you would gain experience with all of that- production and process from A-Z. Lighting alone is a profession!

3. As has been stated, connections and contacts.

4. Building a body of work- Having access to some stuff and actually creating a couple of pieces should be your goal. TO come out of college with say, two films and a bunch of other short spots and things under your belt would be a great resume addition- handing someone a reel (that's what it's still called- although it would probably be a DVD these days) and a resume would get you more than just a resume.

5. Get involved in your local commercial production community. There are people in your area that work on commercial production (commercial meaning professional) Call them and ask to be booked as a PA (Production Assistant) which is the lowest level production person on a crew- once you get to know some people on a couple of those shoots and they see that you do a good job, they can help you get more work doing what you want to do (shoot, edit, audio, grip, electric, light, production manager, location manager, production coordinator, craft services, makeup, casting director, AD, 2nd AD, director, art director, art dept/swing gang etc...) there are tons of jobs associated with production.

Film School is not a magic bullet, like any college or anything you do-
The creative arts are full of people that are disillusioned about the actual work in thier chosen field. Let go of that and understand (like er-no said) that it isn't glamourous, it isn't easy, and it's alot of work. Even if you become a "director" you will be working for people with money that control alot of the creative directions for the project. You may find out that making a profession out of film and video and related things like gfx and fx etc.. isn't nearly as much fun or as rewarding as making your own movies on the side and having all that creative freedom.

.02

B
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 7:21pm

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the new godfather

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A friend of mine just got his masters in film and television production from USC. I talked to him and his freind for a while and they said that television has more jobs, and that its a very tough industry, even coming from USC... He said that you go for long periods of time with out work, but he said when your on, your on and eventually youll make it...coming from USC that is... wink


I'll talk to him more and ask him specific questions, he has loads and loads of information, really nice guy too.

-richard
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 7:54pm

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JohnCarter

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In my experience, Film school is useless. Who you know? It is too. Most people will not vouch for you because if they do, they may lose their jobs down the road. They'll lose their job if you're better than them or if you suck. You need to prove yourself constantly in this business. You are only as god as your last job. And if it sucked, then you're done. Knowing people may help you get a couple more strikes but strike out too often, you're dead.

As Er-no said. It's not galmorous. It's hard work. Lots of insecurities. And film school does not prepare you for any of that.

Spend the money on books and softwares and equipment and learn your craft. Because it is a craft. heck, for the price of an average tuition, you'll probably even have money left to shoot a short after equiping yourself like a mini ILM.

But you need drive, passion, determination.
Posted: Sun, 2nd Jul 2006, 10:11pm

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er-no

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JohnCarter wrote:


But you need drive, passion, determination.
And the knowledge that 16-18 days for two weeks straight will destory any social life you which to have.

Sleep would be nice! Start my next TV stint tommorrow, but luckily I only have to survive three days. smile
Posted: Mon, 3rd Jul 2006, 5:44am

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the new godfather

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but wouldnt a high end film school look good on a resume, it would look better than just saying you taught yourself, even though its just as good really
Posted: Mon, 3rd Jul 2006, 6:19am

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SlothPaladin

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If you have a good demo reel who cares?
Posted: Mon, 3rd Jul 2006, 6:29am

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the new godfather

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cool
Posted: Mon, 3rd Jul 2006, 6:54am

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Bryce007

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As I've said before...

People would be better filmmakers if

1. they were given a simple cheap walmart DV Camcorder.

2. They went to barnes and noble, borders or whatever book store they have and read every book they can get they're hands on (and take the advice given with a grain of salt)

3. Make as many films as they can and learn from they're mistakes, trying out everything they can and continually attempt to do better than the last try no matter what the cost.

4. skip film school
Posted: Sun, 9th Jul 2006, 4:09am

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FXhomer6751

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Okay, here's my background and my take on this issue.

I graduated with a BFA from Southern Illinois Uiniversity. It was a pathetic excuse for a film program (and it still is; no industry veterans teach there). To be blunt and honest; I was more qualified to teach there when I started their program.

I was accepted and studied at USC, where I recieved my Masters degree. USC was quite a different experience. Every instructor I had there was an industry professional. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from these people. And the contacts and industry exposure were well worth the cost of tuition. In other words, if you're going to go to film school, make sure that it's a film school that's worth hours and years of your life. One that, when all is said and done, the diploma means something; to you and to everyone in the industry in which you want to become apart. A degree from one of the top film schools in the country VALIDATES your talents and ability.

So, if you REALLY want to become a filmmaker:

1. Make movies. Any kind you can. Short, long, documentaries,
fiction, horror. Anything. Push your abilities and don't get too
discouraged when you fail. You can't succeed without failing.
2. Go to film school, but not just anyone. Apply to the best there
are; USC, UCLA, NYU. When choosing any other film school,
look at the quality of their equipment and facilities. There's no
point studying to be a mechanic if you're being trained to work
on model A's. You need to learn the lastest technology.
3. Make movies. Don't get discouraged. Talent is not a gift handed
down to a precious few by God. It is a skill that is developed and
learned over a lengthy period of time. Overnight success is only
possible with playing the lottery.
4. Have faith in yourself and don't let your fire get snuffed out by
the doubts of others.

Two final pieces of advice:

1. When people bad-mouth your ideas, listen to the SUBTEXT.
When someone says, "you can't make a movie for less than a
a million dollars (which we all know is BS)," what they are
really saying is, "I don't know how to make a movie, but with
a million dollars, I can hire people that show me how."
2. Winston Churchill said, "Success is failing without losing your
enthusiasm." Hang onto your enthusiasm at all costs.
And finally,...best wishes and good luck to you.
Posted: Sun, 9th Jul 2006, 4:18am

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Balketh

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That ^ Was awesome, and Inspiring. Thanks FXhomer6751!

Rogue.
Posted: Sun, 9th Jul 2006, 7:31am

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the new godfather

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My freind who went to USC film said to take all advice with a grain of salt, keep at it. smile
Posted: Sun, 9th Jul 2006, 4:50pm

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marcus u

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I love this thread (brag: I started)

I love the total variety of responses to!

Although everyone has offered different ideas, in some ways they all make sense. Great to see the pros and cons.

Here's what I've learned and agree with from combining all the posts.

#1 (as in all things anyways) We learn MOST by doing.

#2 If you are going to go to film school, for petes sake go to a big boy that makes eyes bulge when its seen on your resume USC,UCLA, etc. AND choose a place that is right there in the heart of movie land so that connections are literally a part of the path in that accidental, "met someone at the bar" type way.

#3. In my own life I have things I've learned all on my own, I have things I've learned entirely in school, the MOST powerful things I've done were things I did alot on my own just out of desire, then combined that with top notch training. That tag team of both doing and education are the best.

At least thats my verdict for the moment.

:)Thanks pals,
~Marcus:)
Posted: Mon, 10th Jul 2006, 6:00am

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Gnome326

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how many of you have an agent? And how far do you think those people get you?
Posted: Tue, 11th Jul 2006, 6:06pm

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RusSEAL

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FXhomer6751 wrote:

Okay, here's my background and my take on this issue.

I graduated with a BFA from Southern Illinois Uiniversity. It was a pathetic excuse for a film program (and it still is; no industry veterans teach there). To be blunt and honest; I was more qualified to teach there when I started their program.

I was accepted and studied at USC, where I recieved my Masters degree. USC was quite a different experience. Every instructor I had there was an industry professional. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from these people. And the contacts and industry exposure were well worth the cost of tuition. In other words, if you're going to go to film school, make sure that it's a film school that's worth hours and years of your life. One that, when all is said and done, the diploma means something; to you and to everyone in the industry in which you want to become apart. A degree from one of the top film schools in the country VALIDATES your talents and ability.

So, if you REALLY want to become a filmmaker:

1. Make movies. Any kind you can. Short, long, documentaries,
fiction, horror. Anything. Push your abilities and don't get too
discouraged when you fail. You can't succeed without failing.
2. Go to film school, but not just anyone. Apply to the best there
are; USC, UCLA, NYU. When choosing any other film school,
look at the quality of their equipment and facilities. There's no
point studying to be a mechanic if you're being trained to work
on model A's. You need to learn the lastest technology.
3. Make movies. Don't get discouraged. Talent is not a gift handed
down to a precious few by God. It is a skill that is developed and
learned over a lengthy period of time. Overnight success is only
possible with playing the lottery.
4. Have faith in yourself and don't let your fire get snuffed out by
the doubts of others.

Two final pieces of advice:

1. When people bad-mouth your ideas, listen to the SUBTEXT.
When someone says, "you can't make a movie for less than a
a million dollars (which we all know is BS)," what they are
really saying is, "I don't know how to make a movie, but with
a million dollars, I can hire people that show me how."
2. Winston Churchill said, "Success is failing without losing your
enthusiasm." Hang onto your enthusiasm at all costs.
And finally,...best wishes and good luck to you.
I carry a Bachellor's Degree in Cinema and Photography; 1991... From SIUC.

If this isn't a "small world" what truly is?!

I take it you knew Mike Covelle, Loren Cocking and a few others, right?

I had Loren himself tell me that he couldn't understand why I was in film school- let alone his class because "you don't need a degree to work in the film business"...

What you get at SIUC from an artistic/theoretical level you absolutely 'blow pipe' in the technical and sociological [aka "connections"] element.

No truth better spoken ladies and gentlemen- the road has been hard and arduous for me as well- not having the California/New York industry professional connectios he speaks of... It can be done, but at what price, what cost and what presense.
Posted: Tue, 11th Jul 2006, 6:08pm

Post 21 of 25

RusSEAL

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Gnome326 wrote:

how many of you have an agent? And how far do you think those people get you?
None with zero distance.

Not that they [agents] don't have their advantages, but oddly enough you already have to have a body of work that [for lack of a better word] actually sells itself to the point someone else is doing your own selling for you.
Posted: Tue, 18th Jul 2006, 1:37am

Post 22 of 25

urbium

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Three words: Liberal Arts Education.

I'll be going to Case Western Reserve University (its NOT military), which does NOT have a direct film school. But it DOES however offer an excellent range of education. Currently, the industry is incredibly over-crowded, and is unlikely to accept those who merely copy their predecessors. That's where a BA from a liberal arts college is likely to benefit you. You can learn all the basics from film school. Or, you can learn to think "outside the box" (pardon the cliché) by attending a liberal arts college, then learn the basics through books, online tutorials, etc... or FXhome forum members.
Posted: Tue, 18th Jul 2006, 11:59pm

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Gnome326

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I think the industry is just looking for the people who will make them the most ammount of money.
Posted: Wed, 19th Jul 2006, 12:19am

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er-no

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Gnome326 wrote:

I think the industry is just looking for the people who will make them the most ammount of money.
The film industry isn't fun or easy.

Lies whoever says different. Imo unsure
Posted: Thu, 20th Jul 2006, 8:36am

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devilskater

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Hi there,

I am going to SAE, which is a Audio/Creative Media (css, java, html, etc...etc...)/ Digital Film College.

It is really cool, because it is internationally recognized by the industry check it out @ www.sae.edu

I am going to get a free macbook pro and a powermac at the college. They are going to teach us Maya, Softimage XSi, Avid ...

But the great thing about this "school" is that they fligh in pros from the industry to teach us the various programms.

You can do a Diploma which takes you 2 years to do
OR
You can do the bachelor Degree on top of that...which would take another year. Here you will learn about legal issues, etc..etc..
------------------------------
Total: 33 months (approx.)

The reason why its such a short time is because you only have 4 weeks holiday !!! Thats the only bummer.

cheers,
d.