Spoiler Alert: it depends (duh)
Ok, so… Since this is probably the prelude to humanity’s twilight and we are slowly continuing to descend into pandemic-induced madness, it is no wonder the Trump administration is ignoring the all-encompassing chaos, pushing hard for simultaneously reopening schools while trying to kick out all international students under the pretense that they don’t need to be in the US to have classes.
With the current finantial crisis and the rise of online teaching, with the most expensive schools in the world inexplicably maintain the same tuition cost, higher education is loosing a lot of its allure. Sure, physicians, engineers, lawyers have no escape, but what about chefs, writers or filmmakers? Do they need to go through all the student-loan-life-long-debt routine?
More than ever, that is being put into question and newsflash: I got a hot take to share.
I currently work with content production and screenwriting, even going so far as joining some really cool audiovisual production companies before going array into a more research-oriented path that includes shows for kids, studies about neofascism and the essay you are now reading.
I didn’t go to fim school per se, but I have a media studies MA, a bachelors in social sciences and a certificate in cultural production + a vast knowledge of Youtube channels that dissect films ( a.k.a the skill to spend a shameful amount of time on the internet), so I don’t know if I have credibility to talk about this, but hell, I got some opinions.
Here is the deal: there are different types of filmmakers and different types of learners. Audiovisual production is an amazing group effort, counting on screenwriters, producers, editors, accountants etc… If you don’t care about content and you just want to be there, on the set, doing cool stuff, perhaps you don’t need to go to school.
If you are one of those people who are practical, pragmatic and more interested in engaging with the act of making movies than the formal justification behind creative choices, maybe school is not for you. Maybe what you need is a practical laboratory to launch you into the industry. The only hiccup is that to be successful on that route it will take the abillity to search for things out of your comfort zone and the notion that you know nothing (Jon Snow) and probably will suffer in the low ranks of audiovisual production for a really long time before making the connections and gaining the experience to insert yourself into truly inspiring projects.
I am not one to believe that simply throwing yourself into a set will necessarily make you a great audiovisual professional. It takes a specific type of a learner, an independent, proactive, hungry kind, to take advantage of this more practical hands-on path. I for one, especially when considering my straight-out-of-high-school-self ,would have taken little to no advantage of this setting had I not been subject to the structured, discipline-building, invoironment school offered me.
That takes us to the second type of learner: if you do not have the discipline to be a self-taught kid that will proactively get yourself the education you need, searching for a formal education – be it college or a different institution – might help to guide you for a while.
Also if you, like me, thrives in an educational setting, wants to understand how to do research, needs to know a little bit about the world before jumping into a practical lane with all its demands, maybe school is for you.
I spent most of high-school longing for the sweet relief of death, so going to college actually kind of saved me. It showed me that I can survive academia and learn new things and that I’m not as stupid as I thought I was.
So here is the deal: Sure, research hot “should you go to film school?” videos on youtube, reddit threads, whatever, but I would advocate for a more nuanced perspective on this. One that makes the reader ask what they need at this point in their lives. There are formal education alternatives to spending sixty thousand dollars a year to learn how to commit to deadlines and study daily and what a jump cut is, so independently of your finantial situation the dilemma still stands:
Should you go to film school?