Should You Go To Film School?

If you’re just starting out as a filmmaker, deciding if you should attend a traditional film school is something you need to decide. And it’s a costly decision – some of my friends here in Los Angeles are over fifty-thousand dollars in debt.

While most of my friends value having a college education, all agree that having a  film school degree will not guarantee success in Hollywood. Like any industry, becoming successful requires passion, commitment and hard work.

Last year, I was introduced to filmmaker Seth Hymes. When he was in high school, he worked as Production Assistant, Sound Tech and an Editor. After high school, he went off to film school. In fact, he graduated from NYU with honors. From there, he was an editor for Fox News Channel and also managed to get two features into production.

So I sat down with Seth and asked him some questions about his experience.

Jason Brubaker
Seth. After visiting your website and chatting, you seem to have an interesting perspective on formal film school education. What are your thoughts? Is there any value in film school?

Seth Hymes
No, there isn’t. And it’s a great question. What does “value” mean? It means that something adds merit or worth to your life for a reasonable cost. A lot of people say things like “you learn the basics” and it’s a “good place to experiment”.

Jason Brubaker
So in your experience, you think film school is over priced?

Seth Hymes
Well, in film school, you write a check for $100,000. In return, they give you a $2,000 video camera and tell you how to push the on button. Are you going to learn something? Sure. Is it valuable? No. There is no value in learning basic technical concepts for an obscene mark up in cost.

Jason Brubaker
In the past, students enrolled in film school because held the promise of networking, as well as access to equipment. You’re saying this sort of stuff is no longer relevant?

Seth Hymes
The 3 main “values” of film school are no longer relevant. They are, access to equipment, lessons in filmmaking craft and connections. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when people like Lucas, Scorsese, and Spike Lee went to film school, it was probably a good investment. You couldn’t just pick up a high quality HD camera and start shooting. Filmmaking equipment cost a ton of money and was hard to find. You really couldn’t learn about things like continuity and storyboarding without either apprenticing with a filmmaker or going to school. And it was a good place to meet other creative professionals.

Jason Brubaker
But all of that has changed.

Seth Hymes
Yeah. If you look at today, High Definition filmmaking equipment costs less than a semester at most film schools. The craft of filmmaking, from lighting, editing, shot composition, writing – all of it is available to learn on websites like yours, as well as other sites all over the net. And these days, most connections happen through the net. And further, many new filmmakers find their agents because they produce a short and get some heat on youtube, rather than meeting them in school.

Jason Brubaker
Sort of a silly question. But would you recommend that anybody attends film school?

Seth Hymes
I do not recommend anybody attend film school. It is an unholy waste of money and time. And not only are the schools making a huge profit, they also neglect to teach their grads about anything of real value or importance when it comes to having a career in the business. Things like real networking, fundraising, or film distribution.

Jason Brubaker
So instead of film school, what suggestions do you have for any students who is considering a degree in filmmaking?

Seth Hymes
If you’re considering film school, here’s the litmus test. If it’s a community college or vocational school where classes are anywhere from $60 to $1000, go for it. If anyone is charging more than that, they are making an obscene profit and should be dismissed outright. You will be mocked within the film business for attending such an institution. Instead, I recommend that students save their money, buy their own equipment, and learn how to shoot their own movie.

These days, filmmakers can learn everything you need to know in a week or less.

Jason Brubaker
Reading your posts on other websites and the comments that follow, I can see why some filmmakers, especially the filmmakers sitting on film school debt can get a little emotional with your perspective.

Seth Hymes
Most film school grads and filmmakers agree with me, but there are a few haters. Some people hate hearing the truth. It’s hard for some people to admit they got hosed out of $100K, but the consensus everywhere is that film school is a waste.

Jason Brubaker
I took a look at your website. Tell us what you teach there.

Seth Hymes
I teach people first, exactly why places like NYU are a complete joke and secondly, what to do instead of film school. There’s a lot of pressure to go to college, and I understand that. My book “Film Fooled” is a powerful reality check, a class by class account of NYU’s film curriculum to help people realize that no, they are not missing out on anything by skipping film school.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like you think film schools should improve their curriculum.

Seth Hymes
Yeah. I get into the stuff they should be teaching in schools. Mainly, how to be taken seriously as a director from day one, how to get on real film sets, meet real working filmmakers, write feature scripts, manage a set, hire film students, and get seen. Anyone taking my course will be 4 years ahead of any film school student in just a week.

Jason Brubaker
Ok. So tell us about your online film course.

Seth Hymes
Ok. To find out more about my courseware at Film School Secrets, prospective filmmakers can Click Here!

Jason Brubaker
Thanks for stopping by Seth.

Seth Hymes
Thanks for having me.

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Learn Filmmaking Without The Fluff

As a filmmaker, you may start your career learning how to fetch coffee.

As a filmmaker, one of your first jobs might be fetching coffee. Image via Wikipedia

When I was first starting my filmmaking career, I thought long and hard about the prospect of film school. At the time, I figured a degree from one of the top film schools would increase my odds of garnering success. Now, after having worked in the game for awhile, I can honestly tell you that very few people, if any, have asked me where I went to film school.

Here are 5 Filmmaking Tips So You Can Learn Filmmaking Without The Fluff:

  1. Your Film School Degree Will Collect Dust: Nobody cares where you went to school. They just care if you can contribute value to their professional lives and their movie projects. (By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to college. I’m just saying that unless you plan on becoming a film professor – get a degree in business.)
  2. Learn How To Sell: In the film business, people with sales skills can write their own ticket. Start learning how to sell.
  3. Your Material Rules: Control good material and you’ll have something to sell. What is good material? Great screenplays. Seriously most screenplays suck. If you’re confused about this one, refer back to #2
  4. Be Nice To Everyone: The PA fetching coffee today will control your job tomorrow. (Or one day, in addition to making movies, he might just own one of the most prolific filmmaking website in the world.)
  5. Don’t Ask Permission: I say this over and over, but many of you are still knocking on doors, hoping that somebody will discover you. Don’t do that. Unless you have GREAT MATERIAL, that everybody wants, chances are nobody cares about your movie project more than you.

Anyway – If you like these tips and want more of them, I am giving away my latest book for free. I do this because it helps you avoid all my silly filmmaking mistakes. And it helps me promote myself. To claim your free Filmmaking Book, go here:

www.FreeFilmmakingBook.com

If you like this filmmaking stuff, make sure you tell your friends that Los Angeles based indie producer, Jason Brubaker gives away some great filmmaking stuff!

1 Week Movie

Screenshot from Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip...
Image via Wikipedia

Time is money. You’ve heard this. We all have. And if you’re not a huge film production company with a big budget, then getting your movie in the can sooner, rather than later, could mean the difference between success and failure. Many film schools teach students to become efficient with time. But when you’re working with your own money, renting your own equipment from local video production companies and casting your own film, the expenses add up. Get behind schedule, and you run the risk of draining your bank account.

I’m a big believer in making movies as quickly as possible. To do this, you’ll need to plan everything in advance. And I mean everything. You’ll need a plan A, plan B and a plan C. And just to challenge you a bit more – you’ll want to ask yourself how to make a movie in 1 week without compromising safety or quality.

Possible? Yes.