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Is A Film Degree Worth It? Do You Need It or Is It Useless and a Total Waste of Time?

Is a Film Degree Worth It? Or Is It Useless?


You may wonder – is majoring in film is worth it or not? Along the way, you’ll meet people who think that going to a film school is a total waste of time, and people who think that formal education is necessary.

If you try to listen to each and every argument they make, you will realize that they do have a point. But does this apply to you as well? That’s something you need to find out for yourself.

While I can’t tell you exactly whether going to cinematography studies will benefit you or not, there are a few things you need to consider if you want to make an informed decision. That is what we will be talking about today.

What You Need to Know About Film Schools

If you want to know whether it is worth going into film studies, then here are some things you need to be aware of:

  • Theoretical foundation

It goes without saying that attending formal school, regardless of the kind of degree you are pursuing, lays out a good foundation for your future career. This is the point where you are taught the how’s and why’s of cinematography, something difficult to find in free online resources.

But, is this even important for filmmakers?

The answer is: Yes, or maybe not. It is very important if you want to understand everything about the process of creating film and everything that flows within the entire art.

In order to appreciate the craft wholeheartedly, you will need to know something about its history, how it was done in the past, how they are doing it today, and how it may be done in the near future. All these things will make a well-rounded person in this competitive industry.

It may not be of much significance if you just fancy creating film to let out your creative side, like just filming for the sake of filming. Bottom line is, whether it’s important or not depends on what route you want to take as an enthusiast.

  • Experienced teachers

I’m not saying you can’t learn from various professional and experienced teachers without getting into film studies. What I want to point out is that at school, you will have a personal encounter with these mentors.

It will be easier to interact with them and throw out all the questions you want to hear answers of. You can even openly talk to them about your ideas and seek guidance whether it will work or not.

Also, you get the chance to first hand the actual experiences of your mentors. I mean, at one point or another, they are bound to share actual things that they went through to give you some sort of motivation or drive, right?

So this a unique advantage of attending formal studies about your craft.

  • Social network

Without a doubt, this industry is built on connections, connections and stronger connections. There is no denying this. Though it is quite a hard pill to swallow for some, it has been this way ever since. They say that if you want to make it big here, you will need to keep building connections as much as you can.

The thing with attending school is that you can get into a social network without putting so much effort in doing so. Your teachers, classmates, teachers, batchmates, schoolmates, and everyone you meet during the entire duration of your studies will make up your network.

Though it may not feel significant at the moment, later in the future you will find this very essential to keep your career afloat.

For all you know, someone in your social network makes it big before you do. In the end, they might be the very person that could help you achieve the same success. So as much as possible, use this opportunity to build strong and friendly connections among the people you meet at a college or university.

  • Sandbox environment

Another good thing about film school is that it allows you to practice in a sandbox environment. And this is more important than you can imagine. This is the part where trying and failing wouldn’t hurt you as much as it will do in the actual battlefield.

But, will this be really helpful, you ask?

Certainly it is. In the real setting, one mistake could turn the tables in the worst possible way, and that is the last thing you will want, trust me. You don’t want to risk doing trial and error in the real setting because that might have a huge impact on your career.

I’m not saying you need to be perfect for the industry to recognize your talents. What I’m trying to say is that as much as you can, keep mistakes minimal to make your professional portfolio look more appealing. This is the only way you’ll get more projects, honestly.

However in college, you will have less serious consequences when you fail after attempting something. In turn, this will make you learn a lot about the craft so that you are better prepared when you go out into the actual industry.

What the school and your mentors do is to give you the chance to practice and try until you get the results you desire. And personally speaking, this is a really good opportunity to develop yourself into the kind of filmmaker that you want to be. It is also the safest way.

  • Cost of schooling

This is the biggest drawback of getting a degree. Studying for 2 or 4 years will need financial resources.

Some said college fees could range from $100,000 to $200,000 for the entire course duration. This is also true for Canadian film institutions, especially for international students. That is quite a large sum of money right there.

(Though the filmmaking programs in Germany seem to be a lot cheaper.)

In any case, if you think about it, you can already invest in a lot of good filmography equipment you will need to jump start your career. Plus, there are still other fees you need to cover like projects.

So if you think this is too much, there are other ways you can learn about this craft. There are online lessons (something like a crash course) to help you get started. And they are certainly cheaper than attending school. 

But of course, there are some trade-offs if you choose to do it this way. Network will already be out of question and you have to work hard for it on your own. But if you are confident that you already got connections on your own, you’ll be fine with these online lessons honestly.

  • Future job opportunities

What jobs can you get with a film degree? One of the reasons why people don’t want to invest in formal studies about cinematography is because it’s expensive with lower career opportunities.

The industry itself is already very competitive, and only a few projects to work on for the entire year. True, the industry collectively has over thousands of scripts and stories coming in and out, but about 70% of this will end up getting rejected by investors for a variety of reasons.

So if you are planning to go into film studies and invest resources in tuition and college fees, you might need to consider this one first.

Do You Need a Degree in Film?

So, is a film degree useless? Or do you need it? Well, whether cinematography is worth it or not depends on what kind of filmmaker you want to be.

If you want to really know about the nitty gritty details of the entire process of filmmaking, then the school can certainly give that to you.

But if you don’t have financial resources to cover the too expensive fees and just want to create movies regardless, then it will benefit you more to enroll in affordable online courses about your craft. After all, in this industry what matters is your creative skills and not the academic background.

Note: A degree is not a requirement for success in this field, but it definitely gives you a head start. So, is a film degree worth it? Your call.

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