Throughout my entire career, I’ve heard this familiar refrain: what’s the point in going to film school? After all, film school is expensive and why shouldn’t you just spend that money making a film and learning like that. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of smart people saying that maybe that’s a good idea. I saw Ted Hope twitter this sentiment last week. It comes up in Lloyd Kaufman’s book, Produce Your Own Damn Movie, which is otherwise full of wisdom.
Look, film school has value, but even if it didn’t, living in America (living ANYWHERE!) without a college education is like living without legs.
Let’s be clear about this: if university is an option at all, you need to go. Lloyd Kaufman went to Yale. Ted Hope went to NYU. I don’t know what the fuck they are talking about when they say skip school.
Tarantino loves to go on about this shit, because he never went to film school and he’s so “filmy” that clearly working in a video store is somehow as valuable as a University education. Why wouldn’t he think that? He never went to university.
The cost of education can be pretty expensive. The value of education is impossible to measure.
If you are interested in film, go to film school. Film has a short, but rich, history. Film is an art as well as a craft. There is a lot to learn – believe me, I learned it! The time you spend among your peers discussing films and life will form your character. The people you meet will become lifelong friends and a lot of them will be running the film companies in ten or fifteen years.
I do not recommend going somewhere that is solely a film school, ie. a film school that is not attached to a university, unless you’ve already gone to a university. A filmmaker needs to know about everything, and there is no way you will learn anything with a broad education. If going to university taught me anything, it taught me how to learn, and how to educate myself. It taught me how to live in this society and have the confidence to do anything.
It’s hard to understand why an education is important when you don’t have one, so let me put it like this. Let’s say you had never tasted Chinese food, you would never know if it’s good or not. But then you tasted it, and you discovered that it is good. Your menu just opened up. Now you have another option in your life that’s been there all your life, but you didn’t know it was there. And it’s full of flavor and now there’s this whole menu and culture that you’ve just discovered and can explore. Or not. Maybe you hated it, but now that option is there.
That’s education. It’s there if you want it. Or just sit in your room and rent videos.