View Full Version : School or no School? that is the real question

04 April 2005, 04:23 AM
Okay so I am in sort of a predicament. I am 22 live in Washington and I went to school in 3d. Iíve been playing with 3d for the past 6 years and do to a bike accident I hurt my back and working on the computer day in and day out, it hurts. I love movies and have been making silly little movies with my puny high8 camera for fun and enjoy it a lot, and then I took a small class in video/audio editing and figure out that I really enjoy filming shit and wanted to get into it as a career. I know nothing about filming, I bought several book on script writing and have been writing small scripts and filming them with my high8L.

I got accepted to both VFS and Brooks Institute of Photography. I have read a lot of person comments about both and there are a lot of pros and con<usually from people that didnít put much into the school and came out with nothing and wonder why>. I donít want to start an argument so if you can mostly post Pros and I can just judge on the most pros and feasible pros, without people throwing personal attacks at each other<its just not fun when that shit goes down>. Or should I just take the money and film shit till I get some sort of job out there, I donít know if there are any film studios out here. If I go that route I would like to know of some really awesome books out there and really helped people and or tutorials I found one forum that had some really good books, if we can get a mod out there to write up a stick with some awesome books and tutorials that would be riotous and easier to find through this forum. I would really like to upgrade my camera<I am sorry but I donít thing the 8 will cut it. I see a lot of technology being thrown around, but I still donít know what to get I donít wanna throw down 10k for something thatís crap and I could have gotten something betterJ. Well thanks ahead for all the help you pros can help me with, I really appreciate it.


04 April 2005, 04:26 AM
oops it failed soo i sent it again not know it posted already, soo if a mod can delete this one that would be awesome

Ed Bittner
04 April 2005, 11:29 AM
All you need is Robert Rodriguez's 10 minute film school.


04 April 2005, 11:58 AM
that's a good start. I don't recommend going to a school. It has pro an cons obiouvsly. I didn't attended a cinema school (i've done one year of photography and 4 of generic graphics nut not drawing) and now i'm learning by doing, often if you attend a school you may think that this is all that you have to know. wrong. A school (at least to me) gives you an idea of what you can find out but only you can learn those things right. What school gives you can find in a (very) good photography book (well it can be everything...directing, writing, etc). Most important is practice. Practice makes perfect (or close to perfection ;) )
Go out, make crappy movies, make photos. With time you'll make less crappy things. If you can find a production company and propose yourself as a runner (little or no money at the beginning). Well maybe it's a little bit hard for your back but you'll learn A LOT in therms of materials used, peoples, how to behave on a set (VERY IMPORTANT!!!), who did what and how. Nobody's perfect and with time you can improove yourself.

Hope this helps

--> stupid thing: please correct my writing mistakes, this will help me with my english <--

04 April 2005, 11:10 PM
What school gives you (hopefully) is a good background and plenty of time to experiment. You could also experiment on your own, but if you're not in school you might feel more pressured to earn an income and thus not have time to experiment.

On the whole, there's not very much you could learn at school that you can't learn on your own, but a good school can have good teachers who might offer certain insights not readily available in other forms. And a good school will have a good structure to the learning, rather than the haphazard education you might get on your own. I find that a great deal of people who say "you don't need film school" don't really have too much of an understanding of the art of film. They tend to talk about how much The Matrix "rocks," and how you should just get a camera and start filming. I'm trying to think if any of them have actually gone on to become great filmmakers but none are coming to mind.

The technology breakthrough that lets people from all walks of life make a movie doesn't mean that everyone can do it-- I know how to type and use MS Word but I can't write a novel... I can use a pencil but I can't draw. Tools are only a small portion of the battle.

Now, when I talk about film school being worthwhile, I don't mean just any film school. Do some research and find a good one. For example, the one I went to in New York has churned out a LOT of successful filmmakers-- at least when I was there-- such as Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots), Hal Hartley (Trust, No Such Thing), Danny Leiner (Dude, Where's My Car-- Danny wasn't a film student but he was part of our gang), E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire, Suspect Zero), Nick Gomez (episodes of The Shield, The Sopranos), Eric Mendelsohn (Judy Berlin-- Sundance winner), Alexandra Koch (Senior VP of Feature Production at Paramount). Those are off the top of my head, and in the acting department there are a lot more big sucesses, the biggest ones being Edie Falco, Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, and Stanley Tucci.

Are there successful filmmakers who didn't go to film school? You bet, especially in the days before there *was* such a thing (though USC has had a film program since the 30's I think). It just takes a very serious comittment, and for most people it's tough. For myself I can say that at the very least if it weren't for film school I'd have never gotten into Keaton, Chaplin, Langdon, and so many other great filmmakers.

If you want to start your education now, go watch every classic film you can get your hands on; everything before 1960. Not that there are no classic films after that (Lawrence of Arabia, for example, the film that made Steven Spielberg want to make movies), but you've probably seen them already and they're easier to find. Watch Buster Keaton (especially Sherlock Jr., though the DVD has a lousy score), Chaplin (The Circus is a great "first" film to watch), John Ford, Michael Curtiz, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles (I prefer The Magnificent Ambersons to Kane but it's not on DVD yet), Lubitch, Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, David Lean, Murnau, Griffith, Frank Capra, etc. And whenever possible try to see them in a theater, which is usually only possible in larger cities though. At least watch them with like-minded friends rather than alone. (And give them some time-- they don't usually start with an exciting teaser like films do today, such as the Bond or Indiana Jones films.)

I think film school is a good idea, but I'm also a huge fan of the "2 Day Film School" that you've probably seen advertised. Despite the fact that I went to a very good film school, I learned a LOT from that class (I've actually taken it twice). It's more of a "producer school" than a "filmmaker school" so it doesn't really overlap with traditional film school (at least not with mine). I highly recommend it. (


04 April 2005, 05:08 AM
i agree with fwtep's point of view. may be film school not give us anything we want but the most important thing that, the good teachers would show us the way we can adopt.

In any art fields, there isn't got any truly, and only way lead to success but with the basic we got from the school we can know what is suitable for the things we want.

so i think if we have chance, we should learn in school. at least, with the knowledge there, we can jink the uncalled-for mistakes.

04 April 2005, 07:25 AM
Thanks you for all your input, I am pondering going to VFS over Brooks cause VFS is only a year long and seams like a good chance to get my feet wet. Brooks is 3 years, year around, that is a long time and a lot of money, I might just get those 6 dvds i heard about on this site, sound greats and way cheapper if they teahc me all the goods:)

05 May 2005, 08:47 AM
I did a three year apprenticeship as a film editor, which was a combination of 2 weeks of work and one week of school. The most advantage was the possibility to use the technical equipment both of the school and the company I was working at. Not to mention the technical an artistic know-how of teachers, other class-mates and colleagues, always usefull.
The most disandvantage was the fact that I was underpayed pretty much and some lessons in school were just a waste of time. I never visited the english lessons and having a teacher in the picture composition/design-course whose knowledge about FX in feature films ends with 'Metropolis' and who don't knows the Bullet-Time-Effect is definitly not top of the pops.

Go for a school and teach yourself beside that in the fields you maybe feel not covered in school. Last but not least, the contacts you make there are an extra bonus in the film business.

05 May 2005, 07:50 PM
Well, the safest course of action would be to enroll for a cheap'n'short nightclass in filmmaking. If its only two hours for one night a week for 10 weeks( thats a mouthful! ), its worth it. You get to meet others, learn a little and get a taster for the real thing. But most importantly of all you can decide for yourself whether it is the path for you.

If you give a try and don't like it, then maybe you get on quicker by teaching yourself... :shrug:

05 May 2005, 01:39 AM
Brooks Institute of Photography....

First of all, this is one of those questions that only you can answer. At 22, you've still got time either way.

It's expensive, but if you are good you will be noticed. I was a graphics designer without a degree for many years. Going back to school didn't give me any magic pill, but it did give me access to equipment far beyond what I could buy and actors more talented (and willing) than my friends.

It is what you make of it, but unless you have a way to intern where you are at now... Brooks Institute of Photography is worth at least checking in to. Personally I've found my knowledge in computers has helped me as a filmmaker, and my knowledge as a filmmaker has helped me in 3d.

You might also check out:
They are all people more on the camera side of things than 3d, and such a question always gets a myriad of responses.


05 May 2005, 05:32 AM
i'm totally agree with fwtep.

i would like to add two thoughts:
1. school gives you also perfect environment! you dedicating 100% time
to study, you always in contact with people like you, it gives you
ideas, help, equipment... i agree that it is hard to teach film, so
than you go to school you have to understand that first of all you
doing this for environment that you CAN'T create with books! i saw at
school a lot people complaining about bad teachers or no structure
program, but they miss all point of perfect situation for creating
films with free help and get feedback from teachers /students.
2. To be successful you have to have two thing: POSITIVE ATTITUDE and
PASSION, trust me if you have this two - it does not matter which way
you choose, you will be VERY successful. PASSION will help you to
create films in anyways, POSITIVE ATTITUDE will help you to learn and
meet people. I saw many very talented people sitting and doing nothing
- nothing help them not books, not schools. But I saw ordinary people
with PASSION keep filming, reading, studying, trying, editing, sending
to festivals and reaching their dreams!

Good luck.
p.s. check "The Screenwriter's Bible" by David Trottier

leova (

05 May 2005, 03:12 PM
Another great book is David Freeman's "Creating emotions in games". It discusses "techniques" to put emotion in games, but almost all concepts works with film writing. It discusses about character traits to create emotion, interactions with other characters to create emotion, etc... I found it really helpfull, it's all little tricks to enhance your story.

And about school, I really think it's almost useless, without adding the fact that you'll drown under big debts. Shcool don't "garantee a job", only With books and now Internet, it's easy to learn alot, but as mentionned above, but the best thing is watching movies with an anlalyst eye. Try to understand the director's decissions about every aspect of the movie, cause behind everything you see or hear, there's got to be a decision. Then, with a home computer and a little camcorder, you can make good short movie with not much money. So do movies and be creative. That's something school can't teach...imagination.

05 May 2005, 09:33 PM
Ed Bittner, i must thank you for posting that link, that was seriously a boost of confidence. Im 19 in clevelnd, im dirt poor lol. I can hardly manage at the community college, yet i go wild on my mac and the software i can get from there. And when i found out what films that guy worked on i nearly had a heart attack.

i agree with the everyones films will look the same, ive always loved those movies they mentioned because theyre so different.

05 May 2005, 10:40 PM
Ed Bittner, i must thank you for posting that link, that was seriously a boost of confidence. Im 19 in clevelnd, im dirt poor lol. I can hardly manage at the community college, yet i go wild on my mac and the software i can get from there. And when i found out what films that guy worked on i nearly had a heart attack.

i agree with the everyones films will look the same, ive always loved those movies they mentioned because theyre so different.Hmmm... Rodriguez says film school isn't necessary, yet he went here:

I went there too and it was absolutely great, even though I did go to regular film school too (the two don't generally overlap).


05 May 2005, 01:49 AM
Thanks guys, I found a school here in seattle, called seattle film institute, I am think about goin I just got a packets of info from them today. I am thinking about making an appointment to take a tour. The cool thing is that I can afford it without going into debt and its only a year too. It sounds like they have a pretty good internship network from around seattle and LA, whish is a plus in my book:)


06 June 2005, 01:54 AM
I also have focused myself on filmmaking since last month. I am going to try and get into a 4 year filmschool to get a BA in Audiovisual Media. The big advantages for me would be the environment, I don't know anyone around here that I could work together with, school gives me a lot of fellow students to do projects with. It also let's you get the taste of the workfloor. And you will learn interviewing techniques which you can use for character research, you will learn about history that could give you ideas for movies. Way I see it, I'll be loaded with information there, some may limit creativity and some may be useless, but it also means I could get to learn things that inspire me and that gives me new insights I can use. School here isn't very expensive, I am in the Netherlands and it would cost around 10k for the 4 years, so I don't risk being in debt for many many years so it's a bit easier for me.

On the side I will read books, follow courses like the 2 day movie school mentioned here, and do a lot of practise, lot of trial and error.

I used to be someone who was very pessimistic about schools, there is reason to be pessimestic, but now I just want to focus on the things that do help me and just try to make the most of the things that I find a bit useless personally instead of dropping classes. And if I feel there's more I need to know about a subject there are plenty of books.

one thing you have to consider when making the choise to follow a filmschool or not is whether you will be motivated enough to make the most out of it. If you don't feel motivated then you might as well not spend the money and spend it on something you are motivated for. The brain doesn't really store information well when you're not motivated or when you're feeling bad.

06 June 2005, 06:25 AM
id be careful about investing too much into a school. I was all down because i couldnt afford to go into any real school. A friend of mine is down in florida at Full Sail...this snooty trade college. Hes in it for recording arts. Theyre pricks, teaching him you go based on bands looks rather their talent....totally regretting going..anyways, he paid attention to the film students...So far, a bunch that graduated are still comming back complaining that they cant get a job..and theyre like "guaranteed" a job. He also tells me down in florida by him, alot of small businesses would take video editors. They dont want the full sail and some other college because they dont add creativity to it. That really made my day there.

He says, ALL the movies are the same. They got that ...all similar plot lines, looks, everything. He said the tapes my little brother made when he was 8 years old were more interesting to watch than these films. You could predict each one. Its like they eah follow specific steps into making a movie.

On that note, me, my bro and some freinds...decided to make a demo tape, and enter into the americas Funniest 3 minute short contest. However after thinking, writting scripts, passing it around...its gonna be way too inappropriate to show on ABC (even if we did win) Its be a more saturday nite live/comedy central kinda level. So instead, wer just gonna do it anyway. My part is basically make it as pro as posseble...if we get rejected, whatever, we're going to send copies all over, just for fun. If someone likes it hey they can mail us. if not, oh well.

I think a demo reel would be more important. Tape of like 10-15 minute shorts. Wer gonna do a movie thats just nonstop action, shooting, "real" plot, just to see how good can we make it useing airsoft guns and a powermac.

06 June 2005, 07:10 AM
yea i think I am goin to go to seattle film institute , I think I need to go to school to keep me motivated, I dont think I will be able to teach myself and stay with it. SFI is only around 17k which i can handle. I would love to start making small films of my own but i dont have a good camera, and dont know what one to get, and if i could go to school i can figure this stuff out.


06 June 2005, 07:43 AM
are you quitting 3D because you hurt your back or because you want to make movies/tell stories visually?

if the latter...

why not use 3D to make movies like Ultraviolent ( or Kaze ( ? Doing it the traditional way will only limit you. For example, there is no way you can create a spectacular sci-fi epic the traditional way without a multi-million budget. Just look at Timothy Albee (creator of Kaze)... he created a 22-minute movie in 6 months with a 5,000$ budget. Now he has his own studio and two feature films in the making.

i think you are taking a step backwards... but that is just my humble opinion.

06 June 2005, 08:10 AM
I dont see how this will me taking a step backwards, i look at it more like taking a few steps forwards expanding my horizons. I dont want to make any spectacular sci-fi epic, I dont like any soo why would I want to make any. I just cant sit at the computer for hours on end I need to step away.


06 June 2005, 09:07 AM
I dont want to make any spectacular sci-fi epic

It was just an example... if you want to make a movie with five people sitting around a table chatting, you can do that with modern computer technology as well. You don't need cameras, live actors etc. to get an idea or a story across.

expanding my horizons.

Sure. But if your goal is to tell stories visually why don't you use the experience you have in 3D? Continue from where you are now and take yourself to the next level. People who have to try something new all the time; people who have to constantly expand their horizons, never end up being truly good at something.

Going to a traditional film school seems so yesterday.

Terrence Walker quote:

Independent animation is growing at phenomenal levels and artists all around the world are finding the power to make their dreams into fully animated productions using the latest in digital technology. Be a part of the revolution...

06 June 2005, 07:15 PM
read this;

Succesful screenwriter John August answers the same question here.

06 June 2005, 07:21 PM
thats what i like about 3D, your only limited to your imagination. Id probably experiment more that way if i was better at 3D, but my place is 2D. What else is great about 3D, in any movie, you can destroy a building, blow up your house, crash a car...without spending a dime.

Dont worry about a camera, so what? Im using a cheapo 500$ miniDV camera. It isnt even 3CCD. I bought it before i knew about all this tech stuff. I just throw it in AEFX and run magic bullet over it. You dont need a fancy camera

Watch "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" thats a robert rodreguez movie. If you look closely, u can tell many many scenes are miniDV, not film. It took me 3 or 4 times to notice, and thats only after a friend of mine told me on the DVD they show it was really low budget. Then again there were some big actors.

Really it isnt hard to get noticecd. This girl i was supposed to work for, built up this huge reputation. She went out and bought a canon Gl2, wrote all these (rather lousy) scripts. Shot 2 movies. Lots of people knew about her. Funny thing is, shes never finished a darn thing in her life. I offered to edit/author/spfx all her stuff, and she was alll for it. Only got really flaky and disappeared, yet she appeared in the newspaper, had all kind of people calling her. Why? because she worked up this reputaion. I fell for it. So im probably gonna do the same, only make sure i have something to back myself.

06 June 2005, 09:00 PM
I dont understand why people are goin crazy about me wanted to d film. I never said I was going to leave 3d forever I just dont want to do it as a job, I just play in it as a hobby and that all I want to do with it. I will mostlike add 3d to my stort films cause i have that ability and now goin to leanr live action i have expanded my horizons and can merge the two, but you guys think this is a bad thing? I dont want to make an all 3d movie i want to learn live action and I can make a car blow up in 3d and add it if I want, I am not losing anything. I just dont wanna make a toystory or a shrek I want to go out there and film stuff i like goin camping or on a raod trip and taking my little crappy handycam and filmin shit, I enjoy it way more than sitting at my computer day and not for years. So i dont see the point of your arguement you present me, about leaving 3d is a bad choice<which I am not its just a hobby>.


06 June 2005, 03:32 AM
Well you asked... I'm just giving you my opinion. You are at the brink of a revolution in independent computer animation. Present your movie in animť form - even adults love it. If your story is good enough, Hollywood will be kissing your feet. Then you will have your live action film.

I want to go out there and film stuff i like goin camping or on a raod trip and taking my little crappy handycam and filmin shit

Well, sounds like another hobby. Be careful everything doesn't end up as "just another hobby." :)

Good luck - whatever you choose.

06 June 2005, 04:13 AM
IMO, taking the cam everywhere and filming is all too common. Kinda like home movies. You got that story with those preteen posers sponsored by cocacola, then you got every possible nockoff of CKY/Jackass out there.

Me, i dont even edit "home movies" I have lilke a separate miniDV tape/VHS tape just all home movie junk. Then theres the edited final product tapes that are projects/experiments.

06 June 2005, 04:33 AM
IMO, taking the cam everywhere and filming is all too common. Kinda like home movies. You got that story with those preteen posers sponsored by cocacola, then you got every possible nockoff of CKY/Jackass out there.

yea I hate those documenty/ hurt urself style home movies, thats why i dont make them. Like i go camping with a bunch of friends and we makes littles scripts and make short films. and making a 10min 3d short takes way to much time compared to making a live action. and I like adding my own effects and 3d shit, but i cant sit down and and make a whole movie even 10min all in 3d i get bored and it would take me years, but when i film i get into it, and find it more fun. And I make over 40k a year soo i can live with another hobby i dont care if its a hobby or a new career. I love to learn new stuff and this is another chance for me to learn more and I think this will help with my 3d work too if I come back full time to that.


06 June 2005, 07:04 AM
i hate those kinda kids! (the hurt urself documentry kind) makes me look bad when i have my camera

06 June 2005, 07:02 PM
If you live in California, Californa State University Long Beach has a good film school leading to a BA in Film and Electronic Arts. If you transfer from community college the program will only take you 2 years and being a state university it isn't that expensive. Steven Speilberg got his degree from the school. The only thing though, its tuff to get in the program. You have to summit work like a script, short film, paper on a film or television series, and you have to go for an oral interview. You also have to have at least a 3.0 GPA. They only accept 45 new students a year but for the price the program cannot be beat.

On the subject of home made animation there is one called "Voices of a Distant Star". It was done my a Japanese man on a PowerMac G4 and took him 7 months to do a 30 minute OVA(original video animation), thats what they call direct to video anime. Here is a link:
I've seen it before and found it very good. Nice blend of 2D and CG animation and the story was better than half the crap out there and really enjoyable. This and Kaze got me interested in CG and Filmmaking.

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