I speak for all the undergrad film majors when I say the struggle is real. I graduated from Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater in 2011 majoring in Film & Media Arts and minoring in Business. In my four years there, I had to learn the hard way about making my way through the program and putting my new skills and expertise to work. I’m not going to lie though; I have zero regrets and I love the hustle mentality that I’ve adapted over the years!
So here I am, sharing my experiences and tips from my years as a student. Hopefully they resonate with those who are film school too!
- Upon graduation, you need to move to a location that offers a film/TV production tax credit.
- I moved to Toronto at the end of the summer after I graduated so I didn’t necessarily have to worry about this right away, but I did once I moved back to the Philadelphia area. Meanwhile, others in my cohort who stayed local may not have known that the allocation of funds to film/TV production tax benefits was in jeopardy due to the recession. (Sadly, those benefits are no longer present…but who knows what the future holds?) In a location where there is an official office dedicated to providing resources for film and television productions, there is a lot more job security in finding work; it draws production companies and provides job opportunities.
- 95% of the technology you will use will be obsolete by the time you graduate.
- Woo! I’m still pressed about this. MacBook Pro with Final Cut Studio: $2000. Sony Mini-DV Camera: $300. Finding out everything is obsolete by mid-2009: PRICELESS. I’d be even more pressed if I changed my major (which I never considered). Don’t run out and buy all-new everything once you get into a program. See what resources your school offers before going out and buying your own because they tend to shell out the money that comes with every new update. Then again, I guess it was better to have my own things rather than renting equipment and waiting on a free computer in the editing lab…but still. Also, we were taught how to use Final Cut Studio (Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Motion, Colour, Compressor, DVD Studio Pro) throughout my program and then in 2011 FCP X was released, an all-new, made-from-scratch editing suite (that more than half the industry hates). I made the switch to Adobe’s Master Collection (Premiere Pro, After Effects, etc.) because it frequently updates with all the latest codecs and doesn’t require me to buy a whole new program every time it gets a refresh. Oh, and did I mention that I absolutely HATE film/video editing now?
- If you make a film for a senior project or thesis, keep your expectations low during all phases of production because it likely won’t go anywhere outside of your program.
- I made it into the Senior Projects program and spent my final year making a short film. I had a phenomenal team behind me and I am quite pleased with the final product; however, it didn’t really impress anyone when I included it in my portfolio after graduation. I probably spent $1500 in total on the production but I had classmates who spent as much as $50,000 on theirs. People still assume all the stereotypes about student films being crap. If you can put some substance behind that project, it might count for something, but other than that, let it go. I had high expectations for myself because the Senior Project film I produced when I was a sophomore won awards, made it into a major film festival, and had sold-out screenings. The key is to remain grounded despite being a writer/director on your own project; I wish I had maintained my humility!
Perhaps this will speak to those of you currently enrolled or considering getting into film school. You have to consider the state of the industry and stay current on trends. Above all, hustle. Do not stop until you get behind a project or production you will be telling your future kids and grandkids about!