Thursday 17 January 2013

Question From A Reader, re: Film School

Kid, I need your help. I'm a young filmmaker - 15, actually. Of course, the question of film school is popping up, within my own mind and my parents. My parents believe producers and studios won't give a filmmaker millions of dollars to produce a film if they don't believe he can do it. They say a film school degree will show them I know how to produce a film, how to make them money. 

What's the truth?

Thank you for answering. It's a question that's been plaguing my mind for some time now. Cheers, 


It's all about your track record. If you make a movie for $300 and it wins some awards, someone will give you $2000. If you make that movie and manage to sell a heap of copies online and make $5000, then a producer will think "this kid is profitable!", and more money will come your way.

It's never a flowing stream. It's never easy. When it comes to film financing, and getting hired by studios, it's all about business. Whether you went to film school or spent your entire teens and early twenties fishing, they don't really care. They want to know -- can you make them money? 

At least, that's how it is when a lot of money is involved. 

With smaller, independent film producers, they often care more about art. They want to put something great into the world. And sure, you need a great track record, but not so much a financial one. It's more about your reel. How many people have you inspired? How many festivals have your films been in? How many people are clambering to work with you? 

I have been paid well to write, and paid reasonable amounts to direct -- although not at the big-budgets your questions imply. But I know many people who have done, some of whom are at the top of the pile in Hollywood. And you know the one thing nobody EVER asks them when they're being hired? "Where did you go to film school?"

Film school is a tool. It's a place to meet like-minded people. A place where you have permission to sit in a tiny room all day with a pretty girl watching French New Wave movies. Can it help? Of course! You have access to so much equipment and so many amazing people. But it doesn't guarantee a job. 

Despite what I say, many will no doubt have completely opposite opinions. Truth is, there are people who walk out of top Film Schools straight into big directing jobs. Just like there are random kids from Spain who win a competition and then are signed up immediately, having never been near a film school. 

As the old wisdom goes, there are no rules, and nobody knows anything. Figure out your path and follow it. Somewhere between everyone's advice, your parent's hopes and your own intuitions, you'll find the answer. I hope you come back here and share it! 

Care to share?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I did not expect this. Thank you so much!
    Of course, while it is a blessing, money is not the main course for me when I make a film. Films are to inspire, help others. I was just going for the gusto when I mentioned the whole "big-budget" thing. But again, thank you. All I know it's going to be a fun path to travel once I find it.