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Is college necessary for film?

if i want to dip my toe in this industry, do i need to go to college for film?

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Rafael’s Answer

Going to college for film is not necessary to get involved into the industry. While a degree can provide valuable knowledge and connections, practical experience, internships, and networking can also help you break into the film industry. Many successful filmmakers have learned through hands-on experience and self-study. Ultimately, it depends on your personal goals, learning style, and resources available to you. You can explore alternative paths like online courses, workshops, and mentorship programs to gain practical skills and industry knowledge. Passion and determination can take you far in this exciting and creative field!
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Carlos R.’s Answer

Hi Amy!

You've really hit the nail on the head with your fantastic question, and the responses have been equally impressive!

In the world of film, discipline and dedication are key. That's why I believe attending college is crucial. It's not just about learning the trade, but also about developing a strong work ethic. The film industry is a whirlwind of tight schedules, long hours, and complex interpersonal dynamics - much like the college experience.

Sure, there are some filmmakers who've bypassed the college route, and I've met a few cinematographers who did not study. But many of them lack basic skills like using an exposure meter or understanding the ins and outs of "film math". Imagine being on a big Hollywood set and not knowing how to adjust for exposure in frames per second changes and shutter angles. That's not a situation I'd want to find myself in!

If you aspire to be a director, you need a comprehensive skill set. This includes understanding acting, camera angles, continuity, screenplay writing, visual storytelling, communication, and film language of compositions and camera movements that will be your tools to communicate with the Director of Photography. These are all intricate aspects of filmmaking that can't be learned just by watching YouTube videos or with online courses in my humble opinion.

Another benefit of college is the networking opportunities. The contacts you make could become your future collaborators, and they might even help you land jobs down the line.

Remember, the film industry is fiercely competitive. The more knowledge and skills you have, the more confident and effective you'll be. Plus, earning a degree is a huge accomplishment that you can be proud of.

Once you dip your toes in the film industry, you might just fall head over heels for it and dive right in. It's a rewarding career if you're lucky enough to break into it. And don't forget about AI - it's bound to play a big role in filmmaking in the future but take no shortcuts with it.

Wishing you all the best!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. AMYT
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Patrick’s Answer

The debate on the necessity of college for a successful career in the film industry is a lively one. While formal education can indeed equip you with valuable skills, knowledge, and connections, it's not the sole key to unlocking success in the film world. Many film professionals have carved their own paths to success through practical experience, self-learning, mentorship, and networking.

One of the perks of attending college for film is the organized curriculum and access to resources, equipment, and seasoned faculty members. Film programs often dish out a smorgasbord of courses covering all angles of filmmaking, from screenwriting to directing, cinematography, editing, and production management. Plus, students often get the chance to team up with their peers on projects, gaining hands-on experience while building a portfolio of work.

Moreover, college can offer a nurturing environment for budding filmmakers to delve into their interests, play around with different techniques, and get constructive feedback on their work. Faculty members and industry professionals often provide guidance, mentorship, and industry insights that can be priceless for students finding their footing in the competitive film industry.

However, it's crucial to remember that a college education isn't the only gateway into the film industry. Many successful filmmakers have reached the top without a formal degree. The magic formula often includes a mix of passion, dedication, and an eagerness to learn and refine one's craft.

For those who are hesitant about diving into a full-time college program, there are other ways to gather experience and skills in filmmaking. These include workshops, seminars, online courses, and internships with production companies or studios. Many film professionals have sharpened their skills through practical experience, learning on the job, and networking with industry professionals.

In the end, the choice to chase a college education in film hinges on the individual's goals, interests, and circumstances. While college can offer a structured pathway into the industry and valuable learning and networking opportunities, it's not the only road to success. Aspiring filmmakers should weigh their options carefully, seek advice from industry professionals, and seize resources and opportunities available to them, whether through formal education or alternative routes.
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Thomas’s Answer

Hi!
College for any creative field is really up to the individual to decide. I'm studying audio production, composition, music business, and piano. I don't really NEED a degree in any of those areas, however it's the experience of going for the degree that is beneficial and very very very useful. In college for any creative field, you will be given the resources and a fantastic support group and will meet many people who can help you later in your career. You can also use college to do things you might not even think about now. If you want to be a director and only a director, for instance, you will have the opportunity to learn editing, sound design, producing, and maybe even screenwriting (My school has a well known radio, tv, film degree so I know a few people in your situation). Furthermore, you will almost certainly meet people you will collaborate with for the duration of your career.

Just as a few examples from my end. I never thought I would want to go into music composition, but this semester I'm about to debut 4 of my pieces and will be helping a few friends next semester to debut their work as well. I also really didn't like listening or playing certain styles of music (this could pertain to you and your taste in film genres). For example, I really didn't vibe with heavy metal or hard rock. I am now in a heavy metal band and co-write many of our songs and produce almost all of our work. I also really didn't like contemporary classical music (think abstract artwork but music instead of visual). I am now writing a full (and very weird) 3 movement piece of contemporary music that I would have hated 4 years ago.

My point is that college opens doors for creatives. You don't necessarily NEED to go or will have any different opportunities if you don't go. However, you will be in a much better place skill wise, network wise, and work wise when you graduate. While you are in college for a creative field, you are working on creative projects every step of the way. This will give you something to show for when you start to apply for work in the larger industry.

Hope this helps!
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Alexander’s Answer

Going to college isn't a "must" for breaking into the film/photography field. Sure, it can speed up your journey by introducing you to key contacts and teaching you the fundamentals. However, you can still become a top-notch photographer or cinematographer on your own. This route might be a bit tougher, but it often leads to you developing a unique style of film that's less swayed by others - and that's typically a positive. It empowers you to shape your own career trajectory.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Subject: Is a College Degree Essential for a Film Career?

Dear AmyT,

The necessity of a college degree for a career in the film industry is a topic of frequent debate. The answer, however, can differ based on personal circumstances and aspirations. Here are a few crucial factors to ponder:

1. Acquiring Knowledge and Skills:

While college can offer valuable training and knowledge in the film domain, it's not the sole route to achievement. Numerous successful filmmakers have sharpened their skills through practical experience, mentorships, workshops, and self-learning.
Enrolling in a film school or college course can provide organized learning, interaction with industry experts, networking possibilities, and resources such as equipment and facilities.
Nevertheless, it's essential to remember that practical experience and a robust portfolio are often just as important in the film industry.

2. Building Networks and Industry Contacts:

College can serve as an excellent platform for networking and establishing industry contacts, which can be vital in the fiercely competitive world of filmmaking.
Film schools frequently offer chances to work with classmates on projects, and interact with professors who have industry exposure.
These relationships can lead to internships, job openings, and collaborations that might not be as readily available outside of a college environment.

3. Career Progression and Credentials:

Possessing a degree from a well-known film school can pave the way and lend credibility in the industry, particularly for newcomers.
Some employers might favor applicants with formal education in film or related fields, as it indicates a dedication to learning and skill development.
Moreover, certain roles in the film industry, like teaching posts or jobs at larger production firms, may necessitate a degree or specific qualifications.

To sum up, college can provide valuable resources, education, networking opportunities, and credentials for those aiming for a film career, but it's not a mandatory requirement for success. The decision to pursue a film degree should be based on personal goals, preferences, financial factors, and alternative ways to gain industry experience.

Top 3 Credible Sources Used:

The Hollywood Reporter: A premier provider of entertainment news and insights into the film industry.
American Film Institute (AFI): A prestigious institution committed to promoting and preserving the art of film.
Variety: A reliable source for entertainment industry news, analysis, and reviews.

Best Wishes,
James Constantine Frangos.
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Beatriz’s Answer

Hello AmyT!
I don't think you need a college degree per se, but college will give you a lot more than just a degree, it'll be a whole new chapter in your life where you'll learn many useful skills and connect with like-minded people. It'll be immerse yourself into something you're interested in... accompanied.
So, you can also go the alternative route and learn things that you need for the job you're aiming forelsewhere and nowadays there's a lot of places you can look for to learn. (webinars, libraries, magazines, online courses, online communities...). You'll have to take this seriously and put the structure in for yourself. Try many things and read and work.

My final point is that college or not college, the way to work in films is to keep yourself really interested and motivated.
Aside from that, film making is a cultural activity so try and get that sense early, develop an appreciation for arts and culture, it's easy to get fascinated with the technicalities of film making but in the end it's about telling a story that resonates with the audience.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. AMYT
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Marco’s Answer

No. Better to spend your money on making your first film, or a short film, in order to practice your craft and show the world the talents you have. You will learn just as much in the process of doing the film that you would've learned in a full four years of college. But if you feel you need the education in order to perfect your filmmaking skills then by all means go for it.
Thank you comment icon thank you!! AMYT
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, AmyT !

It's wonderful to see that you are reaching out and inquiring about possibly going into television, film and cinematography ! I'd be happy to share some advice that I hope you can use.

My advice is, yes, you will need to go to college for film for many reasons. First, the technical nature is something that you will need hands on instruction with. You will need a professor to teach and guide you. Some people may think film and TV are frivolous, but they are real careers with much to learn. I believe that college is necessary for this career because you'll have to learn all aspects of it in an organized way and after four or six years (Bachelors or Masters Degree) you will be prepared to obtain employment or freelance. Doing it online or no education at all will not cut it in this competitive career. It's always advisable to take some specific classes online such as film and television history or how to use equipment that you have, either as a pre-introduction or a refresher course. But once you have your degree, you will be very happy that you took an academic route for this.

Part of being a cinematographer or any position in film or television is to be familiar with what the collaborative team does. In college, you will work on projects that will help you learn and retain the lessons as well as discover what is demanded of you and who you will interact with. You will learn how to talk about film one on one and in a group setting. The one element that is priceless about going to college for film is the contacts and opportunities that you will acquire, the support system you will build and the on-going learning even after you graduate. Most of your assignments and projects will require other people, so in person at college, you will have access to people for these assignments. So if you are serious about it, attend a college of your choice. It is also an advantage to have a degree when it comes to applying for work.

If you do not go to college for it, that would mean that you would need to buy equipment and read or watch videos online to learn how to use the equipment. You can take some classes on line about film and television history, analysis and criticism, techniques, genres, sound, lighting but for directing, you may have to direct a scene or short film/video so you'll have to find people willing to be the actors for that, if directing is even offered online. Once you feel secure in how to produce a film or video, than you can do your projects and post them on a video platform. You can enter film festivals. But keep in mind that this career greatly relies on networking, being involved with film and television groups, knowing people in the business. You would have to obtain a support system and get to know lots of people who are also freelancing/independent. Many filmmakers did not go to college, so it is possible to have a career without college. That would be something you could decide by getting more information. Also keep in mind that where ever you apply for work, there will be many, many other people applying that have Bachelors and Masters Degrees.

I wish you all the best and hope everything falls into place for you ! Don't hesitate to ask more questions here at Career Village.
Thank you comment icon Michelle, thank you! AMYT
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, AMYT ! Michelle M.
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