To Train or Not to Train? 5 Advantages of Film School Education

Think back to your high school days, if you can. What did you enjoy most about that time in your life?

If you can seriously answer that the best part about high school was sitting in class, learning calculus or history or a second language, congratulations. You’re in rare company.

Most high school or college graduates, by contrast, aren’t in any hurry to return to the classroom. Unfortunately, going back to school is often the only way to get where you’d really like to go in life.

This is especially true for aspiring filmmakers. While self-taught filmmakers can and do make it big in this world, most of the names you know got their start in film school. Here’s why you should follow in their footsteps, rather than trying to make a go of it on your own.

  1. Firsthand Instruction From Top Talent (Without Cold Calls and Emails)

The best cold emails in the world receive shockingly low response rates. Unless you enjoy sending entreaties off into the ether with no guarantee of a response, you’re better off pursuing higher-probability networking strategies.

Film school is perfect for this. Indeed, film school is built around the principle that aspiring filmmakers do better when they’re instructed by talented people who do this work for a living. No cold emails (or calls) needed.

  1. Access to Game-Changing Partnership Opportunities

Self-taught filmmakers simply can’t take advantage of game-changing partnership opportunities between film schools and tech accelerators, film studios, or media outlets. Why pound the pavement when you’ve got an entire team lining up your next gig?

  1. Internships and Externships You Won’t Land on Your Own

The same goes for internship and externship opportunities, any of which could make the difference in your early career. Without a film school’s career services office behind you, you’re unlikely to learn about all the opportunities available to you. You certainly won’t have an easy time applying for these big chances.

  1. Opportunities to Collaborate With Others Who Share Your Passion

Filmmaking is a collaborative process. What better place to find potential collaborators than film school? Sure, social media can help you find other self-taught film buffs outside academic channels, but that’s hard work. Film school makes it easy.

  1. Access to Expensive, Specialized Equipment

Most aspiring filmmakers aren’t independently wealthy. But those enrolled in film school nevertheless have access to a vast inventory of expensive, specialized equipment — equipment they’ll most likely need to use as their projects become more ambitious.

In Film School, You Never Know What You’ll Find

It’s not really true that the grass is always greener on the other side. But it is certainly the case that you won’t know for sure until you see for yourself.

Let’s be clear: Film school is not for everyone. Nor is it an absolutely essential precursor to success in the film industry. History is replete with examples of self-taught filmmakers who’ve reached the pinnacle of commercial and creative success, like Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, and Stanley Kubrick.

However, for many reasons, filmmakers who receive some formal training usually find themselves better-positioned to succeed. Unfair? Perhaps. Sometimes, that’s how the cookie crumbles.