Is School Necessary?

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    • #42919

      Hello everyone. I’ve noticed that there is a pretty good mixture of professionals and students on this forum. I’m at a point in my career that I’m thinking about moving from some random freelance video production work to full-time professional. I’m wondering how important an education in video production/multimedia or something similar is… I’m not looking at making films, I’m thinking more of working for an established company (NFL Films would be my dream job). Does anyone have suggestions regarding the best approach? Anything would be much appreciated.

      Thanks in advance.

    • #179761

      I am not sure about the television industry, but I know that here directors out there who willactuallymark a “film school” on yourresumagainstyou, though that is theextremethere are and many that simply give no credit to it. I their mind “film school” says has spent 4 years in an uncreativeartificialenvironmentthat haslittleto do with he real world. Sounds harsh, but its how they see it.

      I would expect to some degree it might be the same in TV land. A good demo real will get you a job MUCH faster. Show them you are good, that you are creative, and with TV, can work on a tight deadline.

    • #179762

      on the one hand you could spend tens of thousands on an education…

      on the otherhand you could spend tens of thousands on equipment…

      either way you could wind up making it big if you have talent….

      you could also wind up unemployed, even if you have talent….

      only one choice leaves you with tens thousands of dollars worth of equipment, you sell, to feed yourself with….. try selling a diploma….

    • #179763

      i feel like you learn more through experience than with school.

    • #179764

      I agree, rob. experience and a demo reel are better than school. I did only one year at my local community college before realizing that it wasn’t doing me any good to stay their longer, since I knew more than the guys who had been there for two-three years.

      Another good idea is to learn a lot of cameras/formats and especially software. I don’t say this just because I’m a software freak, but because you can go look for jobs and one of the main requirements is “Must know Final Cut Pro, After Effects…” or “Must know Premiere, Flash…” or whatever.

      After all, you discover that every Avid video company loves it’s own Studio (software) and will always use it for the Movie Edit Process down to the Final Cut, regardless of whether the Premiere is in Vegas or not. You will have to learn the software they use, so why not start now?

      Did you like that last part? Studio is Pinnacle Studio. πŸ™‚

    • #179765

      After all, you discover that every Avid video company loves it’s own Studio (software) and will always use it for the Movie Edit Process down to the Final Cut, regardless of whether the Premiere is in Vegas or not. You will have to learn the software they use, so why not start now? Did you like that last part? Studio is Pinnacle Studio. πŸ™‚

      Can I quote you on that! LOL



    • #179766

      If you have to choose one (experience or school) always go for experience.

      However, why can’t you do both? If you are young enough and can live at home while going to school, you can always find gigs for the weekends and work as an assistant for someone who gets paid to video (events, corporate, ENG, etc…) – Sometimes schools have intern programs for aspiring DP’s.

    • #179767

      Yea, I do what birdcat said, except I don’t live at home, I just rent a house in the city.

      School isn’t bad either, there are a lot of professionals you can give you their knowledge that you might not gain as quickly if you’re relying on experience.

      Also Chris, you said you knew more than the kids you went to school with, but you went to a community college. Nothing against community colleges, but I feel like they’re not gonna be as great as a real college or institution who really gets intense about video. Maybe you knew more than the other kids because you’re too good for community college.

      My ultimate advice concerning this topic would be to go to school for a bachelors degree, but don’t rush it. Go to school, but spend a lot of time doing freelance or something. I’ve meet a lot of people and made some great connections just by doing freelance work. That’s something a lot, if not all the kids i go to school with, don’t have.

    • #179768

      You know i suppose it depends on who you are. There are some big time producer/director types who met in film school, quit, made some projects together and now are on top of the world as film school dropouts!

      On the other hand you may not know anything and could benefit from school but as mentioned earlier it may not get you any further ahead of the game as most companies in this creative business want an unshaped mind that they can mould their way.

      Me, i do video for about 10 years with no film schooling. Could i benefit from it? sure i can i dont know everything! do i need it for what i do or want to do? i don’t think so. i already have those skills.

      I also write software. I use lingo as the primary language. I enrolled in a school that teaches this language. I paid my $50 for the regestration then met with the teacher who told me that i CAN NOT use that scripting language to write the software that i write but you kno what, i DO use that language and continue to write functional programs with it. for me, the $10,000 i would have paid to have some one tell me what i can not do would have been a HUGE waist of time and money! Could i have learned something… sure i can. Like i said i dont know everything!

      It all depends on who you are and what you know and what you hope to accomplish!

    • #179769

      There are no 100% guarantees with training, education, experience, demo reels and even family ties! Ultimately, your targeted employers will decide if what you have to offer is valuable to them. If you have no one to target, then you have every reason to work on your education, to build a demo reel with your experiences, to train on software and equipment, and to meet as many prospective customers/employers as possible. As Rob says, school and freelance works puts him in contact with lots of people.

      Let us acknowledge that experience is said to last a life time. But let us not pooh-pooh education -many of the members here are self educated in the ways of videography. If you are wondering if institutional learning can prepare you for jobs. the answer is, “that depends.” College and university film/video production courses do not fast track students into NFL cameraman jobs. If you attend a training college to become a studio or field cameraman, then yes, you should have the expectation of finding a job in that field. But if you sign up for film/video studies, learn production techniques, work on student projects etc. you are not receiving training, you are receiving an education. I don’t know of anyone who was sorry they got their Bachelors. Education, like experience, lasts a life time.

      When it comes to job hunting, your mileage may vary with whatever education, experience and competence you have attained. You may or may not need a strong resume, demo reel, and/or referral, BUT you will need to pay attention to the needs of the person/company who may be hiring you.

    • #179770

      My personal story (maybe this helps, or not?):

      I decided I wanted to work in TV/Video production at the age of 20. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, I had no actual experience, and I didn’t have a clue what my first step should be.

      For me, school allowed me to learn a lot, and have something to show for it. A few months after I graduated I got a part time news job, and then 6 months later I got my current job at a video production company, where I’ve been for more than two(three?) years. I also operate my own decently-successfulwedding video company.

      Schooling was definently the RIGHT choice for ME.

      And if it helps, I went toFull Sail.

    • #179771

      actually in re-reading my post, and others it does seem to be a recuring theme, against school.

      But I am not against school. If money is tight, and the industry doesn’t really require it, let’s face we’re not talking Med school, then just go for the work… but if school really is an option, financially, or family wise, then do try it. I did go back to school (posted about that several times) but I worked as a pro photographer for a long time, till I was able to go. From school, I made some great friends, and contacts.

      I get invited to cover events, for a prominant Canadian fasion designer, (I won’t work in house for them due to my stance on underage/underweight models) where I get to rub shoulders with other pros. I got a up and coming hairdesigner client whom I helped win, first for Manitoba in a national hairstyling competition.

      But those opportunities, (even the ones I’ve turned down), would not’ve come my way except for having gone to school… but I couldn’t have gone to school If I wasn’t good enough to get many paying photography jobs….

      So what ever way you have to go to skin that cat… go for it!

    • #179772

      I believe that school is an important step in the career development of many people. Whether or not school is useful on the other hand would depend on the school and the individual. There are plenty of schools that claim to teach videography, digital filmmaking, television, computer graphics or whatever and are horrible at it. While there are others that teach the subjects very well. There are also many students who attend school for four years or more and don’t learn anything useful because they don’t apply themselves or resist the educational process.

      To me the point of an education is to cut down on the learning curve involved in mastering a new skill and allow you to make mistakes in a safe environment, not to mention that it can be a great opportunity to network with other future professionals. Cutting down on the learning curve is important, it takes time & practice to learn how to shoot, edit, and create effects, etc. sometimes a lot of time and practice. Editing for example isn’t just about knowing how to use an NLE, anyone who thinks that isn’t a very good editor. Editing is as much about learning/understanding the aesthetics and vocabulary of the visual storytelling process as it is about pushing the right buttons. It isn’t about only knowing how to cut but when and why to cut as well. It takes years to develop a solid visual aesthetic, and that time can be improved with the guidance of a knowledgeable/experienced mentor. The same is true for effects, and sound, and cinematography and just about everything else you can think of. These are the kinds of things you can learn at a good school, with good knowledgeable instructors.

      In regard to being self taught, or using tutorials or books, there is one draw back that I have seen over and over again. Most books on software, and tutorials as well merely tell you how to do something without explaining why you are doing it, or what other options you may have. This leads to the ability of the student to be able to perform a specific task but have no idea what the logic behind that task is. What I have seen this lead to is massive gaps in the knowledge base of the self taught individual, like the web designer who doesn’t know what FTPs are or how to upload a site from DreamWeaver, or an editor who doesn’t know what drop-frame timecode is, or how to open their programs audio mixer, or even why to. I am not saying that everyone who is self trained is like this, only that it is a trend i have personally seen over the past decade or so. I believe that tutorials and books are great tools after you already know the fundamentals of a skill or apiece of software. They can really help open your mind and skill-set to new possibilities.

      I don’t see how spending a ton of money on equipment that you don’t know how to use works out in the long run. I mean I suppose it can for some but the amount of trial and error required to become good seems like it negates the money saved on an education. And you will find people in every area who feel that an education is a hindrance but you will also find one who won’t even look at a CV if the person doesn’t have a degree. It is a personal decision by the person doing the hiring, and I don’t think there is any way to predict it. I do believe that your career prospects will be more flexible with the degree than without it.

      I am the first to admit that I am biased by the way. I hold a MA in Communication Arts with a specialization in Computer Graphics, and also undergraduate degrees in Art & Design and Education. I have been an educator for more than a decade and used to run a community college level CommArts program. So obviously I am very pro-education.

    • #179773

      WOW! Lots of good stuff!

      Yes, D0n is right many of ussounded likewe’re against school, but I guess my year in community college was a good thing, and without my After Effects/Motion Graphics class, I would not know nearly as much software as i know today, since the class got me interested in Adobe and I ended up learningFlash, Photoshop andLightroom, and am now learning Premiere. Also Final Cut Pro/Mac/Firewire knowledge may come in handy someday.

      Like birdcat though, I’d still pick experience over school.

    • #179774

      I agree with Chris, LOTS of good stuff. I really appreciate all the input. I’m looking into doing some part time freelance work with a few production companies in Chicago. I haven’t heard anything back yet, but I’ll keep everyone posted. Again thanks for all the input!

    • #179775

      I think it is how much pain you can take. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done the school. But on the other hand, I probably wouldn’t be as far with business sense as I am today. Might be walking around being some camera man on a movie set.

      To learn it by yourself, will take TONS AND TONS of motivation!! Not to mention money to support what you want to do. Basically if your a real self starter, and you have the passion sooo bad it hurts. You will probably come out doing it one day. School still costs money too, and a lot! Either way this career choice will suck your money from you for awhile. But there is nothing more rewarding than doing some thing you love!!! Almost NOTHING! Besides kids, and a wife, dog, video games, food, anyways you get the point. The problem is getting there. I was also 20 when i started. I bought in when the first FCP came out. Film school wasn’t even a thought or an option. I wanted to make movies!!! I never made moviesthough . Promotional videos, safety and weddings yes. A few short films, but no real movies. Maybe that is what keeps me going. Even though with 2 kids its hard to find like I used to.

      Anyways, the passion to learn something like this may only come once in a life time. If you have it, and you want it, go for it! School or no School, you can do it! You may not want to do it later. Live with no regrets!

    • #179776

      Schools are different. It won’t hurt definitely. I have been working as a self-taught cocky cameraman/editor for several years until I got a chance to get a crash course on journalism. It opened my eyes. Never regretted it.

      FAQ Video

    • #179777

      Here’s what you do. Go online > buy the text books> read> and then apply at your own pace. all the money that you spend on school can be spent on getting all your equipment to get started ASAP!! Read, Apply, and if you have any questions, just subscribe to one of the unlimitedhoards offorums about the subject and share actual underground tips. If you think about it, all they’re gonna teach in school is all the textbook sh!t anyways, plus their own personal expertise. Cut out the middle man and just go.

    • #179778

      Put your time in with, and learn from the masters.

      School does not make you smarter, necessarily, just more learned, possibly.

      Some careers (surgeons, nuclear physicists) put possession of a diploma high on the scale of importance in addition to training, experience and intelligence, etc. Others often put experience and training higher – still doesn’t make you any smarter, or more creative or more artistic.

      School – seeing a garbage collector lift and dump 30-gallon containers (do they even do that anymore) and dump them, watching this on a training video, analyzing the weight, health and safety standards, and learning the effects of centrifugal force on the load is one thing. Experience/reality – having a hernia or herniated disc repaired, or rotten, maggot riddled garbage, or something worse, fall into your face because you forgot the technique for avoiding such is another.

      For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

    • #179779

      You don’t have to goto school to get the knowledge. Go to film festibles, video conferances and expos, and aduit the courses you want. the travel channel offers a really good hands on class for editing in FCP, also good knowledge in capturing the shot.

      But I must agree with almost everyone else, Nothing beats experience and a good reel.

    • #179780

      I am NOT a video/film person at all. Not in the industry… only have the desire to be in my mid-life stage. However, after being heavily involved in the computer industry I can share a commonality.

      There are three basic types of people who are in any given industry.

      1. The Gifted (the 0.1% of the 1%)
      2. The talented (Lets say the top 10%)
      3. Themediocre(The rest)

      I have worked along side the Gifted and let me just say… with these people school or no school just doesn’t matter. They know who they are and so does everyone else. If you think you are one of them… you are not. These people are not common and they don’t have to consider their talent as it blazes forth.

      The Talented can benefit from schooling. This is where they can learn about the history of the industry and how the industry has gotten where it is (techniques, best practices, ect…). They then take that ‘eduction’ and simply build upon it by being talented andinnovative. They can get away with not going to school simply by being able to absorb the industry knowledge by doing. The lack of a formal eduction does not stop them (so long as the industry in question does not require it.).

      The final set of people are the definite mass. The can be great contributors… but they will never shine like the others. They can have brief moments that make them noticed, but again… they don’t do so on a regular basis. These are the people who require the most educational experience.

      So in the end you need to know where you stand. It is true that things are not this black and white.

      Just my observations… so don’t shoot me for seeing the world this way πŸ˜‰

    • #179781

      My advice is to get your bachelor’s degree in anything besides film. Like creative writing, broadcast journalism, live theatre etc. Later get a graduate degree in film if you want.

      Case in point I have a friend that recently got his bachelor’s in broadcast journalism, and now is studying at the USC Film School.

      1. Because he got a scholarship to go there.

      2. It’s what he really wanted to do, and had the freedom to do so.

      He was also president of the student film club on campus when he was an undergrad too. Shows leadership, the ability to organize and get things done.

      My two cents.

    • #179782

      My advice:

      I’ve gone to “film school” of all variety’s in this order: University/technical college/private film school.

      University: watching films in class/essays.

      Technical College: teachers actualy work in the industry, they give you good (sometimes jaded) advice. BEST PLACE FOR AFFORABLE ACCREDITED TRAINING.

      Private Film School: Massive $$$$ rip-off. DON”T EVEN BOTHER.

      My advice:

      you HAVE to start off as a P.A. first anyways, so get your P.A. certificate from an issuing college.

      Get the monthly print out of local productions from the guild,and apply directly.

      Whilst working as a P.A. you’ll be able to figure out, if u haven’t already, what job interests you.

      All jobs on set are union jobs, so look up the union for the job you want and follow the steps.

      All the best!!!!!!!!!

    • #179783

      Ive heard the arguments for and against filmschool. Heres the reality I ran into; Experience is great, but it takes lots of time. During that time youll no doubt learn some good lessons the hard way. The days of starting from the ground up are coming to a close. I was fortunate enough to get education and experience by doing production work in the military. Whereas in 3 years I went from camera grip to fully-fledged producer-director, I found things in the civilian world moved glacially slow. After I got out of the service, I was highly qualified and had the reel to prove it but no one would hire me. I started my own company, but quickly found that the industry was moving forward at light-speed with the transition to digital and I knew I was falling behind. So when a sponsorship for graduate school fell into my lap, I knew filmschool was my best option. I did solid research and found a school with a program that suited my requirements and it was one of the smartest things Ive ever done. As a previous poster said, “cutting down on the learning curve is no joke and anytime you can, do so. A while back IFC had a commercial about independent movies and Dennis Leary made a comment about take the money for filmschool and go make your movie. I always thought that was bad advice, because you need to know how to make a movie before you can make one. It just so happens, the school I went to will only graduate you if you make a film. So in the process of getting excellent training, working with experienced and world-class industry professionals, networking with other potential professionals, I also wrote produced shot and directed my first independent feature film. Now, I also agree with another poster in that there are pros who will hold filmschool against you. I recently had an applicant apply for a gig as a producer. Though he possessed a fair reel, all of his experience was from school. I wasnt going to hire him as a full producer because he had no real-world experience. If he had a mixture of both, I would have hired him in an instant. I did however offer a gig as a producers assistant which would have allowed him to do much of the heavy lifting producers must learn to do to evaluate his potential. He unfortunately felt he was too well-trained for a gig like that. Bottom line: These days you need both. If you can go to school, go. If you cant, slog it out and build your experience but the first chance you can go to school, go!

    • #179784

      Producer? Heavy lifting? If you have money, or the resources to obtain money, you can qualify as a producer.

    • #179785

      “Producer? Heavy lifting? If you have money, or the resources to obtain money, you can qualify as a producer.”

      EarlC, I absolutely agree. However, a) you still need to know how the business works and how best to use the ‘money and resources’ and b) if you don’t (which this guy didn’t), then you’ll most likely be working for an established producer and ‘do some heavy lifting’ and learn the processes necessary to bring a production from script to distribution. Anyone interested in becoming a producer can learn that the hard way out in the industry or go to filmschool and learn it in the controlled atmosphere of the classroom. Just ‘having money and or resources’ doesn’t mean you know what you are doing or you are any good at it.

    • #179786
      Grinner Hester

      Your reel is what will get you gigs, not your degree.

      That said, if you have the opportunity to go to college, you should. The parties alone are worth it.

    • #179787

      If NFL Films is your dream i would thing about Connecticut School of Broadcasting…I went there its a 3month certificate and when you get your demo reel approved by staff they will help place you. NFL Films happens to employ a lot of CSB grads, now the downside is CSB is $12k(but you can use any studio at any of the 40 campuses for the rest of your life)

      IMO this industry is all about passion and work ethic…if you possess a strong conviction in both areas the sky is the limit…and make a superior demo reel as i am sure everyone has mention.

      Oh and grinner i laughed when i saw you on here… we are everywhere!

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