Is Film School Necessary for Success?

There are many people who want to become successful filmmakers, and there’s no debate about that. What is debatable is whether going to film school is necessary for success in the movie industry. The author of an article in Variety about just this topic made the point that legendary filmmaker George Lucas went to film school at USC and found the experience helpful while highly successful filmmaker Quentin Tarantino dropped out of high school and taught himself about film by working in a video store. So, clearly there are arguments both for and against film school.

One advantage of going to film school, as filmmaker John Wallenstein mentions in an article for the Huffington Post, is that film school can be a place to to learn by making mistakes where they don’t matter instead of on actual film sets where investors’ money is at stake. Also, going to film school can help aspiring filmmakers learn from experienced professionals about technical subjects like editing instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel on their own.

Another argument for film school is that it’s a place to make contacts that will help out later on. Success in the film industry, like any other industry, can be as much about who you know as what you know.

There’s no denying that advances in technology have allowed more people to make films than ever before. Digital cameras and editing equipment make it possible to shot a film without the resources of a giant film studio behind you as was pretty much the case in past years. So, maybe instead of heading to film school someone who wants to make movies should just rent a good camera and make one.

One unpleasant reality about film schools is that attending one is expensive. Private universities in particular often charge tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and students graduate with with degrees and contracts as well as a lot of debt. Furthermore, attending film school in the industry hot spots of Los Angeles and New York means the high living costs associated with large metropolitan areas.

Some people feel that making films is simply too much of an art to be taught. Their argument is that making great films requires a creative spark that some people have and others don’t and that film school won’t make difference.

Ultimately, whether film school is necessary for success probably comes down to the individual. For someone starting out with plenty of money, limited contacts and zero experience behind the camera, going to school might be a great idea. For someone who’s going to have to take out student loans and is working in the film industry in some capacity already, it might not be