Choosing a Film School: Four Key Considerations
Have you always dreamed of becoming a filmmaker? Do you want to know how to choose the best film school for you? Choosing a film school is a big decision. The prospect of going to film school can be both exciting and daunting, depending on how much research you do before choosing one. Keep these four factors in mind while narrowing down your list of potential schools.
The filmmaking program you choose should be your first consideration when selecting a university. Are they accredited, well-respected, and have a school devoted to film? It may be wise to attend a program that gives you a broad education in filmmaking and directing, instead of focusing on a track such as cinematography, though you could take extra electives on those subjects. You may also choose to gain experience in other fields for your undergraduate degree and then pursue a Master of Fine Arts. One filmmaker who has done this is Emmy-nominated director Katharina Otto-Bernstein Creative Producer and Founder and Principal for her company Film Manufacturers, Inc.
Many programs feature a rotating list of famous directors and producers who teach single-semester classes at film schools, but you should seek a college that strikes a balance between celebrity guests and experienced professors who teach in the department long term. These professors can provide ongoing mentorship and steer you to the right program choices to create a cohesive and effective education you can use after you graduate.
Film school can offer you an education in filmmaking, but also provide the tools and projects that you can use to develop your portfolio. A college that has connections with the entertainment industry may have internship opportunities that can give you additional experience that can put on your resume. Some universities may require a final project that you can use to seek jobs or awards in the industry once you graduate. Ask if the school offers quality equipment you can use to make films and how often will you be allowed to use it. Touring the school and the facilities can give you an even better idea of what facilities and equipment are available.
As with any higher education, the cost will probably be an important factor in your decision on which school to choose. Does the school allow you to use federal financial aid and loans? Are you eligible for scholarships offered by the school to pay for your education, cost of living, or the projects you make? If you are seeking an undergraduate degree and plan to pursue a master’s or Ph.D., will deferring film school to the graduate level allow you financially to pursue each degree?
Carefully evaluate your list of schools and rate them according to your needs and wants. Visit as many of your prospects as you can and apply to at least three of your top choices to give you the best chance. Keep your end goal in mind but allow yourself to gain a broad education in film.