Where should you go to film school? The answer to that question requires a lot of research. There are vast, and important, differences between each film program. Some film schools require you to spend one to two years before you even touch a camera while others may have you working with a camera your first week of classes. Here are the most important factors to look for when deciding what film school is best for you.
The Real Price
Tuition, room and board ranges from $17,000-$55,000 per year for many of the top college credited film schools. The tuition you will pay can be found by browsing the schools website. What you wont find on the website, are the costs of film, books, shooting insurance, equipment insurance, lab fees, cast and crew and the list goes on. All of this can add up…sometimes more then tuition itself! Add all of this up and you will have the the real price of film school.
Being able to work one on one with the instructor is important. The larger the class size, the less personal attention you will receive. Look for class sizes under 20 if you want hands-on instruction and the ability to interact with your instructor regularly.
Location of Study
It is true that you can learn to make films anywhere in the world but there are only a few cities that can help launch your career in filmmaking. A city with a healthy film industry will allow you to network with filmmakers and actors, participate in film festivals and provide you with the resources you need to create your film. The obvious cities are Hollywood, known for big budget films, and New York City, the independent filmmaking mecca of the world. Austin, Seattle, Abu Dhabi, Vancouver, Paris and London are also great cities.
Student to Faculty Ratio
There is a lot that happens outside the classroom you will need help with as a film school student. Housing, financial aid, equipment maintenance, teaching assistants, and academic advisers are all instrumental to your success. A good student to faculty ratio is 20:1 or less.
Equipment, Facilities & Availability
Many schools have film equipment and computer/editing labs available for your use, but how often will it be available for use. Is it from 10AM-2PM on Fridays only or is it all weekend. The quality of equipment and facilities you will be using is also very important. Will you have access to the new state of the art RED One AD Camera and the original Arri-S 16mm, or will you be shooting with a off the shelf consumer camera. Are the computer labs running on the latest Adobe Editing Suits with Mac Pro computers or software and hardware from a year ago.
Amount of Time Spent Using Equipment
Once you know what equipment you will be using and when you will have access to it you will need to know the amount of time you will be spending working with the equipment both inside and outside the classroom. The longer you spend working on set, the more comfortable and proficient you will become. After graduation, you should be able to walk onto any set and know your way around.
Probably the most important factor to look for when deciding which film school is best for you is students films. The reels of the schools students is a good indicator of the quality of work you will be able to produce. The quality of work you produce is ultimately up to you, however, you will be depending on the resources, teachings and instruction of the school to help create it. From the editing suite software to the caliber of students you will be working with on your film, this will play a critical role in your finished works. Whatever you do during your time at film school, make sure your reel is top notch when you leave – this is your resume.
Who in the film industry has attended the school. This will be your network after you graduate. Do you have to go to school where your favorite director or editor graduated from – no. But, it is very important that the schools graduates are actually working in the industry. The larger your professional network is, the more opportunities you will have and the easier it will be to create film.
As the old saying goes, “only take advice from people that are where you want to be”. The same applies for learning. Professional filmmakers who are successful in their careers make much better instructors/teachers. They are able to discuss their real world experience and apply it to what they are teaching you. Another factor that is important is your instructors education. When applying, ask for the names of who your instructors would be. Go home and Google them to learn more about their past works and accomplishments.
Remember that the name of the school you attend really does not matter in your pursuit of becoming a professional filmmaker. Film producers want to see your completed works – make sure you enroll in a school that provides you with the instruction and resources you need to produce your best work.
The connections you make and the work you create while at school are the most valuable assets you will have after graduation. If you can find the right school that will give you the opportunities to produce high quality work and make the right connections, your dream of becoming a professional filmmaker is not to far away.
Think New York Film Academy
When conducting your research we hope you will consider the New York Film Academy. Please give us a call with any question you may have – (212) 674-4300. Our Admissions department is happy to help you make the best decision for your career in filmmaking.