I feel as if going to university to study film has garnered a negative stigma, with a strong implication surrounding every student. While it’s fair that film majors have earned their negative reputation, I really don’t think that majoring in film is the waste of time that people make it out to be. As someone who’s almost done with my time in film school, I can honestly declare that most people aren’t meant to spend their time studying film. Being a film major doesn’t just mean that you want to make movies or write scripts, because literally any human being with a laptop and an IPhone has that capability with no formal education. If you’re just interested in film theory and history, then film school also isn’t for you, as you will be essentially spending thousands of dollars to watch Netflix documentaries and learn how to deeply read films, which again, are things you can do on your own volition without a formal degree.
Where film school really earns it’s value is in giving you a burgeoning community of well-studied and well supplied artists, all hungry to make content with fellow artists. It’s imperative that if you want to study film, that you study where schools rank and what they excel in. While a smaller private school can still offer a comprehensive business or history program, it’s important that your film school has a large budget so there’s plenty of equipment and technical resources that students can use while they study. This is an unfortunate fact, as it rules out a lot of locations, but at the end of the day, it has a secret benefit. Since there are only so many quality film schools with plenty of equipment and renowned staff, this means that people who desire a quality film experience are going to congregate at the same schools, which will increase the talent pool of people to work with.
Essentially, your end goal from film school should be to come out of your education trained in both the technical side of film, as well as the historical and artistic. To appreciate filmmaking, you really do need a comprehensive experience, and you need to ensure that you truly desire to learn every element of filmmaking before you go to school. To spend tens of thousands of dollars just to learn to use a camera or take courses on women in cinema is not only a waste of your time and resources, but also of everyone else you beat out on the admissions process. To answer the question, “Is film school worth it?”, is a tough one, because it really relies on the individual person. If you can resolve yourself to spend as much time working on film outside the classroom as in, if you’re willing to befriend others in your major and spend your life networking, and if you’re willing to dedicate all of your time to becoming an artist, then yes, film school is definitely for you. Otherwise, I highly suggest you either major in something else, or avoid film school altogether and just self-educate through hands-on experience and online tutorials. We’re living in a golden age of content creation, and ambition and true talent genuinely outshine fancy degrees and wealthy family members. The longer you wait to get into creating, the more time you allow for others to take ideas you would’ve made. Whether you go to school or not, pick up a camera, make a YouTube account, and get creating. Trust me, you won’t regret it.