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How to Select a Film School
If one has decided to attend film school, it can be a daunting task selecting from the hundreds of
schools nationwide. Most schools claim they care about their students’ success and offer
testimonials that present the schools in a positive light. So how can prospective film students
separate the institutions that offer a real education versus those who only make claims? There
are some film schools in Los Angeles and Miami that offer hands-on programs that may be
worth a look. Ideally film students should make inquiries of several schools to discover the
program that will fit their needs.
The first consideration that one has to make when looking for a film school is location. Many
people don’t wish to go away to school and others have family obligations that can prevent them
from going out of town to attend classes. Even with these potential obstacles, it can pay to be
flexible. Some of the best schools are concentrated in certain parts of the country, and the
certificate programs may only be a few months in length. Also if one has decided to study under
certain film teachers, those teachers may only be available at schools in New York, Los Angeles
or other large cities. Keeping an open mind may allow students to find a school that matches
Next, making direct inquires of the schools is key. With the Internet it’s easy to review several
schools’ film courses in a few minutes. Once one has narrowed down a list of a few schools that
sound intriguing, telephone interviews are recommended. These ideally should be followed up
with in-person meetings to provide one with the ability to meet advisors, tour the campus and
talk with current students. While every student’s filmmaking goals are different, talking with
present students can give prospective attendees a truer feel for what the school has to offer.
Another key consideration when choosing a film school is the ability to work on a wide variety of
projects. Even if a student has a particular niche area that he or she is interested in, learning as
much as possible about the entire filmmaking process can open up more opportunities and
learning experiences. Whether one ultimately wants to be a director, screenwriter or producer
it’s important when first starting out to get a good sense of all of the skills required to create a
film. It’s important to check and see what types of equipment will be used in the film courses.
The syllabus or course curriculum of each school should be reviewed in detail so students can
see exactly what it is they will be learning.
Like choosing any college or trade school, choosing a film school takes some research. It’s a
good idea to keep an open mind about perhaps temporarily relocating to attend film school, as
some programs can be completed in a year or less. Relocating to centers of filmmaking can
provide students with the opportunity to study under some of the masters of the trade. Ideally a
prospective student will start research online followed by some short telephone interviews and
then in-person visits to schools to make the final choice.