Film School vs Film Experience

So you want to be a filmmaker but the $35,000.00 tuition fee is a problem. That’s the kind of money you’re looking at when applying for film production at the most prestigious school in Vancouver. Is film school worth the price of admission? That is a matter of opinion.

Three years ago, I myself enrolled into the very same film school. One of the requirements of enrollment was acquiring two letters of reference from professionals working in the field. The first person I reached out to was my screenwriting teacher from college. She was ecstatic to hear that I was pursuing my dreams and passions.

The second person I contacted was a successful screenwriter and organizer of The Great American Pitch Fest. We had met years ago and had become good acquaintances. Her response was slightly different. She suggested I bypass film school and spend the 35,000 on a feature film. Her advice, “I could earn the same amount of knowledge I’d gain from school simply by volunteering on independent films.”

Having gone through film school herself, she admitted that in hindsight, she would’ve saved her money. Although her point was valid and full of wisdom, the compulsion to experience film school was too strong. With my two letters of reference and having fulfilled the remainder of my requirements, I was accepted. The amount of knowledge I acquired was beyond expectation. The end result? I probably could’ve learnt as much volunteering on independent films. I realized that a certificate doesn’t make you a filmmaker. Your passion to make films will.

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