Many people dream of a glamorous career in filmmaking and wonder what film making courses will best help them get started. Before you sign up for film school take time to get realistic about what you can expect to accomplish. Although the filmmaking industry employs thousands of people it can still be one of the hardest industries to break into.
Besides acting, the two jobs most often pursued are being a film director or a screenplay writer. Because this is what most students request these are the jobs where they offer the most classes. This is where the problem starts.
The demand in Hollywood for new film directors and new screenplay writers is almost non-existent. The current working directors and writers spent many years apprenticing and working their way up through the ranks. The newly graduated student walking up to the hiring department of a film studio or production company will be lucky to be offered a job as receptionist or mail-room clerk.
This is the sad reality of the education of future movie makers. Few beginning students are willing to believe that the odds are so strongly stacked against them. They sign up for film making courses which will consist of watching and discussing classic, old movies then making little short films using commonly available video equipment. Students most interested in screenplay writing spend their time writing short scenes and discussing them with fellow classmates.
A few decades ago the only way to see these old classic movies was to go to a film school that could afford original film prints. Also movie making equipment was very expensive and not available to the general public. The knowledge of how to structure and create scripts was known to only a few insiders.
Two things you need to notice. First is that the things the students are learning only qualify them to work in the lowest paid and most competitive of jobs. Secondly is that today all those classic movies are commonly available for rent or purchase, high-quality video equipment is cheap and available as are hundreds of excellent books on the techniques of movie making and script writing.
With so many resources available today the only reasons one can imagine for taking film making courses are to have some live experience working with a team of filmmakers and to get some hand-holding from knowledgeable filmmakers. That sounds reasonable, but why pay a lot of money for that? Community colleges often offer film making courses that will inexpensively teach the basics. Even better is to find local film productions that want to hire production assistants. What better way to learn and make contacts than by actually working with professionals. You only need to know where to look.
The people who get hired in the movie industry are the energetic, determined self-starters who make things happen. If you have been thinking that a professor at an expensive school is your ticket to Hollywood you need to think again. The professor is probably one of last year’s students from that same school who hasn’t been able to get a real job doing anything better than teaching what he was just taught.