In both filmmaking and photography, there seem to be two sides: those who believe these skills should be learned at school, and those who prefer online resources and self-teaching. Regarding this topic, Richard William Scott and Robert Carr from The Film Look created a video for all those questioning whether they should go to a film school or not, giving some useful guidelines and resources for both these groups.
Whether you are for or against going to film school, you are right anyway. It has plenty of advantages, but so do online tutorials. I believe this can also be applied to photography, since there are those who are formally educated for it, and those who learned everything on their own from scratch.
When it comes to film school, it definitely offers some aspects that can affect filmmakers positively:
- Film school provides students with a filmmaking network. If you don’t have a network of friends and colleagues who make films, where are you to form it but at film school?
- Enrolling in film school means you will have access to professional equipment. It’s expensive and not everyone can afford it for personal use, especially in the beginning, while still learning. Film school is great for this, because it provides you with all sorts of filmmaking equipment you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. The same goes for photography and photographic equipment. I took a basic course when I was a teenager, and at the time I only had a point-and-shoot camera. The course enabled me to shoot with a DSLR on various locations and use it in a professional studio – which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
- Film school is also good for those who don’t have the mindset for creating their own tasks (yet). It’s great for giving you something to strive at, setting the goals you should aim for. Some people simply need guidance and profit from structured courses. I also found this useful in the beginning, while I was still learning the basics. It changed my mindset towards thinking more creatively and I soon started forming my own ideas.
On the other hand, film school doesn’t need to be necessary if you want to become a filmmaker. After all, even some of the greatest filmmakers didn’t finish it (and they didn’t have Internet and camera phones when they began learning). Nowadays, there are plenty online tutorials, YouTube channels and video essays that help you learn filmmaking without attending film school. And sticking to online resources also has some advantages:
- Learning online enables you to form an online filmmaking network. It’s nothing new that people connect through the Internet, so why wouldn’t it be the case if it’s the passion for filmmaking that connects you? There are so many people out there, with so many ideas and a lot of knowledge they can share with the community. Some interesting collaborations can emerge out of it, and you can meet people from all over the world who share the same passion with you. Personally, this is how I met most of the photographers I worked with, and some of them have even remained my dear friends to this day.
- A great thing about the Internet that the amount of information is virtually limitless. You can learn whatever you want from the online resources such as YouTube videos, online courses, e-books and so on. You can focus on the field that interests you the most and it can be in the any area of filmmaking you can think of: cinematography, editing, screenwriting, special effects and whatnot.
- For those who work better when they have all the freedom, Internet resources are certainly a better option. You can use a YouTube video as a guide and simply grab your camera and go out shooting. You don’t have the structure as in the film school, but you have a wider choice and freedom to shoot based only on your idea.
For those who prefer the online learning, Richard and Robert give a great deal of resources in their video, sorted by categories. The suggest YouTube channels and websites that offer you kit reviews and DIY solutions, interviews with filmmakers, actors, writers and directors and all sorts of video essays. There are post-production and visual effects tutorials and some extras that will teach you more about film and photography.
If you are still indecisive whether you should enroll in film school or not, Robert advises you to simply go out and make some films first and see if you have some real passion for filmmaking. And if you do, the decision is still all yours. It’s you who needs to figure out what type of person you are and what type of learning suits you better.
What do you think? Film (or photography) school or online resources? Or perhaps the combination? How did you learn filmmaking/photography? Tell us in the comments.