Why film schools? It’s one of the default questions that aspiring filmmakers face when they plan to take film courses. Despite a line of argument that filmmaking often goes beyond the realms of theory and despite success stories of “untrained” filmmakers, the relevance of film schools in imparting the craft and technical intricacies of the medium stays largely unchallenged. You can learn many things, even motion graphics and visual effects. Though reputation of the film schools is critical in your search, it’s also important to realize that, ultimately, it’s the opportunity to develop hands-on and all-round skills as a visualizer and maker that seals it.
To start with, decide on the kind of films you would like to be part of. The independent film movement – that started off overlapping with anything off-beat – has now evolved into a strong market movement as well. The lines between Indie and commercial still exist but the movements are not necessarily countering each other all the time. These are exciting times for young mavericks to pursue their kind of cinema without getting completely awed down by the market compulsions.
Film Courses and Disciplines
Film schools, typically, offer courses across disciplines in filmmaking: editing, cinematography, sound, screenwriting, directing and more. It makes sense to decide on a primary focus area — say, directing — and supplement it with courses in cinematography, editing or screenwriting. Niche courses are pursued religiously at film schools across the world but inter-disciplinary curricula have also started catering to the needs of aspirants who look for an all-round education. The theory and history of film, along with its social context and evolution, and focus areas like literature and art are also being offered at these film schools.
Accredited Film Schools and Faculty
An accredited film school brings with it a stamp of stature and quality, that often makes the screening easier for the student. The Aboutfilmschools website traces a US example and points out that the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the independent organism recognized by the American Department of Education for accreditation of programmes of visual arts, apart from six regional accreditation organizations.
The stature of the school faculty is as important as the course material they deal with. It’s important to trace the industry standing of the faculty and distinguish between reputed academics who have published books on films but have collaborated in none and those who have the industry exposure and tutorial skills to match. Go for film schools that also offer guest lectures by speakers from the industry and have strong industry alliances to ensure internships. Studios, labs and libraries add to the film school experience.
Courses at Premier Film Schools
Alumni filmmakers who have made it big add a definite lure to the schools, like a Michael Mann or Mike Leigh does. But these are premier institutes like London Film School, New York Film Academy and the National Film and Television School, UK. There are other high and medium-range schools as well, offering basic filmmaking education in short-term courses at a moderate fee.