An Introduction to Film Schools

An Introduction to Film Schools

Motion pictures and television reach into our lives everyday. Like a mirror they reflect the world we share. While it is true that this reflection can be very distorted, still we see it and are affected and changed by it. Along with "the pen," moving images have the power to instill ideas in us and reveal things to us that we have never seen; and, like "the pen," they are mightier than the sword.

The Industry

It takes many people working collaboratively in a variety of specialized fields to produce the films and programs we see on the screen and TV. All one has to do is sit through the closing credits of a movie to have some idea of the number of persons involved.

Organizing this host of people are the directors and producers. While the respective roles of each may vary from production to production, they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the artistic content of the final creation.

But while it is a given that these people must have a thorough understanding of the TV/motion picture business, so too must everyone else who works on a show share some understanding of how each person's work fits in with everyone else's. For this reason film school is an ideal means for learning the basics associated with the film industry.

Why Attend Film School?

Film school is a place where you can learn the fundamentals about movie making. It will teach you the dynamics of storytelling, production, and editing. Not only will you study these things in the classroom, you will learn by actually doing them. In the film production business there is no substitute for experience.

Making your own movies and helping others make theirs will also reveal to you your own strengths and weaknesses. It will help you discover what career path you would like to take professionally and whether a career in the industry is what you really want to have.

Film School Programs

The programs offered by film schools will vary from school to school.

Some film schools are dedicated academies that focus on nothing else but filmmaking. Others will be departments in colleges and universities. Often, film production will be coupled with television production, which shares many of the same fundamentals and technical skills.

New technology has allowed for lower costs to students and more online programs. For example, even though digital cameras may not be of the same professional quality (though they're getting better all the time), they can still allow at-home students the experience of producing movies. And new fields have also opened up with the new technology. An increasing amount of editing and animation is done with computers.

Different schools offer different types of degrees. You may earn anything from a certificate to an upper level degree in Fine Arts, Cinematography or anther related specialty. Among the areas of study you may choose are producing, directing, writing, sound, lighting, editing, and interactive media. The type of work you want to specialize in should be considered when selecting which school to attend.

The Work of a Filmmaker

Professional movie makers work long hours, sometimes under enormous pressure. Large sums of money are usually involved and, for that money, investors expect to get high-quality results in a short period of time.

Most professional people in the motion picture industry belong to one of a variety of labor unions. Many jobs are not permanent but begin and end with each production. There are always more people looking for work in the industry than the industry can actually provide for. Talent, experience and personal connections form a synergetic bond in furthering your career.

Depending on the production and on your job, you may experience a wide variety of working conditions. Set and property builders may work in construction conditions. Computer animation artists may work under office conditions. Most movies are still filmed in a tightly controlled indoor environment, but filming on location at an exterior site is also common.

While movies can be made anywhere, most people in the movie business will find they must live close to one of the production centers for the industry. In the United States the most prominent center is Hollywood and the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area. The wide distribution of local television stations allow for more opportunities for certain types of specialists to work in other locations.

The Community of Film

While there may be tremendous competition in the film production industry, there is also a great shared camaraderie.

The nature of the work in some ways sets movie people apart from the people who work "nine to five" jobs. They spend a large amount of work time together in a closed environment and they will frequently spend their time socially with each other too.

Movie making is an industry that welcomes talent of every sex, creed and color. A person's ability to achieve the desired results is what matters.


  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
  • National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST)

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