Most film schools are teaching you how to go out and work in the film industry when you’re finished with your degree. There’s a lot of rhetoric about using film to “express yourself” etc., but in the industry you have to be familiar with a particular industrial method of producing films to get work: division of labor, blocking out shots, scripting and storyboarding, editing, which is geared towards classical narrative filmmaking (i.e. the bulk of films that get produced and that you will likely find a job working on).
or you can just forget all that and go work on your own as an independent filmmaker, provided you have the money to fund your films
Also, does such a curriculum exist at even top film schools, such as Tisch
Film schools are teaching you the right films to discover less accessible ones yourself. They are doing exactly what they’re designed for. And as Adam said, the hands on film production course basically gives you key ingredients so you can know how to work in the industry. For the most part, production courses don’t teach you anymore than basics. To actually learn how to make a motion picture, you have to make one.
so is godard not taught at film school then by that token
I’ve watched Breathless in my film history course, which covered all of the main eras in cinema. Breathless was the film we watched for French New Wave.
I dug my freshman year comparing and contrasting of IMITATION OF LIFE and SHOWGIRLS. No joke.
“but in the industry you have to be familiar with a particular industrial method of producing films to get work: division of labor, blocking out shots, scripting and storyboarding, editing, which is geared towards classical narrative filmmaking”
That’s exactly what they teach at USC
During my time at film school, my lecturer would show us alot of great films including Contempt, Stalker, Tokyo Story and Jules & Jim. Sadly not many of my class mates enjoyed these films :(
what sorts of films did your classmates enjoy
I guess you could say they enjoyed the more ‘commercial’ films such as F**king Amal (Show Me Love), Badlands, Alien…
In the beginning production classes we would watch some scenes and we would do in-class demos and divide up into groups and work on short projects. Beginning students were also given the opportunity to crew on projects being shot by more advanced students, from the regular short film to Half hour projects we produced to air on our local CBS affilate.
There was also film theory that was taught separate from production, screenwriting classes and the more specialized directoring for the camera (but that was a waste of time cause the instructor was douche bag and felt that directors were secondary to the actors and failed to communicate anything but actors are gods).
The more interest one showed the more freedom one was given to create, and also the more one was encouraged by the program’s head instructor. A person had to earn the opportunity to director more advanced projects, part of earning that was having a firm grasp on not only the technical aspects of production, but the communication aspect, and the history of film, we were encouraged to learn from what we saw in films.
In my experience, when i went to film school in Canada, there’s a sense from teachers that you will be working for an industry not to become the next godard. They resent art flms in my opinion, because theyre more inclined to produce students ready to work for the american productions that come to Canada to have a tax break or a cheaper location. That’s one of the reasons that i quit school and now im applying for grants in Europe..
There’s really nothing stopping you from taking all the knowledge you gain from film school and applying it to nontraditional projects. Didn’t David Lynch go to film school?
@NYU, film production and cinema studies are very different programs. Cinema studies here is a major where you have access to endless resources for learning about even the most obscure and esoteric of films. If that is truly what you want to learn about, then it is a great major. The film production program has long been recognized for producing technical / business savvy graduates with high aspirations of reaching Hollywood, rather than pursuing independent ventures. You’ll notice from Tisch’s alumni list that many of the directors who users on this board appreciate the most (Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch, P.T. Anderson, Harmony Korine) actually dropped out of the school / never finished their degree.
I think it just has to do with the fact that most film schools do not end up gaining prowess through generating low profile yet distinguished filmmakers. These schools are businesses. I know a number of film production majors here, and I never cease from being shocked by just how little they seem to actually love cinema. It’s much more about being successful. Their idea of experimental cinema only goes as far as Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal.” It would seem that most of the trail-blazers, eccentrics, and free spirits in the realm of filmmakers didn’t even major in film. Many of the directors we all either love / respect have proven that its very possible to become a filmmaker solely through the desire of following up your passion.
I would imagine most of the people on this board already have a comparable wealth of knowledge (in terms of theory) to those who graduate with B.A.’s in cinema studies, and WAY more than your average film production graduate (again, in terms of theory.)
I was accepted into Tisch’s dramatic writing program but declined so that I could study in their Philosophy program. Indeed I was considering it to be the Malick-ian approach, but I also thought it was a more reasonable decision overall, because it gives me something to fall back on. My concern about pursuing a degree in film has always been the degrees place in reality. Say you graduate with a degree in cinematography, but never make it in the industry. Then you’re stuck with a very limited degree, shooting weddings / events at local stadiums etc., most likely frustrated while lamenting over what you could have done. I understand there is a very probable chance that I will never make it as a filmmaker, and should that be the case then I will have happily received a degree in something that I am very interested in, that is also applicable to other fields.
I too went to film school in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) the entire emphasis was to work in the ‘industry’ on US projects coming to Canada because our dollar is cheaper. The goal was to prepare students in a Union style environment where each student was well versed in a number of skills. Being an ‘auteur’ was not really an option.
The films we were shown (not usually whole films, mostly scenes btw were these from what I can remember. The Godfather ,Silence of the Lambs, The Conformist, Star Wars, Citizen Kane ,Schindler’s List typical films like these. Basically no foreign films. Nothing out of the ordinary. I only started discovering other films years after. Also, I don’t work in film I changed careers moving into graphic design and IT areas.
I should mention there has been one major success story from our graduating year. He pitched reality show that got picked up by the Comedy Network (our version of Comedy Central) called ‘Keys to the VIP’ where guys compete in contests in night clubs to pick up girls and are critiqued by professional ‘players’. The show is doing pretty well actually.
That show sounds great. Comedy is the hardest thing to write / execute.
Yep it’s pretty funny. I suppose you could say he was the auteur of the group that stuck to his guns, kept living with his parents rent-free after school (smart in this scenario) and developed the idea with a guy who had a connection at the Comedy Network. Totally paid off.
Drew: The Conformist is somewhat esoteric and off the beaten track at least in my opinion
I know a number of film production majors here, and I never cease from being shocked by just how little they seem to actually love cinema. It’s much more about being successful.
KJ: are you discussed by the comment itself or the fact that film production majors do not care about cinema.
The latter, CD.
My film school teaches, in three of the four classes, how to close down all creative parts of the mind, and become a commercial director. Not a “commercial” director, but a director of commercials where mediocrity is the rule, and there can be NO MISTAKES, and people who can’t make movies themselves, or are paid to make movies no one’s heard of, create an environment where people are afraid of getting bad responses from peers and teachers.
Basically, they’re made to make you money back for the tens of thousands of dollars you spent to go into film school. The workshop course is, of course, the greatest part of the whole spiel. If it weren’t for the opportunity to throw out all the bullshit that the teachers tell you when they relate good work to films like Nobody’s Fool, and only recent documentaries where there are always interviews, i’d probably just ask for my money back and use it on a super great camera and make my own fucking movie.
The other good thing is that they “promise” an internship, and if you’re a really good student, and you show up all the time and turn in your work, then it’s more or less a shoe-in. But, uh…you know, the number of people who show up, who really care about movies, and who really know better than what three people tell them for a few hours a day are probably few and far between. They teach you to be a hard worker, and competent (swallowable). They don’t teach you that you don’t have to go into hollywood. They also don’t teach you how varied and open the market is right now in film. how many festivals, and studios there are and how it’s not longer King Sunset Boulevard, and how so many of us just want to make our shitty movies and don’t want to give up halfway through and compromise.
I studied both production and film studies and now I teach both at a community college. There seems to be two camps, the production camp is anti-intellectual thinking of the trade and skill set needed to produce films while the studies camp views film as a whole in need of analyzing and criticism.
I could never align myself with one side or another, while I love creating film projects and I am very interested in film theory and criticism. My experience working in the film field is that most of the crew have very little knowledge about cinema.
Here in Michigan there is a push to retrain auto workers and others to work in the film industry. I find it ironic that after studying film in all aspects for 8 years in University I am supposed to compete with people who have taken a two week or one month boot camp course. As if it were just that simple.
Perhaps the reason that Hollywood churns out CGI monstrosities and soulless remakes of television programs has to do with the division in film education. Everyone would benefit from a more well rounded, integrated approach to film education. If you don’t have a love and passion for film it will be painfully obvious in your work.
“My experience working in the film field is that most of the crew have very little knowledge about cinema.”
I agree with that to an extent. I think the crew, gaffers, grips, etc are more movie lovers and love the acrion of a film sets, they’ll talk about Knight Rider and Hellraiser at the craft service table. Where the at director and editor and cinematographer, those in charge of artisic decisions are more students of Film.
Producers on the other hand know nothing of movies or films, they know cliches and box offices numbers.
Those who are truly interested in achieving real success in the film industry take the time to really learn about film in all respects, those who just want to work learn how to set lights and push dollys and enjoy the teamlike atmosphere of working on a set.