Is film school worth it? Matt Fackrell writes with an article that he introduces with, "I write this in hopes that a good number of filmmaker hopefuls will listen to my advice, and ask themselves "should I really get a bachelors degree in film, or are there other options?"" His full letter, which he says is directed towards those who are married or getting married, continues below...
"THIS ARTICLE IS PRIMARILY DIRECTED TO THOSE WHO ARE MARRIED OR THOSE WHO WILL BE GETTING MARRIED AT ANY TIME.
I was two weeks away from moving from Utah with my wife and son to travel to California and begin attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California of which I was accepted with an Art Center Scholarship. There I would be getting my BFA in film and be going in debt nearly $150,000 (this being that I would be unable to work, because the school is very competitive). The school is also very expensive but I didn't care, I loved the school and would saw off my left foot to go there. But as luck would have it, I had trouble getting cosigners on my loans, thus making me unable to go, and this was very disappointing to me.
Since this was impossible, another plan of action was implemented. I entered the University of Utah working for my BA in Mass Communications. My wife is going to massage school and within a year after we pay debt we'll be ready to take the journey to Art Center to gain my Masters Degree in film.
I want you to understand that I'm glad things worked out the way they did, because now I don't believe that a BFA in film is the way to go. If you are getting a BFA in film or are planning on it then ask yourselves "where will this degree take me". After film school when all is said and done, it is more than likely that you will not be hired right off to direct a feature film. So where do you work, because your established, newly established or soon to be established family more than likely will be looking to you (if you are male or female) to provide. You have spent nearly a $100,000 to get your BFA, but does this matter in the real world. You might go to a news station or production company, but most of the time experience is necessary and a degree is mandatory. I've seen time and time again where a production company and especially anything having to do with news will always hire a mass comm major over a film major. If you don't believe me, then go to Monster.com and look up any news station hiring for directing, editing, producing or any other position, they will usually have the magic words "Mass Communications degree required" in bold faced letters. I worked for a company which produces training videos, in which I was the lead video editor. They were hiring for directing positions, and they passed on those with film degrees and hired those with experience and mass comm degrees.
Now I'm not saying that film school is bad, and for those of you who have all the time in the world to focus on film and nothing else then by all means, go and get a BFA in film, but those of you who are thinking about starting a family, then think of the future first.
First get a degree in something, anything that will guarantee you something to fall back on if the going gets tough. What will happen if there is a slide in the industry and nobody is really hiring, and heaven forbid that films aren't being made. What Will You Do?
Get a degree in accounting, or business or mass communications, or mechanics, engineering, public relations, whatever. This may be boring and a lot of work, but you will be paying significantly less on this degree at a university in your home state (instate tuition discount) and be securing a future for you and your family. A degree in a stable field is the best insurance you can get.
If you have a very supportive husband or wife, then you can take the next step and finish graduate school in film.
I myself will be attending Art Center College of Design after I get my bachelors in Mass Communications. I do not expect to direct films right out of school, but I will be well rounded in many areas of film and video with both degrees. My wife will be working full time as a massage therapist and our kids will do day care for a short time. After school I will then get a full time job with a production company, news station, or go into business for myself. I don't want to put a lot of stress on my wife if I say "well honey, now that I'm done with film school, I will be working my way up for a number of years on film shoots." Plan on working full time, do you dream on the side and make a transition to doing it full time.
Film is an art and I understand that there are those who could care less about living off of nothing, but still work hard at their craft. Good luck to all of you and think of the future. " Your comments are invited.