The age old question of whether one should go to film or photography school (or any vocational school) is no uncomplicated conversation. There are many facets to consider to reach an educated decision (pun intended), and everyone has their own priorities, perspective, end goals, and financial capabilities.
I'll just jump to my conclusion and then follow up with the body. CONCLUSION: If you can obtain higher education, do so. If you can't, don't. Either option won't kill you. And what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger... or something like that.
BODY: May I share the benefits I received by receiving higher education in Media Arts Studies? Feel free to agree or disagree, but I'd simply like to share one additional perspective on this interesting topic.
- Correct principles
- Learn the why (theory)
- Comprehensive training
- Deeply rooted camaraderie
- Bad habits die hard. Real hard.
- Knowledge is power
- James Bond
- Who you know is everything
Networking can be done in various ways, but for me it has proven to be incredibly profitable to have done so through attending a university. I have made friends who I might not have ever associated with otherwise. These are people who you might think are weird at first, but because of constant interaction you learn to appreciate those differences. You end up learning from them and becoming friends with people you never would've suspected. Inevitably you'll gravitate towards different cinematic and photographic niches which will be of benefit when you need help in areas where you're not as familiar later on. You can learn from their strengths making you a more well-rounded creative. Your clients will notice. Or, you can simply hire your colleagues to collaborate with you. Win/win.
Learning correct principles from the beginning encourages grounded habits. It leads to doing things right the first time–no trial and error needed. It develops professionalism. It also facilitates continued education down the road.
Theory is most people's least favorite thing to study, at least where I attended. Just let us go out there and shoot! But getting up at 4am to train at the gym for 2 hours before heading to work is also not highly loved by most people. My point?
To me, learning the why is all about creating habits of ordering your priorities properly and efficiently. This will essentially teach you how to make the most of your particular skill set and therefore lead you to the greatest degree of success.
Many people complain about General Education requirements, or the various required core classes within your major. I've always considered this to be a silly complaint as expanding one's horizons has never caused their downfall. Of course, saying you know what you're going to like before you've tried it is of course a sign of closed mindedness, which I think we can all agree is not a characteristic of successful people. In film school I had to learn things I didn't necessarily care about which later has served me ten-fold as my career has slowly taken paths I originally had not expected. I rely upon the comprehensive training I once considered irrelevant.
Networking has trickle effects that I wouldn't have expected, including a job I took in 2015 to edit an entire reality TV show in Portuguese simply because of a contact I made during my time as a student editor. A week after I graduated I received a phone call from a business owner who needed a long-term contract editor. How did he get my name? One of my professors referred him to me saying that I was the best editor he'd seen. Both of these jobs have proven to be quite financially influential in my professional career and both have related back to my time at BYU. Like I said earlier, you can make it as a professional photographer or filmmaker without college, but it doesn't mean it wouldn't hurt to consider the positive effects of it as well.