Film production is an exciting field thatâ€™s an excellent fit for creative students who want to explore a visual medium. Many film schools are extremely competitive when it comes to applications and only accept a few applicants per semester or school year. It is important to note that outside work matters greatly when applying to film school. Few high schools and community colleges have programs for students to learn to produce work, so outside studying and filming will play a significant role in getting into a quality film school program. For some degree programs, a reel is needed to see a studentâ€™s work and abilities. Film production can be a fun degree, but it requires serious time and a commitment to working on a variety of projects to appropriately learn the trade.
What Do You Learn in Film School?
Film schools do cover basic film techniques, but many of these things are already known by the majority of students in a class. Film students often begin exploring the medium at a very young age. Depending on where they live, they may have the opportunities to attend film camps or kids film schools. Film schools are highly competitive, much like the movie industry. You learn how to work a camera, the various angle techniques, editing, writing, and sound. These are all essential pieces of movie making. Film school prepares you to work in all technical aspects of film behind the camera. The top film schools have areas of concentration for students, such as sound editing or lighting.
Prerequisites for Film School
Most film schools have limited formal prerequisites. Most require a high school diploma or GED, and some programs require a reel. A reel can be difficult to create if you have had limited experience with film. You will need to experiment and create your own work to have a high quality reel that shows the different areas youâ€™re experienced in. Itâ€™s important to note that you will likely face serious competition, especially if youâ€™re applying to well known programs. Some film schools require an essay on why you are hoping to attend that particular program. Some may require a letter of recommendation from a past instructor. This instructor should know you well enough to comment on your work ethic and talent. Ideally, this instructor should be from the arts, such as a past theater director or graphic arts teacher. This instructor does not have to be from a traditional school. If youâ€™ve participated in a film program even just for three weeks over the summer, this instructor would be a better fit for a letter of recommendation than a band teacher who has known for your three years. They can speak directly to your skills and talents.
Some of the most competitive film schools will require a student to visit for an interview before making their final decision. If you are called in for an interview it does not mean you have been admitted to the program, but it does mean the committee takes you seriously and is considering you for a spot on the new roster. Abide by all basic interview tips in this meeting. Dress professionally and present yourself in the best possible light. It is also a great idea to ask specific questions about the program.
Do I Need a Degree in Film to Work in Movies?
For most positions behind the camera, you do not need a formal education. The problem is itâ€™s difficult to get experience and learn how to work with technical equipment without going to school. This can be done through trial and error, but it will take you far longer to master these skills on your own than with the help of trained professionals who are experienced in teaching people. Editing, sound, and many effects are done on computers, so itâ€™s imperative a student is comfortable using various programs to work in the professional world of movies. The most important thing for gaining employment in the film industry is a reel, but in order to create a quality reel, you must know how to work in movie programs that are commonly used. You want to develop a reel that reads like an entry a professional in the industry would submit to directors or film studios.
Can I Get a Film Degree Online?
There are many online film schools that offer high quality programs to prepare you to work in movies. Some of these film schools are extensions of top rated film colleges and programs at universities. The rise in online education has caused these traditional schools to offer online programs. Because the film industry does not have many formal requirements for work, online degrees are ideal for students who want to continue working full time. You will be able to work and obtain your online film degree at the same time. Be prepared to put in a considerable amount of time and concentration for an online degree. Though you do not have to show up to class each day, the workload and studying requires the same amount of time and thought as participating in a traditional course. Students quickly learn that there are many small and large projects that are part of film degree programs.
How Do I Create a Reel to Apply to Film School?
Ideally, a reel is comprised of past projects you have worked on. These may be simple projects or more complex ideas. You are not submitting a movie, but rather samples that show your techniques and abilities with a camera. Reels should be fairly polished and have a professional look. This is especially the case for top film programs. One to three samples within a real is a good start for film school. Programs are primarily looking at your basic skills with a camera and editing. They are not typically looking at the content of the work, so it is simple for a student experienced with a camera and basic movie computer programs to create a reel for an application.
Do I Have to Have a Reel for Film School?
Many online programs do not require a reel, but do require a student to have a digital camera. Nearly all programs will require this, whether itâ€™s a traditional school or an online program. Some traditional schools have cameras students can check out and borrow. It is a good idea to invest in a fair quality camera for film school. While you do not have to go out and spend thousands, you should have a camera that captures high quality images and video footage. From there, you can manipulate images and change sound on a computer program.
What Kind of Computer Should I Have for Film School?
Most professionals working the movie industry work with Mac computers. Mac computers have become the brand of choice for the creative field and so this is the computer most sound and editing professionals use. You may be able to use a PC that works with the same movie programs, but it is very common to have a Mac in film school (or any visual creative field). If you are attending a traditional school, you will most likely have access to a Mac computer in a lab thatâ€™s for visual arts students. There may be time limits on using lab computers in the event other students need access. Like with the digital camera, it is wise for students to invest in a Mac computer because it will be used well beyond your college years if you go on to work in the film industry.
Are Online Courses as Good As Traditional Course for Film School?
The majority of film school is lectures. Because of this online courses provide a very similar experience to traditional courses. Even well known schools like UCLAâ€™s film department offer online programs for students. Some of these are informal and require no admissions process because they are short six week or summer programs. All online film courses are conducted via lectures and discussions that can be viewed online. Some are available for download, allowing students to view them on their own time. Course work is completed by a student at his or her own pace, and students can go to school full or part time. Because of the independent study practice in traditional film schools, the online experience differs in only the way the class is presented.
Do I Need a Reel to Apply for Jobs in the Movie Business?
A reel is required to apply for many jobs, unless you know someone who knows and trusts the quality of work you produce without a reel. For students participating in a film degree program, you will have enough projects during the four years of the degree to create a reel upon graduating. This reel will serve as your resume when applying for jobs. In this field, you do not apply for and interview for positions. You typically submit your reel and once thatâ€™s seen, you may work with the same crew for various projects. It is a lot of networking and job experience that helps you gain high-paying jobs on exciting projects.
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Brtitany Baker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org