What Are Film and Cinema Schools?
Film and cinema schools are schools that focus on teaching aspiring filmmakers the necessary skills needed for a successful career in the film industry. The majority of film and cinema schools cater to those who wish to help create both live action films as well as animated films.
It was around the beginning of the 20th century that films and cinema started to become immensely popular with many audiences. For obvious reasons, this was also about the same time that the film making industry began to take off. More and more people began to get interested in the filmmaking process, which helped keep the world supplied with films.
In the beginning, those who had hopes for a successful filmmaking career didn’t have much of a chance to benefit from any formal education. Many early filmmakers were self-taught or learned from working under more experienced professionals. Apprenticeships in the filmmaking industry were quite common, and working their way up from positions was not unheard of.
As the filmmaking industry became more and more demanding and popular, however, film and cinema schools began to pop up all over the country. One of the very first technical film and cinema schools was the School of Cinema-Television, which was a part of the University of Southern California in the heart of the filmmaking business. Despite the fact that it was founded in 1929, the School of Cinema-Television – which is now known as the USC School of Cinematic Arts – remains one of the most popular and prestigious film and cinema schools in the country.
What Types of Degrees Can I Earn at Film and Cinema Schools?
In general, students attending film and cinema schools often have a few different types of degrees to choose from, including associate, bachelor, and master degrees. Earning any of these degrees will help a film student learn the fundamentals of the filmmaking business. Longer degree programs, however, will enable film students to learn more advanced filmmaking techniques.
Depending on a film student’s interests and career goals, there are also a number of different types of degree programs to choose from at a film and cinema school. These degree programs might focus on skills necessary for pre-production, production, and post production. Here are some possible degree programs that film students might be able to choose from:
- Screenwriting – All films and movies start with the screenwriting process. Screenwriting is the process of writing screenplays, or script, which contain dialogue and scene information. Students who study screenwriting at film and cinema schools will learn how to write a script for the big screen.
- Film Production – The term “film production” refers to the process of making a film in general. Typically, students that major in film production at film and cinema schools will learn about a number of different techniques needed to produce and create a movie. This often includes a number of backstage jobs, such as set design, lighting, sound, special effects, and cinematography. Film production students will also usually be required to produce a few short student films before graduation.
- Cinematography – Cinematography is the art of capturing live action with a motion picture camera. Students studying this art will typically learn to use several different types of motion picture cameras, including tips and techniques on how to angle them and capture difficult shots
- Post-production – Post-production is the aspect of filmmaking that occurs after the script has been written and all footage of the action has been shot. Students majoring in post-production will often learn how to edit films by putting scenes together in logical order, deleting scenes, and possibly adding sound or special effects.
- Animation – More and more film and cinema schools are now offering digital animation degree programs in addition to their more traditional programs. Students majoring in digital animation programs will not only learn how to create short or feature length animated films, they will also usually learn how to add special effects to a film using digital techniques.
Students pursuing advanced degrees, such as master’s degrees, will typically be able to focus more in one particular area that interests them.
What Are Some of the Different Courses Offered at Film and Cinema Studies Schools?
Generally speaking, most film and cinema schools offer courses in nearly every aspect of filmmaking. Most film and cinema students will usually start by taking some required courses. These might include courses on the history of filmmaking and some techniques used to produce a film, as well as business courses, which will come in handy when attempting to navigate the difficult film industry. Most students in these schools will also be required to take some courses on writing for films and television.
Overall, however, the courses that film and cinema school students take will usually depend on their interests, along with their intended majors and career objectives.
Some of the courses offered at film and cinema schools may consist of classroom work. Much of the work done at a film school, however, is meant to be more hands-on, which enables students to gain valuable work experience in the film industry. For example, film students are often required to help create at least one short student film before they can graduate.
How Do I Choose the Right Film and Cinema School?
Not every school is right for every potential film student, and the process of choosing the right school is a very different experience for everyone. The right film and cinema school for you will typically depend on your wants, needs, and career goals.
The location of a film school will most likely be one thing that you’ll want to keep in mind. Some students find that they prefer to be closer to home when they go to college, for instance. It is usually a less expensive option, and you will be close to your family and friends. On the other hand, attending college that is far away can be a great opportunity for some budding adults to find themselves and get a little taste of true independence for the first time. Keep in mind, however, that the best film and cinema schools are usually located in large metropolitan areas, particularly Los Angeles and New York City. Not only do these schools offer more resources, they are also often a source of valuable networking contacts in the film industry.
Film and cinema schools, like most other post-secondary schools, can be rather expensive, and cost is another factor you should keep in mind when choosing the right school for you. Some new students are lucky enough to secure grants, scholarships, and loans to cover tuition and other expenses. If you are unable to get financial aid and unable to pay for film school, however, don’t give up just yet. Try attending a local community college for the first couple years and transfer to a film and cinema school when you’re more financially stable. Keep in mind though, that the most prestigious film and cinema schools aren’t the only ones out there – there may be other similar schools that are just as good and more affordable.
Do I Need a Degree From a Film and Cinema School?
The answer to this question may not be as straight forward as you hope. Simply put, you might need a degree and you might not. It all depends on your career goals.
Some people are able to break into the film industry with little to no formal education in this area. They might start in entry level positions, for instance, as assistants or gaffers. Apprenticeships in the film industry are also possible, but these are becoming few and far between.
With technology in the film industry advancing rapidly, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find employment without a degree. In fact, most technical positions in the film industry today require degrees.
The film industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. A sound education from a film and cinema school, while not always absolutely necessary, will give you the competitive edge you need to succeed over other applicants.