Why go to film school?
When you have Youtube (and the video essay)
We all sit in two camps. Pro or con. Left or right. Right or wrong. Where do you stand?
I have to say, I’m not sure. When it comes to schools I can’t decide. That’s not entirely true. When it comes to film school I’m pretty sure. It’s useless.
In some countries you will pay 15 to 60 thousand — if not more — to graduate from a film school. And right after graduation you are pushed to be a good little worker and feed the system. You’re rarely placed in a situation where things are questioned. You’re told never to touch an apple box because that’s someone else’s job. Know your place and all will go smoothly.
In this industry — like most of the creative arts — a just go out there and do it attitude is so much better. What school should bring you is the comradery of like minded people? Or better yet a friendly, competitive atmosphere where you are trying to one up your classmates. But now there is this thing called the interweb. Spend your lost tuition money on equipment, intern or volunteer. Go out and shoot instead. Diplomas won’t book jobs but a full kit will.
If you know you lack discipline and structure, then school might be perfect. You have to deliver or risk failing. But then again isn’t it like that everywhere.
This brings me to YouTube (and Vimeo for that matter). We’ve probably never seen so much film analysis, camera tests, shot by shots and DIY hacks. Some are quick and dirty while others are incredibly thoughtful. It’s a clickable education. I’m sure your parents — and their bank account — will love that.
Here are some of our favorite channels, at the August Project, to get you started. New ones are constantly popping up. Spend some time every day absorbing their content, then go out and shoot, photograph or talk to humans. Now the only thing holding you back is a camera and an idea. We can’t help you there.
Every Frame A Painting: Tony Zhou has created some incredibly thoughtful analysis, whether it’s on ensemble staging, visual comedy or the genius of Chuck Jones. This is what video essays should look and feel like.
The Nerdwriter: Recently Evan Puschak has diversified the kind of essays he’s put out but they are still film heavy. The looks at specific movies is golden.
Cheesy Cam: These guys are the kings of DIY/hack videos. The product reviews are worth looking at before you jump into buying anything.
DigitalRev TV: Focused a little more on photography, these videos are too good and funny not to watch.
Here is a quick list of other sites, videos and channels to look at:
Roger Deakins and Matthew Heineman On Depicting the Drug War in Film
DP/30: Django Unchained, actor Samuel L Jackson