Hi. I’m Craig and I have a film degree.
It feels a little dirty to say. With so many resources online and the ability to get your hands on a video recording device for the price of a videogame, the value of paying for film school has diminished drastically.
I do still think there is value in film school. Networking, focusing solely your craft for two to six years, and being forced to work on deadlines are just a few of the benefits you’d have trouble finding without it. (Here's a guide on how to do all that on your own)
Even though I think film SCHOOL has value, I’m not convinced that a film DEGREE does. I would argue that getting a degree in creative writing, psychology, financing, business management, or marketing would be a MUCH better use of your time and money. Those degrees would all help you achieve the same filmmaking goals-- maybe even moreso.
Here is a list of successful filmmakers who never got a film degree:
Part 1: Honorable Mentions
These filmmakers did technically get their film degree eventually, but started their career before doing so. To be fair to them, resources like the internet weren’t readily available to learn from.
Richard Linklater - Studied English, dropped out and worked, started filmmaking, attended school in Austin for Film.
Steven Spielberg - Rejected multiple times from film school. Eventually was accepted after having some success with shorter projects.
Part 2: Non-Film Degree Holders
These filmmakers have degrees in a field other than filmmaking. The first few have very similar, but highly focused degrees. Notice that they are all about storytelling in some way.
Part 3: No Degree
According to the information I was able to find, these filmmakers never graduated college. Most never even attended.
Part 4: Not Even A Diploma
This is a special category for a filmmaker that dropped out of high school to pursue his career in making movies:
Okay. Okay. I did hear that Quentin eventually received his high school diploma, but still.
I hope this list helps you think independently about going to college. Like I said: I have a film degree.
Would I do it again? Yes.
I met some of the people I still work with to this day during film school (and my long-time girlfriend) which is worth every penny.
What do you think? If you aren’t going to study filmmaking in college, what would you study instead? Do you think college is even worth it these days?
For further reading, here are some good articles on filmmaking without film school:
Did I make any major mistakes you can help me correct? Let me know in the comments down below.
You may have noticed that there aren't exactly 24 filmmakers on the list. I've recently removed a few after further research and comments pointing out that it us unfair to count someone like John Lasseter, Linklater, or Spielberg that all have degrees in the field they make movies. Still all interesting though. Let me know what you think in the comments below.