Should I go to film school? A conversation with the producer of Moonlight
By Tiffany Ng
As a petite asian female with impeccably bad skin the odds of ‘making it’ in Hollywood are, quite frankly, against me.
The decision of whether or not I should pursue film as a career depends on two things:
1. My parent’s approval
Parents: “You wanna be a what?”
This could be me…
Going into my last year of high school, it begs the question of whether or not I should go to film school, or better yet, if going to a film school is really the most logical thing to do. Yes, I can go to a prestigious institution where I am taught the fundamentals of lighting, sound, cinematography, production etc. But growing up in a community where a clip of a waffle gets more hits than a meticulously crafted production, the necessity of film fundamentals has become a grey area.
That’s a really good picture of some tasty looking waffles though…
In the past, the quality of creative endeavours (paintings, films, sculptures) have been judged based on the time, effort, and skill invested in the piece. It was a linear equation that comes to a wholly objective result. But now, literally anything sells. Youtube has made the filmmaking the most annoyingly accessible career ever. Literally anyone could call themselves a youtuber, the quality of your actual film is irrelevant.
I don’t wanna wanna be a hater…but… some youtube accounts? Skill level = 0
This brings me to my concern. If it just takes some form of functioning recording device and a computer, why go through all the trouble spending my time, and HUGE sums of cash to go through film school? If people are only interested in shaky vlogs, or single shot storytime videos about an underage white girl’s rachet clubbing stories (Tana Mongeau), is spending $160,000 USD learning what a dead cat (the furry sound thing you see on boom mics) is really worth it?
Yup…Might as well burn that money
Don’t Worry Tiff, it’s who you know!
I’ve always been told in Hollywood it’s not about how good you are, it’s about who you know. Film school gives you the opportunity to meet directors, actors, members of Hollywood. Point for
team film school. What if I’m introverted and unsociable? What if I establish connections through internships, networking events, workshops (all available at universities everywhere) Or I have
rich friends who just happens to have James Cameron on speed dial? Point team no film school.
My doubts about film school began with an interesting conversation with the producer of Academy award winning film Moonlight.
‘There isn’t really a set path to becoming an established filmmaker’ — – Andrew Hevia.
“There isn’t really a set path to becoming an established filmmaker” – Andrew Hevia
I met Andrew Hevia at a recent presentation in Hong Kong, as he shared his thoughts about film school or the ‘conventional’ route of ‘making it’.
I always thought film school is the most logical step to becoming a filmmaker. You get out of film school with a piece of paper that says you’re qualified, sign up for a bunch of heavy labor internship/personal assistant roles that doesn’t pay, and slowly climb your way up the ladder to becoming a well respected filmmaker. But then Andrew said this…
‘Its funny how most of my friends got internships with well known directors right off the bat after
graduating film school. But it’s been 10, 20 years? And they’re still working as interns.’
Andrew started his presentation by sharing the story of how he decided to work at a small publishing company in Miami. This small job spiraled into making short films in his free time and meeting other local filmmakers. As the community of filmmakers he knew grew, Andrew came to the realization that Miami lacked a certain cinematic identity. Then came his creation of the Borscht festival.
‘We just gathered a bunch of filmmakers, curated films that came with a unique sense of
identity, got a beer company to sponsor us, and called it a festival!’
Yeah…He was pretty cool..
From the festival he met more filmmakers and eventually received a script submission for Moonlight. Not the most conventional way to ‘making it’. The success in Andrew’s life wasn’t based on calculated career moves, but rather serendipitous opportunities. If there isn’t a definite path to becoming a Hollywood success, I might as well have fun on my way there!
Maybe in my case going to film school is the logical thing to do, but not necessarily the smartest thing to do.
Well it’s my last year…I’ll figure it out and let you know!
If you haven’t seen Moonlight yet, check out the trailer here and see wonderful piece of Indie Cinema that made it big: