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Monday, April 09, 2007

Q. I am very interested in the film/tv industry. I do have a desire for writing scripts,producing and directing. Do you have any comment or have heard anything on this school's program; a community college in NC has a two year curriculum in Film &Video Technology, it's an associates degree program in Applied Science. Hands-on instruction taught be industry professionals.
It would be easier for me to comment if I knew the name of the community college. (Guys, please, spend at least as long writing the question as I'm likely to spend answering it, huh?)
Q. Sorry, the college is Cafe Fear Community College, in Wilmington,NC. A few of the major courses are; Intro to film & video,Camera and lighting I & II,grip and electrical I & II,production techniques I & II, 2D and 3D design & animations I and editing I.
Offhand, I don't think that a community college (even in Cafe Fear) is going to teach you anything in two years that you could not learn on your own. I'm not just being a snob; I'm not actually sure that major programs like UCLA or NYU teach you all that much that you couldn't learn on your own. Sure, you get access to equipment, but you can rent a prosumer video camera for a couple hundred bucks for a week, or buy one for a couple thousands; and you can edit on a Mac with Final Cut.

Don't go to a community college to study film, unless of course you just need an AA degree. Write a script. Rent a video camera. Buy a Mac and put Final Cut on it. And shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot.

Set yourself a goal of making one complete under-ten-minute short film every two months. This gives you six months from script to edited film if you edit one film while you're prepping and shooting the next film and you're writing the film after that. (Multitasking like that will help you absorb the lessons, as you sit in the edit bay cursing your idiot director -- you -- and moron writer -- you.)

Don't shoot anything longer than ten minutes; it's much easier to get people to watch a short short than a long one, and you'll take more risks with a short short.

Where do you get your crew? From the AA program at the community college, of course. But you don't have to actually go there. For my short I'm getting a lot of people from Concordia, but we're producing it ourselves.

In fact, if you get a film student in the AA program to "produce" your film, then you can lay your hands on the free equipment without paying for the classes.

After two years of this, you'll either to be ready to go to LA, with a kickass reel, or you'll know that the film business is not for you. After two years of community college, you'll have spent a lot of time in classes hearing people talk about how it's done, but a lesson learned by doing is worth ten times a lesson heard in class.

Of course you could also go to the AA program while shooting a film every two months. I'm just not sure what the benefit would be; except possibly to get your parents off your back about how you're spending your time.

Film is all about the doing, not the theory. And experience will be a much better instructor than anyone you'll get at a community college in North Carolina -- possibly better than anyone you'll get anywhere.

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7 Comments:

Plus, 10 minutes is the limit on youtube. :)

By Blogger Jason, at 11:12 AM  

I used to teach high school in North Carolina. Trust me. Cape Fear is not the place you want to go to learn about film.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 1:19 PM  

Out of curiosity, I checked out the listings for Cape Fear CC. I think Alex has made some excellent suggestions, and I agree with him completely about the relative value of doing vs classroom experience. But the CC courses appear to be pretty darn cheap, so taking a couple of classes might not be a bad way to jump-start the process, to get comfortable with the technology, to meet like-minded students who might want to collaborate, etc.

By Blogger thethirdcoast, at 1:44 PM  

I couldn't agree more. People always push the "In film school, you are safe to mess up". Well, you are safe on your own as well. I have made many shorts that I was unhappy with, so I just learned from them and moved on. All while spending days writing software...

By Blogger Josh Johnson, at 8:38 PM  

I'm going along the route that thethirdcoast has pointed out. I need to learn how to use and get comfortable with the equipment,technology, meet people with similar interests. Also, I need some type of degree. Most employers usually want to see a degree. How does Josh spend days writing software? did he learn it from some type of school?

By Blogger nikki, at 9:18 PM  

I agree that checking out this particular school, since it is on the cheap, might not be such a bad idea. Wilmington's market for film and TV production has been booming lately. Dawson's Creek put it on the map and there have been a string of shows and movies shooting there ever since. Taking even just one class may help open the doors for contacts in the industry.

By Blogger angela, at 12:56 PM  

I was told that NC has a good Film program. It's been described as the Hollywood of the east to me, but I really don't have any idea. College

By Blogger rsieker, at 4:34 PM  

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