Noah Bradley posts why you should not go to art school
. Short version: it costs almost $250K to go to RISD. He recommends you spend $10K and do it yourself.
This mirrors what I've been saying about film school.
I have no idea what film school costs these days; when I went to UCLA, it cost a fraction of what a private MFA would cost; but you had to finance your own student films, which could get pricey, back in the days of shooting on film.
I continue to believe that the best time to go to film school is after you've worked in the industry for a while, know exactly what you want to make, and have the friends to help you make it. If you're just coming in, get a job at an agency and figure out the biz first. Meanwhile, make films on your own. SAG and ACTRA will cut you a lot of slack if you have no budget.
I can't speak to the value of game design school. Friends of mine in games seem to think a liberal arts education is more useful:
On the other hand, depending on what you're trying to do in games, I would imagine it's going to be easier to learn programming or animation with the help of a professor.
It depends also on what kind of person you are. If you're a great self-motivator, you may not need the structure (and you certainly don't need the debt). If you need a little praise, understanding and/or kicks in the pants, then school will give you that, and the walls of your bedroom will not.
I disagree about film school if only for the connection factor. Everything in Hollywood is about nepotism, and for people who have difficulty networking in the cold, colleges like UCLA and USC provides a lot of opportunities for internships, alum support, contests that get agency attention, possible celebrity kid roommates, etc., etc. If I had it to do all over again, I absolutely would have gone to UCLA.
For feature screenwriters, I suspect film school is a waste of time. Certainly there's no harm in getting a BA in something else and then investigating an MFA when you've been out of school for a few years.
Personally, I opted for film school because I wanted to write for TV and I foresaw that being a student would make it possible for me to intern, and via internships, hopefully build a resume that would make me eligible for writers' assistant spots. (I knew even before I went to film school that I am not wired for the stress of "I wrote this, please hire me." I am much better at "Hi, let me show you how unbelievably helpful I can be, while I learn from you how to write TV.")
This plan almost fell apart because 3 & 1/2 semesters into a 4-semester degree, I still had not interned for anyone. But because I was at USC, I got a heads up about an internship in a writers' office, and there's no question my whole career basically follows from that one opportunity. (Well, being hired and then not screwing it up.)
That being said, I didn't get hired because of my USC background -- if anything, in that interview (and every one since, honestly) I spent the first 10 minutes proving I'm don't fit the interviewer's expectation that I'm spoiled/entitled/self-absorbed/clueless. (I'd like to say I don't know how USC students got this reputation, but at this same internship, another fellow USC student/intern was dismissed for proving the stereotype true.)
I was also in a hurry because I thought the industry was a lot more ageist that it actually is. If I'd arrived in LA before my 25th birthday, or if I'd known what I know now, I would have taken Alex's advice and gotten a job at an agency.
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