A Note to Parents About Film School

Dear Parents,

Congratulations on raising your child to college age successfully. Seriously, this is not an easy task! I know you care about your kid and want him or her to realize his or her dreams. If your son or daughter dreams of becoming a filmmaker and wants to attend film school, please check out this website. Or, if you have a child who wants to be a filmmakers but you want them to get a degree as a “backup”, some semblance of security or financial stability, please hear what I have to say.

It’s 2011, and the value of a Bachelor’s degree has decreased significantly. In the film business, its value is virtually nonexistent. A Bachelor’s Degree only assures a film school graduate consideration for very menial, entry level jobs far away from film sets, in the accounting offices, talent agencies, and office complexes that run peripheral to the film business. To actually get a job on a film set, directing, writing, doing creative tasks requires a healthy resume and good amount of experience which will not be provided by any of the film schools so desperately competing for your tuition dollars.

If you want your child to be successful, and you have the financial means to pay for college, or if you are considering taking out huge loans to pay for film school, please think twice. If you are interested in providing your child a “backup” for their future, please do not consider a Bachelor’s degree such a thing. Instead, encourage your child to learn basic job interviewing skills and how to present themselves to potential temp agencies or human resource managers. If they truly desire a career in film encourage them to start meeting filmmakes and getting on film sets ASAP. This is a much more valuable currency for their future than a degree, which is not taken seriously within the business.

The reality of working in the film business is far different than what the film schools would like you to believe. They pray on your desire for security and the perceived value of a college degree to extract huge student loans, which then go right to the school. Make sure to rigorously ask the school you are considering for detailed post graduate job placement stats and how they plan on helping their students transition from school into a career in their field. You will discover that most of the major schools, like NYU, USC, UCLA, and  NYFA do not provide much support after school. The focus is on getting kids in the door so they can collect tuition, then graduate them.

If you look at the Art Institutes website you’ll see the average starting salary for BFA grads is $30,000 with a 60% job placement rate. Does this seem worthy of a $90,000 investment. Meanwhile there are young people who skipped college altogether making more money, that will ultimately be the mangers, supervisors, and bosses that your child graduate has to earn the approval of.

Film is a funny business. I’ve met too many NYU, USC, and other film school grads with $30,000 to $100,000 in debt working entry level jobs they could’ve gotten much easier without film school, no clue how to move forward in their careers. I am tired of seeing parents being duped by these schools with no input from real graduates with real information.

Please check out this site and consider your alternatives before writing a huge tuition check to one of these film schools.

It is possible for your son or daughter to have a career in the film business, but film school is not the best investment or the best way to achieve that goal.

Best,

Seth Hymes

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