Does Your High School’s AV Dept. Have Better Equipment Than Film School?

Many high schoolers dream of attending big name film schools because they imagine huge cranes, big cameras, and the bright lights of a real film set.

The reality is starkly different. In fact in 2012, the equipment owned by many film schools is often comparable to a high school AV department.

In the last 10 years the cost of high quality video equipment has dropped exponentially. The result is that the DSLR and other video cameras you have in your school’s AV program are often the exact same cameras used when you go to film school.

Before enrolling in a $40,000 a year program, make sure to call up the school in question and ask them what kind of cameras you will have access to. A place like LA Film School does have a few RED cameras, but that’s literally a couple to be shared by hundreds of students. Each school tends to buy cheaper cameras like DSLR Rebels or Nikon D700s to let the freshman make their student films.

There’s nothing wrong with using a DSLR camera to shoot a short film; but what is the point of paying $40,000 in tuition to do so?

With editing the similarities are even more glaring. When I was in school, back in the mid 1990s, you literally could not get a computer editing suite without paying $25,000 for an AVID. Having access to one at NYU was a big deal.

But then AVID Xpress came out, then Adobe Premiere, and then Final Cut Pro. Pretty soon you could get a Pro Grade editing suite on a Mac or PC for under $1,0000. As such many high schools have entire labs that have Macs pre-loaded with Final Cut.

When you go to film school, in many cases you will find yourself in the exact same situation as high school: in a lab with a bunch of Mac computers using Final Cut. In some cases there may be an AVID suite or something with more mixing channels, or more hard drive space, but the difference is miniscule.

In essence you will be paying $15,000 a semester to get access to the same video editing equipment you had access to in high school or could use on your own MAC or PC computer.

At the name film schols like NYU or USC, you still don’t use a video or film camera until your second year. And then you spend a semester shooting silent black and white films on cameras that are 50 years old and you could rent for $150 a day. (See this article for more information).

Before applying to an expensive film school, check and see if you won’t just be paying more money to have access to equipment you are using right now. And if you want to know the smart way to start your career with our film school make sure to check out Film School Secrets.




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