Film School History

Film School: A Multi Million Dollar Profit Machine

Most people do not realize that film schools were an invention that did not exist before the middle of the century. Some of the most prolific and legendary filmmakers in the world, from Alfred Hitchcock to John Ford to William Huston, were making films back when the idea of sending someone to “school” to learn filmmaking seemed absurd.

Back then, if you wanted to make movies, you got on a movie set and learned from a professional. That’s how Hitchock did it.  And shockingly enough, this is really still how it is done today. Even graduates from a top film school, after all those student films and classes and grades, still compete with each other to get any kind of industry position after school. Why? To get “work experience”. Because everyone knows the only valable kind of experience in the film business is working on real movies, not student films.

In the 1960s, NYU and some other schools started adding film theory classes to their curriculum, and eventually started teaching basic filmmaking skills to students. A new film school. At the time, this was a radical idea, and it was actually pretty cool. Remember, this was before camcorders, online video editing software, and even color TV.

To be able to go to college and get access to film cameras, flatbed editing bays, and film projectors, was awesome, valuable and a privilege! Similarly, back then and even until the 1980s, you couldn’t watch movies that weren’t in the theaters! Back then there were no VCRs, DVDS, and certainly no Netflix. So to attend a film school and study films, watch them in a big projection room… was amazing.

Back then, doing all this on your own would have been super expensive. So the idea of a film school was great. It still didn’t mean they were teaching you anything practical, or that you’d have a job when you graduated, but at least you were getting a lot of really high priced, hard to get education and equipment for meager price of your tuition.

From this period of time, the 1960s to the early 1980s, film school was a cool idea and maybe even a good investment. The average person couldn’t afford their own film camera, stock, developing, flatbed editing unit… so getting all this from a school was really a good deal.

Flash cut to 1995, when college tuition began its astronomical rise. What might have cost a couple thousand dollars for film school now costs anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a year depending on if you went to a state school to a private film school like NYU or USC. Or Drexel (DREXEL!? Come on!) Meanwhile, video cameras were being invented to make it easier than ever to capture images. People were editing on deck to deck video, but it was still expensive….

Flash forward to 2010. The entire scene is different. HD video cameras are selling for $500 at Best Buy. Consumers have access to nonlinear editing equipment like Final Cut Pro and AVID XPress for a few hundred or thousand dollars (and this software COST AS MUCH AS $75,000 IN THE NINETIES!!!) DSLR cameras are being used to shoot mainstream TV shows. People on Youtube are making videos that look better than many student films.

All the while, the Internet is changing how film distribution works. Videos are available on Demand from Netflix. One thing hasn’t changed: filmmaking professionals still do not care if you went to film school. What was once a cool experience and a chance to get your hand on a camera has now become a disgustingly overpriced, overhyped waste of people’s life savings.

Film Schools have now become one of the most profitable businesses in the world.

New York Film Academy is a multi million dollar a year business. One student alone an generate over $50,000 in profit for them and many other film schools. The Art Institutes, a subsidiary of the multi billion dollar Educorp company, have opened film schools all over America, charging students $90,000 to get a Bachelor’s degree.

And the student loan industry works with these schools to give eager, inexperienced students more money than they will ever see after graduation, feasting on the long term interest of these loans.

New York Film Academy spends over $10 Million a year on advertising. Their daily internet ad budget looks like this:

Film School

$15,000 a day to get new customers. They can afford to spend $15,000 to get 8,000 visitors a day, because if even ONE POOR SUCKER signs up for their school they have earned back their money.

Film schools have gone from being a cool art school idea to multi million dollar a year chop shops that recruit young people with big dreams, slap a cheap camera in their hands, give them some basic filmmaking skills, a certificate, and send them on their way.

To learn more about this shocking facts, check out Film School Secrets

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