Why Did PT Anderson Drop Out of NYU Film School?

ptnyu2PT Anderson, director of “There Will Be Blood”, “Boogie Nights”, “Punch Drunk Love”, and a slew of other great movies, was once enrolled at NYU Film School.

For a Week.

But before the Bursar could completely digest his tuition, he smartly got out, got most of his money back, and used it to help make his first film.

But what exactly inspired Mr. Anderson so bolt from NYU so quickly? The amusing answer is in this video below:

Spoiler Alert: So here’s what happened. PT admits that, like most new filmmakers, he didn’t have the confidence to just go out and make a film, so he figured school was the right move. He got into NYU and one of the Professors on the first day said, “At NYU we make films, real films. So if you want to make ‘Terminator 2’, then leave.” (I think I actually heard that same speech when I was a freshman in 1996).

PT was stunned. He thought to himself, “T2 is a pretty awesome movie. And what if I want to make a movie like that, or the person sitting next to me wants to make a movie like that?” So he decided to test his Professors.

They had an assignment, to demonstrate a character’s experience through a scene. And instead of writing his own, PT lifted a scene from “Hoffa” by Award Winning Writer David Mamet. In that movie, he shows Danny DeVito’s character trying to stay awake while driving by letting his cigarette burn down to his fingers, so it woke him up. As PT said, it was beautiful, elegant, and simple, and from the mind of one of the great master writers.

He handed it in, and the Professor gave him a “C”.

That was all he needed. PT dropped out, got his money back and started shooting his own movies. 🙂

Be like PT. To learn how to shoot and sell your first feature and get your career going, check out filmschoolsolution.com.


  1. This was great! How humiliating for that professor, and embarrassing for the school. After getting my B.A. I agonized over whether or not to work and save and take out massive loans for film school and recently decided that if I want to do it, I’ll have to do it my way. Your website is definitely boosting my confidence and making me feel better about my decision.

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