Many, many years ago, when I was young and relevant, I attended a real, actual film school, where I did real actual things like shoot on film, edit on the professional equivalent of two VCRs daisy-chained together, and use this to generate credits. The year was 1997, Third Eye Blind was on the radio, and I wanted desperately to be a filmmaker, so I did the obvious thing and went to film school. The world was different then – it made sense to follow the appropriate career path – go to school, work as a PA, get into a union, pick your department of choice, get promoted, etc. But for better or for worse, those days are over (for better, believe me) – and it no longer makes sense for you young folks who want to make movies to drop a pile of cash on an education that is freely available on the internet. For all the gains I reaped from my education (I did get to work in broadcasting in a variety of roles for the better part of ten years), the long and the short of it was that it really trained me for little more than standing in a parking lot, handing out sandwiches and band-aids in the rain on a CTV movie of the week (which is a real thing that I really did).
And this brings me to my long-awaited point: these days, you can basically go to film school on the internet for free. Sort of. iTunes U, which I consider one of the most reassuring thing to come out of civilization ever, posts digital materials from pretty much any class you can ever conceive of wanting to take ever. I am currently enjoying a film class from the Fox Chapel Area School District, which you can download to your iPhone or iDevice here. Others currently in my library include “The Short Film” from something called Music Industry College, and Xaverian High School’s Introduction to Film.
While these virtual classrooms lack active instruction, it’s worth mentioning that the trumpeted credentials of at least one of my former IRL instructors included having assistant-directed a TV movie with Jan Michael Vincent – so before you sink a bunch of cash into a fancy book-learnin’ edumacation, why not take one of these classes, learn SOMETHING from it, go put it into use on your next project.