Film School: Second and Third Most Useless

Film school degrees are rated as the second most useless by Forbes and third most useless by Yahoo Finance. This will come as no surprise to consenting adults, but if the inclusion of these links saves just one kid from the indentured servitude of student debt, it will have been worth it.


The two most successful filmmakers did not go to film school.  The two most gifted and successful filmmakers in perhaps history — Steven Spielberg and James Cameron — did not go to film school and do not recommend going to film school.  Instead, they both advise aspiring filmmakers to shoot their own projects and build their reel until their skills are marketable enough to be hired on paid directing gigs. If you are not going to listen to James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, whose advice are you going to take? This question is fair game, and is the one question film school advocates cannot and will not address.

Many aspiring filmmakers think that spending $100,000 on a film school degree is a good investment, but most are not even aware of a $20 book that can make a gargantuan difference to their practical skills – the book that most of their competitors have never even heard of, and are probably not sufficiently motivated to absorb anyway.

It’s certainly a widely talked about subject.  For us, we learned in the field – having never attended any type of film education.  However, for many it may be exactly what they need.  At any rate, we found the statistics and thought it worth mentioning.


3 thoughts on “Film School: Second and Third Most Useless”

  1. Would love the post if the sources for Cameron and Spielberg’s advice was included in your post.

    Another idea to piggyback off of what you said: find out a program or course’s syllabus and work off of that. You’ll cover the same concepts. Albeit, you loose out on the interactions with the professor and networking opportunities from attending a film program.

    Another perspective is that you are essentially buying a name brand for your resume. Instead of Levi’s or BMW, you are purchasing networking access, opportunities, and “membership” exclusivity in the name of AFI, USC, UCLA, NYU, SCAD…etc. “To what pedigree can you afford?” then becomes the question.

  2. Hey Jason, thanks for your response to our post. We appreciate you stopping by and checking us out.

    Yeah, we agree with you regarding your comments about film programs. It’s impossible to say one way or the other. The encouragement we hoped to offer with this was to say, “if you haven’t been one of those who attended a film program, no worries. There’s lots of those out there, all the way to the top, that never have either.” Heck, none of us went to film school!

    With that being said, life isn’t black and white. And unlike nearly every other industry in the world, this one we’re in doesn’t have a book showing you the road to success…just like it doesn’t for the road out, either. We see it as the the industry of art. Success is what we make it. Titles, prestige, pedigree, and the like, simply just don’t seem to apply – and once again, are only as powerful as we intend for them to be.

    Steven Spielberg and James Cameron are two wonderful examples that we chose to use, with or without sources. Simply put, neither one attended film school. On the flip side, should Forbes and Yahoo finance be credible sources for this kind of conversation, based on the paragraph above? We don’t really know. It’s not really our place to say. We consider ourselves art driven business people. Simply putting those two truths and ideas together and approaching the question head on – that was our place and what we hoped to accomplish.

    Thanks again for your response! It’s exactly what we hoped to see! We hope you’ll have more and help us spread the word about it.

    1. Thank you for the great follow up reply. Good points. You are correct to say that there are many ways into the industry. It just depends on what one is looking for and what works best for him or her.

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