Film School or Na?
Why film school matters to you.

Many companies think making video doesn't require much more than knowing how to focus a camera. Here's why they are wrong.

One of the first classes I took in film school was a course called “Ways of Seeing”. Now, this covered much of what many dislike about film studies. Every week we sampled a different style of filmmaking from experimental to indie documentaries to groundbreaking studio movies. The point of the class was to develop an understanding for the basic mechanisms of visual communication. By paring down and contrasting different film techniques we were able to see more clearly how each film used the tools of motion imaging. This was vital critical and technical training.

This is something you can’t get by naively binge-watching YouTube or Netflix. You need to get in and dissect the work and see what makes it tick. Watching a video essay on a topic won’t necessarily do the trick, either. That is just digesting someone else’s understanding of visual language. You need to think about the different ways people understand images.

I realized the other day that I can tell in the first six seconds if any given video was made by someone who went to film school or was merely trained “on the job” in order to get one more role in their job description.

You can see in basic choices like framing, cutting, or even use of sound how much thought has gone into the video. What I notice on a conscious level is just as likely to be noticed by the viewer on an unconscious level. The video will be less “magical”, less engaging and easier to ignore, even if the viewer doesn’t know why. A filmmaker who isn’t aware of this isn’t really a filmmaker. They are something like a camera drone.

While the world of broadcast production is artificially limiting in many ways, I think there is something to be valued in the idea of basic standards of production. Online producers should value their video as much as a multi-million dollar studio would. Ultimately, you are in the same visual marketplace. So, if you are a producer, hold yourself to those standards. If you are a client or agency, expect this of your filmmakers.