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NY Film Schools

N. Y. Film Schools - Get Your Start In The Big Apple

I'm Jerry the Prof, web master of this site and I get requests frequently asking for my advice on N.Y. film schools and how to get a degree to qualify for jobs in filmmaking.

I'll give you what I know about the top New York film schools but keep an open mind about what you will read here.

Start by reading this quote from a NY film school grad:

"I was pretty happy with my experience at NYU Film School although I noticed that the students who sucked up to the professors got most of the opportunities for personal projects. But no one was really encouraged to be original or creative.

"When I graduated I got an internship at Comedy Central that turned into a job an an "animator". But the job was dreadfully boring and didn't require any special skills so I quit after a year and headed for Hollywood.

"I quickly found I could get all the work I wanted as a "reader". That is someone who reads scripts submitted to studios and writes "book reports" giving detailed reasons why the script is not worth considering.

"I could barely make more than minimum wage no matter how hard I worked and after two more years without being able to find a better job I left Hollywood and went home to get a real job and start paying off my school loans.

"Now I don't even like to go to movies because it reminds me of the wasted years and money I spent thinking a film degree would lead to a career in filmmaking."

Anne N. - NYU Film School Grad

Anne volunteered this feedback several years ago when I first started setting up this website. If you are still interested in a N.Y. film school here is my take.

The New York University Film School (Tisch School of the Arts) provides training in theater, film and dance within the context of a large research university. It is regarded by many as one of the three best film schools in the country.

The acting training is particularly admired and has produced a number of leading theater and film actors. The Kanbar Institute of Film, Television and New Media trained such well know directors as M. Night Shyamalan and Spike Lee. In large part because of its location in New York it is particularly expensive to attend.

The New York Film Academy offers accelerated hands-on courses for a high price with a questionable track record of job placement. It is a big and very profitable business for the founder but its list of "successful" graduates are people you've never heard of.

There are any number of other schools in New York offering training in the entertainment field but much of the emphasis is on theater, music and dance and less on the film industry than you will find in L.A.

A few communities in the New York area offer film courses at local community colleges. You will need to do some research on your own to see what is currently available.

These individual courses are generally as good as what is offered by the big schools for much lower costs. Any student wanting to have hands-on experience and get to mingle with other film students should explore this possibility before applying to an expensive schools.

N. Y. Film School - Why So Few Successes?

Despite the number of students wanting to go to film school in N.Y. I observe that few of the graduates actually end up working in the film industry. Not many films are made in N.Y. today so any graduate will probably need to move elsewhere to actually make movies but New York is a major center for television work.

All the same, as a notable film school educator has noted, much less than 10% of graduates from the top N.Y. film school are able to create a career that satisfies them in the years after graduation. Many industry insiders will tell you the following:

  • Film schools are extremely expensive for the quality of instruction you get
  • Film school degrees don't guarantee a decent job and are considered a joke by some in the industry
  • Even the best film schools don't teach the creativity, entrepreneurship and independence that marks most successful filmmakers
  • There are quicker and less expensive ways to learn filmmaking skills

Some of the most lucrative positions in the entertainment world are held by producers who usually started with a law or business degree rather than a film school degree.

Despite the failure of four year film schools to create opportunities for their graduates it is clear that the entertainment and film industries in particular employ countless thousands of workers and many of them are well paid and enjoy their work.

What may be less obvious is how many of them got to where they are through "back-door" methods that depended more on their spunky determination than any degree. Those are characteristics that are not nourished by the conventional film schools.

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