“The Hollywood Reporter,” one of the Hollywood trades, has an article out on the best film schools of 2016 in America. Regular readers of our college admissions blog know our thoughts on film schools. We think they’re very silly, even counterproductive. After all, you don’t need to go to film school to become a successful television or feature writer, director, or producer. In fact, many folks within the biz, as they call it, look down upon young people with film school on their resumes. If they see a Master’s degree from USC’s Stark Producing Program, a Hollywood television executive might think, “Another know it all. Someone who didn’t work his or her way up the ranks. I’ll show this person! No thank you.” And, yes, we speak from experience. Brian of our firm, after all, ran Kelsey Grammer’s company for Lionsgate Television and he serves as an Executive Producer on broadcast and cable series, including this one coming soon to ABC.
We at Ivy Coach believe that attending film school can hurt one’s career trajectory in Hollywood more than it can help it. Are there exceptions? You bet. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.
But which film schools topped the rankings of “The Hollywood Reporter,” you ask? No surprise here. The University of Southern California. Placing second? The American Film Institute. Round out the top three is New York University. So a very predictable top there if you ask us! UCLA, Columbia, California Institute of the Arts, Chapman University, Loyola Marymount University, Wesleyan University, and Emerson College round out the top ten with honorable mention to University of Texas, Austin, Stanford University, Boston University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Columbia College Chicago.
Whenever we write about film school, folks write in with lots of comments championing the value of film school. But few of these folks have actually worked and found success in the industry. Can you hone your writing skills in film school? Yes. Have great television and feature writers emerged from film school? You bet they have. Can you learn about development and production in film school? Yes. But there’s nothing like hands on experience and the fact remains that you certainly don’t need to go to film school to be successful in Hollywood. And in fact going to film school can often make it difficult to move up in Hollywood because your resume will appear a bit privileged. So suffice it to say, we are totally, positively against going to film school.
Remember the ABC series “Body of Proof” that ran for three years, starring Dana Delany? If you’re a teenager, you probably didn’t watch it. And we get it. It wasn’t exactly “Gossip Girl.” But maybe some of you parents did happen to see it. The concept was hatched by Brian of our firm while he was working at an ABC production company and it was based on what he learned from his college major, psychological and brain sciences. Had he majored in film, there would have been no “Body of Proof.” You get our point? We hope you do, aspiring film school students! Don’t major in it. Don’t go to graduate school for it. Just write. Or direct. Or produce.