Jump to content
Danielius

University education - is it worth it?

Recommended Posts

Hi, 

I’m considering Masters degree in Film-making (Cinematography or VFX compositing). Is it worth it? What are your personal takes?

Backstory:  I’ve recently completed bachelor’s degree (undergraduate) in film-making. It gave me a wide yet superficial understanding of cinema as practice. Arguably, everything that I’ve learnt could have been found online, at a lower price and without wasting 3 years of life. But the BA diploma gave the technical skills that enabled me to find a job, so i will not complain about the humongous debt (UK based student here).

Next year, i want to do masters in Cinematography or Compositing believing that:

  1. Masters will give me the diploma recognised by employers, thus better job opportunities.
  2. learn new technical skills, but more importantly - different ways of seeing.
  3. build up portfolio.

So far so good, but in reality:

  • People say that the only masters degree worth doing in Cinematography is at the NFTS (and Compositing at the Escape Studios) and that other MA degrees are superficial waste of time (which is how i feel about my BA).
  • Masters degrees are very expensive in the UK. 
  • How much you learn really depends on you not the education. Majority of resources are online and cinema equipment is getting more affordable every year. 

What are your opinions on Masters in Film-making? Are these essential in finding a successful job, or you would rather go straight to work? Is the knowlegde that you get worth the high price tag? Are less prestigiuos universities not worth the hussle? Would love to hear opinions from EU and beyond!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I'm very happy with doing a part-time study program in filmmaking. Most of my class mates are already industry professionals but want to have a more creative role, so it has been perfect for networking and I've been able to join several of their projects not related to the class. At the same time it doesn't interfere much with my daily work and lets me build my portfolio efficiently. It also helps that higher education is next to free here. My decision might have been different if I had to pay for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Danielius said:

Hi, 

I’m considering Masters degree in Film-making (Cinematography or VFX compositing). Is it worth it? What are your personal takes?

Backstory:  I’ve recently completed bachelor’s degree (undergraduate) in film-making. It gave me a wide yet superficial understanding of cinema as practice. Arguably, everything that I’ve learnt could have been found online, at a lower price and without wasting 3 years of life. But the BA diploma gave the technical skills that enabled me to find a job, so i will not complain about the humongous debt (UK based student here).

Next year, i want to do masters in Cinematography or Compositing believing that:

  1. Masters will give me the diploma recognised by employers, thus better job opportunities.
  2. learn new technical skills, but more importantly - different ways of seeing.
  3. build up portfolio.

So far so good, but in reality:

  • People say that the only masters degree worth doing in Cinematography is at the NFTS (and Compositing at the Escape Studios) and that other MA degrees are superficial waste of time (which is how i feel about my BA).
  • Masters degrees are very expensive in the UK. 
  • How much you learn really depends on you not the education. Majority of resources are online and cinema equipment is getting more affordable every year. 

What are your opinions on Masters in Film-making? Are these essential in finding a successful job, or you would rather go straight to work? Is the knowlegde that you get worth the high price tag? Are less prestigiuos universities not worth the hussle? Would love to hear opinions from EU and beyond!

I suggest you go straight to work. I know Escape studios but what they offer can be learned on the job. I worked as a compositor out of college with just my portfolio, and a BS degree. You learn so much more from your Seniors and your colleagues while working in the industry, plus you'll get paid to learn and to build out your reel. So for me, you should get a job in production first, then rethink if you really want to do your Masters

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From everything I heard connections are the real benefit of going to school, of course the better the school the more useful the connections. If you are a socialite you can make connections without school though. It can definitely help motivate one to actually do work and learn, but if you can get a production job that accomplishes the same thing. For corporate type 9-5ish jobs having a masters on your application can definitely help, though in this visual land your work can also speak for itself.



 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMHO, a University degree is ONLY sensible for certain kinds of jobs, like a lawyer (Solicitor or Barrister), investment banker, engineer etc. And TBO, the degree does nothing even in those jobs, but employers are as stupid as employees and judge you solely on your university degree and your internship jobs (neither of which are truly proof of anything). 

 

For filmmakers, while the information and hands on is decent in university education, the price of the education could help you produce a few low budget Indies of your own. And you could learn almost every from YouTube and online resources (many of them free or at very low costs). Plus, it always helps to meet and collaborate with filmmakers on free gigs like short films, and gradually start moving up the ladder to larger ones and paid gigs. Also, since filmmaking is a group effort it is super important to have the right team. 

Most filmmaking education is way too expensive (as is every college education, to be fair). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm engineer so not directly relevant, but might be based on what BasilikFilm has said above. I was never asked what school qualifications I had after I got into University, I was never asked what degree I had after I had a few years work under my belt, I haven't been asked what my first few years of employment were like now I have 15 years under my belt. Each time those credentials or qualifications made the step to the next level easier, it would've been possible without them but I have seen others coming from a less traditional background take longer to get their foot on the first rung. A traditional path with good grades gives everyone in the hiring process a bit of comfort and can be the differentiator between 2 candidates but this is only true at the early stages of a career, after 10 years of experience I care far more about personality. 

I work at a University now and there would be 2 things I would check if I was going to do a masters.

1. See who the tutors are, if they are academics that have worked their way up via bachelors, masters then a phd I would be a little cautious because there are some great people who have done that and some people who have learnt and excelled at academia and not just their specialist subject.

2. Who are the other students, if part of what you want is to build a network then students who don't stay in your location ( either because they don't want to or aren't allowed to ) or aren't fluent in English then it may not be as useful to you. In our institution ~70% of masters students are Chinese and American and they are there for the credentials and don't stick around afterwards. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to uni and graduated with a combined arts degree specialising in; design, photography & filmmaking.

Has it benefited me in any way?

No.

If I had applied myself properly?

Maybe...

Bottom line for me is as has been mentioned above, if it can open doors otherwise not 'openable', then a strong maybe.

Otherwise grafting your way there is a legitimate option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Otago said:

I'm engineer so not directly relevant, but might be based on what BasilikFilm has said above. I was never asked what school qualifications I had after I got into University, I was never asked what degree I had after I had a few years work under my belt, I haven't been asked what my first few years of employment were like now I have 15 years under my belt. Each time those credentials or qualifications made the step to the next level easier, it would've been possible without them but I have seen others coming from a less traditional background take longer to get their foot on the first rung. A traditional path with good grades gives everyone in the hiring process a bit of comfort and can be the differentiator between 2 candidates but this is only true at the early stages of a career, after 10 years of experience I care far more about personality. 

I work at a University now and there would be 2 things I would check if I was going to do a masters.

1. See who the tutors are, if they are academics that have worked their way up via bachelors, masters then a phd I would be a little cautious because there are some great people who have done that and some people who have learnt and excelled at academia and not just their specialist subject.

2. Who are the other students, if part of what you want is to build a network then students who don't stay in your location ( either because they don't want to or aren't allowed to ) or aren't fluent in English then it may not be as useful to you. In our institution ~70% of masters students are Chinese and American and they are there for the credentials and don't stick around afterwards. 

I am not dissing education or training. The thing is the academic route was set up when access to professional tools and equipment were limited and you could only get to practice with expensive kit by signing up. Now that a digital camera, a few lenses and a laptop with software are in everyone's hands, the colleges are no longer the gatekeepers, and work can be shared on-line. Even if you go to college you probably still need to buy your own kit, in addition to fees. So think of what else you could do with that time and money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Start at the end goal and work backwards, seeking evidence.

For example, if the end goal is to get a job, call employers and ask to speak to their hiring manager and ask them if it's something they care about when hiring.

If you want to learn to think differently, find who your lecturers would be and call them, asking them if their classes will teach you to think differently from the other classes on offer.  You will quickly understand if they're full of shit or not.

One way that is guaranteed to teach you to think differently is to find some film people you like (producers, directors, cinematographers, etc) who produce radically different work, call all of their offices begging for an internship where you work for free and get to shadow these people.  Spend a few months with each, trying to figure out what they do and why and helping them.  Not only will that give you access to people you know think differently to each other, but if you're any good you'll probably get offered jobs with people you gelled with.

Be clear on your goals and work backwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kye said:

Start at the end goal and work backwards, seeking evidence.

For example, if the end goal is to get a job, call employers and ask to speak to their hiring manager and ask them if it's something they care about when hiring.

If you want to learn to think differently, find who your lecturers would be and call them, asking them if their classes will teach you to think differently from the other classes on offer.  You will quickly understand if they're full of shit or not.

One way that is guaranteed to teach you to think differently is to find some film people you like (producers, directors, cinematographers, etc) who produce radically different work, call all of their offices begging for an internship where you work for free and get to shadow these people.  Spend a few months with each, trying to figure out what they do and why and helping them.  Not only will that give you access to people you know think differently to each other, but if you're any good you'll probably get offered jobs with people you gelled with.

Be clear on your goals and work backwards.

Thanks for this, this is great advice. I'm gonna try to apply this more whenever I get stuck on where I want to advance my career

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say it's probably not worth it. I've never ever had a client ask about my qualifications. My reel, samples, CV and referrals are the only thing they care about.

Probably the one valuable thing you might get from it is contacts and connections. But If you're going to do a masters course in anything, do it as a director - that way you might meet the people who will actually hire you later on, rather than the ones you'll be competing with. Of course you could always try to find out who from your undergrad course is going to do a masters as a director and offer to be their DP. That way you still get the credits and experience of working on some masters short films without having to pay for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only good thing with degrees is making some friends during the course which actually helped me getting to jobs because of their connections.

 

Otherwise I think youtube is much cheaper and wont get u into student debt lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To infer filmmaking is behind some other subjects such as medicine, law, economics, math or engineering is basically to neglect one of the most complexes fields you can reach knowledge about.

I did a law school with seven centuries in our back, one of the most prestigious law institutions allover the world. However, I had the luck to learn a way more in my film school years, mainly as far as aesthetics concerns apart any NFE (non-formal education) realm of these times we all live in.

If you think you'll need much more technical stuff than anything else, not many can only infer that you surely don't know volumes of your craft then, so I'm sorry I'd dare to fairly conclude.

E : -)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

VFX industry is wholly subsidized by tax credits, you'll be crossing lots of borders chasing work. Your employment is also measured in months.

Save your tuition for airfare and the lean days.

It's a lot of fun if you're nomadic.

 

 

If you want to work in the camera department, I'd suggest interning at a rental house / production services. You can earn a wage, learn the basics and get noticed.

Eventually, if you're good and bust your ass, someone will remember your name and give you a call when they are short.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...