Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wanted: An Independent Agency to Rate US Film Schools

The Need Becomes More Obvious as Confusion and Costs Rise 

$182,000 in Student Debt for a Film Major?!?

That, incredibly, is the headline above a recent Time magazine article. Click here to read it; the author, Paula Bishop, is a Certified Public Accountant and financial aid adviser to families struggling with America's skyrocketing college tuition costs.

"Burdening a student with $182,000 debt upon graduation (and, most likely, monthly payment of $1,800 for 10 years) is intolerable," Bishop writes, adding, "This is too much borrowing! You can’t repay that kind of debt on a film major’s starting salary…."

The numbers are mind-numbing. A four-year undergraduate film school education in the United States can cost from just under $50,000 in the case of at least one public university to about $240,000 at an Ivy League university.

Even worse, a "starting salary"--in the film industry, at least--is far from guaranteed, given the dramatic differences in film school curricula. Some schools are purely academic; others, overly technical.

According to Wikipedia, a film school

is any educational institution dedicated to teaching aspects of filmmaking, including such subjects as film production, film theory, digital mediaproduction, and screenwriting. Film history courses and hands-on technical training are usually incorporated into most film school curricula. Technical training may include instruction in the use and operation of cameras, lighting equipment, film or video editing equipment and software, and other relevant equipment. Film schools may also include courses and training in such subjects as television production, broadcasting, audio engineering, and animation. 

In other words, buyers beware: there are all kinds of "film schools."

The Hollywood Reporter ranks the top 25 U.S. film schools every year. Click here for last year's list.

However, with the cost of a film school education only going in one direction--namely, north--there clearly is a leading role to play (pun intended) for a qualified, non-profit rating agency. Let the casting process begin!

The sooner the better.