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Does Film School Matter?


Updated June 22, 2022


When the decision was made to attend film school, I hit up Google to find a school in LA. Attending film school in Hollywood seemed like the common sense way into the industry. My plan was confirmed after learning instructors at the school worked on wildly successful movies like The Matrix. This was it! I packed up my old Honda and moved to Los Angeles with big dreams.

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Have you heard a similar story before? Maybe this is you?

You’re crazy about movies and can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than a career making them. So now you’re wondering how to make it happen!

That was me all the way.

So the question: Does film school matter? I put my heart and soul into film school. Even though directing was my goal, I realized early on that nobody was going to hire me to direct anything after school. Decided on a double major in editing and sound design. Graduated with honors and had a polished demo reel ready to hand out prior to graduating.

Things were going to happen!

But something unexpected materialized after graduation. It was this elephant in the room that none of us “dream seekers” really wanted to face. And to be honest, film school didn’t prepare us for.

What was it? That Hollywood didn’t care about our education.

Not one bit.

I realized my time in film school simply didn’t matter in the film industry. I’ll never forget calling studios hoping to land an assistant editor position. The receptionist at Fox said, “You realize we only hire award winning editors right?” No…not really.

I learned a lot in film school, but there was a problem. An elephant in the room that we just didn’t see coming.

With no jobs on the horizon, I was forced to work in retail just to pay rent. Slept on an air mattress in a condo with two others guys who were also trying to “break in.”

You realize we only hire award winning editors right?

The receptionist at 20th Century Fox

This was sobering. Did film school not matter? This wasn’t how I saw things going.

But something happened — Someone I’d met on a short film contest worked at Universal Pictures. And she got me an editorial PA job on Let’s Go To Prison, a movie directed by Bob Odenkirk.

Whoa…My Hollywood life had finally begun!

Tracey Wadmore-Smith, Kyler Boudreau, Bob Odenkirk
Tracey Wadmore-Smith, Kyler Boudreau and Bob Odenkirk on the set of The Brothers Solomon

So did my pricey film school education help me as a PA? Well…The best way to prepar for life as a PA is to know where all the restaurants and Coffee Beans are located in Hollywood.

Film school education not required.

Crud! So what does matter? How do you get anywhere in the film industry?

I’ll never forget when it happened. It was a typical sunny California afternoon. I was sitting at my desk in a production office off Melrose, right down the street from Paramount Pictures. I listened as Matt Berenson (producer) and Bob Odenkirk searched for an editor for their next movie, The Brother’s Solomon.

Where were they looking? IMDb.

The fog began to clear — Hollywood only cares about what you’ve done. Who you know matters too, but even with that you still need credentials on IMDb.

Interesting. I made the decision to jump into independent film in order to hold key positions and get credits on IMDb vs spending years working up the PA ladder with no guarantee of ever directing a single movie.

But there was kind of a big problem: Indie film doesn’t pay.

Sure, you land credits on IMDb, but a full time job is required to pay rent, buy food and…oh yeah, pay off school loans.

Film school taught me a lot about filmmaking. It didn’t prepare me for the reality of life after school in the entertainment industry. And this devours the careers of so many people who move to LA to follow their dreams!

The first thing any aspiring director must do after graduation is begin writing and directing movies. But those who dump $30-60K on their education typically don’t have any resources left to pay rent, let buy gear and start shooting.

Film school taught me a lot about filmmaking, but it didn’t prepare me for the reality of life in the entertainment industry.

So what’s the answer — Does film school matter?

I think film school is definitely important, but the system is messed up. The entertainment industry is overloaded with people trying to make a living. Studios are guarded citadels, with scores of hopefuls waiting outside the castle walls hoping for their chance to break in.

Hundreds of people are working for free on any given week just to gain credits on IMDb. And if you won’t work for free? Then get out of the way because there are 100 people in line behind you who will.

Am I trying to say it’s impossible? NO WAY. If you want to make movies, nothing can stop you.


But if you don’t approach it right, you could end up as yet another statistic.

You know, that cool person who moved to LA from Ohio to follow their dreams only to crash and burn and move back home at the age of 38.

If you’re serious about making movies, then you need to learn the craft quickly without draining the bank account. And you’ve gotta learn it the right way so you don’t waste time doing it wrong.

And this is precisely what Write & Direct offers aspiring filmmakers.

Write & Direct is hands on, cohesive training on the craft of filmmaking.

Students begin in development and move through every phase of making a movie. They complete their first film during training — A film that can be submitted to film festivals, and even put on IMDb!

Filling in as 2nd AC on my film RECKONING shooting in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

I’m a current filmmaker who lives in the trenches of independent film.

It’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do! But it’s hard work, and you have to put in the time to get anywhere. And most of all, you have to truly learn the craft. Too many filmmakers make movies before they even understand the conventions of story telling.

But that’s not gonna be you.

I can teach you things you won’t learn in film school. Things that took me years to learn after graduation. The Write & Direct training could literally shave years off your pursuit of a filmmaking career. And my training is backed with a 100% money back guarantee.

It’s time for you to begin.

Instead of spending $60K on film school, learn the craft and use your money to buy gear and pay rent while you truly make the magic happen!

Enroll in the director’s film school.

I hope to see you on the other side!

P.S. If you’d like to follow my current production, check out the film RECKONING.

Do you want to make movies?

If your answer is yes, Write & Direct is your inciting incident. It's your catalyst in the journey to becoming a filmmaker. There's nothing else quite like it. Enroll today or find out more below:

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