I’m going to start off by stating that you may not need or want to go to film school at all. I can totally see someone skipping the debt and jumping right in. If you do that then I still recommend reading and watching all of the recommended materials on this site. Then, start looking for ANY job on feature films you can. Network with other filmmakers in your town! At first you’ll work hard and for free. That’s OK, you’re learning. Keep trying to get work on higher and higher budget films that are likely to get you credit on IMDB. That way when people are going to hire you and they search for your name you’ll have credit to show that you have EXPERIENCE. That’s one thing I wish I would’ve done – work on more IMDB-credited projects. Find a particular position you like to do and do it well.
If you want to extend your creative thought process it helps to know a little bit about everything. That’s where a liberal arts education comes in. It helps you understand more about the world, opens your eyes to the history of the world and the mechanics of life itself. You can learn how to do something but college can open your eyes to WHY it’s done that way.
Not everyone can or needs to attend one of the top colleges. Many, many, many colleges have film and media degrees. They may be part of a communications degree. Check your local schools you may be surprised to find that they have some really good film/video classes available. To be sure, though, the quality of the programs can vary immensely. My undergrad program was sorely lacking compared to the BFA program at UCF, which is amazing BTW. Luckily I’m a film nut and learned everything I needed to on my own.
University of Central Florida
UCF has a BA in cinema studies program, a BFA in film production, and an MFA program as well. These are all very competitive programs because they are limited-access. The BFA program teaches all aspects of production-model filmmaking and will prepare any student for jobs in the industry.
This is where I’m working on my MFA. They’re MFA program is different than most in that the focus is on independent microbudget filmmaking and instead of shooting several short films culminating in a short thesis film you are required to produce a FEATURE-LENGTH microbudget film! I love it and that is much more exciting to me than working on the shorts. You also retain all rights to your film.
Huge List of Film Schools in the United States:
I’m not going to list them all here because someone else has done the work for me. A huge list of film schools can be found here at the wikipedia list of film schools in the United States. Wikipedia also has a list of film schools from around the world as well that you can check out.