The social network – How film school is more about who you know, than what you learn. David June 24, 2014 Columns, Critical Information, Featured, Film My biggest regret of my academic career is going to film school. My biggest source of validation of my credentials was going to film school. I got offered three internships, including Mosaic Media, which was pretty awesome. I eventually settled on Lionsgate. I got to interview with some awesome companies like Kennedy/Marshall and NBC Universal, and I got, and still get, credentials from having Columbia in my resume. I’ve worked through a difficult series of years managing a full time job, school, and making pictures. I survived enough for them to give me 100,000 dollars worth of loans, and a fleeting sense that my dreams someday may come true. What I learned in school was mostly bunk, however. Baloney. Malarkey. Any other word you want to incorporate to show the lack of value I received from getting a second degree. Supreme lack of value combined with exorbitant costs equate to huge amounts of regret. Why, then, do I say I think my film degree will pay off? Networking. Most of my friends, classmates and colleagues have moved on from Columbia in Chicago into different parts of the country. Whether it be in Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, everyone is on a path intersecting with other individuals in film and TV. The thing they don’t teach you is not only how tough it is, but how many people you will have to choose from for any gig. I need to fill five roles from a candidate pool of 150. I have three classmates applying? Good they’re hired. Two more references from people I went to school with? They’re hired. I don’t need to get the best candidates to build a set. I need to hire five of them to get it done by Tuesday; we’re already behind schedule. I need a personal assistant for a movie star. My classmate was much less of an asshole then most other people I know. I’ll email him and hire him. It’s a little bit of the ebb and flow of the industry. You get hired by your references. You gain most of your initial references in film school. Without people being there to validate you, no one is ever going to hire you over the other candidates. With more people going to film school and becoming specialized in their field, I would always strongly strongly suggest they network with as many other filmmakers in as many different departments as possible. Take as many gigs as possible. Bluff your way onto as many movie sets as possible. Experience is everything. Film school gave me the option to see how others worked. It gave me the opportunity to fail not in front of my professors, but my colleagues. No one is going to go easy on you when everyone is working on a passion project. I wasn’t always going to get everything right. Handling failure and disappointment is paramount to how your career in film and TV will go. I guarantee everyone, including myself, has plenty of it ahead of us. As we move forward with our careers, it’s important we ponder the critical information. To put everything together and learn from those who came before us. I would never recommend anyone to go to a film school without having a strong plan in place. I’m proud of where my classmates and friends are, regardless of how often we stay in touch. It pushes my drive to see where they’re going, and who they’re working with. Hopefully as my career advances, they will feel the same way. Regardless, I have an in-home networking group from film school. That alone is worth way more than my degree will ever be.