Do I Need To Go To Film School To Get a Job In Film?

Emer Ryan
5 min readJan 4, 2021

Thoughts from a film executive on if filmmaking requires a formal education.

A hand holds a camera up to the sky.
Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a successful career in film and television for the past eight years, beginning shortly after I left college. How did I do it? It’s not completely straightforward but the one line answer I tend to give is that it took a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. Breaking into the film and television industry can be really tough and the number one question I get from young students thinking about college courses or individuals who are looking to change their career path is if it’s necessary to have a degree or certificate in film studies.

When deciding if film school is the right choice for you think about what your career goals are, if you have any. If you are interested in a very artistic field such as production or costume design then art or fashion school or an apprenticeship is the place for you. If it’s film development or writing that captivates you perhaps an English or creative writing course could be more suitable. I swear every development executive I know in the UK appears to have studied English at university. If it’s directing, producing, editing, cinematography or like my past self, you have no idea but you know you love film, then yes it could be a good idea to consider a film course.

The Film School Experience

I studied Film and French in college for four years in Dublin, Ireland. The course was approximately 40% theoretical study, 40% practical and 20% language. I really enjoyed the film theory classes; they were interesting and opened my eyes to brilliant films I would have not otherwise watched. Did my knowledge of Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave stand to me in future jobs? In some ways yes, I think it is important to be aware of renowned film auteurs and how they influenced cinema. Realistically though it’s not something that is going to be raised during a job interview.

With the practical work I learned how to use cameras, sound equipment and edit both video and sound. Being divided into teams gave us an insight into what it might be like to work on a film crew. If you don’t like teamwork then film is not for you. Everyone’s role on a film set is necessary to get the job…

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Emer Ryan

Living in Dublin, Ireland and working in film & television. Writing about lifestyle, experiences and my night-time thoughts. I love travel, health and puppies.