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Screenwriting Degrees - To go or not to go?

Werner Herzog once said that “academia is the death of cinema. Somebody who has been a boxer in Africa would be better trained as a filmmaker than if he had graduated from one of the “best” film schools in the world. All that counts is real life.”

This seems to be a perennial issue stalking screenwriters and filmmakers. Both sides have strong advocates. And in an industry with working, successful professionals from both film degree and non film degree backgrounds it is hard to point to any kind of definitive 'proof is in the pudding' answer.

We've compiled a list of pros and cons for doing a screenwriting/filmmaking degree. But we're interested to know what everyone's experience and view on the issue is...

  • There's no tablet of stone for this issue. Certainly writing a script, a book or even an article requires some sort of structured approach which implies a need for knowledge about.

    Just how much tutoring a person needs is as variable as there are people. It's the same with pretty much all aspects of film making.

    Talent is born far more than it's taught. Even if a few techniques need to be acquired by some sort of learning process. The basics upon which talent can flourish can be learnt very easily, very quickly and very cheaply. In many cases the learner can get that training not only for nothing but can even earn while they learn.

    What formal education can provide is to help the consciously deprived, typically because of social conditioning or the detriment of overbearing presumption, to find themselves. Schools can also kick start the important process of networking.

    But strong inherent talent needs little training, just opportunity.

    The business and commerciality of 'for profit' institutions that milk customers by unnecessarily prolonging courses is another matter.

    3 months ago
  • I think that if you want to write scripts, and get them made, most people would be better off working out how to write novels, get them properly commercially published, and then let it be known that they like scripts as well.

    It's much easier to get a novel published than a script filmed.

    Away from purer writing, if you want to learn how to make films, I personally think an industry skills based degree would be better than one that focussed on theory. Especially if you will need to actually earn a living in your 20's while trying to raise funds to make the films you want to make.

    Gloucester College has an excellent course for the practically minded.

    3 months ago