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How You Can Best Use Your Time At Film School

January 2023 | Katie Whitmire

The Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Film School, Part 2


In part one of this series, I talked extensively about classes at university, specifically what I would have taken after graduating and completing my degree. However, I wanted to take a moment and give some insights and advice that made my university experience so worthwhile. 


Apply to and Participate in many different internships 


Internships are a great way to gain experience in the industry while still taking classes. I also think that internships are one of the best ways to also figure out where you see yourself after college. They’re also a great way to beef up your resume for post college job applications; I have had interviewers ask me about my internships and what the experience was like when I was applying for jobs. Furthermore, it’s an easy way to try something out for a semester, and then move on to something else if it doesn’t feel like the right fit. 


Check in to your College/University for job opportunities 


My favorite job I had in college was working for my college. I worked for my college rental house, where we housed all the equipment for the graduate and undergraduate film students. It was a great way to meet new friends and collaborators at school, learn how to use a ton of equipment I was unfamiliar with, and feel more integrated with the school and community at large. I was also lucky to be able to work that job through the summer. So, check in with your college job board or even go to these departments directly and ask for an application. These jobs also look great on resumes. 


Work on student sets


Obviously, one of the biggest aspects of film school is working on student projects. I was most interested in production, so most of my collaboration experience was working on student sets. Student sets are challenging, but if you work with the right people, they are incredibly rewarding.  I ended up becoming really good friends with the people I met on these sets, and I am still friends and collaborators with these people today. The best part about student sets is the opportunity to try something new. I have always liked production design, but it wasn’t until a friend asked me to work on their film in the art department that I had the opportunity to do so, and I found a lot of joy and fulfillment in it. And although I ended up not pursuing a career in the art department after college, being able to be a production designer has helped me visualize my own films and have a deeper appreciation for really well done production design. 


Your student films won’t be perfect 


It wasn’t until recently that I accepted this fact. Although I am happy and proud of my senior year film, the other films I made leading up to that one were… not great. But that’s okay because they were meant to help me learn. Most of your student films, especially your first and second year films, are seen more as exercises to help you learn the fundamentals of film and filmmaking. There are some people who already understand these concepts and have made many films before even stepping onto campus,, but that is a minority of the student body. We all came to film school to learn, and once you can appreciate that everyone is on their own creative and educational journey, it takes the press off and makes the experience enriching and fun. 


Your professor want to help you succeed


Admittedly, for the first couple of years of school I was really scared of my professors. I was terrified that they would hate my work and critique it harshly, however that was never the case. Your professors want to help you, they want to make your experience in film school a worthwhile one. Being able to go to professors and ask them questions about your scripts, edit a film you have or what you should do next is sometimes more helpful and comfortable then asking your friends. One of the reasons I loved my senior film so much was because I consulted my professor about it. They saw the potential of it and therefore I felt like they saw the potential in me as a storyteller. I took three classes with the same professor and that allowed me to write a full length screenplay that I could see actually being made in the future. Your professors are there to support you, take advantage of it! 

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