m_w

Well-Known Member
To provide context on my future goal, I aspire to become a cinematographer. I'm pretty much clear about my future. Nevertheless, I want to learn all aspects of filmmaking before diving into cinematography. Oh also, I'm an international student

Okay, so I need genuine advice from people who are familiar with DePaul (Cinematography concentration), Columbia University (MFA in Creative Producing) and Columbia College Chicago (MFA in directing).

DePaul: I got accepted into DePaul and I LOVE their courses because they focus on cinematography and that's what I want to pursue in the future as well. However, they didn't offer any financial aid which is a big con for me since I'm an international student and financially restricted.

Columbia University: It's an Ivy League, I don't think I have to say much but anyway, I interviewed for them and I'm still waiting for a decision. My main reason for choosing Columbia was how they help international students with O1 visas and of course, the notable alumni and the experienced faculty. Not to forget, the opportunities that I can avail in NYC in terms of internships. However, I'm not that keen on the courses and also without financial aid, I can't afford it and I don't want to resort to taking loans.

Columbia College Chicago: I got accepted and am being offered a $25k scholarship. I've heard mixed reviews about CCC, mostly bad ones which is why I'm very hesitant. Moreover, again the courses don't align with my future goals but having to only pay $10-15k a year seems like a good deal. CCC is also among the top 25 best film schools in the US.

Conclusion: Which university should I opt for considering my future goal and financial constraints in case I get an acceptance from Columbia College as well? I'm genuinely confused
 
I went to DePaul for animation while my spouse did their MFA Directing program. I think there is value there but only 3 or the cinematography students I knew are currently working and of them all but 1 had to leave Chicago to get consistent work. The industry in Chicago is okay but most of the above the line work is sourced from LA. So, if you want to be a grip or sound or gaffer it’s not a bad city but if you want to DP or Direct it’s not very good for that.

DePaul itself has a lot of problems with actually teaching students and allowing access to equipment and facilities. If you can get in with the head of cinespace it will be easier to use the tools they say you have access to but if you’re left out of that clique it will be an uphill battle.

The best DP I ever worked with was on my spouses thesis. He left DePaul because he felt like their cinematography program was not helpful and moved to Poland (family originally from there) to attend Łodz where you graduate with an Alexa Mini camera package. He’s currently shooting Nike Asia ads and top tier music videos in Japan.

Being in proximity I also know a bit but not as much about Columbia College Chicago. Our PD came from there and I know she found a lot of value in it and has gone on to make ads and now is a prop house director in NYC. I don’t know any camera people from there who have done super well for themselves (I’m sure they exist). Their program was film based for a long time and they didn’t transition to digital until I believe 2016ish. I know that was an issue when I was in Chicago but I’d say it has to have improved at least a bit since then. DePaul was definitely putting out better digital work since it was founded as a digital camera program.

I also know that in regards to those top film school lists they’re a bit shady. DePaul was only listed because 2 people who have sway with Hollywood reporter that were affiliated with the school pushed hard for it. Then they had a falling out with the school and left and DePaul fell off those lists for a while. When I was there there was a huge push to hire someone to get them back on and clearly they have.

For me film school is largely about the connections you build. Everyone you meet can succeed and bring you along if you’re fun to work with. And I think in this regard the schools that top those lists (AFI, USC, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, Chapman) are justifiable in their costs and worth it. And they are located where there is a more viable industry post-graduation whereas Chicago doesn’t quite have the same infrastructure.

I think there is value in all the schools you mentioned though. DePaul isn’t a horrible school it’s just not a gatekeeper in the way bigger name schools like AFI or Columbia are. It’s really just dependent on what your goals are in life. You’re very likely not going to graduate and immediately be making award winning features. Connections will really determine how quickly your come up can be so that’s a big consideration outside the education value in my opinion.
 
To provide context on my future goal, I aspire to become a cinematographer. I'm pretty much clear about my future. Nevertheless, I want to learn all aspects of filmmaking before diving into cinematography. Oh also, I'm an international student

Okay, so I need genuine advice from people who are familiar with DePaul (Cinematography concentration), Columbia University (MFA in Creative Producing) and Columbia College Chicago (MFA in directing).

DePaul: I got accepted into DePaul and I LOVE their courses because they focus on cinematography and that's what I want to pursue in the future as well. However, they didn't offer any financial aid which is a big con for me since I'm an international student and financially restricted.

Columbia University: It's an Ivy League, I don't think I have to say much but anyway, I interviewed for them and I'm still waiting for a decision. My main reason for choosing Columbia was how they help international students with O1 visas and of course, the notable alumni and the experienced faculty. Not to forget, the opportunities that I can avail in NYC in terms of internships. However, I'm not that keen on the courses and also without financial aid, I can't afford it and I don't want to resort to taking loans.

Columbia College Chicago: I got accepted and am being offered a $25k scholarship. I've heard mixed reviews about CCC, mostly bad ones which is why I'm very hesitant. Moreover, again the courses don't align with my future goals but having to only pay $10-15k a year seems like a good deal. CCC is also among the top 25 best film schools in the US.

Conclusion: Which university should I opt for considering my future goal and financial constraints in case I get an acceptance from Columbia College as well? I'm genuinely confused
acceptance from Columbia university as well*
 
I went to DePaul for animation while my spouse did their MFA Directing program. I think there is value there but only 3 or the cinematography students I knew are currently working and of them all but 1 had to leave Chicago to get consistent work. The industry in Chicago is okay but most of the above the line work is sourced from LA. So, if you want to be a grip or sound or gaffer it’s not a bad city but if you want to DP or Direct it’s not very good for that.

DePaul itself has a lot of problems with actually teaching students and allowing access to equipment and facilities. If you can get in with the head of cinespace it will be easier to use the tools they say you have access to but if you’re left out of that clique it will be an uphill battle.

The best DP I ever worked with was on my spouses thesis. He left DePaul because he felt like their cinematography program was not helpful and moved to Poland (family originally from there) to attend Łodz where you graduate with an Alexa Mini camera package. He’s currently shooting Nike Asia ads and top tier music videos in Japan.

Being in proximity I also know a bit but not as much about Columbia College Chicago. Our PD came from there and I know she found a lot of value in it and has gone on to make ads and now is a prop house director in NYC. I don’t know any camera people from there who have done super well for themselves (I’m sure they exist). Their program was film based for a long time and they didn’t transition to digital until I believe 2016ish. I know that was an issue when I was in Chicago but I’d say it has to have improved at least a bit since then. DePaul was definitely putting out better digital work since it was founded as a digital camera program.

I also know that in regards to those top film school lists they’re a bit shady. DePaul was only listed because 2 people who have sway with Hollywood reporter that were affiliated with the school pushed hard for it. Then they had a falling out with the school and left and DePaul fell off those lists for a while. When I was there there was a huge push to hire someone to get them back on and clearly they have.

For me film school is largely about the connections you build. Everyone you meet can succeed and bring you along if you’re fun to work with. And I think in this regard the schools that top those lists (AFI, USC, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, Chapman) are justifiable in their costs and worth it. And they are located where there is a more viable industry post-graduation whereas Chicago doesn’t quite have the same infrastructure.

I think there is value in all the schools you mentioned though. DePaul isn’t a horrible school it’s just not a gatekeeper in the way bigger name schools like AFI or Columbia are. It’s really just dependent on what your goals are in life. You’re very likely not going to graduate and immediately be making award winning features. Connections will really determine how quickly your come up can be so that’s a big consideration outside the education value in my opinion.
Thank you so much for such a detailed suggestion. I really appreciate it. I haven't received an acceptance from Columbia University yet, but don't you think 40k+ per year is a bit too much? I don't want to resort to loans since it would be hard to pay it off as an international student. Between DePaul and CCC, if you were to choose one, which uni would you opt for even though you've already attended DePaul? And if you don't mind me asking, how is your and your spouse's work going after graduating from DePaul? Was it easy to find a job?

I still have to interview for Florida State University and Brooklyn College, do you have any idea about these schools? Maybe they're a better option than DePaul and CCC?
 
Thank you so much for such a detailed suggestion. I really appreciate it. I haven't received an acceptance from Columbia University yet, but don't you think 40k+ per year is a bit too much? I don't want to resort to loans since it would be hard to pay it off as an international student. Between DePaul and CCC, if you were to choose one, which uni would you opt for even though you've already attended DePaul? And if you don't mind me asking, how is your and your spouse's work going after graduating from DePaul? Was it easy to find a job?

I still have to interview for Florida State University and Brooklyn College, do you have any idea about these schools? Maybe they're a better option than DePaul and CCC?
I definitely understand the concern financially. I don’t exactly think that that cost is too much per se, but it is a lot and this is definitely a big financial decision. I’m currently in the process of trying to be admitted to AFI for screenwriting where the total cost of living and tuition & fees is over 100k and that’s definitely a really scary number. But then I look at who’s there: the WGA VP, multiple show runners for major studios, writers who’ve written top tier features, etc. These are the people teaching and they have the ability to bring you into that world at their discretion and at the very least know who you are as you journey into the industry. Not to mention the peers you will be with are the industry’s rising stars and can bring you along for their ride as well.

The contrast for me is that DePaul and CCC (I can’t talk as much about CCC so I’m mostly focusing on DePaul) don’t have that same talent level in faculty. Which isn’t to say they don’t have talented faculty because I know many that I loved especially Meg Artes who like me crosses the film and animation divide. But the vast majority are not penetrated as deeply into the industry fabric as those at AFI, or the other top tier schools. In my opinion that’s a major part of what you’re paying for. I know Don Eblahan and Lihn Tran personally (2 of their listed notable alumni) and I don’t think that either of them would credit DePaul a ton with their success. Lihn would a bit more since they financed WFTLTC but both would probably credit Alireza Khatami more with their success and he left the school after 3 years and now teaches at one of Canadas best schools.

All of that’s a long winded way of saying you’re paying for the faculty as much as you are anything else when going to school. I’d read faculty bios and look up those who peak some interest in you to see their career paths. Even see where they went to school and what their path to teaching at a university was. If you really resonate with a few I’d say that that’s a great place to learn and be for yourself. I can’t make the decision about what’s right for you it’s such a personal thing. Maybe there’s someone at DePaul or CCC or FSU or Columbia who really speaks to you and I think that should be as big a part of your consideration as anything else. You will 100% learn skills and grow as a filmmaker and cinematographer at any of those schools.

To answer the second part of your question finding a job was definitely difficult. But a big part of that was COVID we finished school in mid-2019, the thesis we worked on was doing the film festival rounds starting about September and before the pandemic hit there was definitely some building momentum in terms of connections on the festival circuit, but that slammed to a halt as festivals suddenly cancelled or went virtual. My spouse got a job at a coupon company doing data entry and I bounced from interview to interview often times making it to the final round only to be told that due to COVID they had decided to cancel the position until a later date. What I will say about the job market in Chicago is it is extremely competitive because there are so few opportunities with a very large talent base (really that’s probably true most places though). There is gig work, but with a family I’ve always sought stability so that wasn’t something I got deep into. This carried on until early 2021 when I got a job in Idaho working for a company that primarily made digital signage for a major grocery chain. I started as an editor and quickly rose to leadership. We had some video work when I started but it was pretty irregular. I convinced my boss to bring on my spouse as well in early 2022, and we’ve both focused really heavily on building out the company and our opportunities. We now shoot broadcast and digital ads (at least 1 a month) ironically frequently for Jewel-Osco which is Chicagos big grocery store even though we moved to Idaho.

We both make more than we ever thought we would but also it’s made us acutely aware of that yearning to do more at a higher level. We both feel that because our team is small and most are relatively inexperienced due to the talent pool here being small we have to be the ones who know everything on set and we both feel a really strong desire to jump back into work that’s creatively rewarding (we don’t want to make grocery ads until we die) and where we can learn from others on set not just teach. That’s why I’m pursuing AFI. After leaving DePaul I felt extremely jaded and seriously pondered giving up. My current job started as something that maybe I could just settle down and be comfortable doing forever and abandon these crazy childish dreams of really making it. I just couldn’t kill that desire for more especially seeing some of my peers building vibrant careers.

So it really also depends on what your life goals are. If you’ve got crazy dreams like me of reaching at least the lowest of the highest levels then something pricier but more integrated into the industry is better but if you want to get into ads or just getting to work in the cinematography field at all is the goal then someplace more affordable is worth it because it will give you so many necessary tools and should be enough to get you there.

I’ve heard positive things about FSU so that could be a good option too. I’m not familiar with Brooklyn College so I can’t say for sure but a positive I can think of with that is the opportunities of NYC. There’s more grants available there than most places and opportunities to connect with the right people outside of just a school.

Sorry this turned into a novel haha. I got too many thoughts swimming around in my head. I wish you luck in your journey and as long as you feel confident in your decision ultimately I think you will be happy and will find your place in this industry!
 
I definitely understand the concern financially. I don’t exactly think that that cost is too much per se, but it is a lot and this is definitely a big financial decision. I’m currently in the process of trying to be admitted to AFI for screenwriting where the total cost of living and tuition & fees is over 100k and that’s definitely a really scary number. But then I look at who’s there: the WGA VP, multiple show runners for major studios, writers who’ve written top tier features, etc. These are the people teaching and they have the ability to bring you into that world at their discretion and at the very least know who you are as you journey into the industry. Not to mention the peers you will be with are the industry’s rising stars and can bring you along for their ride as well.

The contrast for me is that DePaul and CCC (I can’t talk as much about CCC so I’m mostly focusing on DePaul) don’t have that same talent level in faculty. Which isn’t to say they don’t have talented faculty because I know many that I loved especially Meg Artes who like me crosses the film and animation divide. But the vast majority are not penetrated as deeply into the industry fabric as those at AFI, or the other top tier schools. In my opinion that’s a major part of what you’re paying for. I know Don Eblahan and Lihn Tran personally (2 of their listed notable alumni) and I don’t think that either of them would credit DePaul a ton with their success. Lihn would a bit more since they financed WFTLTC but both would probably credit Alireza Khatami more with their success and he left the school after 3 years and now teaches at one of Canadas best schools.

All of that’s a long winded way of saying you’re paying for the faculty as much as you are anything else when going to school. I’d read faculty bios and look up those who peak some interest in you to see their career paths. Even see where they went to school and what their path to teaching at a university was. If you really resonate with a few I’d say that that’s a great place to learn and be for yourself. I can’t make the decision about what’s right for you it’s such a personal thing. Maybe there’s someone at DePaul or CCC or FSU or Columbia who really speaks to you and I think that should be as big a part of your consideration as anything else. You will 100% learn skills and grow as a filmmaker and cinematographer at any of those schools.

To answer the second part of your question finding a job was definitely difficult. But a big part of that was COVID we finished school in mid-2019, the thesis we worked on was doing the film festival rounds starting about September and before the pandemic hit there was definitely some building momentum in terms of connections on the festival circuit, but that slammed to a halt as festivals suddenly cancelled or went virtual. My spouse got a job at a coupon company doing data entry and I bounced from interview to interview often times making it to the final round only to be told that due to COVID they had decided to cancel the position until a later date. What I will say about the job market in Chicago is it is extremely competitive because there are so few opportunities with a very large talent base (really that’s probably true most places though). There is gig work, but with a family I’ve always sought stability so that wasn’t something I got deep into. This carried on until early 2021 when I got a job in Idaho working for a company that primarily made digital signage for a major grocery chain. I started as an editor and quickly rose to leadership. We had some video work when I started but it was pretty irregular. I convinced my boss to bring on my spouse as well in early 2022, and we’ve both focused really heavily on building out the company and our opportunities. We now shoot broadcast and digital ads (at least 1 a month) ironically frequently for Jewel-Osco which is Chicagos big grocery store even though we moved to Idaho.

We both make more than we ever thought we would but also it’s made us acutely aware of that yearning to do more at a higher level. We both feel that because our team is small and most are relatively inexperienced due to the talent pool here being small we have to be the ones who know everything on set and we both feel a really strong desire to jump back into work that’s creatively rewarding (we don’t want to make grocery ads until we die) and where we can learn from others on set not just teach. That’s why I’m pursuing AFI. After leaving DePaul I felt extremely jaded and seriously pondered giving up. My current job started as something that maybe I could just settle down and be comfortable doing forever and abandon these crazy childish dreams of really making it. I just couldn’t kill that desire for more especially seeing some of my peers building vibrant careers.

So it really also depends on what your life goals are. If you’ve got crazy dreams like me of reaching at least the lowest of the highest levels then something pricier but more integrated into the industry is better but if you want to get into ads or just getting to work in the cinematography field at all is the goal then someplace more affordable is worth it because it will give you so many necessary tools and should be enough to get you there.

I’ve heard positive things about FSU so that could be a good option too. I’m not familiar with Brooklyn College so I can’t say for sure but a positive I can think of with that is the opportunities of NYC. There’s more grants available there than most places and opportunities to connect with the right people outside of just a school.

Sorry this turned into a novel haha. I got too many thoughts swimming around in my head. I wish you luck in your journey and as long as you feel confident in your decision ultimately I think you will be happy and will find your place in this industry!
You're absolutely right! I think I have a better view of what I really need to do.

No no, I think you gave me one of the best advice out there! I'm super grateful to you for taking the time to explain everything in such detail. Would love to connect with you moving forward. Your experience and perspective are invaluable, and I'm sure there's a lot more I could learn from you in the future.

There's one more thing I wanted to get input on. Do you think it's feasible to take summer courses, like masterclasses in cinematography from AFI or other top-ranked universities, while studying for an MFA in Directing at CCC? I'm considering this option because I want to keep my options open in cinematography through internships and additional coursework. Would balancing both coursework and potential internships be manageable, or do you think it might be too much to handle simultaneously? And if it's a good alternate plan
 
You're absolutely right! I think I have a better view of what I really need to do.

No no, I think you gave me one of the best advice out there! I'm super grateful to you for taking the time to explain everything in such detail. Would love to connect with you moving forward. Your experience and perspective are invaluable, and I'm sure there's a lot more I could learn from you in the future.

There's one more thing I wanted to get input on. Do you think it's feasible to take summer courses, like masterclasses in cinematography from AFI or other top-ranked universities, while studying for an MFA in Directing at CCC? I'm considering this option because I want to keep my options open in cinematography through internships and additional coursework. Would balancing both coursework and potential internships be manageable, or do you think it might be too much to handle simultaneously? And if it's a good alternate plan
I think it’s possible, but doing a quick search it looks like most of the top universities don’t have those types of programs. NYU does and USC does but not in cinematography. So, I’d try to find a program that inspires you and make those plans earlier than later so you can make sure it happens. The other thing is the cost of temporarily leaving Chicago to study in NY or LA and potential cost of the programs. It may at that point increase cost to be similar to if you had just done the more expensive program (but not necessarily just something to think about).

Can I ask why Directing at CCC and not cinematography? I guess looking into it because they don’t have a Cinematography MFA, right? Are you interested in directing? I only ask because it’s not going to teach you cinematography skills beyond the basics needed to think about it for direction. Primarily your work will be focus on performance and working with actors in a directing oriented program. If you’re interested in that I totally think you could swing something like that just wanted to bring that up. Everyone wants to be a director until they realize what a director actually does and then they either double down or change course. My Spouses MFA Directing cohort at DePaul started as 13 people but by the time thesis production rolled around there were only 4 left in that program. I’d just hate for you to go to a school for something you didn’t love and end up spending tons of money on it.

If cinematography is really your passion I’d say between the 2 programs you’ve been pondering DePaul may be better for your interests because they can at least teach you some cinematography skills and have a cinematography concentration in the MS, but also it sorta depends where you’re at already. Have you studied cinematography before or is this relatively new?

Sorry for so many questions haha I just want to see where you’re at in terms of skill and also really narrow down your interests to better help. I’m not an expert by any means but I know what it’s like to spend way too much money studying something you don’t actually want to do since that was my experience studying animation at DePaul.
 
I have to look into the top programs to get a better idea about the cinematography classes. Workshops could be another option for me, I think. I'm not too familiar with how it works in the US so researching it all takes quite a bit of time and effort to understand fully. CCC was suppose to be my backup plan. While CCC doesn't offer a cinematography track, directing is my second choice and post-production is my third. CCC curriculum is centered around directing and post-production. Back in my undergrad days, directing was my primary interest until I took a cinematography course, which shifted my focus. I've often directed and also acted as the DP in my short films at the same time, so I've always paired the two together. Nonetheless, cinematography has been my top priority and interest.

DePaul's program is cool, but the tuition fee is crazy high, especially as an international student. It could have been managed with an off-campus job but that's illegal on a student visa so it's not really an option. Neither is taking out a loan because of the risk involved and I'm not a big risk taker lol. CCC just makes more sense right now considering all these problems. Also, my undergrad education in TV and film production in Pakistan was kinda lacking, so starting from scratch could genuinely help me but then again, I have no idea how undergrad programs are in the US. To answer you question, Cinematography is relatively new to me. Most of what I know about cinematography and filmmaking in general is what I have picked up from YouTube. But, I would still want to study it in detail and hopefully, make a career out of it.

Knowing a little about my background, would you still recommend DePaul's specialisation track? Also, do you have any other options in mind that could possibly help me out with this situation?
 
I have to look into the top programs to get a better idea about the cinematography classes. Workshops could be another option for me, I think. I'm not too familiar with how it works in the US so researching it all takes quite a bit of time and effort to understand fully. CCC was suppose to be my backup plan. While CCC doesn't offer a cinematography track, directing is my second choice and post-production is my third. CCC curriculum is centered around directing and post-production. Back in my undergrad days, directing was my primary interest until I took a cinematography course, which shifted my focus. I've often directed and also acted as the DP in my short films at the same time, so I've always paired the two together. Nonetheless, cinematography has been my top priority and interest.

DePaul's program is cool, but the tuition fee is crazy high, especially as an international student. It could have been managed with an off-campus job but that's illegal on a student visa so it's not really an option. Neither is taking out a loan because of the risk involved and I'm not a big risk taker lol. CCC just makes more sense right now considering all these problems. Also, my undergrad education in TV and film production in Pakistan was kinda lacking, so starting from scratch could genuinely help me but then again, I have no idea how undergrad programs are in the US. To answer you question, Cinematography is relatively new to me. Most of what I know about cinematography and filmmaking in general is what I have picked up from YouTube. But, I would still want to study it in detail and hopefully, make a career out of it.

Knowing a little about my background, would you still recommend DePaul's specialisation track? Also, do you have any other options in mind that could possibly help me out with this situation?
Before I give a more detailed response (I’m currently at work so it might be later today) or tomorrow cause I know there’s a big time difference for us so you might not be able to answer this yet. What are your professional and personal goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years? Why pursue graduate studies now? And why pursue graduate studies in America? There’s not a right or wrong answer to any of these it’s just helpful for me to know to give you the best advice I’ve got especially in the context of the American film and film school landscape.
 
Yeah, it's a 12-hour time difference for us! But, I understand. You can reply whenever you get time, don't worry about that. I'll be on a look out for your reply :)

Honestly, my main professional goal is to work as a cinematographer for a short film, preferably shot in Pakistan. Most of the projects I've been involved in, both personally and as a freelancer, have focused on addressing social issues in Pakistan, and that's the direction I want to continue in. I'm passionate about making films that have a positive impact and shed light on important issues. Over the next five years, I hope to showcase my work on a larger platform, like the Cannes Film Festival, although I know it's a long shot (fingers crossed). But seeing a Pakistani director pull off something like "Joyland" at the Cannes Film Festival has really lit a fire within me. It's like, if they can do it, why can't I? Oh, and btw, if you haven't checked out that film yet, you should definitely watch it—it's seriously amazing! It's the kind of project I aspire to be a part of, and I believe I have the potential to contribute in a meaningful way.

Initially, I wanted to pursue directing, but after discovering cinematography, I was hooked. The idea of using lighting and camera gear to enhance the mood of a film really intrigues me, and I'm eager to learn and practice more in this field. That's why I'm interested in pursuing graduate studies in cinematography but the world is not working in my favour haha. And while I have learnt a lot on my own, I know there's a limit to what I can achieve without formal education. I graduated with an undergrad in 2022 and I feel like I've been stuck in the same spot without moving forward. Even though, I've been working actively in the field, I just feel like there's something I'm always lacking and I think now is the right time in my life to grab the opportunity of graduate studies. I honestly don't think I'll be able to do it later in my life if I don't pursue it right now, like this year.

On a personal level, I want to build a strong network of contacts while I'm in the States and use those connections to collaborate on my dream project. I believe that studying and working with like-minded individuals during graduate school will be the first step towards making that dream a reality. I'm also excited about the prospect of learning in a completely different environment from what I'm used to. There's a massive difference between the cultures of the US and Pakistan. Cross-cultural learning would be incredibly valuable which I believe would broaden my horizons and hopefully gain new perspectives.

As for why I chose the US for my studies, it's simple: it has the largest film industry in the world. Plus, obtaining a degree from a US institution will enhance my job prospects back home in Pakistan, especially if I encounter difficulties with my work visa in the future after graduation. Lastly, by the time I graduate, I will have met people in the States who would potentially want to work with me on future projects even if I'm not in the US.

I tried to keep everything concise and straight to the point but there's so much that I want to achieve..
 
Yeah, it's a 12-hour time difference for us! But, I understand. You can reply whenever you get time, don't worry about that. I'll be on a look out for your reply :)

Honestly, my main professional goal is to work as a cinematographer for a short film, preferably shot in Pakistan. Most of the projects I've been involved in, both personally and as a freelancer, have focused on addressing social issues in Pakistan, and that's the direction I want to continue in. I'm passionate about making films that have a positive impact and shed light on important issues. Over the next five years, I hope to showcase my work on a larger platform, like the Cannes Film Festival, although I know it's a long shot (fingers crossed). But seeing a Pakistani director pull off something like "Joyland" at the Cannes Film Festival has really lit a fire within me. It's like, if they can do it, why can't I? Oh, and btw, if you haven't checked out that film yet, you should definitely watch it—it's seriously amazing! It's the kind of project I aspire to be a part of, and I believe I have the potential to contribute in a meaningful way.

Initially, I wanted to pursue directing, but after discovering cinematography, I was hooked. The idea of using lighting and camera gear to enhance the mood of a film really intrigues me, and I'm eager to learn and practice more in this field. That's why I'm interested in pursuing graduate studies in cinematography but the world is not working in my favour haha. And while I have learnt a lot on my own, I know there's a limit to what I can achieve without formal education. I graduated with an undergrad in 2022 and I feel like I've been stuck in the same spot without moving forward. Even though, I've been working actively in the field, I just feel like there's something I'm always lacking and I think now is the right time in my life to grab the opportunity of graduate studies. I honestly don't think I'll be able to do it later in my life if I don't pursue it right now, like this year.

On a personal level, I want to build a strong network of contacts while I'm in the States and use those connections to collaborate on my dream project. I believe that studying and working with like-minded individuals during graduate school will be the first step towards making that dream a reality. I'm also excited about the prospect of learning in a completely different environment from what I'm used to. There's a massive difference between the cultures of the US and Pakistan. Cross-cultural learning would be incredibly valuable which I believe would broaden my horizons and hopefully gain new perspectives.

As for why I chose the US for my studies, it's simple: it has the largest film industry in the world. Plus, obtaining a degree from a US institution will enhance my job prospects back home in Pakistan, especially if I encounter difficulties with my work visa in the future after graduation. Lastly, by the time I graduate, I will have met people in the States who would potentially want to work with me on future projects even if I'm not in the US.

I tried to keep everything concise and straight to the point but there's so much that I want to achieve..

I think really there are 2 options as it stands now. And I think the only person really able to decide on which is right is you.

Option 1 is you go with CCC and I’m sure you will be happy and you will learn a lot. You’ve got a scholarship which is amazing (congrats!) and then you get to have the education experience you want in terms of cultural exchange. Chicago is a really neat city and it’s truly not as scary as most Americans would have you believe. There is crime but it’s not much outside the realm of anywhere else in the country per capita. I genuinely think you would have a great time. That being said I do think there are potentially major compromises for your goals there and that should be weighed against the pros and the cons of CCC as well as what I will layout as option 2. Firstly, you’d be spending money that you’ve made clear is quite a scarce resource on a degree in directing rather than cinematography. So, your camera skills wouldn’t be what’s getting honed. Yes, you could supplement with some sort of workshop but most of those may carry their own several thousand dollar price tag plus often times commitments that require you to pay lodgings. So, an additional cost. You also would be integrating into a significantly smaller primarily broadcast oriented industry. This is both a pro and a con. You would very likely be able to get some lower level AC/ Cam Op/ Gaffer experience if you focus on your camera skills outside of your time spent on directing. However, that’s dependent on visa status because it’s union based work. The nature of that small industry also means you very likely won’t get industry based directing work even AD work. So the directing skills you’re learning would have to be focused on the advertising space (if you can get it which it’s a very concentrated often gig based system there) or more likely working on other indie filmmakers films (which usually won’t pay well if at all). And none of this is a guarantee. You also will make connections that could be good for that region of the US (which is not as productive in terms of film and TV) from your faculty, but most of them won’t be as integrated into the Hollywood system. Given your film goals this is a tricky one. It’s certainly no deal breaker, but isn’t especially helpful for advancing your goals. Also, consider the cost of equipment and crew transport for your thesis if you’re wanting to shoot in Pakistan (which I think is a good idea for programmability at a place like Cannes). Many of my peers at DePaul shot their films in their home countries to mixed results. Often time this was a big cost in terms of transporting crew (at least key roles) to your home country. That’s in addition to needing to hire crew (at least a producer but probably a few additional roles) and talent in Pakistan. So, make sure you have those connections.



Of the international students I knew who made their thesis /capstone films at home 3 of 8 had any measurable level of success. 1 was a real early stages career success the other 2 were opportunity creating successes. That 1 career starter is current in Cannes Cinefondation and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2022. Of the other 2, one is currently studying at Beijing Film Academy (after receiving an American MFA) and the other played some medium importance festivals and used that moment to make a feature that won the Slamdance Grand Jury Prize and landed her representation. The rest moved back home and are working in their home industry in about the same capacity as they were previously. So, I would feel remiss to not be frank and honest with you that an American degree is not a golden ticket especially as we enter a new multipolar world.



Option 2 as I see it would be a multi-stage plan. It would firstly, and probably much to your chagrin, mean not attending film school this coming fall. I know that’s almost certainly a hard thought and I know you mentioned feeling as though now is the only time. If that is fully true then I think that will outweigh anything else in option 2 and the choice is clear. Otherwise it would be as follows. Firstly, instead of using your money to come to America now you use a small amount of it to produce at least 1 short film in the next year. Do it as professionally as you can with your current resources. Then submit that to a few key film festivals (can help give some ideas if you want). Not the dream ones but the ones that can act as gateways to that dream. Clermont-Ferrand being a must submit to. This will create new better opportunities in at least 1 of 2 ways. 1 you get in and start building a network that can get you to your goal. Clermont is a seed festival for Cannes. It’s how my friend I mentioned above was able to get into cinefondation. Or 2 even if you don’t get into those festivals you have a stronger piece to use to apply to film schools with next year. Of which I’d really recommend expanding your search outside America some. I think it could extend your budget. I’d apply to Lodz in Poland which has a relatively low tuition cost compared to America and is an extremely in depth program with a world class Director of Photography masters. I’d also apply to Beijing Film Academy which is both cheaper and closer to your home country. It’s very selective but is a world class institution. China has actually surpassed the US for the largest film industry globally. And it’s a new market that has far more opportunity than Hollywood (especially due to that previously mentioned multipolar world). I personally would LOVE to plunge into that market. Other options to consider would be Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Victorian College of the Arts (my friend Qiu Yang went here and has played Cannes and is currently in Berlin), and I’d also say if there are film schools in Pakistan you respect at all apply to those as well if possible. And then still choose a few American schools you are interested in at least 2 top tier and then I’d say CCC and DePaul (and any others you really like) again. And just see. Worst case you’ve invested a year into your skills and yourself and you enter CCC with more experience under your belt. That’s never a bad thing. But hopefully you get into a camera focused program rather than a directing one since that’s where your true passion is.

I don’t think someone HAS to attend film school to be successful. I believe it’s helpful especially for certain roles and that a lot of its value comes from connections. You’re there to grow your craft, but you’re also there to learn how to navigate the complex world of films and find people to be in your corner to help you succeed. So, I always think it’s valuable to invest in yourself and personal growth both inside and outside of an educational environment.

Either option I think for your goals building that French industry connection will be massively important and your goal should be to get into Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. It can give you that opportunity to build those connections to pry open that Cannes door.

And I’d say make a culturally significant but progressive themed film for your best chances. Something authentic to you and your culture but that has western appeal in terms of being a very human story. That’s my read at least on what really resonates with them. I think that this is an area that could be most beneficial from the cultural exchange. Comparing cultures to better understand your own. Seeing what’s unique to your experiences while presenting them in a way a western audience is better able to understand while still seeing that unique essence only you and only Pakistan can deliver.

And to end off I just want to say I think everyone working in an industry they love and want to succeed in feels that feeling of stagnation you mentioned. I’ve certainly felt it and that’s definitely a major part of why I’m pursuing AFI, but that’s not your only path forward. If I end up being rejected I plan to still continue to invest in myself in a non-educational context. I’m working on a pilot for a short in the works this year that my spouse and I want to turn into a show and I’ve got a bunch of short scripts I plan to write. So, don’t let feeling stuck prevent you from investing in yourself even in small ways. You’re still young and the world is still your oyster. Most filmmakers don’t make significant headway until they’re in their 30s or 40s and for so many it’s because they kept pushing even when they felt stuck or like this industry wasn’t for them.
 
I think really there are 2 options as it stands now. And I think the only person really able to decide on which is right is you.

Option 1 is you go with CCC and I’m sure you will be happy and you will learn a lot. You’ve got a scholarship which is amazing (congrats!) and then you get to have the education experience you want in terms of cultural exchange. Chicago is a really neat city and it’s truly not as scary as most Americans would have you believe. There is crime but it’s not much outside the realm of anywhere else in the country per capita. I genuinely think you would have a great time. That being said I do think there are potentially major compromises for your goals there and that should be weighed against the pros and the cons of CCC as well as what I will layout as option 2. Firstly, you’d be spending money that you’ve made clear is quite a scarce resource on a degree in directing rather than cinematography. So, your camera skills wouldn’t be what’s getting honed. Yes, you could supplement with some sort of workshop but most of those may carry their own several thousand dollar price tag plus often times commitments that require you to pay lodgings. So, an additional cost. You also would be integrating into a significantly smaller primarily broadcast oriented industry. This is both a pro and a con. You would very likely be able to get some lower level AC/ Cam Op/ Gaffer experience if you focus on your camera skills outside of your time spent on directing. However, that’s dependent on visa status because it’s union based work. The nature of that small industry also means you very likely won’t get industry based directing work even AD work. So the directing skills you’re learning would have to be focused on the advertising space (if you can get it which it’s a very concentrated often gig based system there) or more likely working on other indie filmmakers films (which usually won’t pay well if at all). And none of this is a guarantee. You also will make connections that could be good for that region of the US (which is not as productive in terms of film and TV) from your faculty, but most of them won’t be as integrated into the Hollywood system. Given your film goals this is a tricky one. It’s certainly no deal breaker, but isn’t especially helpful for advancing your goals. Also, consider the cost of equipment and crew transport for your thesis if you’re wanting to shoot in Pakistan (which I think is a good idea for programmability at a place like Cannes). Many of my peers at DePaul shot their films in their home countries to mixed results. Often time this was a big cost in terms of transporting crew (at least key roles) to your home country. That’s in addition to needing to hire crew (at least a producer but probably a few additional roles) and talent in Pakistan. So, make sure you have those connections.



Of the international students I knew who made their thesis /capstone films at home 3 of 8 had any measurable level of success. 1 was a real early stages career success the other 2 were opportunity creating successes. That 1 career starter is current in Cannes Cinefondation and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2022. Of the other 2, one is currently studying at Beijing Film Academy (after receiving an American MFA) and the other played some medium importance festivals and used that moment to make a feature that won the Slamdance Grand Jury Prize and landed her representation. The rest moved back home and are working in their home industry in about the same capacity as they were previously. So, I would feel remiss to not be frank and honest with you that an American degree is not a golden ticket especially as we enter a new multipolar world.



Option 2 as I see it would be a multi-stage plan. It would firstly, and probably much to your chagrin, mean not attending film school this coming fall. I know that’s almost certainly a hard thought and I know you mentioned feeling as though now is the only time. If that is fully true then I think that will outweigh anything else in option 2 and the choice is clear. Otherwise it would be as follows. Firstly, instead of using your money to come to America now you use a small amount of it to produce at least 1 short film in the next year. Do it as professionally as you can with your current resources. Then submit that to a few key film festivals (can help give some ideas if you want). Not the dream ones but the ones that can act as gateways to that dream. Clermont-Ferrand being a must submit to. This will create new better opportunities in at least 1 of 2 ways. 1 you get in and start building a network that can get you to your goal. Clermont is a seed festival for Cannes. It’s how my friend I mentioned above was able to get into cinefondation. Or 2 even if you don’t get into those festivals you have a stronger piece to use to apply to film schools with next year. Of which I’d really recommend expanding your search outside America some. I think it could extend your budget. I’d apply to Lodz in Poland which has a relatively low tuition cost compared to America and is an extremely in depth program with a world class Director of Photography masters. I’d also apply to Beijing Film Academy which is both cheaper and closer to your home country. It’s very selective but is a world class institution. China has actually surpassed the US for the largest film industry globally. And it’s a new market that has far more opportunity than Hollywood (especially due to that previously mentioned multipolar world). I personally would LOVE to plunge into that market. Other options to consider would be Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Victorian College of the Arts (my friend Qiu Yang went here and has played Cannes and is currently in Berlin), and I’d also say if there are film schools in Pakistan you respect at all apply to those as well if possible. And then still choose a few American schools you are interested in at least 2 top tier and then I’d say CCC and DePaul (and any others you really like) again. And just see. Worst case you’ve invested a year into your skills and yourself and you enter CCC with more experience under your belt. That’s never a bad thing. But hopefully you get into a camera focused program rather than a directing one since that’s where your true passion is.

I don’t think someone HAS to attend film school to be successful. I believe it’s helpful especially for certain roles and that a lot of its value comes from connections. You’re there to grow your craft, but you’re also there to learn how to navigate the complex world of films and find people to be in your corner to help you succeed. So, I always think it’s valuable to invest in yourself and personal growth both inside and outside of an educational environment.

Either option I think for your goals building that French industry connection will be massively important and your goal should be to get into Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. It can give you that opportunity to build those connections to pry open that Cannes door.

And I’d say make a culturally significant but progressive themed film for your best chances. Something authentic to you and your culture but that has western appeal in terms of being a very human story. That’s my read at least on what really resonates with them. I think that this is an area that could be most beneficial from the cultural exchange. Comparing cultures to better understand your own. Seeing what’s unique to your experiences while presenting them in a way a western audience is better able to understand while still seeing that unique essence only you and only Pakistan can deliver.

And to end off I just want to say I think everyone working in an industry they love and want to succeed in feels that feeling of stagnation you mentioned. I’ve certainly felt it and that’s definitely a major part of why I’m pursuing AFI, but that’s not your only path forward. If I end up being rejected I plan to still continue to invest in myself in a non-educational context. I’m working on a pilot for a short in the works this year that my spouse and I want to turn into a show and I’ve got a bunch of short scripts I plan to write. So, don’t let feeling stuck prevent you from investing in yourself even in small ways. You’re still young and the world is still your oyster. Most filmmakers don’t make significant headway until they’re in their 30s or 40s and for so many it’s because they kept pushing even when they felt stuck or like this industry wasn’t for them.
Thank you so much! Your breakdown of the options and the potential pros and cons is super clear and has given me a lot to think about.

Regarding the cost comparison between CCC and DePaul, it's definitely a significant factor to consider. With CCC covering 9 credits worth of tuition per semester with the scholarship, it means I'd only have to pay for the remaining 3-6 credits, which is much more manageable financially compared to the full tuition cost at DePaul for the two years. I've also been exploring extension programs in cinematography, which offer a more cost-effective option, but they do extend the duration of the education, which I'm still unsure about. However, it's something I'm considering as an alternative. What are your thoughts on that?

When it comes to Option 2, I was thinking about applying for Fall 2023 initially, but I decided to hold off to gain more experience in the film industry first. Yet, it's tough to find many opportunities here in Pakistan without having that master's degree under your belt. Even though the film industry is still growing here, I feel like I need to take the step of higher education for my personal and career growth. And, I see where you're coming from about needing to invest in making a film and getting it out there through festivals. However, I believe I'd be better equipped to kickstart that project if I deepen my understanding of filmmaking first. Also, due to a few personal reasons, I'm almost certain that I won't be able to pursue a master's if not this year. I'm leaving that 1% chance just in case luck decides to swing my way.

Absolutely, I couldn't agree more! Making a film that's culturally significant and progressive, reflecting my background while appealing to Western audiences, sounds fantastic! I actually had a similar idea in mind, aiming for content like that. I'll definitely look into the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival since it's new to me. I believe it's crucial to start with smaller to medium-scale festivals before aiming for bigger ones like Cannes.

Thank you for sharing your perspective and experiences. It's reassuring to know that others in the industry have faced similar feelings of stagnation. Your insight into your journey and plans for the future is inspiring. It's comforting to be reminded that success in filmmaking doesn't always follow a linear path. I genuinely hope you make it into AFI and get to follow your dream program. Couldn't thank you enough for your advice. Nowadays, not many people would take the time out of their busy schedules to guide someone with such detail. Super grateful!
 
I think really there are 2 options as it stands now. And I think the only person really able to decide on which is right is you.

Option 1 is you go with CCC and I’m sure you will be happy and you will learn a lot. You’ve got a scholarship which is amazing (congrats!) and then you get to have the education experience you want in terms of cultural exchange. Chicago is a really neat city and it’s truly not as scary as most Americans would have you believe. There is crime but it’s not much outside the realm of anywhere else in the country per capita. I genuinely think you would have a great time. That being said I do think there are potentially major compromises for your goals there and that should be weighed against the pros and the cons of CCC as well as what I will layout as option 2. Firstly, you’d be spending money that you’ve made clear is quite a scarce resource on a degree in directing rather than cinematography. So, your camera skills wouldn’t be what’s getting honed. Yes, you could supplement with some sort of workshop but most of those may carry their own several thousand dollar price tag plus often times commitments that require you to pay lodgings. So, an additional cost. You also would be integrating into a significantly smaller primarily broadcast oriented industry. This is both a pro and a con. You would very likely be able to get some lower level AC/ Cam Op/ Gaffer experience if you focus on your camera skills outside of your time spent on directing. However, that’s dependent on visa status because it’s union based work. The nature of that small industry also means you very likely won’t get industry based directing work even AD work. So the directing skills you’re learning would have to be focused on the advertising space (if you can get it which it’s a very concentrated often gig based system there) or more likely working on other indie filmmakers films (which usually won’t pay well if at all). And none of this is a guarantee. You also will make connections that could be good for that region of the US (which is not as productive in terms of film and TV) from your faculty, but most of them won’t be as integrated into the Hollywood system. Given your film goals this is a tricky one. It’s certainly no deal breaker, but isn’t especially helpful for advancing your goals. Also, consider the cost of equipment and crew transport for your thesis if you’re wanting to shoot in Pakistan (which I think is a good idea for programmability at a place like Cannes). Many of my peers at DePaul shot their films in their home countries to mixed results. Often time this was a big cost in terms of transporting crew (at least key roles) to your home country. That’s in addition to needing to hire crew (at least a producer but probably a few additional roles) and talent in Pakistan. So, make sure you have those connections.



Of the international students I knew who made their thesis /capstone films at home 3 of 8 had any measurable level of success. 1 was a real early stages career success the other 2 were opportunity creating successes. That 1 career starter is current in Cannes Cinefondation and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2022. Of the other 2, one is currently studying at Beijing Film Academy (after receiving an American MFA) and the other played some medium importance festivals and used that moment to make a feature that won the Slamdance Grand Jury Prize and landed her representation. The rest moved back home and are working in their home industry in about the same capacity as they were previously. So, I would feel remiss to not be frank and honest with you that an American degree is not a golden ticket especially as we enter a new multipolar world.



Option 2 as I see it would be a multi-stage plan. It would firstly, and probably much to your chagrin, mean not attending film school this coming fall. I know that’s almost certainly a hard thought and I know you mentioned feeling as though now is the only time. If that is fully true then I think that will outweigh anything else in option 2 and the choice is clear. Otherwise it would be as follows. Firstly, instead of using your money to come to America now you use a small amount of it to produce at least 1 short film in the next year. Do it as professionally as you can with your current resources. Then submit that to a few key film festivals (can help give some ideas if you want). Not the dream ones but the ones that can act as gateways to that dream. Clermont-Ferrand being a must submit to. This will create new better opportunities in at least 1 of 2 ways. 1 you get in and start building a network that can get you to your goal. Clermont is a seed festival for Cannes. It’s how my friend I mentioned above was able to get into cinefondation. Or 2 even if you don’t get into those festivals you have a stronger piece to use to apply to film schools with next year. Of which I’d really recommend expanding your search outside America some. I think it could extend your budget. I’d apply to Lodz in Poland which has a relatively low tuition cost compared to America and is an extremely in depth program with a world class Director of Photography masters. I’d also apply to Beijing Film Academy which is both cheaper and closer to your home country. It’s very selective but is a world class institution. China has actually surpassed the US for the largest film industry globally. And it’s a new market that has far more opportunity than Hollywood (especially due to that previously mentioned multipolar world). I personally would LOVE to plunge into that market. Other options to consider would be Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Victorian College of the Arts (my friend Qiu Yang went here and has played Cannes and is currently in Berlin), and I’d also say if there are film schools in Pakistan you respect at all apply to those as well if possible. And then still choose a few American schools you are interested in at least 2 top tier and then I’d say CCC and DePaul (and any others you really like) again. And just see. Worst case you’ve invested a year into your skills and yourself and you enter CCC with more experience under your belt. That’s never a bad thing. But hopefully you get into a camera focused program rather than a directing one since that’s where your true passion is.

I don’t think someone HAS to attend film school to be successful. I believe it’s helpful especially for certain roles and that a lot of its value comes from connections. You’re there to grow your craft, but you’re also there to learn how to navigate the complex world of films and find people to be in your corner to help you succeed. So, I always think it’s valuable to invest in yourself and personal growth both inside and outside of an educational environment.

Either option I think for your goals building that French industry connection will be massively important and your goal should be to get into Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. It can give you that opportunity to build those connections to pry open that Cannes door.

And I’d say make a culturally significant but progressive themed film for your best chances. Something authentic to you and your culture but that has western appeal in terms of being a very human story. That’s my read at least on what really resonates with them. I think that this is an area that could be most beneficial from the cultural exchange. Comparing cultures to better understand your own. Seeing what’s unique to your experiences while presenting them in a way a western audience is better able to understand while still seeing that unique essence only you and only Pakistan can deliver.

And to end off I just want to say I think everyone working in an industry they love and want to succeed in feels that feeling of stagnation you mentioned. I’ve certainly felt it and that’s definitely a major part of why I’m pursuing AFI, but that’s not your only path forward. If I end up being rejected I plan to still continue to invest in myself in a non-educational context. I’m working on a pilot for a short in the works this year that my spouse and I want to turn into a show and I’ve got a bunch of short scripts I plan to write. So, don’t let feeling stuck prevent you from investing in yourself even in small ways. You’re still young and the world is still your oyster. Most filmmakers don’t make significant headway until they’re in their 30s or 40s and for so many it’s because they kept pushing even when they felt stuck or like this industry wasn’t for them.
Lodz is a excellent filmschool, but students need to study five years in there and learn Polish, which is very hard to learn.
 
Lodz is an excellent filmschool, but students need to study five years in there and learn Polish, which is very hard to learn.
I know. If admitted they do a full year of polish focused studies before you start your film studies in order to get you to a place of being able to learn polish if needed. And yes the program is 5 years and quite rigorous, but it’s extremely worth it. You’re not just learning how to work with cameras but how to be a director of photography. It’s absolutely not a program for everyone but for those interested in that field it’s pretty much beyond compare and is especially helpful for those looking to work in the art house scene.

My friend and collaborator on one of the shorts I’ve done left DePaul and went there. Upon graduation you receive an Arri camera package, something many cannot outright afford, so you graduate with the tools you need both in an education sense and a literal tool sense.

I absolutely know it’s not for everyone but was simply saying if the goal is Cannes a program like this is a good option to build that foundation and network which was my point in recommending.

They also have a program for those who are not accepted but were close where they can sit in on courses for a whole year which my friend mentioned above did the first time they applied and were rejected.

It’s a lot closer to a European conservatory program rather than the theory based programs at most American universities.
 
I know. If admitted they do a full year of polish focused studies before you start your film studies in order to get you to a place of being able to learn polish if needed. And yes the program is 5 years and quite rigorous, but it’s extremely worth it. You’re not just learning how to work with cameras but how to be a director of photography. It’s absolutely not a program for everyone but for those interested in that field it’s pretty much beyond compare and is especially helpful for those looking to work in the art house scene.

My friend and collaborator on one of the shorts I’ve done left DePaul and went there. Upon graduation you receive an Arri camera package, something many cannot outright afford, so you graduate with the tools you need both in an education sense and a literal tool sense.

I absolutely know it’s not for everyone but was simply saying if the goal is Cannes a program like this is a good option to build that foundation and network which was my point in recommending.

They also have a program for those who are not accepted but were close where they can sit in on courses for a whole year which my friend mentioned above did the first time they applied and were rejected.

It’s a lot closer to a European conservatory program rather than the theory based programs at most American universities.
True. Thank you for your response. I have a similar issue. I want to become a editor, but only got an offer from CCC directing, unfortunately didn't get an interview invitation from LMU. Currently waiting for Emerson.

The directing course at CCC includes a lot of content, even finance. I feel it's hard to focus on the areas I'm truly interested in, like cinematography or editing, before completing these courses.
 
Thank you so much! Your breakdown of the options and the potential pros and cons is super clear and has given me a lot to think about.

Regarding the cost comparison between CCC and DePaul, it's definitely a significant factor to consider. With CCC covering 9 credits worth of tuition per semester with the scholarship, it means I'd only have to pay for the remaining 3-6 credits, which is much more manageable financially compared to the full tuition cost at DePaul for the two years. I've also been exploring extension programs in cinematography, which offer a more cost-effective option, but they do extend the duration of the education, which I'm still unsure about. However, it's something I'm considering as an alternative. What are your thoughts on that?

When it comes to Option 2, I was thinking about applying for Fall 2023 initially, but I decided to hold off to gain more experience in the film industry first. Yet, it's tough to find many opportunities here in Pakistan without having that master's degree under your belt. Even though the film industry is still growing here, I feel like I need to take the step of higher education for my personal and career growth. And, I see where you're coming from about needing to invest in making a film and getting it out there through festivals. However, I believe I'd be better equipped to kickstart that project if I deepen my understanding of filmmaking first. Also, due to a few personal reasons, I'm almost certain that I won't be able to pursue a master's if not this year. I'm leaving that 1% chance just in case luck decides to swing my way.

Absolutely, I couldn't agree more! Making a film that's culturally significant and progressive, reflecting my background while appealing to Western audiences, sounds fantastic! I actually had a similar idea in mind, aiming for content like that. I'll definitely look into the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival since it's new to me. I believe it's crucial to start with smaller to medium-scale festivals before aiming for bigger ones like Cannes.

Thank you for sharing your perspective and experiences. It's reassuring to know that others in the industry have faced similar feelings of stagnation. Your insight into your journey and plans for the future is inspiring. It's comforting to be reminded that success in filmmaking doesn't always follow a linear path. I genuinely hope you make it into AFI and get to follow your dream program. Couldn't thank you enough for your advice. Nowadays, not many people would take the time out of their busy schedules to guide someone with such detail. Super grateful!
Could you send me the continuing education/workshops you were looking at I’m happy to help vet them too and see if they would be helpful for you if you’d like. Also feel free to send me film samples if you’re comfortable and I can give my thoughts. If not I totally get that too. I think you should just do what you think is best for you. I don’t think you will regret it as long as you feel confident in your decisions!
 
True. Thank you for your response. I have a similar issue. I want to become a editor, but only got an offer from CCC directing, unfortunately didn't get an interview invitation from LMU. Currently waiting for Emerson.

The directing course at CCC includes a lot of content, even finance. I feel it's hard to focus on the areas I'm truly interested in, like cinematography or editing, before completing these courses.
The courses in CCC does focus on editing though, but not enough. However, there’s no focus on cinematography but, when I was being interviewed, I asked them about it and they said they have 1-2 classes on cinematography but it’s not listed on the website.
 
Could you send me the continuing education/workshops you were looking at I’m happy to help vet them too and see if they would be helpful for you if you’d like. Also feel free to send me film samples if you’re comfortable and I can give my thoughts. If not I totally get that too. I think you should just do what you think is best for you. I don’t think you will regret it as long as you feel confident in your decisions!
Sorry for the late reply!

I was actually looking at an extension program at UCLA for cinematography. For now, that's the only one I've found but I'm sure once I'm in the States, I'll have a better understanding of how the film workshops and everything works. Here's the link to UCLA's program that I was going through: Cinematography | UCLA Extension

Sure! I would love to share my film samples and get feedback. How do you want me to send them? I'm actually working on a script and would love to take your feedback on it since you're into writing as well. I'm considering adapting it into a short film but not really sure about it.

Yes, I definitely think that whatever decision I take, I'll make the most out of it and won't regret it
 
Sure! I would love to share my film samples and get feedback. How do you want me to send them?
FYI if you click on a users name you can select "Start conversation" which will start a private conversation with a user that only you and anyone else you add to the conversation can see. (Not even filmschool.org staff can see it)
 
FYI if you click on a users name you can select "Start conversation" which will start a private conversation with a user that only you and anyone else you add to the conversation can see. (Not even filmschool.org staff can see it)
Thank you, Chris! I didn’t know that was possible. Going to look into it
 
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