Theoretical/Academic Vs Production - Film Degree's

Film Production Degree Vs Film Studies Degree (socially conscious filmmakers only)

  • Film Production

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Film/Cultural Studies

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .

Vincent Lee

New Member
I am having problems deciding between going down a more academic/conceptual film degree route (i.e film studies or critical/cultural studies) or going down a more industry focused film production route (i.e Film and TV production).

I really love film theory, it can be very political and engaging, and influences my film ideas a LOT, theory can make your thinking a lot more sophisticated when it comes to film.

I'm a more in the political documentary/ experimental film practitioner..but without the filmmaking skills this can some off very amateur and naive, but same goes visa versa.

I don't really want to make traditional films, I don't want to work as a camera operator or sound technician on a big budget film.. I want to make my own films.

Then again, I could really do with learning more filmmaking skills.. but is a film production course the best way to do this? or would it be better to do that myself and then learn more about theory and then apply this to my practice?

I am very influenced by filmmakers such as Marlon Riggs, Chantal Akerman, Trinh T Minh Ha, Tracey Moffat, Cheryl Dunye ...

Any advice from anyone, any one in the same boat.. is there any filmmakers here who have done film or cultural studies? (or gender studies?) Are there any politically conscious filmmakers here who did Film Production? what did you get out of it?


are you looking at undergraduate or graduate programs?

either way, there are plenty of places where you can do production and theory simultaneously. from the way you lay it out, it sounds like you're not actually trying to choose between making films or studying films, it's more that studying films is an important component of / prerequisite to making films for you. maybe I'm totally off base here. but the ultimate question you should be asking yourself is: would I rather spend the rest of my life writing essays or the rest of my life making films? it's probably easier to incorporate the first into the second than the other way around, btw. plenty of filmmakers write about film, but not many film studies academics make films. and you can always get an MFA in production and then go on to get a PhD in theory.

from the list of names you provide, I think you'd be best served by a school that focuses on experimental film, maybe one associated with an art school.

if you're looking at MFA programs, I recommend checking out the book Film School Confidential. it's outdated, but it's a good start to your search. they break schools down into 4 categories: industry, independent, documentary, and experimental. leaf through and read up on the 'experimental' schools. some of the 'documentary' ones might appeal to you, but in most cases, documentary-centric schools take a very traditional approach to doc making - they're not really interested in being adventurous with form; the focus is more on relaying information and telling stories. look for either programs that incorporate theoretical study (that book mentions a few), or less theoretically oriented programs at schools that have good film studies departments where you'll be able to take elective courses.

when looking at schools I think the most important thing is to try to get a sense of what the students are like - what filmmakers do they like? what kind films do they want to make? how do they think or talk about film? are they familiar with theory? are they politically knowledgeable? you shouldn't expect anyone's views to totally align with your own, but you'd be surprised at how many students there are in some art school film programs who want to make mainstream independent films and only chose their school because they didn't get into NYU.

if you're looking at undergrad programs, I might suggest not directly jumping into a production-oriented program. you're unlikely to find people with your political engagement, knowledge of film history, or interest in theory in those programs. go to a school where you can study history and theory while taking some production courses on the side.

Latest Classifieds

Latest Applications

Latest reviews