written by: Shane Burley•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 6/30/2011
Here is a look at the phenomenon of online film schools and whether or not that would be right for you.
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Anyone that has been to websites concerning the film industry or film colleges of any sort have seen news on online film schools. They tend to promise a comprehensive film education, and often degree, based entirely on distance learning. They also tend to be from exclusively for profit schools that do not operate in the same way as your more standard film college or university. Here is a look at these online film schools and if they provide the actual education that you need.
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Different Online Programs
The first thing that you should look at is exactly what is being offered by this online film school. There are a number of online programs offered by legitimate film colleges at the graduate level that are specified toward a specific discipline, such as screenwriting. These programs are effective at what they offer, but they are not based around a complete graduate degree or practical filmmaking. UCLA offers some of these professional programs with an online focus, and it should not be lumped together with the other online film schools.
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If you are looking at these online film schools you have to begin reducing the qualities of the schools themselves compared against the other film colleges. First off, online colleges in general are not considered to be up to par with more conventional programs. These online colleges have popped up in response to the educational requirements of the new job market. They are continuously coming under scrutiny for their lack of educational value and their inferior status in the job market.
Then take a look at the pattern on "for profit" are schools around the country, which is really back and forth. In general, none of these have stood out against the legitimate non-profit private art schools. The Art Institutes, Academy of Art Unviersity, the Brooks Institute, and others have been attacked for the lack substance in their degree programs.
Online film schools tend to be the unity of both of these reputations where there is a distance learning program that is less than respectable from schools that do not have much credibility.
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Not a Good Option
A film college is as good as its hands on film production coursework is. The ability to work with equipment and to actually produce films is what is valuable and useful about a film education, not just a series of informative online courses. You will not have the collaborative feel, access to a large variety of video equipment, and a bridge to the professional film industry in this online film school environment. What it ends up being is the most stripped down form of a film college that is only going to give you the most basic features that you would get without what is actually going to turn you into a filmmaker.
Online film schools also tend to lack a full degree program for you to complete your Master's of Fine Arts, and that type of degree program is going to be the best option for film colleges since it will give you the option to be in academic education.