I went to film school. It hasn’t made me the big bucks, but i don’t regeret it.
For one thing, my school was damn hard. We were expected to write publishable papers. We were expected to be able to put together good movies under situations more stressful than one would ever encounter in “the real world.” Academically, it was one of the more rigourous majors out there, and I sure as hell learned how to analyze difficult reading, watch the hell out of film, and write like a madwoman.
Technically, we were pretty much on our own. Mostly the advantage was that we got free use of the equiptment and a group of people to bounce our ideas off of. There are a few things every budding film maker wants to do (like the infamous “guys walks down the street- strange things happen all around” idea) and film school really does help you get those out of your system.
After college, it’s been a struggle. But right now it’s a struggle for all new grads- even my comp sci and brain science friends are working crappy jobs. Nothing except the extremely trade-oriented majors are going to earn you an instant career. I’ve been working hard on my own to use my skills, and it’s had some success. I just made a music video that is playing on MTV Japan, and my credentials landed me an only-partially-crappy job. If you end up majoring in film, get used to “looking for work” and some degree of insecurity. But who has security nowdays anyway? I’m not doing particularly worse than any of my other friends who studied in different majors, and at least I know a trade.
Meanwhile, I have a college degree, some great critical thinking skills, and no doubt in my mind that when the time comes to make my movie, I know exactly what to do.
I wouldn’t do film school if you just want to work in film. That’s easy- just go somewhere where people make movies and soon enough you’ll find work. I wouldn’t do film school if you already KNOW you are going to make your movies- just do it. But if you are going to college and know you arn’t too concerned with having a steady job with a house and kids and all that, go for it. But make sure you go full-hearted. You will only get out of it what you put in to it. Learn as much as you can, meet as many people as you can, and schmooze with your teachers.