Review of Vancouver Film School

Is Film School Worth it?

I was searching for video production companies in Vancouver and through the power of google and a few links later, came across this review about the Vancouver Film School (VFS). The point that really resonated with me was this comment by the reviewer in talking about a one year film program at VFS:

“This is not enough time to get a comprehensive education in film production. You merely skim the surface of each department. I could have learned all of this by simply moving to Vancouver and volunteering on a few independent film set.”

Now, I never attended VFS, and I also want to clearly state I have nothing against film programs or education. What I would debate as worthwhile is the price of the education vs. what you get out of it. According to the article, programs at VFS can range from $30,000 – $60,000. That’s a lot of money. You won’t get the same education volunteering for indie films that you would at a school. In some ways I think you would get more practical education and learn the reality of making a movie and in other ways you may miss out on the theoretical and the big picture

I myself took one course at the Art Institute. This was after I bought my own little handy cam and computer set up – which back in ’98 cost around $5,000 whereas today you could seriously put something together for $1,000 – and had been shooting for around a year working on my own little projects. At the Art Institute, I found I was helping out other students more than I was learning. Now this was an intro course, I already had experience shooting, and I did learn a few things, but I didn’t see the value in spending more time and money to see if the program would give me more as I went on.

I also have the experience of hiring a VFS student. I was honestly dismayed at what that individual could produce. I thought that with a film education he would certainly be better than I. Unfortunately it wasn’t so.

I will once again state that I think education is a wonderful thing and that I myself have a Bachelors Degree in Business from Simon Fraser University. It disheartens me a bit to hear a story like the girl who posted the review of VFS who had to learn very expensively that it wasn’t cut out for her. There are other art school reviews at http://www.artschoolreviews.ca, and I haven’t spent time checking it out, so there could also be many glowing reviews up there about VFS and other local Vancouver film schools.

After looking this post over I noticed that I sound quite negative towards film education. What I really was trying to get across is that I totally understand where the reviewer was coming from and I would advocate to anyone looking to get into a film / digital arts / multimedia program is to see what you really want out of it in the end, talk to people who have been through the program, and see if it is really what you want.

Spending $5,000 and a year on something that may not work out is one thing, but $50,000 and a year is a different thing.


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Greg Lam is a small business specialist that helps clients do business online. You can find him at http://www.vancouvervideographer.ca/ and http://www.smallbusinessdoer.com.