View Full Version : College major

08-04-2004, 03:55 AM
Hey, I'm an upcoming college freshman who is interested in getting into the film industry. I've been in love with film since I was a kid and I have been writing my own stories and story ideas for quite some time. I'm curious as to whether or not it would be the best decision to get a degree in film at my school or go for an alternative major. Going with the alternative major seems more logical to me because I'd be more likely to get a job and I wouldn't be working as a waiter until I got my "big break" or whatever. I may be wrong there, and if I am then please correct me. Would it be better to have a safe degree, although not quite as enjoyable and do my passion on the side... or would that just distract from my actual work that I wanna do. I've thought that I might end up just becoming too used to my job routine and not ever fulfill my dream of becoming involved in film, whether in screenwriting or other endevours... and that really scares me.

Any advice is much appreciated



08-04-2004, 07:33 AM
There are other people who might disagree with me - and they might be right, this is only my opinion - but if you know you love movies and you love writing, then you should major in what you love.
Where I work, a colleage told me today that he's quitting at the end of the month. He's not leaving because the enviornment here is bad - hell, this is the best place I've worked at in the 7+ years I've been a QA Tester (the company is small, so even the owner of the comapny sits in with the rest of us during lunch like we're all equals, and everyone here is very nice - no big egos that I have seen at work here). He's leaving because he's going to university to study medicine - it's been his dream to do so, and he's been working for 9 years to get enough money to get to the point where he can now try and achieve his dreams. Personally, I'm envious of him - he's able to do what I want to do (and what I hope I'll be able to do one day - quit working as a QA tester to be a screenwriter full time). But what struck me was how he had to put his dream aside for 9 years in order to get to the point where he could start STUDYING in the field he wants to study.
You're in a great position - you're still young enough that you have a lot more time on your side than someone like myself - in his early 30s, with a wife to support. Screenwriting is not for everyone, and after going through the rigors of the craft, you may want to do something else with yourself... but you have time to figure that out.

My advice - find a good college where you can get screenwriting courses (if you have to move to southern LA to do so, go ahead). Study screenwriting. Maybe get a part time job to help cover the bills of living out of your parent's house if that's what you have to do. But most importantly, follow your dreams. It's a lot easier to make it when you have time and experience (I.E. majoring in screenwriting) on your side.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and welcome to the shark tank :D

Adam Isaac
08-04-2004, 11:22 AM

I majored in Civil(structural) Engineering & just this year realized that filmmaing is where I should've put all my efforts after high school.

Now I'm writing & going BACK TO SCHOOL for film......took me 24 years to realize what I've known deep down my whole life.

don't be like me, sure I make a living in engineering as a design drafter but I don't feel the way I feel when I come home every night and work on my script.....follow your interests, that's what took me a long time to realize.

08-04-2004, 05:07 PM
Well, as someone who majored in something I love, I'm going to weigh in and say DO NOT DO IT unless it's a field where you can actually expect to find a job when you graduate.

Chances are you'll need to work somewhere after you graduate and before you break into the film industry. It's a lot nicer to be able to find a decent job when you need one. I'd say try to pick a field you like well enough and go with that.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

08-04-2004, 06:06 PM
Thanks for the input,

I've also thought about majoring in something that I would have a good chance of getting a job in and minoring in screenwriting/film. I curious as to whether this is a good or bad idea. I'm thinking that it might be something that is better to take as a whole rather than just minoring in it.

The good thing about the major I'm thinking about doing instead of my passion is that I'll likely have a lot more free time to write, rather than in some other jobs (like being a CPA.) By the way, the major that I'm thinking about going into is education.

Any more advice is much appreciated


08-05-2004, 02:15 AM
Whatever you do, make sure that you get jobs on the side doing writing. Preferably for a studio, but even if it's just for a newspaper or something, it's better to put that on a resume than QA Tester - 7 years. You'll have 4 years to build up your skills. Use them well.

08-06-2004, 04:07 AM
Sounds like you have a pretty good plan there; major in one and minor in the other. You might even be able to double-major in education and screenwriting. Another option to look into is self-designed curriculum. Many colleges allow a motivated student who has a good idea what they want to do with their life to design their own program of study. It's a great way to focus on exactly what you want to do, and you'll be able to avoid some of the usually required, but less than useful, courses. It'll also make it easier to double-major. You'll be able to take all the classes you need for both majors, education and screenwriting, at the expense of whatever you don't like that doesn't apply to either major! Take a look at the student handbook of your college and their website and speak to someone in the Student Services Department and/or at the Registrar. Be a bit pushy if you have to until you find someone who will listen to you and remember that you are paying tuition for your education, so you should be able to study exactly what you want--even if it requires forcing someone at the college to do their job by listening to you and accommodating your wishes. The best way to design your own course of study, in a self-designed curriculum, is as an entering Freshman. That way you'll make the most of your four years. Get started as soon as possible, because colleges can be sticklers for deadlines. Always remember though that you can petition to the Dean if you miss a deadline or if something isn't going the way you want it to. Universities and colleges are bureacracies and there are usually ways to get around their "rules." Good luck to you.

08-06-2004, 06:44 PM
I can try to give you some honest advice from personal experience. I just graduated from film school, and I know why you're asking what you're asking. I have a degree in Film/Video with a concentration in Screenwriting, but I have no job prospects. Now, I didn't think that I would graduate and be able to apply for a screenwriting job. I knew it didn't work that way. For myself, the biggest problem I am having is something I'm sure you've considered: what kind of job can I get with a degree in Film, that will pay college graduate type money? When I figure that out, I'll let you know. Here's the best advice I can give you. I don't regret getting a degree in what I did. I wish that I could get a job with it, but that's just the nature of the business I want to get into. I went to school for screenwriting because it's the only thing I've ever really wanted to do. If that's the way you feel, do it. If you have the financial means to pay for the schooling, and to survive for a little while afterward, just go for it. Think about it this way; would you rather get paid to do something you hate, or be able to do what makes you happy? Besides, if you choose school, you can learn the craft and get a leg up on the competition. I find that, while I don't think I'm perfect, I can tell a real amateur when I see one. Just go in knowing that you don't know everything. The people in film school who are never going to make it are the ones who think they already know everything. And there are plenty of them. Good luck.

08-06-2004, 07:13 PM
I went to USC and majored in film, and I can attest that there are jobs out there for people with film degrees if you're willing to live in Los Angeles. I don't know if there are any prospects anywhere else, but I know for a fact that there are plenty out here that will make use of a degree in film. You may start out with crappy wages not worthy of your education, but if you stick with it and climb the ladder, it will pay off in the long run. And if you aren't in this business for the long run, then don't even try because you're not going to make it overnight.

I want to be a screenwriter, but for now I have a comfortable industry job that allows me to meet writers, producers, and directors on a regular basis. I'd rather be doing this, than making more money at a job that has nothing to do with the industry.

It's up to you where you see yourself after graduation. You have to make the commitment at some point if your serious about this business and you might as well start with a solid education in film. You're not going to have any better job prospects by majoring in any other humanities area like English, Literature, or History unless you want to teach.

Believe me, you can find jobs that specifically want film degrees, you just have to move to Los Angeles and know where to look.

08-06-2004, 08:37 PM
You're right, Indy79. I forgot to mention that. Obviously, if you live in L.A., a film degree can be used. It depends on where you are, and where you are willing to go. Anywhere else, it's pretty tough to use a film degree.

08-07-2004, 11:52 AM
The younger you start out in show business the better. Major in Film.

If you need to take a non film job after graduation, don't worry, because plenty of people work in fields outside their degrees. And plenty of people with no degrees continue to work.

There is no one degree that can guarantee anyone work.

If you have a film degree, you should easily be able to get jobs in prodcos in LA, or media companies in New York.

THere are always a lot of assistants, etc who get paid good money in Hollywood.

08-07-2004, 04:13 PM
I have a Bachelor of Science in Film and Television. I minored in art history. My program had a strong foundation in liberal arts. I think the balance between the two makes all the difference. Personally, I think for the most part, your major doesn't matter a great deal. Your summer internships count toward your overall experience. I think college should be about learning new ways to think and broadening your knowledge.

08-08-2004, 09:31 AM
" I think college should be about learning new ways to think and broadening your knowledge. "

Like going on a date because Nobu's involved?