So I told you guys today's blog would be about what I learned about production from school. Let's jump right in. Now Before going to film school I went to the University of Texas in Arlington. I studied broadcasting there and almost finished with my degree before deciding that I hated news. I mean hated!!!! So I took a semester off and then went to film school.
You might be asking why this is important? Well it's because while there I learned how to edit. I learned how to frame a shot, I learned how to sync audio and video. I also learned a lot about setting up lights, be it mostly for interviews. So when I got to film school I was a bit ahead of the game so to speak. Now the first class I took was After effects and the only thing I really learned in that class was that there was a program called after effects. I downloaded the program and taught myself how to use. I may not be the best at it but I'm a lot better than everyone else in that class was. They went at a snail pace.
After that I took Intro where I met some really cool people but really just relearned a lot of stuff that I learned in broadcasting school about cameras and audio boards. I guess if you never learned that stuff it would have been fine but they helped you understand it a lot better at the university. I figured it would be worth retaking all these classes so I could take the film classes. I remember when I took field and got to make a short! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9mr5dq6RXg It was so much fun! But the rest of the class went right back to news. They told me workshop was where the films get made.
So I signed up for workshop and sure enough it was the film class. Even had the head of the department as my teacher. I had him for a few other classes and he always seemed like a good teacher. People would go on and on about how amazing he is. . . I don't see it. He gives us an assignment and then just lets us go. Now keep in mind that everything up till now had been about news, where was the school part for film making? I mean the only class they even teach that sounds anything like a producing class is really just a class where the teacher takes the kids to a bunch of places they could intern at. She doesn't teach a thing.
And neither did our teacher. He told us if we have any questions to come to him. I went to him and all I got was the run around. I emailed him and he ignored me, time and again. Now my first project could have been better but we had trouble with some of the actors so I take the blame for project one, even through I still love it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGBRmmojxdI But what he did next was beyond reproach.
There was a 24 hour film race and he told us all to sign up. He then went to members of my team and offered them extensions and extra credit if they jumped ship to work with the TA's. He also took away half of the equipment we reserved. Talk about messed up right? At least our short came out good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyrcMwPQ6vY
The last project is the one that made me the most upset. Now I had to scrape my original idea due to some behind the scenes problems and that's fine but I had a cool backup. It was the first scene in a movie I wrote. It is about two bad security guards who work at a military base and are talking about their love lives as a monster escapes. I only had the location for two days and my teacher knew that. Now since I had to change ideas at the last minute I had to change my preproduction stuff, which the teacher demanded to have but never really looked at. I'll get to that in a second, but first on with the story. So I rushed my team into getting it done and sent the material off to him. He told me he would stay at school for an hour, we were done in twenty minutes. But wait! He was gone. He wouldn't answer his phone or email and he told the TA's not to let us use equipment we checked out till they get his say so. What the hell is that? We all emailed him to no avail. About an hour and a half later he emailed back my DP and asked her if she did the prep work for his TV show that the students have to work on.
Yes you read that right! He could email us back about our project but he could email about his own. Great teacher right? So lets go to week two! The last day I had the location. We show him the stuff before class and he says bring it by his office after class. During class he fired our producer because she wasn't enrolled in the class even through he said it was fine for us to have her help out. So my lighting director takes the preproduction to him while I went and got the keys to the location. I get a call that the front of it needs to be fixed. So we fix that, then the sides, so we fix that. Then he will only read it from the producer who he just fired. She went to talk to him and he reminded her that she was fired so I went back. I got there five minutes after he shut her down and he was gone. Once more he never answered or replied to any forms of communication. Lucky one of the TA's was a friend of ours and just let us use the equipment we needed. The project came out ok but could have been better. Something our teacher was quick to point out. He even suggested that we put something in the beginning to set it up. I pointed out that we had that, and he replied with oh, I didn't bother to read it. Great teacher right? This is the guy everyone raves about. I don't get it. Check out the video for yourself and let me know what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cik9pE0cMpY
Maybe other film schools are better. Maybe they really teach you about film and all the behind the scenes stuff but the one I'm stuck at is a joke. I've managed to get myself onto some real sets. I worked on a documentary that just won an Emmy, called missing moon rocks. https://www.facebook.com/MissingMoonRocks I also worked on a short film by my friend Larry Stanley called Gospels of Thomas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2LcdCWfjKo and am currently working on his film The Gray Agenda. I learned more on these sets than I have my whole time at "film School". So my advice is if you want to do this for a living, just go do it. You can learn more from tutorials online than at higher education. The school really tries to fit you into a box and make you like everyone else but that isn't what is best for you. You want to be different and stand out otherwise how will anyone ever notice you? I guess the only advice I can give is just go do it!
Jonathan Gutheinz vents about everything under the sun.