The History of Film Schools (part two)

Posted on October 18th, 2012 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

It was definitely after the pack of graduates from Southern California film schools such as Steven Spielberg (Cal State, Long Beach) and George Lucas (USC) that the perception of a film school education would change for the better. Most of these young filmmakers did not have a whole lot to say about the world, but all of them knew how to show an audience a good time.  Their first films where not especially deep but they were enormously entertaining, and audiences responded by making them into blockbusters. It is difficult to appreciate today how astonishing the joyful energy of Lucas’s American Graffiti was, or how invigorating the genre twisting the story in Spielberg’s Jaws. The movies of these film students, all of sudden made money, more than anyone in Hollywood had ever imagined was possible; and so they began to realize that that filmmaking could be taught at a college or university. And it then became the norm to hear about the latest graduate who was signed by Hollywood to make films on the studio lot.

Universities and colleges then began to realize the benefits of turning out students who could create such hugely popular entertainment. These successful graduates gave their schools free publicity as well as ‘gave back’ in the way of donations and their time.

Suddenly, young filmmakers were allowed to experiment, use film cameras and lights usually reserved for film directors moving up the ranks in the studio system. These filmmakers began to show the world that it was possible to learn the craft of storytelling using the film medium and thus inspired the film school boom in the late 1960’s, early 70’s, which has continued for a few generations now and seems to constantly evolving.

by Kalman Szegvary, Producer & Head of Film/TV Production, Trebas Institute

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