I’m doing a degree in film and it’s actually really hard

Even Banksy thinks film can change the world

Film students are always told we’re just doing film because we want the easy way out but our degree is just as worthy as a degree in sciences, maths or any other subjects. We all study different things, but why does it seem like the arts are looked down upon? 

I’m tired of hearing people say to me “good luck getting a job” when I tell them I do a degree in film. Why do people think a different field of study means more job security? Especially when everybody works just as hard.

Here’s a little insight into what goes on in a film student’s degree.

We don’t just ‘watch films’

Probably watching Psycho for the 50th time now

Throughout the first term at uni I’ve heard countless people ask me if my homework consists of just watching movies. That’s partially true, but that’s not the only thing on our curriculum. When we watch films for homework we don’t just watch for fun. There are lots of things that go through our minds when we analyse moving pictures, with questions such as “why did the director make this choice?”, “why did the girl react like that?”, “what’s the meaning behind these two shots?” and so forth. Everything you see is an artistic choice and we analyse to understand what creators of the film are trying to convey to the viewers.

There’s more practical work put into a film than just the acting and directing

When it comes to practical work it’s not as easy as many presume. Each person is assigned to a specific aspect of making a film: screenwriter, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, actors and lots more. Films are the end product of a huge artistic collaboration, not just pure entertainment. Yes, you can have a film that has amazing cinematography but also shitty editing, or bad acting with good art direction. The list goes on. 

Studying film means more personal investment than just sitting in the classroom and lectures

We stay up just as late as you do writing essays – honestly what’s the difference and discrimination about?

Besides attending the amount of seminars, lectures, camera and editing workshops to learn about the historical and practical aspects of film, creating an outstanding and visually breathtaking motion picture also depends on yourself. This means your own experience in working with a group of people in film production, your own leadership, and whether or not your strategy of expressing what you want to express through film works with your target audience. Personally, I think that this aspect of film is what makes studying and creating film hard for people to grasp and understand.

Nobody understands how relevant our degree is

With the 21st century, digital media has sparked a revolution of Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, and other accessible platforms where people could easily write, film and produce videos online. As film students, we like to take what we are interested in and educate the others about our knowledge in this particular subject (honestly it’s more than just “this actor looks good here”). I would hate to say this but the world of entertainment would be quite different without films and television series (I guess no more Netflix for y’all).

Actors and crew members can be challenging to work with

What time do they have to be there to prepare themselves for filming? When you’re in production, some crew members and actors won’t even be able to get any sleep due to the packed schedule they have. In that case, there could be a lot of risks such as actors or crew being sick and delays caused by late arrivals, the need to re-take shots etc.

You can’t control the elements

What if you wanted to shoot a outdoor sunny scene and it started to rain? This not only slows the schedule for the filming down, but also delays post-production and when it will be finished.

Equipment always breaks

There are plenty of things that could go wrong when it comes to equipment. Camera running out of battery, mic not picking up the sound, exposure, focus, iris, white balance. Seriously, you name it.

You have to balance what you want with what everyone else in your group wants

You have to make a contribution to a group project, but you also want to somehow make the film “your piece”. Your team may not agree on certain things, which makes it even harder for you to achieve your goal within the group. At the same time, you have to satisfy the editor’s, director’s, and the producer’s own individual intentions for the film. Sometimes it may clash, but you’ll just have to deal with it. These collaboration choices may or may not affect the performance of the film.

I’m not saying a film degree is harder than other degrees. But people who don’t understand the depth and breadth of a film degree continue to judge it and devalue it. We’re all passionate about something and film is something I want to pursue.  I am beyond honoured to be studying film at the University of Bristol, which has the oldest and longstanding department of film and theatre in the UK. Next time you watch a film in a movie theatre, stay behind for the credits and see how much of an effort and teamwork it takes to create what you’ve just watched. You might be surprised