There’s one question I almost always hear once I tell someone that I’m a film major: “So, are you going to be the next Stephen Spielberg?” It’s at this moment when I hold my breath, count to three and politely nod and excuse myself. Another, far better question I hear is, “Why did you choose Georgia State University?” Now that’s a question that’s worth a legitimate response.
When most people think about film schools they think about the big Hollywood schools out on the golden coast of California—schools with alumni such as Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Or why not study in New York City like Martin Scorsese? I didn’t want to be a follower, I don’t want to be another potential filmmaker swarming to one place when there’s a prime opportunity to eventually become like one of those revered figures in a place that currently lacks one—Atlanta. And what better place than Georgia State?
Georgia State offers so much in that your experience with film is exactly what you make of it. It is not rare for me to bump into alumni of the film program and hear them complain about how underprepared they are—this is not a career program; this is not a major that sets you up with a job upon graduation. This is a program that leaves your future entirely up to you and helps you achieve the goals you set for yourself. So when I hear these complaints I can’t help but blame the individuals for not taking the initiative to secure their own future—if you want job security without any extracurricular activities then find a new major.
Just like one of my professors said to our class, filmmaking is not just a job or a hobby; filmmaking is way of life if you choose it to be. Because of this, film majors shouldn’t just wait around for an assignment before making a film—just get out there and do it. Actually doing something is the best way to learn anyways, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
I didn’t wait to get into a class that taught me how to make films, I just started doing it because I enjoy it and next thing I knew I was on my way to show my film at the world’s most prestigious film festival.
As a junior who is now in the new dual-degree film program (a program that significantly shortens the path to a master’s degree), I’m in production classes with seniors ready to graduate that have next to no film production experience. Most students use these production classes to learn how to make films, but some of us already have plenty of experience with filming and use these classes to perfect, polish and broaden our talents while taking advantage of our professors’ experience and knowledge. While some students struggle to grasp how to compose a proper shot, others are far ahead and begin to dig into the deeper aspects of cinema. The only thing that has set these two students apart is the fact that the more advanced group took the initiative to learn all of the basics long before stepping foot into class.
Most of the faculty is amazing and always willing to provide great feedback and advice to the students that truly care. But again, this major is what you make of it. If you want to work in the industry, then you’re wasting your time and money—a degree won’t help you become a production assistant on the set of a Marvel movie. If you want to be an actor, then go take acting lessons and network. But if you want to work hard and actually make films, then this is the program for you.