Film and Video Design Degree Outlook
It seems that everyone and their mates have become film and video "experts," especially with the introduction of accessible video cameras and Web sites that offer venues for those home made videos. But, few people have been picked up by agencies for their online video skills. Instead, the musician in front of the camera usually gets noticed. This is why a person who enters this field needs a formal education to learn how shine above the static.
A person who decides to enter the field of film and video can learn much from a school that offers anywhere from a two- to four-year degree in design with a focus on film and video. But, if you have your heart set on film and video at its deepest level, you need to find a school that focuses specifically on this craft. Both avenues have their pluses and minuses, depending upon what you expect from your career.
Twenty years ago, a person could enter a graphic design school and find a job as a "grip" for a film studio upon graduation. Now, those movie and film production studios are looking at schools that focus specifically on film and video to find their entry-level employees. So, if you want to enter this field as a camera person who works in film and video only, then this is the way to go. You can learn the classic techniques throughout film and video history as well as current trends. Plus, since this type of school is so specific, the networking can work in your favor.
But, don't expect the freedom to pick and choose your locations to shoot. Nor do your ideas count in many cases, as producers hold the purse strings and directors hold specific interpretations. As a cameraperson for a studio, your outlets become less limited in direct equation to the size of the studio, however. If you choose to work for a local television station, you might be expected to wear many hats. So, your creative urges might be sated somewhat, but you'll be expected to follow business protocol.
In some cases you may enter the field as a film editor. Entry level positions in this field are highly monitored, as studios are cautious about their film and/or digital production. With that said, try to find work at the best studio around so you can learn from the best. As the industry changes software and techniques constantly, the learning also is constant. You may work with animators, illustrators, typographers, and graphic designers along the way to produce the final project.
On the other hand, if you're interested in film and video as part of a larger picture, you would do well to study film and video at a design school. In this case, your education should focus on film and video basics, including pre- and post-production. You can develop other skills in other courses that will round out your film and video experiences. Gaining this knowledge, along with other skills, may help you work your way up the career ladder to a job as a creative director in an agency.
At some point, no matter where you study, you can begin to specialize in film editing and production or as a cameraperson. Many camera operators can work solo to produce television commercials and more and enter national competitions to gain attention. This is a rough way to go, as it's highly competitive.
But, if you want to be a creative cameraperson who handles all production aspects including location then going solo often is the best route to take. "Indies" or Independent film productions are popular, with entire film festivals devoted to this genre. Even if you're working with someone else, you can spend your off hours producing a film that may one day be a stellar gem.