Friday, January 09, 2009

Film School To Make Independent Film?

Film Production - Do You Need Film School To Make An Independent Film?

Anthony Watkins is an accomplished filmmaker from Mount Vernon, Washington, who attended film school in Vancouver, BC. That required Anthony, a U.S. citizen, to commute for hours every day, over the US/Canada border. The distance didn't bother him, for Anthony knew he'd only be doing it a short while.

"It was a good film school, but I only went there long enough to learn how to operate a movie camera, and light a movie set. As soon as I learned that, I was done with film school. After I quit, I started raising money, and then I started shooting my own feature movie."

How has it worked out for him? Anthony has completed two feature films, "Counseling Day" and "Mall Robbers." Both movies are feature-length, shot on film, and they premiered in Anthony's hometown movie theatre, complete with tuxedoes and limousines.

Anthony is putting finishing touches on the script for his next film, the third in what he calls his "Seattle Trilogy." That film is titled "Diary of a Jerk," and will be in production in 2009, to be completed in 2010.

What became of his first two features? Anthony says they are selling briskly on DVD. Anthony distributes them on eBay, and through his direct-response website.

That's unusual in the world of independent film, which yearns hopelessly for nationwide distribution. "Going Hollywood" usually means getting a studio job, and that means having a college filmmaking degree.

"College's expected there," Anthony says. "Film studio workers in Los Angeles must have a degree, because their competition has one." Anthony did attend college, but not to get a filmmaking degree.

How did he do it?

"I just got started," he shrugs. "Practically anything you need to know is in a book somewhere, or a class, or a filmmaking seminar. Then all you do is put what you've read to use. That's the secret, taking action."

Anthony has a strong do-it-yourself attitude, and tries to help other filmmakers, by including a "making of" documentary DVD in each of his DVD movies. "I do it to give back what I've learned. I'm grateful for the help I got, when I was starting out."

Would he do it the same way today, were he starting over?

"Absolutely," Anthony says, "Only I would quit film school sooner. If I'd stayed there any longer, I might have missed being a real filmmaker." Then turns back to his work, designing another shot for his next movie.

For further information, contact Anthony Watkins at

film school
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digital filmmaking handbook

© 2008 Sam Longoria, All Rights Reserved


  1. It's sad. Many think film school will entail making a feature film of their own and for most that is not the case.

    Though film school offers many advantages to certain filmmakers, those with an indie spirit are better off just using that money to make films.

  2. There are some individuals who are just gifted in their craft, with little assistance or educational background.

    Film school is definitely the right path for anyone just starting out, who want to gain the necessary skills they need to develop their filmmaking techniques.

    Washington DC film school

  3. I agree completely with Len and much less with TJLoop. I think the "indie spirit" is a great term, and in a business like Hollywood, unless you know the right people, and most of us certainly DO NOT, then you better have a go-getter attitude. There are lots of great references like Robert Rodriguez and you can get the books they use in the classroom to help you figure it out as you go. But I think if you really want to make a movie, take the money, get the right equipment and start going after it. That's the best way. A great resource is HWC. AKA Hollywood Camera Work. Check it out; it's a great place to start. There are dozens of websites like
    and others that have lots of great tips for the independent film maker just starting out.

  4. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Short Film No Outlet; please check it out if you are into films; especially no budget independent attempts.

  5. When we made our first feature, it seemed like a rite of passage. The second one came easier. Currently working on the third. If you're going to make movies, make movies. Take action. No need to wait around and ask permission.

  6. Hi, I am a newbie of your blog. I think your site will be very helpful for me. Because I am going to something in Films Sector. I am going to launching A Films Schools website. Please visit my site and give me some suggest.

    Thank you.

  7. My first "suggest" would be, learn the subject, before you teach it. Bada boom!