FSU Film School Q&As


I got an email a while ago from a prospective Film School student asking some questions about the film program at Florida State. I figured a lot of people probably have the same questions so I’m sharing my answers below. If you have any additional questions feel free to ask.

(Note: The film program is constantly changing. I suspect the main structure of the curriculum will remain the same, but just keep in mind that by the time you go through the program, things could be completely different.)

1. How much free time do you guys actually have? I hear from absolutely none, to some, to…some more. Do you have enough free time to hang out with non-film students occasionally, or is it really just none?

It’s not as crazy as they make it sound. You’ll have plenty of time to hang out with non-film students. Maybe not as much if you weren’t a film major, but there’s still time.

You go through cycles. You might have a few months of class and workshops a few hours a day, and the rest of the time is free. But once you go into production for a few months, and you’re on set six days a week, 14 hours a day, then the time disappears. But making movies is why you’re here, right?

2. Is the male to female ration really 2:1 for pretty much all film years/classes?

It varies. My class was closer to 1:1, but still male heavy. I think for every class there’s always more guys, but I don’t think it’s been 2:1.

3. Do you get the summer off? One of the administrators on the tour said four consecutive semesters, or 3 and a half years or…something like that. It confused me.

Alright, here’s how it breaks down. If you’re accepted as a Freshmen out of high school, your first year is spent taking the required FSU classes for your degree (Math, English, Science, etc.). I think they started something where you have to volunteer a few hours on set, but for the most part, you don’t really do anything with the film school.

The summer before you start Film School you have off. Then when you start Film School in Fall, it’s full time (Fall, Spring, Summer…Fall, Spring, Summer…Fall) until you graduate in December 2 years later. You get all University holidays off, such as 3 weeks in winter, and 2 weeks before and after summer.

4. Did you and all your classmates really have a 4.0 in high school?

Maybe not 4.0, but most everyone’s was pretty high.

5. Semester abroad…is that not really plausible, or do you just have a specific time in your college career to do it?

Okay, this was one of the lies I was told. While you’re in Film School, you can’t do study abroad. You can either do it the summer before you start Film School (between Freshman and Sophomore year), or stay a semester after you graduate Film School. I heard they might be altering the curriculum to allow study abroad, but as of right now you can’t do it while in Film School.

6. That whole hot meal thing every six hours thing worries me. They say they pay for it, but then some student said they only give you 120 dollars, which does not sound like enough to cover hot meals for a bunch of male film crew.

So the school covers most costs for production (mainly film stock and processing), but it’s still going to cost money. Yes, you need to provide lunch for your crew, along with craft services. But this is only for your films (the ones you direct), and by the time you reach this point you’ll have been on about 20-30 sets, getting free food and lunch everyday, so in the end it all balances out.

And a few hundred dollars is a joke compared to the thousands of dollars the film would cost if you had to pay for everything yourself, like in every other film school.

7. Why did you pick FSU? I mean, do you feel you’re receiving a better education than the programs at USC or NYU or UCLA etc would give you? Their programs start junior year, and I was just wondering what the benefit of one starting sophomore year was.

So I wrote my answer to all the above questions weeks ago because I wanted to think about this one, and it’s funny rereading it because I just had a conversation with someone on how the majority of the students at the Film School never really wanted to go here. FSU was our backup choice, the one our parents made us apply to.

This has nothing to do with the school itself. For me at least, I just wanted to get out of Florida, and as a city New York and LA are much more appealing than Tallahassee.

But the main reason I ended up here, as well as most of my classmates, is price and quality. As a Florida resident FSU is pretty much free for me. But after being here I’m glad I didn’t go any where else.

FSU prepares you to work in the film industry. We’re on set our first semester and we learn everything and do everything. We work by union rules and follow common set protocol.

I wrote about how I was on the Burn Notice set and it felt just like being back on an FSU set, just more people and a bigger production. We’re all really well prepared and not in $100k debt.

8. Is it worth it? Hollywood is kinda terrifying, especially if you look at all the numbers, and the success rate, and all that scary stuff. I know it’s not worth getting into unless you’re 100% insanely obsessed, but…it’s still kinda horrifying to think you go through all this work and education to just direct a couple of Lifetime movies by the time you’re 35. No offense to Lifetime, of course…or their directors. Does the film school prepare you for that, though? Does their Alumni program kind of save you from that fate, assuming you’re talented and hard working?

FSU does have a really big alumni network, and when you graduate they pair you with a mentor to help you out. I can’t really speak to this since I’m not officially out there yet and don’t have a mentor.

The one thing we do lack is that few big name?alumni. We don’t have a Lucas or Scorsese yet. But we also haven’t been around as long as those schools. This is our 20th anniversary, and the undergrad program has only been around for 10 or so years.

Barry Jenkins with his film Medicine for Melancholy is getting pretty big, and he only graduate a few years ago. Right now a strategy the school is pushing is to take advantage of the digital revolution.

One thing Film School provides that is hard to find anywhere else is a great network of people you know and trust. With Medicine, about 5 FSU alum stayed connected, got together and made the film.

But the film industry is crazy and brutal, whether you go to film school or not. But there’s nothing else you’d want to be doing, so you have to do it, right?

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