AFI Controversity Exposes Divide About Cinema Studies

Sept 1. Adds link to Sept. 1 Hollywood Reporter analysis story, though this doesn't have reader comments like the other stories
By Robert Marich
   Aug. 24, 2016—A debate about leadership at the famed AFI Conservatory cinema and TV school brings out student comments complaining bitterly about the worth of degrees in cinema-studies and what students should expect—and not expect. In this post, I’m looking at those tangential issues in the controversy surrounding AFI Film school dean Jan Schuette, who some faculty want fired (AFI is the American Film Instutute).
  The reader comments in news stories raise interesting issues about film schools that emphasize physical production and an arty orientation. “If you have too much money and want to pay
Succeeding in the movie biz is a Walk on a tightrope

over 100 grand to be allowed to shoot 4 low-to-no-budget-short films, then AFI is a great place for you!” writes one reader on “You’ll love it. Nobody will care for your crappy films one year later, but you’ve been at AFI!”
   A reader of a story adds, “What a joke; it costs a fortune and you learn nothing.”
   Some comments are supportive of the status quo for educational thrust, though on balance the critics are more vocal.
   I’ve maintained that too often film studies students are seduced with promises of being able to make student films, which only imparts what I’d characterize as trade skills. The seduction is students believe that their student shorts will dazzle at some creative fest like the Sundance Film Festival. Yet most student films are forgotten as crude experiments.
  “Web pages and brochures (for film schools) use photos of earnest young people peering through camera lenses—often presenting lads who are reminiscent of young Spielbergs!” I wrote in a 2013 post on this website. “Some argue that the indie-film sector will absorb graduates with arty expertise, but the indie-film business is smallish, hardscrabble and--since it's always short of money--isn't shopping for film philosophers.” In short, students interested in cinema should get well rounded educations that make them employable in the contemporary commercial film business, which is where job opportunities are.
   “I have more than $130.000 student loans that I cannot pay after graduating AFI,” writes another reader about the current controversy at AFI. “The school (AFI) never helped me to meet people in the industry.” Again, most relevant are the reader posts at the end of the top two articles below.
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