As I start my senior year of college, I have found myself thinking a lot about what I have actually spent my money on. For context, I am a double major in Political Science and Cinema and Screen Studies. In regards to Poli Sci, I feel that my money was well spent. I learned the ins and outs of what politics involve, and I realized where I sit on the political spectrum through several years of self-discovery and discussions with my peers. When it comes to my film major I begin to question what I actually spent and learned.
Most 'artists' will tell you that being an artist can-not be taught—you're either creative or you're not. I have to agree with that mindset, but let me explain why. The film department at my school is relatively small compared to other majors, so I've familiarized myself with the majority of my fellow film majors. Most of them love watching movies, or the overall concept of being involved with film. As for the professors, most of them have been involved in the industry at some capacity. At the beginning of my time as a film major, I was thoroughly excited, we were learning all the basics of film, from camera operation to lighting setups, and it was a whole new world for me. After those 100 and 200 level courses, though, I began to realize something: you can teach somebody how to use a camera but you can't teach them what to film.
This moment of realization is when I began distancing myself from the structure of my film major. I started looking at myself to figure out if I am actually artistic or if my high grades in my courses were just from playing the education game. It wasn't until I started working on projects outside of the classroom and I started steering away from rubrics and specific instructions that I truly started being proud of my work. This might just be my own personal experience, but I feel that a lot of my peers may agree.
Art is a very personal endeavor, no matter the medium. While film tends to be a collaborative art form, I still believe this sentiment stands true. Art is personal because it spawns from your own inner creativity. This realization is why I feel that spending thousands of dollars on a degree in an artistic field is not for everyone, and this is why I believe you might be better off spending that money elsewhere.
Before closing I just want to list off a couple tips that I have learned both from being involved in an art major and from my own personal artistic venture.
1. Don't let anyone tell you that your idea of art is not really art.
I have had plenty of ideas that have flopped or just didn't turn out the way I wanted them to, but I have never let anyone stop me from trying. Your peers and your professors will try to skew your vision to fit their personal needs. Stick to your guns—the worst that can happen is you end up trying again.
2. Find like-minded creatives.
The best thing you can do when first starting off in a creative field is to find people that have the same goals, or at minimum, people who are willing to listen to your ideas. The last thing you want is a group of people who are just gonna butt heads for the entirety of the project.
3. Capitalize on outside resources.
The Internet is full of free resources and lessons on just about everything you could ever need when first getting involved with art. You don't need to take a three credit course on how to use editing software. Instead, learn to maximize your time. If you do end up deciding to enroll in an art major, be sure to take time to self-educate alongside your courses.
To be clear, I am not saying that becoming an art major is useless. Some people do much better in a hands on, higher education learning environment. Many of the best directors on Earth have film degrees, but those schools didn't make them the best, they did that on their own. Do what you feel will best help you reach your peak as a creative and don't let anything stand in the way of that.