Do You Really Need Film School?

You get into a Kenyan university to study film pretty sure you want to be the next Wanuri. Oh sorry, you haven’t seen any of her works yet, have you? Ok, insert the name your favourite Hollywood director. You sit through dozens of classes, sweat through countless practicals, maneuvering through a system where you are torn between which annoys you more; underqualified and uninspiring lecturers or the inadequate hardware and software provided by the institution. After four years and a king’s ransom later you are hit with a bile-inducing reality: There is nothing about filmmaking that you were taught in that university that you could not have taught yourself through You Tube and the rest of the internet for free, you got that right, NOTHING!

Proper instructions and comprehensive demos from some of the top in their fields from all over the world, be it cinematographers, writers, camera operators, directors…the whole 9 yards. All you need is wifi. Talk about the system sticking it to you. After all, the lecturers lift notes from the internet, right? Now this is the most painful part, that you are stuck with a HELB loan that you are going to take a long time to repay or that your family made great sacrifice to pay your way through film school. And you still came out half-baked. What a waste of money that could have been put to better use.

A self-sponsored student pays about Ksh 80,000 per semester in a public university in an undergraduate program that covers 8 semesters. Ksh 640,000. All that and your parent/guardian is still responsible for feeding, clothing and paying high hostel fees among other expenses. Now, indulge me here, and I will assume here that you are a bright and self driven person. Imagine if instead of going to university you just took that 80k, paid 3 months rent ( a semester is 3 months) at 10k per month, paid internet at 4k per month that will be 42,000 per semester of unlimited lessons from the best from all over the world. If you lessened your parents burden a bit by paying your water and electricity bills as well you will have saved well over Ksh 200,000 out of the 640k., but of course it is not going to take you 24 months to learn filmmaking this way, I’m guessing it would take half that time if you are fully committed and that pushes your savings to over 400k. Now that you have this money, lets say your area of interest is editing, you could get pretty descent editing hardware and software for this amount and start your hustle in only a year. Hands up if you are going to quit film school today!

Who are we kidding here, of course you won’t quit. This is Kenya and the system has led you to believe that papers matter, that that degree is your key to success. Which Kenyan parent in there right mind will hug and kiss you when you tell them that for your further studies you’re gonna go Yego! I’ll tell you this from experience, unless you want to go into teaching, that certificate means jack out here. No one care where you studied leave alone asking for papers. The only thing that matters out here is what you can do, so we only look at portfolios. As you were.




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