It depends. If it’s affordable and undergrad, I say absolutely yes. College can be expensive period and I’m not sure taking on that much debt to learn a craft in a field that offers next to no security is wise once you cross a certain cost threshold, so affordable and undergrad is the film school sweet spot for me.
Now, if you absolutely know what you want to do and you also know that you have some skills, like you’ve already made things that, in a vacuum, are good pieces, then grad school could be a wise bet.
Basically, you’re either learning from the ground up (undergrad) or going in to hone your skill and get a launching pad (a grad school like NYU, Columbia, etc.). You should not go to grad film school to learn the basics of making films. That’s what I think undergrad is for, because you can realize filmmaking is not for you and eat the cost of discovery of an undergrad education but to spend that money and not yet know if this is for you at the cost of a grad degree is… yeah.
The biggest thing you get from either is a group of friends who are gonna help you make your first, second, third shorts/features/etc. The network is the greatest asset you’re gonna get out of any of this, film school is not gonna mold you into a great director (failing and learning from those failures is).
And not to contradict myself, but you don’t absolutely need film school, you just need to make shit and pay enough attention to learn through the process of making. The great thing about going to film school is that it sets a schedule on which you have to make things, in all facets of production, and thus are learning in an environment where it’s safe to fail, where (honestly, hopefully) failure is encouraged. You can pay a university or other institution to create that environment for you, or you can take the money you’d spend on that diploma and create it yourself whilst creating work, some good, some bad, but all productive if you’re approaching it of clear mind with the knowledge that, again, it’s okay to fail, that you’re gonna fail but that you’re learning from every fail.
Really Anon, just start making shit. What I recommend to people is to write some simple shit, something you can make in one day on a weekend, and then make that same thing with the same people three times in a row, like every other week so you can shoot it, cut it together, see what you got. Through recognizing the mistakes you make the first time, the second time the piece should get better and the third, etc. That’s all it takes to learn the craft of filmmaking, making, recognizing mistakes, learning how not to repeat them.
But voice? That can’t be learned, it must be channeled. Film school is useless for that. Just stay open to the world, stay curious of the world and honest with yourself and you’ll find your voice; its yours and yours only, which makes it inherently unique, gives it value. Find that voice…
And make shit.