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  • Writer's pictureKevin Perkins

Why you don't need film school. And why you do?

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

See that burning zombie above? It's a scene in my short flick, My Boring Zombie Apocalypse.

(You should really go check it out. It's up on Amazon Prime. Support indie filmmakers!)

A good friend watched my film and said, "How did you afford that stuntwoman? The insurance alone must have killed you!"

In reality, it only killed me to the tune of about 90 bucks. You take a skinny animatronic dude in an electric chair (on clearance the day after Halloween! 75% off at one of the seasonal stores!) and a skinny actress of the same size, two identical nurse costumes from Goodwill and two identical wigs I had laying around. (Never throw anything away, filmmakers!) Add in a talented group of friends who worked for meals and kicks, two cheap gas cans from Wal-Mart and an old yellow food coloring tablet left over from Easter (add to water, looks just like gas!) As the camera pans away, we swap the zombie actress for the dummy zombie - soaked in gas - and, ignition! Texas switch, oldest trick in the book.

WHHOOOOOFFFF! Up in smoke. So good. Check out the making-of, below!

Did I learn to do this in film school? No, I did not. Did we take safety precautions? No, we did not! Well, a few - but probably not as many as a film school would tell you to take. (It was me that poured the gas, and lit him on fire, so if I went up in smoke, well, that's my bad. I would never endanger cast or crew.)

The whole short was fun, and turned out pretty great considering none of us went to film school. But as good as i might eventually be without it, it turns out I'm just that kind of person that needs the structure of learning something literally from the ground up - not the "little bit here and there" approach. I wanted to know all sides, all aspects of filmmaking - camera, lights, you name it. So years after shooting this short, I actually did go to back to school for film, and it so happens I did get a lot out of it.

It turns out there's no real good answer to the question, "DO I need film school, or not?" You might, others won't. Your personal mileage can and will vary - and a lot of times, I'd recommend NOT going to film school - but if it's not going to break you, the payoffs are there.

And you can't beat the networking.

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