Adapt or die(or at least find another job)

I've ranted on here before about why I don't like a particular film school, but after having a very insightful conversation with someone about a different film school, I thought I'd throw some new thoughts out there and see what sticks.

The film industry is a constantly evolving business, not just from a technology stand point, but in every respect film people are finding new better ways of doing things. Not only are things always changing, but since the films we make deal with pretty much every subject matter, location, type of people, profession, props, stunts, gags, and weather known to man, the name of the game is adaptability.

In the normal business, commercial, and industrial world the very little bit of diversity that is encountered is usually handled by the structure of those businesses. The upper levels of the company decide to go with a certain "new thing" and hire people to train the upper management people about it and then it trickles down. It usually takes weeks, months, or years for normal businesses to turn their enormous momentum into a new direction. In film, time is a luxury we seldom have, as is any sort of real strong management structure. While there is a hierarchy within film, almost everyone from the top to the bottom is teaching themselves a new way of doing things simultaneously.

Sadly, these are not traits that can be taught in a classroom. If you aren't a self-teaching self starter you won't make it very far in this business. A film school will teach you the way things have been done in the past, and you can probably learn them,  go out into the film business and get a few jobs, but unless you have that adaptability to learn new things, and new ways of doing old things, you won't get very far.

Now you are probably going to say that there are some things that never change, and I will say you are correct. Unfortunately the majority of those things are theory, and one thing that books do really well, is teach theory. Yes it is true that theory has to be seen and practiced to really be learned, but that can be done through working on set just as easily as in a classroom.

So instead of spending your life savings and one to four years of your life going to a school that will teach you things that are going out of date as soon as you learn them, try working on set a few times. If you work for a month or two on free to low paying jobs, spending your spare time researching your chosen craft, visiting vendors in your area, talking to the people in your field, you will come out of that time with three very valuable things. You will have learned about how to work in the area you chose, and you will have a better idea if it is a good fit for your skills and interests. You will have met a decent amount of people that will be essential in getting work in the future, and hopefully those people will have seen in you the last thing. You will know whether or not you posses the ability to teach yourself quickly and adapt to the different situations you encounter.