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Pursuing a Filmmaking Career, According to a Film School Graduate

By May 23, 2022January 3rd, 2024Digital Filmmaking

Digital filmmaking is an exciting industry full of opportunities for those seeking a fast-paced, creative career that pushes the limits of your creativity. Those who want to be a part of the film production process can choose from a variety of paths to the filmmaking job of their dreams.

We sat down with Romone, a recent graduate of Villa’s Digital Filmmaking program, to talk about the benefits of the degree program and how to become a filmmaker at Villa. He outlines what makes one of WNY’s only BFA in Digital Filmmaking so dynamic and the ways it has impacted him as an aspiring filmmaker.

Choosing a career in filmmaking

Students don’t have to love filmmaking for their whole lives to become filmmakers. In fact, before Romone found filmmaking, he first explored an interest in fashion design and developed an appreciation for visual arts before eventually discovering his love of storytelling. With the support of his family, he began to find his creative voice as a filmmaker and entered Villa’s Digital Filmmaking program.

Choosing a filmmaking degree program

Romone could have decided on a filmmaking program with a more singular focus on screenwriting—his personal passion. Instead, Romone chose a degree program that immersed him in every aspect of film production and offered an emphasis on real-world filmmaking experience.

“I also appreciate Villa’s small class sizes and the personal attention students receive from faculty. Their support as you transition to college means a lot,” Romone said.

Villa’s Digital Filmmaking program, combined with the hands-on training of Villa’s On-Set Production Assistant Certificate Program and On-Set Grip and Electric Certificate Program, helps students pursuing a filmmaking career stand out.

Romone Reeves at graduation

“I feel like students should blend their education and take advantage of certificate program opportunities along with their degree program,” Romone said. “Villa’s certificate programs give you important first-hand experience. If you’re just getting your skills in the classroom, you will be completely unaware of the lingo, the dos and don’ts, and the unspoken rules on film sets.”

Becoming a filmmaker at Villa

A modern filmmaker must combine creative vision with practical skills to produce the wide variety of video content used in the industry, from full-length feature films or documentaries to short-form digital ads.

These skills are best learned in experiential environments, including a mix of classroom learning and on-set work.

“You have to combine them,” Romone says about learning the skills to take filmmaking from the classroom to the set. “The more you know, even what I learned in the production assistant and on-set grip and electric certificate programs, made me more versatile in every aspect of filmmaking.”

The more you know, even what I learned in the production assistant and on-set grip and electric certificate programs, made me more versatile in every aspect of filmmaking.

Hard skills in filmmaking

  • Film project management
  • Script writing
  • Video editing
  • Lighting
  • Sound engineering
  • On-set grip and electric
  • Visual effects

How has learning these skills affected Romone’s passion for filmmaking?

“I’ve realized after going to film school for the last four years that creating my own films through great writing and direction are my main passions,” he said.

Soft skills in filmmaking

Romone’s experience at Villa wasn’t just about the hard skills acquired during academic work and hands-on training. It was also a place to grow into a more complete filmmaking professional with all the tools to succeed, developing soft skills employers look for, including:

  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Work ethic
  • Project management
  • Dedication to a variety of filmmaking crafts
  • Punctuality
  • Teamwork
  • Positive attitude
  • Facing adversity
  • Adaptability
  • Organizational skills
I’ve realized after going to film school for the last four years that creating my own films through great writing and direction are my main passions.

Overview: BFA in Digital Filmmaking

Villa offers a four-year degree program that awards graduates with a BFA in Digital Filmmaking along with the skills for a fulfilling film career. The program features foundational courses in sound, graphic design (post-production), and the creative aspects of filmmaking as well as more advanced job-specific skills for roles like camera operator, film editor, screenwriter, cinematographer, and film director. You’ll take courses such as Techniques and Technologies in Digital Film, Photo Imaging and Design, Digital Storytelling, and Digital Film Editing.

Overview: Certificate Programs

In addition, Villa offers two filmmaking certifications: On-Set Grip and Electric and On-Set Production Assistant, that can be earned outside of Villa’s traditional degree program. Students like Romone often earn certificates while enrolled in the four-year Digital Filmmaking program.

On-Set Grip and Electric Certificate Program: Offered with support from Buffalo Filmworks, this program provides a condensed and expert-led learning experience. Grip and Electric students learn from film industry veterans in a two-day intensive course. The program gives students hands-on experience assembling camera gear, configuring sound and lighting equipment, and other on-set duties.

On-Set Production Assistant Certificate Program: A production assistant’s (PA) on-set responsibilities can include organizing and orchestrating tasks for any department or team, helping manage that day’s objectives. PAs are also responsible for effectively communicating among creative, technical, or managing teams, translating instructions and schedules from one department into a list of tasks for another. Romone jokes that PA stands for “practically anything.” The jack-of-all-trades role many production assistants take on encompasses technical, interpersonal, and creative responsibilities. A good PA “can work their way up” to bigger, more rewarding responsibilities on set, according to Romone.

On-set experience in Villa’s filmmaking programs

Romone talks fondly about his time as an on-set grip and how it translated into better filmmaking later on—even if it was hard in the beginning. He’s adamant that creating a successful film requires an understanding of everything that happens on a film set, whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it.

“It was jarring being on set for the first time,” he said. “There’s a lot of people, a lot going on, and a bunch of stuff that needs to get done before anyone even starts filming.” But in time, things slowed down for Romone, and he began to love the energy on set. “It feels like breathing air now.”

Pursuing filmmaking after graduation

After earning your filmmaking degree from Villa, you’ll have the skills to take on exciting and dynamic entry-level roles in filmmaking. Like many prospective film students, you may not know immediately how you’ll apply your filmmaking skills. However, students like Romone demonstrate there are many ways to become part of the industry!