You are here

Seattle Film Institute

Your Review: 
<p> <strong>Attended</strong>: Currently<br> <strong>Recommend</strong>: Yes <p> The Seattle Film Institute is small and the classes are very hands on. The faculty is very professional and willing to give help even in their off time. It is a very grass roots school but growing all the time. There is even talk of adding a 2nd year program that would produce an entire feature on HD! The 40 week full immersion program that I am in the latter stages of gives a great knowledge base of the entire industry. From writing to lighting to camera work and grip work you will learn it all. But as they say you get out what you put in. You have to work hard. They also have an excellent internship program. <p> <strong>Reviewer's Location</strong>: Seattle, Washington USA <p> <p> --------<br> <strong>Note</strong>: <em>This review was auto-imported from an older LOAFS database. A "Yes" recommendation has been translated into a rating of ten. A "No" has been translated into a rating of one</em>.<br> -------- <b>Review Submitted by:</b> <a href="">Colin Kimball</a> (unverified)


I have tried to filling out the requested page for the Seattle Film School but I have not heard from them at all. I filled out the form 3 times in the past 6 months, I"m not kidding, and I haven't heard anything from anyone. No one at that school has sent me anything with information and no reps have called either. So I don't know why they offer that request sheet if they don't call back. I really want to go to this school from what I read on the webpage. Do they exist? Let me know.

While its mission statement may seem appealing, The Seattle Film Institute 40-week program does not deliver on its promises of "full immersion - living, breathing film." It falls far short of what it advertises. The school is disorganized, half its teachers are apathetic and unenthused working professionals that don't show up to class, the equipment is worn and oftentimes outdated. I began this 40-week course with boundless enthusiasm and energy, and in the span of a few months the school has quite frankly broken my spirit, making me deeply regret my decision to enroll.

My advice to you: take a few night classes on filmmaking, get your hands on some cinema books, rent/buy a camera, WATCH AS MANY MOVIES AS YOU CAN, and most importantly, just go out and DO IT.
That is worth far more than what you'll get out of the classes offered at this school.

Of course it's the standard film school, they promise you everything, feed your dumbass full of sugar and pap, and then send you out into the real world. The sorry truth is that there are only a couple instructors who are worth anything at this school (I'm not going to waste time naming names -- I'll leave that game for a certain hustler who is on the school's payroll and enjoys stirring up internerd drama to boost their pathetic ego). One instructor even made snide comments to me and any student who they felt threatened their lack of creativity.

After graduation those of us who are poor and who don't play the lame Seattle populist/clique/scenester/high school drama game get to live on poverty row with our awesome sallie mae loan they offer with a murdering interest rate attached to it!!!

I didn't even bother with the intern program because I knew the school was worthless by the time I graduated.

Don't believe the hype about film schools, just because they advertise in movie magazines it DOESN'T MEAN THEY CAN TEACH YOU FILMMAKING. If you want to make films find likeminded passionate people, meet other filmmakers, go to filmmaking forums and screenwriting meetings, read film trade magazines and books. But don't waste your money on film school and especially one like this. HOWEVER if you want to waste your time and money, go further in debt, and live off ramen then I say SIGN UP FOR THE SFI!

My time at the Seattle Film Institute was time well spent. You study under working professionals who are not only knowledgeable in their fields, but also have the real world experience to back up what they’re teaching. When I came into SFI, I had no idea how to make a film, the only thing I had was writing experience. When I left I immediately went into pre-production on my first feature film, which I wrote and directed. A little over a year later it made its world premiere at Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival (at which several of my former professors attended). Without SFI I would have never known how to complete such a daunting task.

DO NOT listen to these negative reviews. When I attended SFI, I had kids like these in my class too. They're the kind of people that come in and think they're going to run the show, artsy kids who think they'll be the next Fellini, and then they find out that filmmaking isn't the easiest thing in the world. They don't want to do the work, they just want everything handed to them and as soon as someone criticizes their work or one of their ideas, they curl up into a ball and spend the rest of their time boo-hooing about how their first 8MM project wasn’t well received.

Bottom line: you’ll spend 40 of the most hectic weeks of your life getting a crash course education in filmmaking from a staff of serious professionals. You'll work on several projects, some your own, some in groups. You'll write your own feature length script. You'll be working constantly and if you’re willing to do the work and realize that you’re not going to get a career in filmmaking served to you on a silver platter (sorry when you graduate they don’t have a limo out front waiting to drive you to Hollywood) then attend SFI. It's well worth it.

Let me give you the other side of this story.
First off, the person who posted "Do Not Listen to These Whiners" went to the school a few years ago, and so hasn't been there recently to see just how much of a joke it's become. His film did indeed make it into STIFF. Unfortunately, even the SFI Faculty themselves have admitted that "pretty much anyone can get into STIFF". The film is bad. I don't mean this in a negative, mud-slinging way, but to assess what type of "filmmaker" is leaving comments like that. The script was poor at best, the actors were all friends who didn't know how to act, the cinematography was practically non-existent. Since the film was completely self funded, the sound was poor, the color correction (if there was any) was poor, etc. So, on one hand I suppose, yes, kudos for going out and "just doing it". However, if one is really going to make no EFFORT to properly finance a film, or find real actors, or a real DP, or re-write their script past a first draft, etc., it seems that film school really isn't necessary at all. If that's the extent to which you think there is an art to filmmaking, then you really should just go out and buy a couple books, some equipment, and shoot it. I'm sorry if "MarkChoking" is upset by "artsy kids", but I think much of that is a frustration of somebody that has absolutely nothing to say.
Now, having attended the school myself, I can say that there were problem students. Many of the students were trust-fund kids that had no respect for anything. However, there were those of us who had come to the school because we not only loved film, but we wanted to learn about how to MAKE good films. Unfortunately, the school does very little to encourage approaching filmmaking from a serious perspective. The ideas that took sway were almost never dramas, or anything involving having to actually "direct". They were always either cheap comedies or cheap horror films, with absolutely no substance. In fact, in the entire 40 week program, I had TWO classes on ANYTHING dealing with directing or acting. TWO. The fact of the matter is that while there are certainly problem kids (which the school does NOTHING about) and one definitely shouldn't feel that things should be handed to him, the school is so mismanaged and disorganized that anybody who's serious about film should stay far, far away.
To re-iterate some of the above comments: There is a lack of equipment, much of the equipment they do have is broken, the classes are overcrowded, and so there is never enough equipment to properly go around. The teachers are (almost) all apathetic. They were frequently late to classes with no excuse. Lesson plans were practically non-existent. One day (this is a true story), one of the teachers showed up, and clearly hadn't planned anything for that day, but tried to cover it up. So, we grabbed some equipment and went down to Pike's Place market to shoot some things (what things was ambiguous, as there was no plan). After about 30 minutes of being there, the manager of the market came out and asked us all to leave, as we didn't have permission to shoot there. At this point, the teacher attempted to bribe her. It didn't work. So, this is basically the level of professionalism you can expect. There is a class on editing where you learn about a scene from "The Birds". The "original lesson" for this can actually be found on the DVD of "The Birds", wherein they walk you through the storyboarding for it. Basically, the lesson is pulled right from the DVD. I have about a million more examples like this. Oh, and those internships? Nonsense. My internship, which I, along with a few other people they chose, was told was the "best one" was for a public access station that actually went under a few months ago. And they knew it was probably going to crash too. So, the "best" they had to offer was an internship for a TELEVISION station (nothing to do with film) that was essentially a sinking ship. Other "internships" included working on a feature film. Sounds great, right? Until you find out that the film was being written/directed by the Directing teacher that never showed up to class, and was being "funded" by the director of the school. When we asked him if we could see a script (this is less than a month before the "shoot date"), he said he was still working on it. So basically, most of the internships ended up being the director of the school exploiting students for free work. Oh, here's another fun story. We were asked to write a paper called "My Future" for our cinematography class (that's right, our 3rd quarter exam in CINEMATOGRAPHY was a paper on what we felt our future would be like). We never got the paper back, and wondered what it was ever for. We found out on graduation day, when, in the pamphlets they handed out to parents, there were quotes from us under the heading "What I Learned at SFI". They had taken excerpts, from a paper we never got a grade on, to use out of context to make it seemed like we loved the school. That's what you're dealing with. The director of the school even called the interviews he does for new "prospective students" his "dog and pony show".
Everything has a good side though, and so here's SFI's: The History of Filmmaking course is great. The teacher is amazing, organized, and professional (because he actually teaches at a university). That class single handedly helped me get through the dredge and disappointment of everything else.
The bottom line is this: if you are somebody who has absolutely no knowledge of film, and has no idea if it's even something you're interested in, maybe, MAYBE, SFI is for you. Personally, I would still recommend just buying some books. However, if you are somebody who loves film, and wants to approach filmmaking seriously and professionally, then stay away from SFI. It will leave you with a disgust that will take a while to shake off, and you'll be over $20,000 in the hole.

Well, "Jack Strife", perhaps you should have shown up for your internship, rather than just blowing it off as you did. Many people from OUR class are now doing GREAT things in film. To be honest, I'm glad you're not one of them.

To "filmfan2"....
It is obvious that you work for the school because if you were $20K in debt to Sallie Mae like the rest of us you wouldn't be saying this.
If you are doing so well...then why not move down to the big LA and see what your experience at SFI has garnered? I've been to SFI and gained nothing from their ridiculous program. And I think you will find that when you decide to muster up the courage to go where the REAL film industry is your going to be in a world of hurt. No one gives a crap about your Seattle based internships or your certificate to a 40 week immersion program that no one has every heard of.

You gotta do your time...if you want to break in, your not going to do it in the Pacific NW. doesn't work that way. You're hoping for a Cinderella story...the next Clerks or whatever. This industry runs on nepotism, networking, hardwork and time...don't waste your time working for small "independent" production boutiques in Seattle. Even those type of production groups in LA are looking for their big break.

In short...SFI does NOTHING...ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prepare you for a career in entertainment. Make the move...or spend the rest of your life shooting local commercials and shorts that will do nothing to get you noticed. Peace..from the Leftcoast