Theoretical vs. Practical Education in the Film Industry

1 March 2014Written by AIT Crew

With the film industry becoming more competitive now than ever, it is vital that you choose your correct form of education.

In 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics discovered that of those employed in film production, only 34% were paid for their work. It is therefore clear that securing a position in the Australian film industry is challenging.

Though it is impossible to specify which path a person should take to guarantee their career in film, there is evidence that students with hands-on experience are more likely to be working on a film set as opposed to those who study the theoretical side of it.

In this fiercely competitive industry, selecting the correct method of education is vital when employees are hand-picking who to take under their wing. Knowing which form of education you are best suited to in your envisioned career is imperative.

Not only are you paying tuition fees, but you are also investing your valuable time. While a theoretical university degree is tailored for professions associated with teaching and film criticism, practical courses are far more beneficial for students who wish to pursue roles related to production on a set.


Highlighting film’s aesthetic, social and political importance, the theoretical side to film is taught at universities. By earning a bachelor’s degree at the end of a university education, the outcomes resulting in this are valuable analytical and historical perspectives.

This allows students to enrich their appreciation for this particular medium of art which will follow them not only within but beyond the duration of their education.

During the span of their degree, students also enhance their skills in research and critical writing which is ideal for those who wish to pursue careers in film criticism or teaching at a university level.

Moreover, the schooling environment gives students the opportunity to make connections among their diverse range of classmates.

However this approach to education is heavily based on theoretical methods and only provides a minimal amount of practical experience.

While this is not a problem for students who wish to become film scholars, for those who want to make films an alternative would be more suitable.


Hands-on courses often provide more networking connections than can be obtained from a university. More importantly they also allow students to develop a portfolio that employers prioritise.

Additionally, practical experience ensures that graduates are not thrown in the deep end and left to swim for themselves. The smooth transition from the classroom to the working film environment translates to a comfortable shift from education as well as the opportunity to impress employers with advanced skills.

There are several film schools that offer this hands-on approach; one of which is the Academy of Interactive Technology.

AIT provides a vast range of courses, including the Bachelor of Film, Bachelor of 2D Animation and Bachelor of 3D Animation, in addition to a myriad of shorter diploma courses. Whichever form of education you choose is up to you, just remember to keep your career in mind when deciding between practical and theoretical education. The world is your oyster!

More Information: Australia Council Website

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