Thursday, January 6, 2011

RE: Class Action Lawsuit Claims Film School Overstates Job Opportunities

In Hollywood, on Sunset around where the have the Farmer's Market on Sunday, across from the Jack in the Box -- you know the place, Amoeba Records is around there -- there is a structure in which is housed the Los Angeles Film School. It's a skeevy looking place. I make no judgments about its curriculum or its worth as an institution of higher learning. But from the outside, it looks skeevy.

I've never been inside. I've never met anyone affiliated with the school. I've never met anyone who ever attended the school. As I've already said, I make no judgments about etc. But some of the former students are apparently unsatisfied with what they got, and they're trying to sue. Or, some lawyers have convinced them that they're unsatisfied, and are trying to convince a judge to go along with their plans for a class action lawsuit against the school.
A new proposed class action targets the Los Angeles Film School and Los Angeles Recording School for alleged deceptive practices in attracting students by over-promising jobs in the entertainment industry.

According to a lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior Court, students pay $18,000 to $23,000 in tuition to receive 900 hours of instruction from an accredited school. The two schools, which offer students training in the technical aspects of content development, are said to maintain career development departments that manage "a curriculum designed to prepare students for the pursuit of internships and entry level employment."
Okay let's stop right there. The emphasis added sentence should be enough to quash any lawsuit against these people. Prepare students for the pursuit of internships and entry level employment. That means that once these poor kids graduate, they're given application forms for the Jack in the Box across the street.

They have to eat while they're preparing for the pursuit of internships and entry level employment.

Hollywood is a hard city, and a cut-throat industry. For everyone who tries and succeeds, there are thousands who try and don't. So they end up working at, well, the Apple Store or Guitar Center.
The plaintiffs claim, however, that they didn't receive 900 hours of instruction and that the schools only attained accreditation by manipulating their job placement rates. Specifically, the schools are alleged to have offered students gift cards to Target and Best Buy if students signed self-employment forms and misrepresented sales clerk positions at Apple and Guitar Center stores as "creative positions." These efforts were allegedly made to fool ACCET, which handles accreditation for continuing education schools, into thinking that these film students had job opportunities.
If you've ever been to the Guitar Center on Sunset, or the Apple store at the Grove, you know that celebrities, directors, producers, musicians, etc are often found shopping there. Impress them -- it's as good a time as any. You're getting face time with actual people who can help your creative career. If you're a musician and you work at Guitar Center, when Slash comes in and asks to check out the latest "ax" (see how hip I am to the musical lingo?), just take one down off the wall and break into a seething rocking rendition of "Classical Gas." He might sign you to his band, or his record label, or whatever he's got. And if you're working at the Apple store, and Jason Bateman walks in looking for the latest version of the iPhone, why not show him the "app" you just designed?

I'm serious. Guitar Center and the Apple store are as good as any places to get time with celebrities and big time Hollywood decision makers.

In fact, I have some advice for anyone contemplating signing up with the Los Angeles Film School: Just go directly to the Apple store or Guitar Center and fill out an application. Better yet, sign up with a temp agency and take advantage of any excel training or anything else they might have. A lot of studios use temps (I can't remember which they agency they prefer; ask around), and once you get on a lot you can meet the people you need to meet to get a full-time job, and your foot's in the door!

And then, um, well, you can become an office drone. But at least you'll be on a studio lot.

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