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Harmony Korine explains why he never attended film school


Has anybody ever told you that you don’t need to go to school in order to do what you love? Well, director Harmony Korine would agree with that advice, especially considering that the director himself didn’t go to film school in order to build the career he now has. 

Of course, fans of contemporary cinema will recognise Korine from films like Gummo, Spring Breakers, Kids, The Beach Bum, and others. He has an extremely specific, gritty style that’s easy to identify anywhere, and clearly comes from a lot of curation and expertise, so it does beg the question, what got him here if not film school?

Well, it seems that Korine doesn’t just think that film school is unnecessary, but on some level, he finds that staying out of school has made him into the director he ultimately became. Partially, this comes from the disdain he seems to hold for the institution as a whole.

When asked about the idea of film school in general, Harmony Korine has said, “I hate that shit. It’s eating the soul of cinema. Filmmaking has become like a process, and it’s all garbage. All these rich kids who were going to be doctors now want to be filmmakers, but they have very little life experience and they’re just writing really shitty wit for each other. That’s perfect for when they go to Hollywood and meet the people who finance films, ’cause those guys are fucked up too. That’s why films are the way they are now and why I’ve largely stopped going to see them in the last two years.”

With that sentiment, it makes one curious to discover what he thinks of other filmmakers that sit within his stylistic wheelhouse but are assuredly film-school educated, like Sean Baker, Andrea Arnold, and Samuel Levinson, for example.

Instead of film school, Korine describes the curious way he stumbled into his start, “My mind was very fast, but I looked like a little boy until I was sixteen, too. I grew up in Tennessee, but I didn’t want to live there, and when I got out of high school I flew to New York City to live with my grandmother. I was taking photos in a park one day when I met Larry Clark. We started talking about films, and I wrote a screenplay [Kids] for him.”

There are plenty of people who talk the anti-institution talk, but it seems that, at least as far as his come-up is concerned, Korine definitely walked the walk too.

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