I hear, once in a while, people complaining about acting in student films. To that I say, why NOT do a student film? Obviously, when you're like me and just starting out, you'll take anything you can get. I don't submit to roles I'm not comfortable with, but just the fact of the production team being students is no reason to turn them down, and here's why:
Students usually have access to a studio with equipment. That means your little short or independent feature has things like, cameras, lights, and more than likely, a crew. In my experience, these things add to production value and make your footage look better.
Sure, you aren't getting paid. Or at least not much. Still, they usually feed you at least. Plus you get footage for your reel, and if you don't have a long list of credits under your belt, that's pretty valuable. Sometimes copy can be really hard to get from a director. For some reason, they just want to hold onto it and never let you see it or have it. Even after the editing process, which admittedly takes a while, it can be tough. They have "other things to do" I guess. Or even better, they lose it! But students usually have things like deadlines, and often help with editing, so it's a lot easier to get your hands on that precious, precious video.
Yes, it's a bunch of amateurs who may or may not know what they're doing. But they also have teachers and mentors helping them out, keeping them on track, and advising them when they get stuck. I know more than a few "self-taught" film makers who find themselves stymied because they don't have the benefit of this knowledge on-set, which can cause delays and issues with production.
It's fun. It's, like, really fun. Students are passionate about their projects! Everyone involved is excited, and committed to the cause. They haven't been kicked down enough to hate what they do yet, and they aren't full of ego. They also aren't unrealistic, because they have been told what they should expect on a set.
This is all coming out of my most recent experience shooting a short film at LACC. I had a really good time, I felt like the director had a cohesive and defined vision, the professor was really nice and helpful while at the same time gave the director free reign, and for all intents and purposes, I felt like I was on a real set, with real film-makers. And it felt great to be a part of that. I can't wait to see how it turned out!