This study is about the problems that arise for film education models once they are drawn back into the processes, systems and norms of higher education and asked to respond to issues around fairness, diversity and power. In our post-1992 UK university, the degree offering included a BA (Hons) Film. Founded by distinguished film scholars and supported by a thriving film and television industry, it operated successfully for many years, attracting large numbers of applicants and students moving successfully into the screen industries. Given its reputation and location graduates continued to be placed in the industry at good rates, and films produced won awards. This was often achieved by moving outside the parameters of acceptable higher education practices, making dubious claims about the industry relevance of organizational arrangements and requiring a disproportionate share of university resources. The admissions arrangements and curriculum design actively discouraged diversity, and the intensity of the programme, conducted without evidence of its efficacy, privileged students from wealthy backgrounds in a way that was not seen as problematic by the course team. This paper examines the reasons for this and how it reflects the perception by staff and students of the film industry. It discusses some of our interventions and flags up considerations for reconciling the culture of film with the conventions of higher education. Our experience is offered as typical rather than exceptional in incorporating this difficult and complex creative practice into a university setting.