These 20 standout schools offer competitive, world-renowned cinema instruction for aspiring filmmakers:
American Film Institute
With several of its alumni receiving awards and nominations during the 2016-17 awards season, AFI’s newly implemented programs aim to further increase the progression of students from education to the workforce. Students have the opportunity to take screenwriting courses that employ the collaborative format of a TV writers’ room for creating pilots, and participate in the AFI Writers’ Room Ready, pairing graduating screenwriters and their pilot scripts with accomplished AFI mentors. This year, AFI alumnus and cinematographer Frederick Elmes will receive the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, an honor that recognizes the exceptional creative talents of an AFI alum who embodies the qualities of cinematographer Schaffner.
Art Center College of Design
The private Pasadena college boasts a wide range of educational partnerships, allowing students to collaborate with industry partners and gain real-world experience. Over the past year, Art Center has collaborated with 25 corporate sponsors and civic organizations to explore a variety of topics, ranging from the future of air travel to new medical devices.
Columbia University School of the Arts
Alumni of Columbia’s MFA programs in screenwriting, directing, and creative producing have gone on to take home top awards at Sundance and Cannes festivals and the Oscars. This month, the school opened its brand new Lenfest Center for the Arts. Designed by Renzo Piano, the 60,000 sq.-ft. building on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus serves as the university’s first facility for its School of Arts to host presentations, exhibitions and events.
Busan, South Korea
One of South Korea’s leading cinema schools, Dongseo is home to the Im Kwon Taek College of Film and Performing Arts, founded by the prolific Korean director Im Kwon Taek, and featuring professional-caliber media and imaging facilities. The College also operates the Asian Film Academy in partnership with the Busan Intl. Film Festival and Korean Academy of the Film Arts, and recently partnered with Chapman University in the United States.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Public movie cinemas are banned in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but Effat University hosts the lone all-female film studies program in the conservative kingdom. About 150 women learn visual and digital production techniques, along with animation, screenwriting and interactive media, and are at the forefront of the country’s re-emergence as a global filmmaking entity.
Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television
(Intl. Film and Television School of San Antonio de los Banos)
Founded in 1986 by the Filmmakers Committee of Latin America, the school trains students in audiovisual arts through a “learning-by-doing” approach under the tutelage of international filmmakers. Directors have included such filmmakers and artists as Fernando Birri, Orlando Senna, Lisandro Duque Naranjo and Alberto Garcia Ferrer.
Film & Television Institute of India
The premier media school in India, the Film and Television Institute has trained many of the country’s leading entertainment figures, both in front of and behind the camera, including directors Girish Kasaravalli and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty, plus actors Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Rajkummar Rao.
Florida State University
Though far from any major entertainment capital, FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts has established itself as a leader in motion picture arts education, offering a hands-on, project-based curriculum that has yielded alumni who have executive produced films such as “Iron Man 3” and “Lincoln.” Its most high-profile alumnus of the moment is Barry Jenkins, writer and director of “Moonlight,” which won the best picture Oscar earlier this year. FSU’s Torchlight Program has also put students to work on several feature films shot in Florida.
Gobelins School of the Image
“Despicable Me” co-director Pierre Coffin and animator-director Bibo Bergeron are among the notable alumni of this French visual art school’s department of animation. Students may pursue training in animated filmmaking, 3D character animation, photography, motion design and engineering and graphic design for gaming. Graduates have gone on to work for Pixar, Universal and Disney, among other studios.
Named a Qualified New York Production Facility by the NY Governor’s Office, Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications provides students with filmmaking opportunities through its incubator program, the Studio, where alumni can produce student films and pilots. Increased course offerings in live event production, a new sports media degree, and a partnership with Cuba’s Intl. School of Film and Television underscore Ithaca’s commitment to communication and opportunity.
National Film School
The National Film School in Lodz is the leading Polish academy for media arts students, including actors, directors and cinematographers. Founded in 1948, the school has trained such world cinema figures as Krzysztof Kieslowski, Roman Polanski and Zbigniew Rybczynski. The practical workshops give students the opportunity to shoot their projects on professional 35mm film. History and theory classes are also considered an integral component of the school’s current curriculum.
Los Angeles Film School
Founded in 1999, the Los Angeles Film School offers B.S. and A.S. degrees in entertainment business, animation, graphic design, music production, recording arts and film. In 2016, LAFS received the “military-friendly” designation from GI Jobs for the sixth year in a row, after comprehensive surveys. The faculty includes Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winners and nominees.
Offering an MFA in writing for screen
and stage, Northwestern University School of Communication contains programs including a $5,000 production award given to each second-year MFA student to help them produce original material and its professional reads program that gives students the opportunity to submit original manuscripts to Northwestern alumni and industry professionals. The program educates students in screenwriting, playwriting and television writing.
Pepperdine’s Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture works in tandem with the university’s five schools to train budding filmmakers. Possible tracks at Peperdine include a B.A. in film studies, with students enrolled in hands-on production courses. The B.A. in media production immerses students in the technical side of storytelling through writing, sound and editing. Students can also study filmmaking abroad at one of seven international campuses.
Rhode Island School of Design
RISD offers a four-year BFA program in film, animation and video. Students have recently interned at Cartoon Brew, Fantawild Animation, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Discovery Productions and Laika. It is a relatively selective program, with just 145 undergraduates. Juniors and seniors are able to screen finished films at popular spring film festivals open to the public.
San Francisco State University
SFSU’s School of Cinema program is focused on three main tenets: creative expression, critical thinking and social engagement. Five areas of emphasis are available for the cinema B.A.: animation, filmmaking, media and culture, screenwriting, and film and media studies. Graduate programs in cinema (MFA) and cinema studies (M.A.) are also available. Esteemed faculty members include filmmaker and professor Britta Sjogren, director of the School of Cinema, and Emmy-winning sound designer and editor (HBO’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn”) Pat Jackson, who teaches post-production courses.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
The University of Michigan offers a screen arts and cultures undergraduate program, which combines production with screen studies.The university is also home to a screen arts doctorate program, and features a number of guest-artist series that bring the top screenwriters, writer-directors, television writers and producers to campus every year to speak and conduct master classes, including eight screenwriters who have won the Academy Award for original or adapted screenplay and 18 who have been nominated.
U. of Texas at Austin
The department of radio-television-film at the University of Texas at Austin is one of five major channels of study within the Moody College of Communication. As one of just a handful of top-ranking U.S. university programs in both media production and studies, UT RTF offers a comprehensive, hands-on education that is one of the most affordable among its peers. The program comprises a combination of studio and technique courses, broaching all aspects of media production, history and theory. UT RTF’s alumni network features a wide range of media professionals who have built their careers both commercially and independently as directors, editors, producers, cinematographers, special effects and game designers, screenwriters, web designers, policymakers and higher-education professionals. Alumni of the school include Walter Cronkite and “From Dusk Till Dawn” director Robert Rodriguez.
The philosophy behind the curriculum of Wesleyan’s film studies department is rooted in the tradition of blending history and theory with practice. Film majors study cinema and the motion picture through a curriculum that combines historical, formal and cultural analysis with filmmaking across 16mm film, digital video, and virtual formats. One of the film studies department’s primary assets is the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, where a robust collection of primary historical documents reflect a range of fields within the liberal arts. Students are granted full access to these materials, which are primarily used by international scholars, biographers and media experts. Archive collections include the papers of Ingrid Bergman, Frank Capra, Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Kay Francis, William Hornbeck, Elia Kazan, Roberto Rossellini, John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, Gene Tierney, Raoul Walsh and John Waters, among others.
New Haven, Conn.
Yale’s film and media studies program has long-solidified its distinction as a major player across higher education curriculums in the U.S. and abroad. The program sees about 30 graduates from each Yale class, many of whom concentrate on filmmaking or screenwriting, although undergraduate students from every major are permitted to enroll in various media studies courses. Since its inception in 2002, the combined doctoral program in film and media studies has admitted upward of 40 students, many of whom have already continued on in their careers to become published scholars and leaders within the discipline.