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Entertainment Education: Stellar Film Schools in 2017

Variety picks stellar academies in the U.S. and abroad:

American Film Institute
Los Angeles
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.

Altos de Chavon Film School
Dominican Republic
The La Romana film school is a two-year program in audiovisual media, offering both theoretical and practical study in screenwriting, film production, animation techniques, digital post-production and design. The school integrates its other disciplines — fine art, fashion and visual communication — into the film studies program to provide a broader perspective of artistic and cultural images.

Boston University
Boston
Entering the second year of offering its pioneering MFA in cinema and media production, Boston University’s Department of Film and Television at its College of Communication promotes a collaborative team approach focused on developing, prepping and shooting a thesis project, aimed at preparing students for the creative collaboration they will experience in the professional sphere.

California Institute of the Arts
Valencia, Calif.
CalArts boasts a list of distinguished alumni, including Tim Burton, Brenda Chapman, and Stephen Hillenburg. This year, CalArts School of Film/Video is developing options to increase the diversity and number of writing for film classes, as well as developing an initial plan for a center for new media, VR, immersive experience, gaming and coding.

California State U. Northridge
Northridge, Calif.
CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) features six expert-taught undergraduate programs and one graduate program, with degrees in film and television production, entertainment media management and screenwriting — all offered at the low-cost CSU tuition rate. CTVA students can also collaborate with peers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, the largest university in Latin America, through the annual Summer Film Producing Workshop.

Students work on a sound-mixing project at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, Calif.
Courtesy of NICHOLAS BRADFORD

Chapman University
Orange, Calif.
Boasting a full-time faculty comprising award-winning instructors working in the biz, Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts teaches filmmaking in an environment modeled on a working studio — the Sodaro-Pankey Undergraduate School of Film and Media and the graduate Conservatory of Motion Pictures. Alumni include the Duffer brothers (“Stranger Things”) and Michael Mohan, who won the 2015 SXSW short film grand jury prize.

Colorado Film School
Denver, Colo.
Though Colorado Film School’s enrollment is at approximately 350 students, the school produces more than 1,000 films per year. CFS students participate both as interns and paid cast and crew for productions in and around the Denver area. Alumni have worked on films ranging from “The Avengers” to “Gone Girl.”

Columbia College Chicago
Chicago
With nearly 200 specialized undergraduate and graduate courses, Columbia College’s Cinema Art and Science program prides itself as the most diverse and comprehensive curriculum of any film school in America. Cinema Art and Science offers an extensive internship program as well as a semester in Los Angeles program, which is the only year-round academic program on a Hollywood lot.

DePaul University
Chicago
Earlier this year, DePaul University added a second soundstage to its program, building on to its already generous 10,000 sq.-ft. soundstage on the Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The new 12,500 sq.-ft. stage features editing spaces, offices, classrooms and more, further enabling the school to act as a pipeline to fill positions on the many productions at Cinespace, even before students graduate.

Emerson College
Boston
Emerson’s Visual and Media Arts department offers three unique undergraduate degrees in production, media studies, and media arts production. Emerson’s BFA program in comedic arts is the first of its kind in the U.S., integrating writing, performance and production with new courses that look at comedy from a variety of perspectives. Its Los Angeles-based program is ever-increasing in student popularity.

Hofstra University
Hempstead, N.Y.
Hofstra University’s Department of Radio, Television and Film taps into the wealth of resources available from New York City — located just 25 miles from campus — as well as an award-winning faculty of industry experts and award-winning professionals and two state-of-the-art TV/film/radio facilities. The RTVF Internship Program has placed students with such media institutions as the Sesame Workshop, “Saturday Night Live” and NBC Universal.

University of Television and Film
Munich
The Munich film academy celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017 as it continues to provide a world-class education to a small but dedicated group of 350 aspiring filmmakers, cinematographers and documentarians. Students have recently captured top awards at the German advertising awards and overseen short film projects for Tesla. Alumni include Wim Wenders, Uli Edel and Roland Emmerich.

London Film School
London
The opportunity to train at the professional level in a wide array of filmmaking skills, including directing, producing and cinematography, as well as intensive screenwriting and international film business classes, are the cornerstone of this international institution in the U.K.

Loyola Marymount students set up for a shoot.
Courtesy of CORAL VON ZUMWALT

Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles
LMU students produced 790 films between 2014 and 2015 alone while pursuing degrees in film and television production, screenwriting and animation. LMU also has internships at more than 400 partner companies and access to more than 500 studios, as well as tech and media companies in Silicon Beach, where it has launched a Playa Vista campus for film graduate students.

Mount St. Mary’s University
Los Angeles
The private liberal arts college and all-women’s university in Los Angeles has earned a reputation for its research into gender, health and science issues. On the film front, the school offers a two-year, 52-unit MFA in film and television program, and hosts the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, founded by the Oscar-winning actress (“The Accidental Tourist”) and producer.

New York U. Tisch School of the Arts
New York
The Tisch School of the Arts offers a three-year graduate program that has produced the likes of Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Cary Fukunaga through its intensive laboratory setting. Emphasis is placed on the development of a personal voice and students are trained in producing, editing, cinematography and more.

New York Film Academy
New York
With locations across the globe, the New York Film Academy offers a variety of accelerated degree, conservatory, or workshop programs in visual and performing arts. Work produced by NYFA graduates has been screened at Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Venice and SXSW film festivals.

Pratt Institute, School of Art
Brooklyn, New York
Pratt’s Brooklyn-based program offers a bachelor’s degree in film/video. The faculty has a strong presence at prestigious film festivals worldwide. Eliza Hittman won the director award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for her feature, “Beach Rats.” Recent distinguished visitors to the school include Kelly Reichardt, Edward Lachman, Sam Green and Werner Herzog.

Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota, Fla.
The Ringling College of Art and Design utilizes the studio model of teaching in its 10 BFA and two BA disciplines to create globally aware artists and designers. The college recently opened the first building in its new Ringling Studios soundstage and post-production complex.

Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, N.Y.
Sarah Lawrence College offers a filmmaking and moving image arts bachelor’s degree at its Creative & Performance Arts school. The college is home to the Reelies Film Festival that showcases the work of Sarah Lawrence students. The school also has a theater MFA program. Alumni includes Jenni Konner, showrunner of HBO’s Emmy-winning series “Girls.”

Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah, Ga.
Recently named best motion graphics school by the Rookies, a global competition created by a visual-effects veteran that reviews submissions from more than 500 schools, SCAD is the first university to host its own dedicated motion-media festival; graduates have gone on to work with Fox Sports, CNN and NBC. A survey of spring 2015 graduates found that 98% were employed within 10 months of graduation.

Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.
Situated within the department of art & art history, Stanford offers its students the opportunity to pursue a B.A. with a minor, or honors degree in film & media studies, as well as an MFA in documentary film and video. Its MFA program provides graduate students with a theoretical framework to master both the conceptual and practical skills for production nonfiction film and video.

The Syracuse U. set of the Lina Wertmuller documentary, “Behind the White Glasses.”
Courtesy of Syracuse University

Syracuse University
Syracuse, N.Y.
The university’s College of Visual and Performing Arts offers students a chance to pursue a BFA in art video, film and computer art and animation, while students at its S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications can obtain a bachelor’s degree in television, radio & film.

UC Berkeley
Berkeley, Calif.
UC Berkeley’s film & media department offers a series of innovative, interdisciplinary programs that guide its students along one of two trajectories: a B.A. in film or a doctorate in film & media. The department inundates its students with all forms of moving-image culture, including film, still photography, television and digital media. The respective programs aim to equip students with the academic tools with which to critically analyze film and media within a broader humanistic lens. It also provides curricular support for the designated emphasis in film studies to bolster the academic proficiency of doctoral students in other departments.

UCLA
Los Angeles
Under the mentorship of its award-winning faculty, students at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television follow a hands-on, cutting-edge interdisciplinary approach to the art and craft of both the entertainment and performing arts industries. The school’s recently revamped curriculum, which offers a variety of subsidiary degrees within its department of theater and its department of film, television and digital media, seeks to develop artists and scholars who use their works to engage with and inspire universal change. Upon graduating, students join the ranks of a global alumni community comprising Academy Award-, Emmy-, Golden Globe-, and Tony-winning industry leaders, including Francis Ford Coppola, Mariska Hargitay, Carol Burnett, Jack Black, James Dean, James Franco and Ben Stiller.

UC Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, Calif.
At UC Santa Cruz, students pursue either a B.A. minor, master of arts, or doctorate in film and digital media. The department offers an integrated curriculum, which delves into the cultural impact of movies, television, video and the internet. Additionally, it provides those students who have expressed interest in establishing a hands-on knowledge base with the opportunity to create work in video and interactive digital media. Graduates have established careers as filmmakers, editors, digital media artists, film archivists, media educators, script analysts, cinematographers, television producers, computer programmers and studio executives. Several recent graduates have screened work at the Sundance Film Festival, Cinequest, the Milan Film Festival and on HBO.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Winston-Salem, N.C.
Applications to the Winston-Salem based UNCSA rose 35% in 2017 — the third straight year of successive growth — due in part to its commitment to hands-on film production training with professional-caliber production and post-production facilities, including equipment from the VR tech company Oculus. Alum include Jeff Nichols (“Loving”) and Brett Halsey (“The Hero”).

USC
Los Angeles
With its close proximity to Hollywood and roster of notable, award-winning alumni including Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (“American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson”), Judd Apatow and Bryan Singer, USC’s internationally esteemed School of Cinematic Arts engages all its students, regardless of their specific major, in its multi-pronged curriculum. This spans across seven subdivisions: animation & digital arts, cinema & media studies, film & television production, interactive media & games, media arts & practice, producing, and writing for screen & television. Equipped with world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art resources — the facility itself was borne out of a multimillion-dollar gift from one of its most famous alumni, George Lucas — degree pursuants study in a uniquely interdisciplinary environment that thrives on the constant synergy between theory and practice.

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin’s Peck School of the Arts offers undergraduate, graduate, and cross-departmental degree programs in film, video, animation & new genres. The program places a dual focus on the theoretical and practical worlds of filmmaking. Because of the program’s commitment to transforming its students into expressive filmmakers with a mature grasp on creative, conceptual and technical skills, it provides students with the flexibility to explore all aspects of the industry. The department’s faculty comprises professionals and filmmakers who actively screen their work at festivals and exhibition spaces, including the Sundance Film Festival and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Vancouver Film School
Vancouver, B.C.
Founded in 1987, the Vancouver Film School, located in one of the most pictureque spots in British Columbia, boasts the largest digital paint and effects lab in Canada, featured as part of its classical animation program. Thirteen full-time programs, including study in film, gaming and makeup design for film, are all available to students, while a partnership with Shanghai University in 2014 resulted in the Shanghai-Vancouver Film School.

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt University’s Cinema & Media Arts program, which emphasizes cinema as a modern aesthetic form and encourages hands-on practice, focuses on blending media theory and global film history. Courses cover diverse international cultures as well as critical and creative practices, including firsthand training in both 16mm and digital cinematography.

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