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Entertainment Education: America’s Film School Programs

American Film Institute, Los Angeles
Graduate students in AFI’s production-based program make 4-10 films in two years under the guidance of master filmmakers led by artistic director James L. Brooks. AFI alumni number 4,500, with an impressive 81% of them working in some capacity in the biz.

Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
The school, educating emerging artists for over 80 years, features private editing suites, Surround Sound recording and a 5,000-sq.-ft. stage with a cyclorama and green-screen digital compositing equipment. Film department chair is “Rush Hour” scribe Ross LaManna.

Boston U., Boston
Each year, roughly 200 students take part in BU’s semester-long L.A.-based internship program during which they can choose to focus on advertising & public relations, film & television, entertainment management or Los Angeles studies. In the past students have held internships at “Conan,” E! network and Universal. Also in development on the Boston campus is an advanced level, 18-month MFA program in production, directing and cinematography set to launch fall 2015.

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia
The School of Film/Video promotes studies in all major genres of filmmaking, from dramatic narrative to experimental live-action. In 2006, CalArts earned the distinction of being the only American film school to be honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Chapman U., Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Orange, Calif.
One of Dodge College’s most popular curriculum picks is its filmmaker-in-residence program. Featured as this year’s mentor is “Miss Congeniality” helmer Donald Petrie, who will work one-on-one with select students for the 2014 spring semester. Past filmmakers-in-residence have included directors Betty Thomas, Jonathan Sanger and Richard Benjamin.

Colorado Film School, Denver
The mile-high school offers degree and certificate courses in such disciplines as screenwriting, producing and directing, and built a high-tech 4,000-sq.-ft. main studio containing a cyclorama, a green screen for special effects and a $300,000 computerized lighting grid.

Columbia U. School of the Arts, New York
In 2012, alumna Katharina Otto-Bernstein (1) (“Beautopia”) donated $5 million to create a state-of-the art screening room in the grad school’s new arts building scheduled for completion in 2016. Other successful film school alums include “Frozen” co-writer and director Jennifer Lee and Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”).

Columbia College Chicago
Should students in the arts and media program tire of the cutting-edge filmmaking facilities in the heart of the great Windy City, they may opt for a five-week educational immersion program in L.A. held at the Raleigh Studios lot, where they can sample a taste of the business side of Hollywood.

Emerson COLLEGE Visual & Media Arts School, Boston
Shepherded by “Friends” creator, Emerson alum and founding director Kevin Bright (2), Emerson Los Angeles recently built a state-of-the-art residential facility on Sunset Boulevard that will provide students completing semester-long internships in Hollywood with access to a multi-purpose event space, audio post-production rooms, and an executive screening room.

Florida State U., College of Motion Picture Arts, Tallahassee
Students here nabbed eight student Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The school’s Torchlight Program, which offers coursework in film biz and distribution and marketing, was recently selected as a partner in the $200,000 Focus Forward Filmmaker Challenge.

Ithaca College, Roy H. Park School of Communications, N.Y.
Blossoming filmmakers at the Finger Lakes region school can take part in the Studio, where students pitch, develop and produce feature-length films and other big- and smallscreen projects. Another popular draw is its S’Park program, which connects showbiz industry professionals like Ithaca alum and Disney CEO Bob Iger (3) with students via Skype.

Loyola Marymount U., School of Film and Television, Los Angeles
Through programs like the annual Steed Symposium, Loyola students interact with such pros as Melanie Miller, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, and Cinedigm’s senior VP of digital distribution Erick Opeka. Notable alumni include “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” helmer Francis Lawrence.

New York U. Tisch School of the Arts
The renowned school boasts a long list of accomplished alums including Martin Scorsese and multi-Academy Award winners Ang Lee and Joel Coen. NYU grads also stood out among this year’s list of Oscar nominees, with 11 nominations across six categories.

Northwestern U., School of Communication, Evanston, Ill.
The school just created the Big Ten Theatre Consortium’s New Play initiative. The project will commission, produce and publicize a new play by a female playwright. The play will contain several significant roles for college-aged women, and Big Ten universities will have a three-year period to produce it, royalty-free. After that, it will be available for worldwide production.

Quinnipiac U., School of Communications, Hamden, Conn.
School offers the Ed McMahon Mass Communications Center, a first-rate media production facility equipped with up-to-date technology for hands-on training in all aspects of radio, television and multimedia production. The center includes a 1,200-sq.-ft. HDTV studio and news technology center.

Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Fla.
Each year since 2006, first-year students receive a brand new Apple laptop fully loaded with licensed software valued at about $6,000. The heavily wired school also features a digital filmmaking studio lab speakers’ series, which connects students to film industry professionals. Past speakers have included “Parks and Recreation” thesp Aubrey Plaza, Dylan McDermott and Andie MacDowell.

Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
RISD’s Film-Animation-Video department boasts notable alums such as helmer Gus Van Sant (“Drugstore Cowboy”) and Seth MacFarlane. The department combines animation and lens-based moving image practices into an integrated study and views independent media production as an all-inclusive practice.

Stanford U., Palo Alto. Calif.
Students in the MFA in documentary filmmaking program can tackle class assignments using such hi-tech toys as Sony PMW-F5s with Nikon lenses and Panasonic HPX170 HD video cameras and Super 16mm film cameras. Students are also assigned individual Adobe Premiere editing rooms.

Syracuse U., College of Visual and Performing Arts, N.Y.
“Practical education” is the mantra at this breeding ground for moviemakers. To wit, budding bizzers can apply to spend their spring break in Hollywood at Sorkin Week (underwritten by alum Aaron Sorkin), which provides a full-on immersion experience where participants meet with casting directors, editors and execs like Rob Light.

UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television
The prestigious school, where notable alum Francis Ford Coppola first cut his teeth in film, offers programs in performance, film, television and the digital arts. In addition to the upcoming launch of UCLA TFT’s Digital Institute this summer, the school’s first four-year undergraduate major in “film, TV and digital media” will be available to students beginning this fall.

U. of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem
The school, to be headed by M. Lindsay Bierman when he assumes his post in August, has hatched such nouveau talent as writer-directors Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, whose film “Land Ho!” was screened at this year’s Sundance fest.

U. of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles
USC was the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in film, and hasn’t slowed down since. The school recently dedicated three new endowed chairs funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and, last August, construction began on an Imax lab/theater space outfitted with two full-size Imax projectors, custom-built screen and the Imax 5.1 audio system.

U. of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication
In fall 2013, the department of Radio-Television-Film launched the nation’s first comprehensive 3-D production program — UT3D, a tailored curriculum of instruction and practice in 3-D production techniques. Select students participate in the program, in which they produce a range of 3-D content under the instruction of such 3-D filmmakers as Buzz Hays (“Life of Pi”) and Dave Drzewiecki (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”).

U. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts
This Midwestern campus offers undergrad and graduate degrees in film, video and new genres, and has attracted such revered guest artists as indie darling Miranda July (“Me and You and Everyone We Know”) and “The Passenger” scripter Peter Wollen.

Wesleyan U., Middletown, Conn.
The competitive liberal arts college recently announced the establishment of a new College of Film and the Moving Image, which includes the film studies department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series. The film studies department recently received a $2 million Mellon Challenge Grant, which the school will match 4 to 2 for a total investment of
$6 million.

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