Entertainment Education Report: The Best Film Schools in 2018

Variety Highlights Top Filmmaking Schools
Variety Highlights Top Filmmaking Schools
Variety Highlights Top Filmmaking Schools
Variety Highlights Top Filmmaking Schools
Variety Highlights Top Filmmaking Schools

These filmmaking programs score high marks in both showbiz and academic circles.

AFI Conservatory
Los Angeles
In 2017, AFI Conservatory celebrated its 50th anniversary and will commemorate the milestone with new programs and activities through 2019. The AFI Conservatory, an MFA program founded in 1969, is the alma mater of Oscar-nominated “Mudbound” cinematographer Rachel Morrison and other established filmmakers such as Patty Jenkins and Darren Aronofsky. The AFI Conservatory recently held its first Expo, a one-day festival that screens 30 thesis films from the previous graduating class.

Beijing Film Academy
Established in 1950, the Beijing Film Academy is the largest film school in Asia and the only film academy in China. BFA’s programs encourage collaboration between faculty and students, and the cinematography department allows students to work with the newest camera and lighting equipment. Students in this department submit entries to an annual competition called the Cinerent Award in which film industry members judge the screenings. The Performing Arts Intl. B.A. program began in 2016.

Biola University
La Mirada, Calif.
Biola offers an undergraduate degree in cinema and media arts and will launch a school of the same name in July. The School of Fine Arts and Communication has concentrations in media producing, production and writing for film and television. It gives students 24-hour access to a 10,000-sq.-ft. production center complete with sound stage, recording room, and video and audio editing facilities. The school has nearly $3 million worth of film equipment.

Boston University Dept. Film & Television, College of Communication
Boston U.’s department of film and TV is home to a student-operated TV production and media service called BUTV10. Students can use sound stages, cameras, lighting and editing equipment to create television programming, live streaming, and on-demand content. The school also offers an internship program in which those who are selected can travel to Los Angeles, London or Sydney to work with and learn from top professionals in the entertainment industry.

California Institute of the Arts
The School of Film/Video at CalArts offers BFA and MFA tracks that encourage students to learn in a workshop environment. Students develop technical and practical skills by studying personal essay, political documentaries and other forms of cinema. The program intends to prepare students for the rapid technological changes that occur in the film world by teaching them to use brand new technologies.

California State University Northridge
Among the facilities offered to CSUN students in the department of cinema and television arts is a digital visual effects and animation suite. To qualify for the film production option in the cinema and TV arts program, students submit a portfolio that is approved by the faculty. The campus also houses a 130-seat motion picture theater, the only venue of its kind in the San Fernando Valley, called the Cinematheque.

Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica
Mexico City
Founded in 1975, the CCC is known for the Opera Prima, which is an opportunity for graduates to debut their first feature film. There is a specialized bibliographic and growing film collection available at the CCC that is presented at festivals. CCC equipment is exclusively reserved for its students and teachers and allows them to develop skills in both film and video, offering laboratory services with transfer and mixing capabilities.

Lazy loaded image
Chris Louie

Chapman University, Dodge College of Film & Media Arts
Orange, Calif.
Open to students 24/7, Dodge College prioritizes teaching students about pressing issues in the entertainment business. The college holds an annual Women in Focus Conference that welcomes a panel of producers and executives. This year’s event will feature Dorothy Fortenberry, writer and producer on the second season of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Sherry Lansing, the first woman to head a major film studio, also spoke at the university last year.

Colorado Film School
The Colorado Film School includes a Women in Film group that welcomes all genders and aims to create an open dialogue with students to promote equity, diversity and inclusivity. The school also assesses student films using the Bechdel test and then adjusts the curriculum based on the results. Students have previously produced regionally aired ads in class and collaborated with faculty to create documentaries that were shown on Rocky Mountain PBS.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of columbia Chicago

Columbia College
In addition to Columbia College Chicago’s 35,500-sq.-ft. media production center, the television department also has three multi-camera, high-definition studios and a 40-foot green screen. Students who major in interdisciplinary documentary will learn and practice the many roles documentary filmmakers develop, such as directing, writing, photography and voice acting. All cinema and television arts students take courses that emphasize cinematography, visual effects, editing and sound, and web-based and mobile media.

Columbia University School of the Arts
New York
Columbia gives its students an opportunity to pursue undergraduate and master’s degrees in film and media studies. Its MFA programs for directing-screenwriting and creative producing are renowned. With award-winning directors Kathryn Bigelow and James Mangold among its alumni, students from the school have gone on to international film and television success, including some who have brought home top prizes at Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Berlin and the Academy Awards.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of de paul

DePaul University
Offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in animation, film and television, creative producing, documentary and screenwriting, DePaul boasts one of the most hands-on programs in the country, in part because of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, a 32,000-sq.-ft professional production facility with three soundstages. The school also includes Project Bluelight, a professional film production company where students can get real experience working on independent films and TV pilots.

Dongseo University
Busan, South Korea
Im Kwon Taek College of Film and Performing Arts, founded by the renowned Korean director, has become one of the top schools for film and video in South Korea. The college has international affiliations with other leading institutions, including Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in the U.S., the Asian Film Academy and the Busan Intl. Film festival. Last year, students from 16 countries participated in Dongseo’s workshops and master’s classes.

EMC_2166Academics, Emerson College, Tufte Performance and Production Center, TRF, SOA, School of Arts, Television, Radio, film, production center, PPC, TV Facilities, Emerson Television Channels, Students, undergraduate, undergrad, Visual & Media Arts, teaching studio, the Emerson Channel, ECTV, Student LifeStudents set up a television set in the Tufte Teaching Studio for the Department of Television, Radio & Film Production...Photo taken by Derek Palmer on 2/14/18 for Emerson College

Emerson College Visual & Media Arts School
Emerson’s visual and and media arts school offers undergraduate degrees in media studies and production, along with a unique BFA program in comedic arts, with classes including elements of sitcom production, American film comedy and analysis, as well as production of web videos. The college also hosts a film festival of student shorts, shown in front of an audience, with the winner taking home a cash prize.

Prague, Czech Republic
The fifth-oldest film school in the world since its opening in 1947, FAMU was the first college in the Czech Republic to have its own production facilities. The college is divided into 11 departments, with directing fiction, directing documentary, script-writing, animation, cinematography, sound, editing, producing, still photography and the interdisciplinary center of audiovisual studies. It features the FAMU studio, which provides professional film facilities for its B.A., M.A. and doctorate students.

Film & Television Institute of India
With graduate programs for acting, directing, screenwriting, editing, sound recording, art directing, animation, production design and cinematography, FTII spans a wide variety of options for those looking to enter the entertainment industry. The school also prides itself on its small, hands-on program, capping some of its classes at as few as 10 students for as much individual attention and student interaction as possible.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of fsu

Florida State University, College of Motion Picture Arts
The college, which counts “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins as one of its alumni, boasts that all students are guaranteed funding for their films and full access to FSU’s facilities, which include three soundstages, post-production suites, animation labs and screening theaters. Offering BFA programs in production and animation and digital arts, and graduate programs in production and writing, the school says 97% of its graduates work in entertainment within a year of their degree.

HFF Munich (the Munich Film Academy)
Students at HFF Munich, which relocated in 2011 to the heart of the city’s art district, are able to choose among five programs: feature film and television, documentary, production and media business, screenplay and cinematography. Facilities include two film studios, two TV studios, including the world’s first LED studio, and a number of editing, sound mixing and post-production suites, along with three screening rooms.

Ithaca College, Roy H. Park School of Communications
Ithaca College offers two diverse BFAs: one in film, photography and visual arts, and the other in writing for film, TV and emerging media. While the school has immersive classes on campus where students get to work in Ithaca’s television studios and design rooms, the college boasts semester-long programs in New York, Los Angeles and abroad for those approaching graduation to intern at film studios, production and post-production companies.

Aurelie Filippetti.Minister for Culture and Communication, Aurelie Filippetti visits LA FEMIS, film school,with Marc Nicolas and Raoult Peck.Paris, FRANCE-19/0/2012/WITT_CHOIX015/1206191406/Credit:WITT/SIPA/1206191408

La Femis
Unlike most schools, which have permanent faculty members teaching classes, La Femis has a more flexible and ever-changing curriculum, with 500 tutors rotating through to teach various short classes and programs throughout the year. The college has a wide range of film disciplines, including directing, producing, screenwriting, editing, sound production, production design, distribution and cinema management. In 2013 it added specialized programs for TV series development and art and design.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of la film school

The Los Angeles Film School
The L.A. Film School offers a variety of campus and online degrees, including bachelor programs in animation, audio production, entertainment business, film, digital filmmaking, and graphic design, as well as associate programs in audio production, film and music production. Students have access to the campus’ resources, which feature a dubstage, two theaters, a green screen, an editing studio, animation and film labs, as well as interior and exterior sets.

Mount St. Mary’s University
Los Angeles
Students have the opportunity to study film at a real Hollywood film studio through Mount St. Mary’s film, media and communication program. Located at Sunset Gower Studios, MSMU offers a B.A. in film and media, a B.S. in film, media & social justice, as well as a newly unveiled BFA in professional photography, which will be available starting this fall.

New York Film Academy
Issa Rae, Aubrey Plaza and Paul Dano are just a few of those who have attended the N.Y. Film Academy, which explores several areas of entertainment studies, from producing, cinematography and animation to broadcast journalism and virtual reality. The NYFA’s intensive training structure focuses on learning by doing, ensuring its students will write, shoot, direct and edit eight films before graduating, as well as participate on the crews of 28 more.

New York University Tisch School of the Arts
NYU’s Tisch houses several undergraduate and graduate programs spanning film, television, cinema, design for stage and film, and acting studies. Cinema doctoral candidates at the research institution are exploring topics ranging from the history of martial-arts cinemas to literary influences on Bengali cinema. Some of Tisch’s most notable filmmaking alumni include “Life of Pi” director Ang Lee, “Mudbound” director Dee Rees, and “Do the Right Thing” director Spike Lee.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of pepperdine

Pepperdine University
Malibu, Calif.
Aside from the more technical aspects of filmmaking like screenwriting and cinematography, film students at Pepperdine can also engage in research on the history, theory and social impact of cinema. Industry professionals who have been known to speak and teach at Pepperdine include Morgan Freeman, Lester Holt, and Dick Van Dyke. Alumni have gone on to participate in such projects as “Eagle Eye” and TV shows including “Today” and “Good Morning America.”

Lazy loaded image
Daniel Terna

Pratt Institute
New York
Beginning their first year, the Pratt Institute offers its film students access to professional digital cameras, microphones, digital editing studios and the most up-to-date post-production software. Because of its New York City location, Pratt provides access to several internship opportunities at the headquarters of such franchises as “Saturday Night Live.” The film school’s curriculum is interdisciplinary, offering training in writing, directing, and editing in order to make whole films by graduation.

San Francisco State University, School of Cinema
An undergraduate degree program in cinema, a master of arts in cinema studies, and a master of fine arts in cinema round out the options for those who wish to study film at San Francisco State U.’s School of Cinema. The school takes advantage of its San Francisco location, taking its students on field trips to local cinema events and film festivals, as well as providing opportunities to concentrate in documentary, experimental, and/or fiction filmmaking.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of sarah lawrence

Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, N.Y.
Sarah Lawrence’s Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts Program houses more traditional filmmaking courses in disciplines including animation, lighting, screenwriting and directing, as well as expands its film study opportunities to more modern contexts with classes in making web series and DIY courses on how to make the best films possible on low budgets. Its intermediate seminars offer practical training in writing, floor plans, shooting, editing and screening in intensive hands-on workshops.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of syracuse

Stanford U., Palo Alto, Calif.
With a range of filmmaking materials at their fingertips, from black-and-white 16mm film to digital video, Stanford students studying toward an MFA in documentary film and video graduate with the tools to jump into the entertainment industry or teach film at a university level. Stanford also offers undergraduate programs film and media studies, comprised of courses ranging from screenwriting and monster movies and Indian cinema.

Syracuse University
New York
Syracuse’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and S.I., Newhouse School of Public Communications offer competitive tracks in filmmaking. The university also sends a select number of its film students abroad to study Italian film in Bologna, Italy, where they attend the Cinema Ritrovato festival. In New York, students can utilize post-production facilities 24 hours a day, while during production, they have access to digital and super 16mm film.

Lazy loaded image
James Minchin III/USA Network

Tel Aviv University
The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television provides film and digital media production facilities as well as courses in history, analysis and links to connected disciplines in politics and culture; graduates include Ari Folman (the Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir”), Hagai Levi (Showtime’s “The Affair”) and Gideon Raff, who won two Emmys for adapting his Israeli television drama, “Prisoners of War,” as “Homeland” for Showtime.

UC Berkeley
Students at UC Berkeley’s Department of Film & Media can pursue a B.A. in film and a doctorate in film and media, while doctoral candidates in other departments can access the program for curricular support. Courses include documentary, avant-garde and a two-semester sequence in silent and sound film; the department’s affiliation with the acclaimed Pacific Film Archive also grants internship opportunities.

Lazy loaded image
Mary Lou Chlipala

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor
The Screen Arts and Cultures Program offered through University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts seeks to establish an intellectual and artistic community built on diversity in both its student body and its undergraduate curriculum (and developing doctoral program), which embraces film, television and digital/new media. Visiting artists have included Oscar winners Aaron Sorkin, Tom McCarthy, Spike Lee and Lawrence Kasdan.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Winston-Salem, N.C.
Overseen by dean Susan Ruskin, who began her career in development for LucasFilm, UNCSA’s film program has been ranked as among the best schools in the country, thanks to its hands-on curriculum, world-class soundstages and animation studios, plus connections to the RiverRun Intl. Film Festival, partnership with Sundance Film Festival and opportunities for students to screen their work for entertainment industry executives.

University of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication
With Matthew McConaughey, Mark and Jay Duplass and Robert Rodriguez among its array of alumni, UT-Austin has an abiding connection to the film and TV industry, and one that’s supported through a vibrant local independent film scene, including SXSW, as well as highly-regarded campus production studios. Alum including Owen Shiflett, who helped develop “”Breaking Bad,” make frequent returns to the school to share wisdom.

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts
Peck provides students with an interrelated BFA/MFA track in film, video, animation and new genres. The department of film will soon have a new home thanks to Oscar-winning filmmaker John Ridley, who’s overseeing redevelopment of a former brewery building that will house facilities for students and local artists.

Vanderbilt University
The Cinema & Media Arts Program at Vanderbilt fosters a curriculum that connects courses in film and video production, as well as the history and culture of film, with other disciplines, including international studies and critical thinking. The Vandy-in-Hollywood summer internship allows students to put their newfound knowledge to the test at studios and production companies in Los Angeles and forge valuable connections.

Vancouver Film School
Courses in 3D animation, digital design and film production are among the 13 post-secondary programs offered in VFS’ accelerated model, which provides students with the experience to work in the industry after a year of study. Graduates have worked on features including “Wonder Woman” and “Rogue One,” and the school is forging a connection with the film and television markets in India through a new campus in Mumbai.

Wesleyan University
Middletown, Conn.
An exceptional group of filmmakers are among this university’s alumni, including Joss Whedon and Michael Bay. They and other notable industry figures have cited the school’s emphasis on film studies, as established by department chair Jeanine Basinger, as a major influence on their understanding of film. Basinger also founded the school’s cinema archives, which houses documents by such film legends as Martin Scorsese and Frank Capra.

Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Students who major in film and media studies at this Ivy League school pursue both the practical and theoretical sides of film while also expanding their understanding of film and media through related studies in other disciplines, including art history, gender studies and languages and cultures. The doctoral program, established in 2002, has produced graduates who hold positions at major universities, among other institutions.

Compiled by Ariana Brockington, Christi Carras, Kirsten Chuba & Paul Gaita