Internships are especially valuable for film majors. Some schools help place students with alumni in the field, which helps create both an instant connection and a great contact within the industry.
The film industry is one of the largest and most difficult creative career fields to enter. Making it in the entertainment world requires connections, creativity and most of all, experience.
Whether you’re looking for a strong alumni community or a star-studded faculty, certain undergraduate film schools seem to have it all. Here are the six most popular colleges, along with tuition prices, for students who want to pursue a career in the film industry.
6. University of North Carolina: $4,716 (residents), $17,665 (non-residents)
Good film schools don’t exist solely on the West Coast. While North Carolina might not sound like the heart of the film industry, UNC produces great graduates with exceptional talent. The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is both academically rigorous and creatively minded. With a new animation and gaming building currently being built, UNC is dedicated to expanding its film school.
Film students collaborate with the drama, music, dance and design departments in order to develop an understanding of how aspects of production work together. When it comes to creating films, students have access to all of these departments, as well as a 65-piece orchestra to help create the perfect soundtrack. If that isn’t impressive enough, film majors also have the chance to shadow famous directors like David Gordon Green.
5. Wesleyan University: $45,358
Wesleyan University might seem like a typical liberal arts school at first glance. There’s just one exception – the university has a film school so impressive that it’s considered comparable to those at USC and UCLA. Sure, liberal arts courses like humanities and sciences are still required, but film majors spend over half their time learning about what goes on behind the camera.
With only 80 undergraduate film majors, the program allows for close-knit classroom environments and lots of individual attention. Students gain experience in every aspect of the filmmaking process. No matter what they choose to specialize in, every student learns to write, edit, and direct a movie, both by hand and digitally.
4. California Institute of the Arts: $37,684
Originally intended to be an animation school, CalArts was founded by Walt Disney himself. The college was designed to train Disney animators and develop new film techniques. Today, the School of Film and Video has grown exponentially – and counts Disney greats like John Lasseter and Tim Burton among its graduates.
CalArts is more of an experimental art school than a traditional film program. It’s still famous for its animation department, where students learn traditional styles and build their own talent. The faculty encourages majors to combine disciplines and create their own definition of art. Film students have a lot of options, with concentrations ranging from dramatic narrative and documentary to experimental live action and multimedia installation.
3. University of California, Los Angeles: $12,842 (residents), $35,270 (non-residents)
UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television is often overlooked. With USC’s cinematic arts program just a few miles away, students often forget that UCLA offers a program that is just as competitive. As one of the best and most multicultural college campuses in California, UCLA has much more than a film department to offer.
The Film and Television Archive at UCLA is the second-best collection in the world, only behind the Library of Congress. Rather than placing a commercial emphasis on filmmaking, faculty members encourage students to develop their storytelling skills. Film majors aim to create humanistic and diverse plots that speak to people of all backgrounds. Overall, UCLA strives to create filmmakers who have a clear point of view.
2. New York University: $45,674
If you’d rather film movies for Sundance than the Golden Globes, New York University’s film school is for you. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is nothing like the typical Los Angeles film school scene. The film program specializes in creating more artistic, “gritty” filmmakers, but it’s not all about film. NYU also offers majors in moving-image arching and performance studies.
During their time at Tisch, students learn firsthand from indie filmmakers as well as blockbuster directors. Many film majors intern in New York, making professional connections within the East Coast film industry. As graduation nears, seniors compete for a $200,000 prize given to the top film student so they can film their debut feature. Such a prize is unique to NYU.
1. University of Southern California: $42,000
The School of Cinematic Arts at USC is perhaps the best-known film school in the world. It also happens to be the wealthiest one. It certainly pays to be a Cinematic Arts alum; USC has more film graduates working in Hollywood than any other school. With connections to movie greats like Steven Spielberg (who isn’t an alum, by the way), studying the art of filmmaking at USC opens countless doors.
USC provides countless opportunities for students to get hands-on experience, from filming on a working set to collaborating with screenwriters and set designers. Within the School of Cinematic Arts, the Peter Stark Producing Program is the premier course for aspiring producers and studio executives. As a whole, students receive the best technical training and a strong understanding of film history.
- All film schools require applicants to complete a supplement when they apply. The supplements typically include a film sample, essay and resume.
- Internships are especially valuable for film majors. Some schools help place students with alumni in the field, which helps create both an instant connection and a great contact within the industry.
- The more prestigious film schools want applicants to have experience in the field before graduating from high school. If you have yet to pick up a camera, there are other excellent film schools that educate students from the ground up.