The Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada 2017: Film Programs to Shape You Into the Next Moviemaking All-Star

U.S. Southeast 

Outstanding Animation Training: Florida State University

Outstanding Editing Training: Louisiana State University

Outstanding Directing Training: Ringling College of Art and Design

The film program at Ringling is turning 10 this year, and in that short period the Sarasota school has become known for its industry-driven teaching style. Its Studio Lab brings accomplished directors and actors—including Kevin Smith (who returned this summer to shoot anthology project Killroy Was Here with the school), Werner Herzog and Spike Lee—to classrooms for sessions that often result in jobs on professional productions. For example, Ringling undergrads had crew positions on Tim Sutton’s Dark Night, and a web series created by Justin Long and his brother Christian.

Top-Notch Equipment and Facilities: Savannah College of Art and Design

SCAD film majors shoot the student-produced sitcom series The Buzz live before a studio audience. Courtesy of SCAD Photography

Georgia’s ascent as a production epicenter is reflected in the quality of its higher education, and there is no better example than SCAD. The university owns and operates the Savannah Film Studios, a facility available for commercial and independent productions that want to take advantage of not only the state’s tax credits, but the school’s three state-of-the-art sound stages, post-production suites, screening room, recording studio and lighting grids. Not enough? The school’s Atlanta campus is home to SCAD Digital Media Center, a production and post hub. SCAD also places a unique focus on virtual reality in its curriculum, providing students access to the latest VR tools.

Accomplished Faculty: University of Central Florida

Accelerated Industry Access: University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Directing majors in their final year at UNCSA take a “Transition to the Profession” class that prepares them for life after college as they search for jobs in the real world. Seniors screen their works for industry professionals and accomplished alumni in L.A. (That alumni roster includes Danny McBride, Jeff Nichols, Chad Hartigan and Craig Zobel.) A bonus: UNCSA is an official partner of the Sundance Institute. Alumni pop up every year at the film festival, while school staff participate in panels.

Outstanding Cinematography Training: VCUarts Cinema

Images are paramount at Virginia Commonwealth University, one of the only schools in the world where undergrads shoot projects on 35mm film. Tuition covers all shooting expenses, so that students can concentrate on their craft. Visual storytelling is at the heart of every course, and the list of equipment on hand (including three Arri cameras and two AJA Cion 4K cameras) would make a professional cinematographer swoon. 

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  1. mwebaza martin

    August 7, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I need to join a film school through movie maker…what should I do

  2. Cassandra

    July 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  3. David Liban

    July 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I would like to point out the CU Denver is really a significant hands-on film program. Its a BFA program with 72 credit hours largely made up of production classes. Students leave with a large portfolio of films and are prepared to enter the industry. They also produce a web series each year that students write, produce, direct and edit.

  4. Linda

    July 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Correction under Film Centers:

    Northwest Film Forum is located in Seattle, not Portland. However, Portland does have its own film center called the Northwest Film Center which not only provides a variety of workshops and classes for all ages but they host their own film screenings and festival (Portland International FF). They also have quite a great stock of reasonably priced equipment rentals for local students, amateurs and professionals. I believe they’re the only film center in the Pacific NW?

  5. Adam Enaya

    July 20, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I only needed to read their opinions of the west coast schools to see that this list is a joke. How much did National University pay to have a write-up in MovieMaker? By the way, what’s an admission fee? Do you mean tuition? Their prices must be rock bottom then.

  6. Jay S.

    July 20, 2017 at 7:41 am

    With alumni that have worked on projects such as Jurassic World (visual FX), “Get On Up: The James Brown story” and “42” (main role in both cases), “Avengers Age of Ultron” (Post-production) and the highly anticipated “Black Panther” Marvel movie, as well as the upcoming Martin Scorsese movie “The Irishman”, currently in production, I’m surprised not to see Digital Film Academy included here!

    A friend of mine goes there and I’m considering it too. Their tuition is MUCH lower than New York Film Academy, they have film jobs for the students and anyone who studies there an use the school equipment afterwards for life.

    Jay Smith

  7. James Mayfield

    July 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Nice to see some options for students not willing/can’t make the trip to high-rent neighborhoods or bustling metropolitan. Lots of people think that LA/NY are the only options for schools, but there are alternatives. Though I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks these 2 areas aren’t the industry kings in NA.

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