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The Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada, 2018: 40 Tuition Fee-Worthy Film Programs Staying Ahead of the Curve

The Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada, 2018: 40 Tuition Fee-Worthy Film Programs Staying Ahead of the Curve

Summer 2018


Outstanding Cinematography Training: New York University (New York, NY) 

“At NYU Grad Film, we fully embrace the reemergence of analog film—in fact, we never abandoned it,” says Tony Jannelli, Head of Cinematography at the Tisch School of the Arts grad program. Each year, the incoming graduate class of around 40 are exposed to a variety of formats, and although Super 16mm is required for an initial project, the choice to go digital (or stay analog) is offered soon enough for those who want it. (The yearly number of students graduating as cinematographers is around four.) Students are permitted to shoot their second-year film abroad, and this year alone some have traveled to Iceland, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia. The program aims for a 50 percent gender balance in student intake, and, according to Jannelli, “We get pretty close to that.” He notes that in the past three years, female students have been selected for the school’s Volker Bahnemann Awards for Cinematography as often as male students.

Outstanding Producing Training: Columbia University (New York, NY)

“NYC is our students’ muse and studio,” says Hilary Brougher, Chair of Columbia’s Film Program. “They find stories to tell at every turn; they shoot in NYC streets and cast from the city’s unsurpassed re-source of talented actors.” Once those students become alumni, their accomplishments tend to become too numerous to list, but it’s notable that they did just have five films at Cannes ’18, including Clara Roquet’s co-written script for Petra. On the producing side, the school’s MFA in Creative Producing offers, in its mission statement, a vision of a film producer as the creative engine behind a given project, using their innate understanding of both the collaborative nature of cinema and its business imperatives to create content. To engender that collaborative spirit, producing students share year one courses with screenwriting and directing MFA students, and all are invited to take advantage of Columbia’s state-of-the-art facilities, which include a post house and a digital lab with VR components. On inclusivity, Brougher notes that enrolled students in 2017-2018 (including producing, screenwriting, and directing students) are 49 percent female, 51 percent male. 

Outstanding Animation Training: Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)

Outstanding Theory and Criticism Training: Yale University (New Haven, CT)

A nearly 30-year-old film studies program renowned for its depth and breadth, and which graduates around 30 majors in every Yale class, the program also offers a hands-on grounding in both screenwriting and moviemaking. “What Yale Film and Media Studies does, perhaps better than any other program, is allow students to integrate theory/critical studies with creative/production endeavors,” says Charles Musser, Professor of Film & Media Studies. “Our major requires 12 credits. Three are prerequisites and three more are effectively critical studies courses. The remainder are discretionary. Most majors use this to focus on screenwriting and various forms of production.” As you’d expect from Yale, there are other perks, including the possibility of junior semester abroad at The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), a performing arts school in Prague that offers a master class in film production.

Accomplished Faculty: Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY)

Ithaca’s BFA in Film, Photography and Visual Arts offers a “heterogeneous” education in film production, video editing, and drawing, all designed to gird moviemakers whose work may end up channeled through multiple mediums. The faculty is similarly multifarious, and includes prominent moviemakers who’ve worked in narrative, documentary and experimental cinema, including Assistant Professor Julie Blumberg (story editor/writer of J.J. Abrams’ Felicity), Assistant Professor Marlena Grzaslewicz (Emmy-winning editor of Ken Burns’ The War and Jazz, Woody Allen’s Celebrity, Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt, Brian De Palma’s Carlito’s Way, and 2018’s Beirut), and Professor of Screen Studies Patricia R. Zimmermann (author and co-director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival). “The department also has a large contingent of screenwriting faculty, most of whom have worked in the U.S. film and television industries,” says Zimmermann. “And this heterogeneity extends across degrees, with BS and BFA degrees in different areas ranging across photography, cinema production, and screenwriting.” Zimmermann estimates her student population gender balance to be about 50/50, and touts the school’s generous endowment, which allows undergrads to enjoy silent film presentations with live musical accompaniment and supports a partnership with a local arthouse cinema. 

Internship/Surrounding Opportunities: Boston University (Boston, MA)

“We don’t treat film and television as discrete disciplines,” says BU Associate Professor and Director of Film Production Programs Charles Merzbacher. Instead, the two are interwoven throughout the undergrad curriculum in four areas: screenwriting, production, management, and studies. It’s a deliberately wide-ranging view—“a reflection of a world where content is consumed on phones,” according to Merzbacher. And the curriculum extends to BU’s equally modern-feeling internship offerings, which include the Sydney Film Festival and Internship Program: Timed to coincide with the fest, the program allows for eight weeks studying Aussie moviemaking practices, while you reside in a suite in BU’s fully-furnished Sydney Center. There’s also the London Internship Program, a semester abroad with classes taught by British faculty members for BU students. Those with an itch for the entetainment biz may opt for the popular, semester-long BU in L.A. (BULA) program, which Merzbacher says is “deliberately designed to be the opposite of Boston campus life” and offers “Acting in Hollywood” and “Writer in Hollywood” tracks for graduate students. On gender, Merzbacher notes that his last teaching semester saw roughly 60 percent female students. “We’re very proud that BU is known as an incubator for female talent,” he adds.

Internship/Surrounding Opportunities: Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY)

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