Filmmaking Schools and Programs

Looking for the best filmmaking schools to jumpstart your film career? This article highlights top institutions that offer exceptional programs, hands-on experience, and strong industry connections. Discover which school aligns with your goals and get ready to make your mark in the film industry.

  • Leading film schools such as American Film Institute, USC School of Cinematic Arts, and New York University Tisch School of the Arts offer diverse programs and hands-on training, essential for aspiring filmmakers to develop creativity and technical skills.
  • Institutions like the Los Angeles Film School, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Vancouver Film School emphasize practical industry experience and provide state-of-the-art facilities, ensuring students are well-prepared for professional challenges.
  • Diverse program offerings and specialized training at schools such as Chapman University’s Dodge College and Columbia University School of the Arts cater to various aspects of film production, from screenwriting to sound design, fostering comprehensive industry knowledge.

Discovering the Best Filmmaking Schools

Pursuing a career in film requires creativity, technical prowess, and a profound understanding of the art and business of film. The world’s leading film schools not only instruct you in movie-making but engage you with the full breadth of the film industry. From the historic corridors of Lodz Film School in Poland to the innovative classrooms of the New York Film Academy, these institutions are shaping the future of film and media arts.

These best film schools cater to a diverse range of aspiring filmmakers, offering unique programs like:

  • UCLA’s FilmLAB, an only film school with a specific focus on experimental filmmaking
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts, which provides hands-on experience
  • FAMU in the Czech Republic, which offers tuition-free education for locals
  • Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which keeps costs low without compromising quality
  • La Fémis, which offers invaluable exchange programs

Choosing the right film school is about finding a place that aligns with your goals, aspirations, and ethos.

American Film Institute (AFI)

Situated in Hollywood’s hills, the American Film Institute offers:

  • A guiding light for those destined to influence the film industry
  • Students are thrust into the heart of film production, crafting their own films with guidance from celebrated industry professionals like Stephen Lighthill and Lianne Halfon
  • AFI’s immersive film experience is unparalleled, with a program that emphasizes hands-on training across various filmmaking positions.

Inclusive storytelling is a cornerstone of the AFI ethos, championed by initiatives like the Disney/AFI Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative. Through partnerships with organizations such as SAG-AFTRA, AFI students have access to a talent pool that mirrors the diversity of the world around us, ensuring that the films they create resonate with audiences on a global scale.

USC School of Cinematic Arts

The USC School of Cinematic Arts, a standout among Los Angeles’ film schools, provides an extensive variety of programs, including:

  • Animation
  • Business of Cinematic Arts
  • Cinema and Media Studies
  • Film and Television Production
  • Interactive Media and Games
  • Media Arts and Practice
  • Writing for Screen and Television

This storied institution has launched the careers of industry giants like George Lucas and Shonda Rhimes, solidifying its reputation as a factory of cinematic excellence. USC’s state-of-the-art facilities provide an environment where students can flourish in the heart of the industry.

USC’s extensive range of programs ensures that no matter your filmic ambition, there is a pathway carved out for you. With the school’s proximity to the pulse of Los Angeles’ film production scene, students are perfectly positioned to network, intern, and ultimately, influence the future of film and television.

New York University Tisch School of the Arts

At the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, the principle of ‘learning by doing’ is not just a belief—it’s ingrained in their educational approach. Since 1965, Tisch has been at the forefront of the cultural and artistic landscape, fostering a community where risk-taking and hands-on learning are the norm. With alumni like Martin Scorsese and Vince Gilligan, Tisch has proven its ability to nurture talent capable of leaving an indelible mark on the film industry.

Each year, Tisch students contribute to a staggering portfolio of over 5,000 films, a testament to the school’s commitment to not only educate but also to inspire action. Here, students are encouraged to explore, create, and challenge the boundaries of storytelling, making Tisch an incubator for the next wave of cinematic innovators.

Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Chapman University’s Dodge College in Orange, California, serves as a platform for mastering every aspect of filmmaking. Here, students are encouraged to delve into the intricate tapestry of the entertainment industry, from writing and producing to animation. At Dodge College, the learning experience goes beyond the theoretical; master classes offer a chance to glean wisdom from Oscar-winning artists and other high-profile industry professionals.

As students at Chapman, you will:

  • Hone your craft
  • Build a comprehensive understanding of entertainment and media, including the entertainment business
  • Ensure you are well-rounded and prepared for the multifaceted challenges of the industry
  • Select a specialty by the end of your sophomore year
  • Continue to receive an education that emphasizes breadth as much as depth

This balance of focus and exploration is the bedrock on which successful careers are built.

Vancouver Film School

The Vancouver Film School distinguishes itself as a hub of innovation in digital filmmaking, animation, and game design. With a curriculum that provides an immersive, accelerated journey through 15 programs, VFS is a powerhouse of creativity and technical skill. The one-year program is designed to balance theory with production, providing students with the tools to craft stories and design characters that captivate audiences.

The school’s exceptional standing is evidenced by:

  • Its consistent ranking on Variety’s list of Top Film Schools in North America since 2017
  • Its School of Animation’s top global ranking for six consecutive years
  • The recent partnership with Pixomondo and Sony Picture Entertainment on a new virtual production course, positioning VFS at the cutting edge of industry trends
  • Over 12,000 alumni involved in award-winning projects, with the proof of VFS’s impact seen on screens around the world.

London Film School

The London Film School (LFS) presents a distinctive mix of traditional and contemporary learning in the midst of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Renowned for its practical postgraduate education, LFS prides itself on a highly international student body that brings together diverse perspectives and voices. The MA in Filmmaking program epitomizes the school’s commitment to hands-on experience, allowing students to immerse themselves fully in various aspects of filmmaking.

Located amidst the historic and cultural landmarks of London, LFS is more than just a place of learning; it’s a hub where the global film community converges to create, collaborate, and innovate. Students here are not just preparing for a career in film; they are living it in real-time, surrounded by the energy and opportunities that only a city like London can provide.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to one of the nation’s most remarkable film studio complexes, providing students with a world of opportunities in film and media arts. The expansive Savannah Film Studios, with its state-of-the-art facilities and Hollywood-style backlots, is a playground for the next generation of filmmakers. From immersive virtual mixed reality environments to New York City streetscapes, SCAD provides an unparalleled experience in production design.

SCAD’s commitment to fostering industry connections is evident in its events, which draw guests like Kevin Bacon and Ava DuVernay. With these resources and contacts, SCAD students are uniquely positioned to transition from academic study to professional practice, making their mark on the film industry with confidence and creativity.

The Los Angeles Film School

Situated in Hollywood’s entertainment heart on Sunset Boulevard, The Los Angeles Film School provides a wide range of degrees tailored to the diverse requirements of the entertainment industry. With state-of-the-art facilities, the college functions as an industry-grade production studio, providing students with an authentic behind-the-scenes experience.

Offering specializations in award winning films:

  • directing
  • cinematography
  • editing
  • screenwriting
  • producing
  • sound design
  • animation

The Los Angeles Film School is a place where students can develop a robust portfolio and gain practical knowledge in film and television production. It’s a vibrant community where the next wave of storytellers and industry professionals converge to learn, create, and inspire.

Columbia University School of the Arts

Columbia University’s School of the Arts engages students in a curriculum rich in film history, theory, and culture. The workshops and classes, covering topics from Cuban Cinema to Queer Film Theory, reflect the school’s dedication to a diverse and comprehensive film education. With a prerequisite system that ensures all film students have a solid foundation in media studies, Columbia facilitates a deep understanding of the medium’s impact.

Opportunities for internships and hands-on experience abound, with programs like Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions providing a platform for students to showcase their talents. The school’s notable alumni, such as Kathryn Bigelow, underscore its reputation as a breeding ground for successful filmmakers.

Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts

Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts provides a tailored and cooperative learning atmosphere, characterized by a low student-to-faculty ratio and a high graduate employment rate. With dedicated faculty members, FSU is known for guaranteeing funding for student films, providing students with the necessary resources to bring their visions to life without the burden of additional costs.

The Torchlight Center at FSU further enhances the educational experience by offering industry experience and opportunities for faculty to engage in creative work. The college’s commitment to preparing students for the film industry is reflected in its recognition as a top film school by The Hollywood Reporter.

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University provides a range of graduate programs that accommodate the diverse aspects of film and television production. With a 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio, LMU’s School of Film and Television provides an intimate learning environment that fosters hands-on experience and strong industry connections. Its partnership with Village Roadshow exemplifies this commitment, as it awards select students with significant funding to produce their work.

LMU’s robust internship programs, facilitated through partnerships with over 400 companies, offer students valuable industry exposure. The recent appointment of Janet Yang, a notable SFTV Presidential Fellow, as President of The Academy, underlines the school’s influence within the film industry.

Emerson College

Emerson College in Boston is recognized for its practical approach to filmmaking education, providing students with hands-on experience in diverse aspects of media creation, such as cinematography and computer animation. The Media Arts Production program, with its options for production or media studies tracks, epitomizes this hands-on ethos.

Students at Emerson have the opportunity to gain real-world learning experiences through on-campus employment and a semester-long internship program in Los Angeles, a city synonymous with the entertainment industry. The city of Boston itself provides a dynamic backdrop for students to showcase their work, with theaters, film festivals, and art museums readily accessible.

Toronto Film School

Toronto Film School is recognized as a stronghold of practical industry knowledge, providing an 18-month film program that encompasses every stage of film production. The curriculum is designed to meet the demands of the industry, culminating in a capstone project where students have the opportunity to write, direct, and edit a short film.

With instructors who are working industry professionals, students benefit from real-world experience and networking events that help them build professional relationships. Graduates are well-prepared with a demo reel that showcases their skills, often securing full-time work before graduation.

Community College of Aurora

The Community College of Aurora provides a cost-effective route to a filmmaking degree. Here are some reasons why it is an appealing option for many aspiring filmmakers:

  • Smaller class sizes foster a more individualized education
  • Students can enter the industry earlier
  • Students graduate with less debt compared to traditional programs.