Ready, set, action! Is studying film-making your passion? Do you enjoy shooting tear-jerking documentaries or is animation more your style? Do you like to play around with old Super 8 cameras or would you rather take on a comedic independent script? Film making is a diverse field and you can take it in many different directions. Many of the best film schools in the world are located in the United States. Having trouble deciding where to study film? Knowing your budget and direction can help you filter out the numerous options when deciding on the right school to study film in the US.
Location, location, location
Where to study film in the United States is not an easy question to answer. There are hundreds of film and art schools, along with hundreds of majors at colleges and universities around the nation that are tied to film making. The principal locations to study film are in Los Angeles (LA), and New York City, although they are not the only options.
When many people think of blockbuster movies, they think of the bright lights of Hollywood. LA is the land of bumper-to-bumper commutes on the 405, where everyone is an aspiring actor or has a script you just need to see. It might seem hard for an international student to find a way to stand out amongst all the talent, but don’t get disheartened. Many of the top-rated film schools in the world are situated in the United States and they can help you stand out from the crowd.
So, where do you go? The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is a top contender. Their programs include critical studies, animation and digital arts, interactive media, film and TV productions, producing, and writing. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) also has the benefit of being close to the major production companies and big shots of the film world. At UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television, students can study a wide range of arts, including acting, playwriting, producing, screenwriting and directing. Recently voted the number one film school by the Hollywood Reporter, the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies, a training program for filmmakers, is highly competitive. This film school is attended mostly by people who have already worked in the industry and are fine tuning their skills. An impressive alumni list for all three of these film schools also allows students to network with award-winning professionals in the industry.
New York City (NYC) also offers courses at several world-renowned institutions for Film and Media providing a great opportunity for international students, the city where 36 percent of its inhabitants come from another country and 170 different languages are spoken. New York is home to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Not only can students study the art of dance, acting and stage design, but also dramatic writing, film and television, and photography, which students can master while studying film. Also located in New York City is the School of Visual Arts (SVA). If you are looking for a smaller student body with all the benefits of a big college or university, SVA can fit that need. SVA has a student body of around 4,000 representing 51 different countries, strongly reflecting the diverse city surrounding it. Not only can students study film and video related subjects at SVA, but also have courses available in graphic design, interior design and advertising.If you want to study in a more traditional institution and have an application that shines you can apply to an Ivy League institution where you will receive a world-class education in your chosen subject. Colombia University in New York City, for example, offers great media degrees at one of the US’s most reputable universities. Columbia’s School of the Arts offers international students degrees in film studies, producing and screenwriting/directing.
Away from the Crowd
LA and New York City might seem like the obvious options for budding film students, but there are a plethora of courses at institutions across the US.
Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida is an excellent option for those who don't wish to study in a large city. Although Winter Park is a small city, it's located in close proximity to one of Florida's largest cities, Orlando. It's not uncommon for Full Sail graduates to seek work in Orlando as it's home to some big employers in film such as Universal Studios and Disney World. Full Sail offers five undergraduate degree programs and one certificate program: Digital Cinematography Bachelor's, Film Bachelor's, Computer Animation Bachelor's, Creative Writing BFA, Show Production Bachelor's and Film & Video Undergraduate Certificate. In addition, if you already have an undergraduate degree, Full Sail offers a Film Production MFA program. And, we would be remiss to not mention all of the great things that Full Sail graduates have done post-graduation. At last year's 92nd annual Academy Awards, 148 Full Sail graduates were credited on 24 Oscar®-nominated projects.
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is another great option to consider as it has a historic cinema studies program dating back to 1886, when students participated in Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion studies. According to Penn's website, "the Penn Cinema Studies major and minor are traditional humanities programs involving the critical study of film history, theory and aesthetics, rather than film or video production." Penn’s courses provide a great base of knowledge for entering the film industry and give students the opportunity to distinguish themselves in an esteemed institution outside of the traditional locations film students pursue.
Alternatively, check out the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for its first-class media degrees. You can study Film, Animation and Video while learning about how to use and incorporate new technology and techniques into production. Moreover, you will learn critical thinking skills, necessary when assessing media content such as screenplays and scripts. RISD is diverse, with nearly 90% of its students coming from out of state or abroad. Most classes at RISD are small, with around 10 students per tutor, to ensure that the Media courses are delivered at a world-class standard.
The film schools mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of film schools in the United States with a variety of programs to study at a variety of locations and sizes.