Best Film Schools in USA & Canada 2021


Before we get to the great institutions on our 2021 list of the best film schools in the US and Canada, one question:

In an age where pro-level cameras are built into our cellphones, YouTube tutorials teach just about every subject you can imagine, and authors like Aaron Sorkin share their wisdom through MasterClass, The School of cinema is still a necessity for anyone who wants to learn the profession of cinema? It is impossible to generalize. But when you go to film school, you don’t just pay for an education. Film schools offer state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, and training to use it effectively. They also introduce you to the essential story and theory that will shape your perspective and your creative work. You will meet teachers and mentors whose advice you find invaluable.

But the most important resource could be your comrades. Writers, directors and producers need teams to bring their vision to life. And for executives, financiers, agents and managers, networking is essential. It all started at film school. Wherever you study, remember to build bridges, not burn them down. Filmmaker continues its tradition of highlighting the best film schools in the United States and Canada, highlighting not only the universities themselves, but particular programs with programs that we find compelling and useful, based on pathways specifics that students can follow. These disciplines include writing, production, directing, cinematography, overall production, business, and more scholarly studies of film and mass media. We hope you enjoy our article on the best film schools and wish you the best of luck with your acceptance into the film school of your dreams.

And don’t miss our corporate film school alumni advisory feature that includes the wisdom of key associates on Zola, In the heights and Easttown mare.

Western and Northwestern United States

AFI Conservatory (Los Angeles, CA) – Exceptional training in directing

AFI graduate Brad Ingelsby created the drama Easttown mare, with Kate Winslet. Photo by Michele K. Short / HBO

This two-year MFA directing program is among the most prestigious available in North America. Ari Aster (Hereditary), Kirby Dick (Allen vs. Farrow), Patty Jenkins (Wonder woman) and Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) are among the former Directing Fellows who went on to make some compelling films that made them household names for moviegoers. “I am so grateful for my years at AFI,” Jenkins says. “I deeply believe that they helped me find my voice and define the principles of history and craftsmanship that still guide me today.” The American Film Institute Conservatory guarantees that fellows will hone their skills by making at least five films in two years, while learning inspiring lectures and informative seminars from masters in the art like Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. The Los Angeles-based Film School also offers graduate programs in screenwriting, editing, production, production design, and cinematography, creating a collaborative environment in which scholars from all disciplines join forces on projects, building relationships that will continue long after graduation. Brad Ingelsby, who created the HBO drama Easttown mare, describes his experience at AFI as “incredible”: “I learned to be a writer at AFI,” he says Filmmaker. “And then of course you get the knowledge in your backpack, then you have to go and become your own writer, but I have all that knowledge. And by the time I graduated from AFI, I felt completely equipped to finally be a writer. “

ArtCenter Pasadena (Pasadena, CA) – Exceptional training in directing

California Institute of the Arts (Santa Clarita, California) – Exceptional training in directing

California State University, Northridge (Los Angeles) – Exceptional training in film production

Chapman University (Orange, California) – Exceptional training in cinematography

Hussian College (Los Angeles) – Exceptional training in film and digital content production

This film school is young, so its reputation keeps growing, but it should be on the radar of anyone looking for a program that emphasizes hands-on production experience, working on studio ground. at the heart of the industry, as well as essential courses in film theory. “We are the first film school to be created in partnership with a studio and located in a large Hollywood lot, Los Angeles Center Studios,” said Elric Kane, president of Film & Digital Content. Filmmaker. “This immersion in the industry allows students to learn by doing and to be surrounded by the company. Our goal is to balance the art and business of filmmaking in the ever-changing entertainment landscape. The school offers a four-year BFA that will prepare students to apply their skills in the real world. An intensive series of collaborative and supervised projects assists students through the processes of scriptwriting, directing, sound design, cinematography, production, pre-production and post-production, while the location of the program allows for mix and mingle easily with professionals.

Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles) – Exceptional training in television writing and production

New York Film Academy (Los Angeles and New York) – Exceptional training in cinematography

With campuses in both poles of the entertainment industry, NYFA is a fertile training ground for all film disciplines. Bill Hader, Issa Rae, Paul Dano and Aubrey Plaza are some of the Hollywood stars who have taken classes here. The Los Angeles campus offers a two-year accelerated MFA in Cinematography, under the guidance of experienced faculty, led by BAFTA-winning cinematographer Anthony Richmond, whose eclectic list of 93 credits includes Sand, The revenge of a blonde and Candy. Over the course of five semesters, students work in all positions on their peers’ films, while working with film and digital cameras to photograph their own thesis films in various forms, including music video, documentary and a narration. The program combines academic theory with practical skills to equip students with the on-the-job knowledge they need to actually land a job in the competitive field of cinematography. Practice makes perfect, so MFA students can expect to do 10 of their own projects as a cinematographer, in addition to working on many other productions in other capacities on set.

Portland State University (Portland, Oregon) – Outstanding Film Studies

This is a fantastic environment for aspiring filmmakers looking for a bachelor’s degree that can lead to industry employment in Portland or elsewhere, or to lay the groundwork for further education. The program is heavy on theory, but offers students the opportunity to delve into their particular areas of interest, whether they wish to pursue narrative or documentary film production, screenwriting, digital cinematography, animation. or mounting. “Our major does not distinguish a production path from a film theory path,” said Amy Borden, director of the PSU School of Film. Filmmaker. “We believe that filmmakers need a solid foundation in the history, theory and aesthetics of cinema, including broad engagement with genres, global voices and cinematic forms to become competent filmmakers. and creative. With courses analyzing various genres and even influential filmmakers, such as the Coen brothers and John Carpenter, as well as a plethora of courses on all aspects of production, this school will give undergraduates a solid foundation.

San Francisco State University – Exceptional Production Training

University of California, Los Angeles – Exceptional Production Training

University of Southern California (Los Angeles) – Exceptional Production Training

Best Film Schools

In the heights DP Alice Brooks attended USC for Cinematography. Photo by Macall Polay / Warner Bros.

Given its state-of-the-art facilities and proximity to Hollywood studios, as well as esteemed faculty who have spent decades working for these studios, and its strong legacy of producing graduates who will become a force within industry, USC is consistently ranked as one of the best film schools in the world. Prepare to make your own impact with the Peter Stark Production Program, an innovative two-year full-time MFA designed to prepare highly motivated students for careers as producers and directors in film, television and new media. The program is led by Professor and President Lawrence Turman, who has produced 40 films, including The graduation and American history x. The graduates are successful not only because of the excellent education, but also because of the close camaraderie among the small group of students. There are no elective courses; all Stark students take the same courses at the same time in a mandatory order. The Power of Screenwriting John August (Big fish, Corpse Bride, Aladdin) and writer-producer Melissa Rosenberg (Jessica jones, Dexter) agreed in a 2019 question-and-answer session in front of USC students that they both broke into the industry with the help of classmates. “I thought I wanted to write, but I didn’t know if I was good enough to do it. I chose Stark as a safer business degree and it was the right choice, ”August said. “The people were so smart and so motivated and kept me on their toes, and I flourished.”

Best Film Schools in USA & Canada 2021

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