There is no shortage of the best film schools out there, but it seems like everyone has an opinion on where you should get your film production education.
So how do you choose the best film school for your career? Well, you can start by categorizing them by what they do best.
In today’s post, we’ll be narrowing the focus so that you can make an educated decision on the best film school for you.
Let’s jump in!
Table of Contents
The top film schools to consider
- Best Film Schools in the USA
- Best Animation Schools for Filmmakers
- Best International Film Schools
- Best Budget-Friendly Film Schools
- Top Online Film Schools
BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN THE USA
OUR TOP FIVE THIS YEAR
1.1 BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN THE USA
University of Southern California (USC)
USC is not only considered one of the best film schools in California but one of the best film schools in the world. And for good reason.
It is the oldest university in the US dedicated to film studies. It actually started alongside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929; the dawn of stateside cinema.
No matter which field of filmmaking interest you most, you can learn and study it here.
USC has built a true film community on campus, with undergrad and grad programs in everything from film production, screenwriting, and animation to interactive media and digital arts.
John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts is part of USC’s expansive film school.
There are both undergraduate and graduate level degree programs.
They also even offer a producing program through the USC Marshall School of Business.
The acceptance rate for USC is around 13%, but the School of Cinematic Arts only admits about 3%.
Yes, it’s tough to get in.
Though if you’re serious about a career in filmmaking, USC should be on your list of film schools worth the application fee.
SO WHO WENT TO USC?
Jay Roach, Judd Apatow, Jon Chu, Paula Patton, Stacey Sher, Robert Kiraz, Scott Alexander, Sam Peckinpah, Gregg Araki, John August, Robert Zemeckis, Matthew Weiner, John Carpenter, Larry Karaszewski, Ron Howard, Ryan Coogler, Caleb Deschanel & Conrad Hall
1.2 BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN the usa
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
UCLA is another Los Angeles film school with a stellar reputation. It has been around for more than 60 years and was the first to combine theatre, TV and film programs into one.
No wonder it’s often ranked as one of the top three film schools in the country.
UCLA Extension also offers incredible non-degree programs that are modeled after their Masters of Fine Art studies.
WHO WENT TO UCLA?
Allison Anders, Carol Burnett, Francis Ford Coppola, David Koepp, Anne Marie Johnson, Catherine Hardwicke, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jim Morrison, Todd Holland, Justin Lin, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, George Takei and Gore Verbinski.
1.3 best film schools in the usa
NYU Tisch School of the Arts (TNYU)
LA film schools aren’t the only film schools out there. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is considered one of the best film schools in the country and is great for film majors who vibe with the energy of New York City.
Nestled in the heart of the West Village, New York becomes an amazing and unparalleled part of your education.
NY film schools offer a different energy than the LA film schools.
From the onset, you’ll be immersed in your major. In fact, students, faculty and staff make a combined 5,000 films per year.
One of the most unique programs for cinema, NYU allows students to double major with a business degree.
So when you’re looking at undergraduate film schools, graduate programs or even getting your Ph.D. in cinema studies, make sure to give some consideration to NYU.
Professors include many Nobel Laureates, Guggenheim Fellows and Macarthur Fellows such as Anna Deavere Smith.
WHO WENT TO NYU?
Martin Scorsese, Joel Coen, Chris Columbus, Vince Gilligan, Rachel Morrison, Alec Baldwin, Reed Morano, Vince Gilligan, Damon Lindelof, Morgan Spurlock, and Spike Lee.
1.4 BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN THE USA
American Film Institute (AFI)
At the beginning of the fall of 1969, the former Center for Advanced Film Studies opened its doors as the American Film Institute.
Nestled at the foot of the Hollywood Hills and offers advanced degrees in directing, cinematography, screenwriting and more.
It was also one of the first schools to recognize the need for diversity in film. This led to a free directing workshop just for women in 1974 and gave us some of the best female directors.
Today, AFI maintains its title as one of the best film schools in the world. The level of talent the school draws is unparalleled.
In fact, 13 of the thesis films by its fellows have been nominated for Academy Awards. Its first class went on to become the most widely recognized filmmakers in the industry (Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel, and Paul Schrader).
The Conservatory has bestowed honorary degrees on notable Hollywood players such as John Williams, Sydney Pollack, Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Spike Lee, Rita Moreno and Quentin Tarantino.
The conservatory program offers advanced degrees in cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design, and screenwriting.
WHO WENT TO AFI?
Darren Aronofsky, Todd Field, Julie Dash, Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel, Patty Jenkins and Paul Schrader.
1.5 BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN THE USA
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Here is an amazing Los Angeles film school not in the heart of the big city and doing just fine.
The California Institute of the Arts is the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States to focus specifically on visual and performing arts.
It is also one of the few institutions in the US that permits students to retain complete control and copyright over their work.
In addition, their graduate program in fine arts was ranked #9 in the United States by US News and World Report.
CalArts is an LA film school outside of LA.
They offer BFAs and MFAs in animation and film & video. They also have a revered MFA program in film directing.
WHO WENT TO CalArts?
Tim Burton, Lee Sheldon, James Mangold
BEST ANIMATION SCHOOLS FOR FILMMAKERS
THE IMPORTANCE OF BACKGROUND TALENT
Animation is a specialty. And this film school is all about specialization. That’s why we’ve created a special section in our list just for the top animation schools.
Sure, a lot of film schools have animation departments. But the following schools specialize in nurturing and developing animators into industry artists.
2.1 best animation schools for filmmakers
Ringling College of Art & Design (RCAD)
Ringling College of Art and Design has been on the rise for a number of years.
In fact, films like Coco prove, they are upping the ante on what small animation programs can do.
17 Ringling alumni worked on the smash hit film.
Coco was worked on by Ringling alumni
They offer Bachelors of Fine Arts in computer animation, creative writing, film, game art, graphic design, illustration, motion design, and photography and digital imaging.
Ringling College has quickly become a top film school for animators.
If it’s anything to go by, they recently trademarked their mission phrase, “Shattering the Myth of the Starving Artist.”
WHO WENT TO RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART?
David Bromstad, Patrick Osborne, Michelle Phan, and Brandon Oldenburg.
2.2 BEST ANIMATION SCHOOLS FOR FILMMAKERS
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Anyone on the east coast will know that this film school is not just a film school.
Known as Harvard for artists, RISD has an impeccable film program that includes cultivates the art a lot more than the business.
This little art school offers 16 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate majors including animation, digital media, and illustration among them.
They also share classes, faculty, and resources with Brown University. Meaning your education will be top tier.
RISD offers animated film production studies in a gorgeous setting.
And when it comes to inspiration, you’ll have plenty. RISD houses an enormous art collection on campus that rivals most museums.
You can find your motivation with history’s greatest creative minds.
An enormous endowment and an art collection to rival any museum means that RISD students are never short of inspiration.
The school made USA Today’s Top Ten Best Schools for pursuing a film degree.
WHO WENT TO RISD?
Gus van Sant, Martha Coolidge, Ellen Kuras, David Byrne, Diane Arbus, Mary Lambert, Seth McFarlane, and Todd Verow.
2.3 BEST ANIMATION SCHOOLS FOR FILMMAKERS
The Savannah College of Art (SCAD)
Only in its’ fortieth year, Savannah College of Art and Design has made quite a name for itself in the world of art, media, and design.
Set in the lovely confines of Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia the private college has extended its campus reach to programs on two other continents. The Lacoste, France location was founded in 2002 and the Hong Kong campus in 2010.
Great animation at the campus in Georgia, Hong Kong or France
In addition, the college offers nationally ranked, online degree programs.
Their animation program includes Animation, Character Technical Direction, Concept Art for Games, Interactive Design, Interactive Design, and Game Development, Visual Effects, Motion Media Design.
They also have an Entertainment Arts program that offers dramatic writing for film and television, motion media design, performing arts, production design, Sound Design, Television Producing, and Technical Direction.
Also, you are minutes away from the amazing nightlife of one of the South's most cosmopolitan areas.
WHO WENT TO SCAD?
Eleanor Davis, Vicki Lau, Dean Trippe, India.Aire, Danny!, Sean Murphy and Thomas Kalnoky.
2.4 BEST ANIMATION SCHOOLS FOR FILMMAKERS
Sheridan College Institute of Technology
Didn’t see this polytechnic school coming? Neither did we.
But do a little bit of research into animation film schools and you’re sure to see Sheridan’s name pop up.
In fact, you’re sure to see it pop up a lot.
This is namely because a third of Pixar, Disney and Don Bluth Productions seems to come from this Canadian institution.
Established in 1967, the animation department already boasts five Academy Award nominees and two winners.
Not too shabby.
The college is presently seeking full university status in Canada by increasing its course offerings. It has recently established an academic senate and increased the number of instructors with masters and doctoral degrees.
TUITION: $3,002/annually (including national health care)
WHO WENT TO SHERIDAN?
Domee Shi, Danny Antonucci, Brent Butt, Dean DeBlois, Christopher Guinness, Raman Hui, John Kricfalusi, Nik Ranieri, Samantha Youssef, and David Soren.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM SCHOOLS
IF HOLLYWOOD ISN’T YOUR SPEED
3.1 Best international film schools
National Film and Television School (NFTS)
Having recently won a 2018 BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, NFTS is on everyone’s list.
And why not?
They offer more than 30 MA, diploma, and certificate courses across film, TV and gaming. They also feature more behind-the-camera classes than any other film school.
Also, the NFTS film school is less than 30-min from London.
WHO WENT TO NFTS?
Roger Deakins, Nick Park, Lynne Ramsey, Alison Snowden, Nick Willing, Ruhul Amin, Mark Herman, and Bernard Rose.
3.2 BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM SCHOOLS
Tel Aviv University (TAU)
This is the largest university in Israel and one of the best film programs in the world of cinema education.
A partnership with the New York University Tisch School of the Arts is what really makes this program stand out for international film majors.
Tel Aviv University was launched in 2006 and offers programs in both English and Hebrew.
You’ll be immersed in the history of film, film theories and hands-on production courses that encourage creativity and sociocultural depth.
You’ll also be surrounded by a booming and exciting metropolis that begs to be explored.
3.3 BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM SCHOOLS
Centro de Capacitacion Cinematographica (CCC)
The CCC, as it’s commonly known, stands at the heart of Mexico City. This stunning and historic area is considered the Mexican Hollywood and has inspired many students to venture south for their film production degree.
There are no course offerings in English, but if your Spanish skills are up to snuff, you can attend this film school for a tuition of $1600 per year.
Repeat: $1600 per year.
The first president of this institution was Luis Bunuel if that tells you something about the legacy it already has.
The CCC offers training in 16mm, 35mm and digital filmmaking, a large soundstage and full audio production facilities.
If you thought LA film schools had a lot of sunshine, you should check out the CCC.
The CCC also has a great extension program that expands its programs beyond production and cinematography.
WHO WENT TO CCC?
Rodrigo Prieto, Everardo Gonzalez and Tatiana Huezo
3.4 BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM SCHOOLS
Australian Film, Television & Radio School (AFTRS)
AFTRS is not exactly the international bargains of most film schools on this list, the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School is a premier school for film education.
AFTRS is definitely not the cheapest international school on our list. Not by a long shot. But it’s globally recognized as one of the top film schools in the world.
Federally mandated by the Australian parliament in 1973, AFTRS was established so that Australian artist and craftsman could tell Australian stories.
Today, it stands with more than 5000 awards and selections for student films from top festivals like Cannes and Sundance. Its staff and alumni have won Oscars, BAFTAs, and other prestigious honors.
Because of AFTRS’s state-of-the-art facilities, world-class faculty and proximity to the famous Bondi Beach, it is easy to see why many international students are making their way “down under.”
You can even earn an undergrad degree in just three years. Something to consider when thinking about tuition prices.
Also, remember that AFTRS is a top film school on many international lists.
TUITION: $AUS41,000 (per 2 years) or $29,062 (per year US)
WHO WENT TO AFTRS?
Gillian Armstrong, Alex Proyas, Andrew Lesnie, Peter Rees and Phillip Noyce
BEST LOW BUDGET FILM SCHOOLS
THE BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
4.1 Best Budget-Friendly Film Schools
Los Angeles Film School (LAFS)
The Los Angeles Film School is a great spot for those wanting to dive straight into their film education.
They offer an 84% acceptance rate and don’t care about standardized tests or transcripts.
They only care that their film majors have a passion for making movies.
The Los Angeles Film School at Sunset and Vine
The LA Film School offers hands-on training in production, directing and producing. Their students work with industry-standard technology and can show their work in a 300-seat movie theater on campus.
The founding faculty included Hollywood names such as William Fraker, Jon Amiel, Dede Allen, and Janusz Kaminski.
And if you can’t make it to the campus, students can also take online classes in animation, digital filmmaking, and entertainment business.
TUITION: $47,000 (this is the cost of the entire program, and the fees vary depending on concentration)
DID YOU KNOW?
Martin Pensa, Kyle Newachek, Jaycen Joshua, Brandon Trost, and Brian Taylor.
4.2 BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY FILM SCHOOLS
California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
CSUN is a state-sponsored school with seven film and TV focused programs. They offer state-of-the-art sound-stages, mixing studios and equipment.
They also offer a nice list of Hollywood A-listers as their alumni.
CSUN is located just inside LA County and has built great relationships with the city’s elite studios, agencies, and production companies.
TUITION: $6,900/annually (for in-state students)
Who went to csun?
Morris Chestnut, Debra Winger, Jenna Elfman, Joan Chen, Paula Abdul, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Englund, Eva Longoria, Allyson Hannigan, Cheech Marin, and Eve Plumb.
4.3 BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY FILM SCHOOLS
New York Film Academy (NYFA)
Nope, NYFA isn’t just in New York. In fact, this fast-paced film school is all over the world.
Four schools in the US, three in Europe, two in Asia and one in Australia.
The New York Film Academy has campuses in cities all over the world
The school opened in 1992 with the idea that students need to start making films right away.
It’s this hands-on approach that allows each student to write, direct and shoot8 films and work on crew of 28 more in the first year.
Sure you can get your AA, BA, BFA or MFA at NYFA. But you can also enroll in short-term programs and workshops if you’re pressed for time.
Their shortest? 2 days.
So WHO WENT TO NYFA?
Issa Rae, Antonio Chavez Trejo, Paul Dano, Imran Khan, Shaquille O’Neal, Chord Overstreet, Damon Wayans, Eamonn Walker, and Damon Wayans Jr.
If that wasn’t enough, NYFA has partnered with the Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art to provide educational and filmmaking projects for their students.
They’ve also built a relationship with RED Digital to give their students access to the industry’s best video cameras.
Their faculty has included: Matthew Modine, Lou Gossett Jr, Brenda Vaccaro, Bill Duke, and Anthony Richmond.TUITION: $30,840/annually (for BA in filmmaking)
4.4 BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY FILM SCHOOLS
Columbia College (CC)
Chicago’s Columbia College has become a film school to be reckoned with.
The campus is situated in the heart of the city and offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to its 7000+ students.
Film majors are encouraged to use the Windy City as a backdrop for their art. There is a massive lake, free sculpture garden and endless eclectic neighborhoods steps away.
Not to mention plenty of deep dish pizza.
The student center is another set for the film school students of Columbia College.
In 2011, YouTube partnered with Columbia College to launch the first Youtube Creator Institute. A way to train students in digital media and promotion.
Today, the school continues to push the boundaries of modern movie making for its film majors.
WHO WENT TO COLUMBIA COLLEGE?
Lena Waithe, Janusz Kaminski, Tonya Pinkins, Aidan Quinn, Pat Sajak, Common, George Tillman Jr, Michelle Monaghan, Bob Odenkirk, Mauro Fiore
4.5 BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY FILM SCHOOLS
Purchase College (SUNY)
Outside of California, there are very few state-sponsored film programs that have proven influential to filmmaking. Purchase has filled the void nicely with its’ film department and, importantly, its’ theatre department.
Set on 500 acres, the state college has both a film BFA and a film and video minor. It encourages students to write, produce and direct projects, leading to a well-rounded film production education.
Need more evidence that this little school rocks in a big way?
New York City is a short train ride from this film school.
SUNY Purchase was listed as one of Kiplinger's 100 Best Public College Values in 2017.
It also has an entire course on the television show Breaking Bad.
TUITION: $8,267 (in-state) and $18,117 (out-of-state)
WHO WENT TO PURCHASE college?
Zoë Kravitz, Melissa Leo, James McDaniel, Parker Posey, Ving Rhames, Jay O. Sanders, Wesley Snipes, Stanley Tucci, Shea Whigham, and Constance Wu.
TOP ONLINE FILM SCHOOLS
THESE ARE GREAT FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
Perhaps attending a Los Angeles film school or international conservatory isn't an option for you. Maybe you’re a busy professional or juggling work and kids.
Don’t worry. You can still study film production.
Online film institutions have come a long way in their offerings. Today, you’ll find many that give you a great film/media education from the comfort of your home.
In fact, many schools offer expedited options that allow you to complete courses in four to eight weeks, rather than a full semester.
You can usually transfer your credits to on-campus schools too. But make sure to verify this with whichever school(s) you apply to.
5.1 top online film schools
University of Arizona (UA)
The University of Arizona’s mantra is “All about Tomorrow.” This is a great motto to keep in mind with their online film school offering.
Affordability and convenience are the reason we love their online program.
ONLINE TUITION: $526 per unit (12 units = full course load)
5.2 TOP ONLINE FILM SCHOOLS
University of Montana (UM)
You don’t have to endure the brutal winters of Big Sky country to get a world class online education.
The University of Montana offers both undergraduate and graduate level course work and degrees in Media Arts.
ONLINE TUITION: $7,000 - $25,000 (annually)
5.3 TOP ONLINE FILM SCHOOLS
Academy of Art University (AAU)
The online program at this dynamic Art school in the heart of San Francisco caters to the specific needs of art and design students.
You don’t have to pay the premium rents of the city in order to take advantage of a world class education.
ONLINE TUITION: $25,000/annually
How to overcome writer’s block
If you are applying to film schools, then you will definitely be writing a lot of essays for the entrance exams.
Depending on how many schools you are applying to, you might be at a loss for words.
Make sure you let the words flow and get the pages out with our tips to overcome writer’s block.
Up Next: 21 Tips To Get Rid Of Writer’s Block →
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