What are the best film schools?

Internet Filmmakers' FAQ

This is actually a difficult question to answer, because it really depends on what you want to get out of your film school experience, and is also dependent on which country you wish to study in. A lot of it comes down to the type of course you want to do (i.e. length of study, breadth of subjects covered, ratio of theory to practice etc), but also whether you feel the reputation of the institution will help you in your career. Certainly film schools with good reputations can have a positive impact on your career development, however with film courses it far less valuable than it is for say, a law degree. In the film industry, it is talent and track record that will get you far, not your alumni status.

Unsurprisingly, the institutions with the best global reputations are predominantly in the United States:

Outside of the US, only two institutions have been able to build similar reputations: the UK's National Film and Television School (NFTS), and the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School (AFTRS). There are of course many other fine institutions in other countries too – they just haven't managed to gain the same level of international reputation as these schools (yet).

Finding the best film school ultimately comes down to research (and knowing what type of course you want, and what you can afford). Start your research with the following sites:

filmmaking.net(!)
This site already runs the largest film school database available on the web. www.filmmaking.net/directory/filmschools/

FOCAL
A Swiss site covering a wide range of film and television training areas, with an extremely comprehensive searchable database of international film schools. www.focal.ch

Film School Confidential: The Insiders' Guide to Film Schools
A useful companion to the book of the same name. Contains a good deal of info. www.tomedgar.com/fsc/

American Cinematographer
The magazine of the American Cinematographer's Society (ASC) has produced an overview of some of the top US film schools, which is available at their website. www.theasc.com

CineMedia
Maintains a list of links to colleges and universities that offer courses in media. www.cinemedia.org

Answer by Benjamin Craig  |  Last updated 09-Dec-2008

Comments

Older Comments

inaccurate  |  09-Jul-2010
This list is inaccurate. Bot Columbia University (New York City) and Chapman (Orange County, California) are rated above CalArts, as CalArts is typically known for its animation, not its directing or screenwriting.
the counselor  |  15-Apr-2010
Florida State University film school in their college of motion picture arts must be considered one of the top three if you take into account alumni, awards, and entrance difficulty not to mention facilities and the fact that they provide for all production costs for the students. They admitted 25 undergraduates and 30 graduate students from more than 200 applicants.
MR, Berlin  |  13-Mar-2010
"There are of course many other fine institutions in other countries too – they just haven't managed to gain the same level of international reputation as these schools (yet)." This is such an US-centric view of the world ! The Femis school in Paris can boast more Palmes d'Or, Golden Bears and Golden Lions than any other school in the world. The Beijing Film Academy, Famu in Prague, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and VGIK in Moscow are also among the most finest institutions in the world, and their alumni have won some of the most prestigious prizes in the cinema world. Films are not only made in English, there is a world outside Hollywood !
Kjirstin Youngberg  |  07-Aug-2009
Many of today's filmmakers have high praise for a somewhat surprising up & coming U.S. film and animation school, Brigham Young University. Graduates of the program claim to have much more hands-on experience, and a portfolio of finished work by the time they leave the school. Many of the larger studios look to BYU graduates to fill positions in the industry. If you can hack the honor code (no alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea (herbal is okay) and no sexual relations outside of marriage), you might want to look into this fabulous program. You do not have to be a member of the sponsoring church to attend. http://cfac.byu.edu/index.php?id=519 Utah has also recently passed some very good incentive packages for filmmakers wanting to film in the state. http://film.utah.gov/incentives.htm
Tom  |  05-Mar-2008
You probably meant Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts), not Cal Tech.
sarena valilis  |  29-Feb-2008
there are many factors to consider when deciding which is the best film school for you. somtimes it is just a matter of weather, or family, or just a city that they liked. i think the best film school is the one that you can graduate from because you were happy where you were living. the best known schools are the ones you mentioned, but they are not right for everyone.