The top ten film schools in the world and just how to go about picking film production courses. With this post also comes a downloadable breakdown of the top films schools by country.
My Education Mistakes
Why are you expected to make important life choices at the age of 18. I knew I wanted to be a film director but I had no idea how to pick a university course. I done the research myself, looking at the only two film production courses there were in my local city. I choose the one that was the closest. I choose for convenience.
I figured an education is an education and it doesn’t matter where I study. I stayed living in my parents and travelled 1 hr. every day to study to save money and for ease. My course turned out to be a mistake, yes the buildings were pretty and the university campus looked like they do from the movies but the course was new, the equipment old, and the curriculum far too basic.
I did however get some good things out of my experience. I met some great people, I had a good time spending most nights out until late, and I have been with my boyfriend for almost 9 years (something that may not have happened if I had moved far away).
We make the best decisions we can at the time. Below I have looked at some things to keep in mind when you are thinking of further study in film.
The Top Ten Film Schools in the World
American Film Institute AFI
Beijing Film Academy
University of Southern California
National Film & Television School England
La Femis Paris
California Institute of the Arts CalArts
University of California UCLA
Film & Television School Prague FAMU
New York University
Lodz film school Poland
I have also created a downloadable list of the best film schools by country.
How I choose Them
I am categorizing a film school as a school where film is a priority. However it is best to say that universities that have taken on film courses are not necessarily any worse off than film schools. This is especially true when it comes to film studies and film theory classes. I have searched online through countless lists of best course reviews and came to the conclusion that these are the top 10 film schools in the world.
The student's age is notably higher when attending film schools as opposed to university courses. American film schools seem to have the most money thrown into them although the European film schools such as Poland’s Lodz have students shooting on 35mm.
There is also CILECT - The International Association of Film and Television Schools created in Cannes 1955 which lists the world's major film schools. This could be used as a good indication of what film schools are highly regarded within each country
How To Pick universities with film programs
Student Feedback – if possible can you find any student feedback online or off. Is it possible to get in contact with people who have recently taken the course to get first hand advice. Also try searching through social media, see if anyone is saying good things about their experience.
Teachers – who are the teachers and what is there previous experience. Teachers who excel in their subject, film studies teachers who have written books on the subject and film production teachers who have had practical work experience in the film industry.
Course outline – request a course outline if the university does not not provide one. Get a breakdown of what will you be learning every year, every week, do these subjects interest you.
Equipment – what equipment does the school have, although equipment is not everything, a list of working film equipment could be useful. Also if you are more interested in cinematography finding experience on high quality cameras could be beneficial.
Practical Vs Theory – What is the balance between practical work and theory,most schools have a mix of both but make sure you are getting what you expect from the course.
Practical Things to Consider
Money, and location will play a big factor. For instance studying in London will be beneficial as the majority of film work in the UK does come from London. However the cost of living their can be double that of anywhere else in the UK. Weigh up your options. Also check that the courses are carried out in a language you understand, international courses may be taught in English. Beijing for instance has a programme carried out in English, in which James Cameron is a visiting professor.
Many of the film schools also do short courses for a much lower price. You won't get a degree for attending these but it could be a way of eyeing up an education before taking the big leap into spending 2-3 years at an institution. Check out England's NFTS short courses here - Short Courses this year
Do as much research as you can before making your decision on where to study. Even though I have a degree in film production I am considering further education in the future, it is not something I have completely written off and when I do I will be far more prepared and researched than I was last time.
What was your experience of film education? What advice would you give to someone searching for education now? If you had a good or bad experience please share below.