Where would black cinema be in the 21st century without the films of NYU’s Spike Lee (“Do The Right Thing”, “School Daze”) and Dee Rees (“Pariah”, “Bessie”), or USC’s John Singleton (“Boyz N The Hood”, “Poetic Justice”) and Rick Fukiyama (“The Wood”, “Dope”), to name a few famous African-American film school graduates? From New York to New South Wales, the list of film schools below earn accolades for their filmmaking, television and animation programs, and may interest African-American filmmakers of the future:
American Film Institute
AFI’s Conservatory is training 260 Fellows that are all, per the school, “worthy to watch.” The school’s participants create between four and 10 movies during the two-year program, and 37 alumni have received Oscar nominations in the past decade alone. An additional 118 have participated in award-winning projects ranging from “Boyhood” to “Mad Men.”
Art Center College of Design
The venerable private college’s film and graduate broadcast program continues to establish itself as an influential entity through its immersive curriculum and close working relationships between students and faculty. Its list of celebrated alumni includes director Zack Snyder and conceptual designers Ralph McQuarrie (“Star Wars”) and Syd Mead (“Blade Runner”).
Boston U. Department Film & Television, College of Communication
2015 saw the establishment of a one-year MFA program, as well as the Spelling Scholarship, named for producer Aaron Spelling, that will benefit up to 10 students. Nora Grossman is the latest BU alum to receive an Oscar nomination with her best picture nom for producing “The Imitation Game.”
California Institute of the Arts
Generations of top animators and live-action filmmakers have benefited from CalArts’ diverse educational spectrum. Film/Video alum have won nine Oscars for animated film between 2003 and 2015, while domestic and international box office grosses from animated features helmed by alum directors rose to more than $31 billion.
California State U. Northridge, Department of Cinema and Television Arts
CSUN’s Film Production alum have amassed an array of laurels from the screen industry, including awards from the Cannes Film Festival, DGA and Television Arts and Sciences Academy. The TV production program, too, has prepared students to work on series ranging from “The Amazing Race” to “Law & Order: SVU.”
Chapman U., Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Chapman’s Dodge College continues to provide both production and business-oriented culture to students interested in all facets of film, media and digital arts. Its production company, Chapman Filmed Entertainment, saw its first theatrical release, “The Barber,” open in theaters nationwide.
Colorado Film School
Colorado Film School hosts just 500 students, but produces more than 1,000 films yearly at its facility in Denver. It’s also one of the few institutions to offer a fully accredited university BFA professional training degree in production, and has partnered with ICM and top advertising agencies to offer internships.
Columbia U. School of the Arts
An impressive array of film and television figures have received training from SoA’s MFA programs, which include visual arts, theater, film studies, writing and sound arts. Among its acclaimed alumni are directors Kathryn Bigelow, Nicole Holofcener and James Mangold, while past faculty includes producers Barbara De Fina and James Schamus.
Columbia College Chicago
Practice and theory are emphasized at Columbia College Chicago’s Cinema Art + Science program, which offers nearly 200 specialized courses – the most comprehensive curriculum of any American film school. Students can also take advantage of its Semester in L.A., the only such program situated on a Hollywood studio lot.
The university’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media offers programs on every aspect of filmmaking, from directing to post-production. Students can take advantage of its exceptional digital media production equipment, and gain practical experience through its partnership with Cinespace Chicago, the largest film studio in the Midwest.
Emerson College Visual & Media Arts School
The Boston-based communications school further established itself as a direct conduit to the entertainment industry with its state-of-the-art Emerson Los Angeles building on Sunset Boulevard, which offers undergraduate, post-graduate and professional studies, as well as crucial internship opportunities. Alumni include Norman Lear and former MTV Networks president Doug Herzog.
Florida State U., College of Motion Picture Arts
The film school’s selective admittance policy has paid off handsomely for FSU. Film school participants have won more Student Oscars and College Television awards in a single year than any other school — and the DGA recognized its “distinguished contribution to American culture through the world of film and television.”
Ithaca College, Roy H. Park School of Communications
Park School students are treated as industry professionals through close interaction with alumni and a full range of production scenarios through the student-run Studio, which allows them to develop, fund and distribute their own content. Student films have screened at or been honored by the American Society of Cinematographers, among others.
Loyola Marymount U., School of Film and Television
LMU’s School of Film and Television is flush with impressive numbers, from the 400 partner companies who have hired alumni, including Disney, Sony and NBCUniversal, to the $1 million contributed to the local economy from 792 student productions — 41 of which were shot on the Red One digital camera.
New York U. Tisch School of the Arts
The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television offers training to undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of cinematic storytelling media, from dramatic writing and interactive telecommunications to photography and imaging. Its prestigious roster of alumni includes Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Joel Coen and Ang Lee.
Northwestern U., School of Communication
Northwestern’s multidisciplinary arts education has produced major figures in nearly every aspect of film and television production, from three-time Oscar-nominated writer John Logan and Emmy-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus to “Arrow” and “Flash” producer Greg Berlanti and such acclaimed producers and executives as Sherry Lansing, Jason Winer and Ken Kamins.
The Brooklyn-based arts college has significantly increased its presence by relocating into a 17,000-sq.ft. space in Clinton Hill that will add 150 students to its 50-person film/video department. New additions can take advantage of Pratt’s expansive media curriculum, as well as the abundant internship opportunities inherent to New York City.
The academic training arm of Relativity Media is a throwback to the studio system’s finishing schools, but with a significant difference: it benefits from both direct funding from the studio as well as an active production facility that offers students access to soundstages and production facilities on its 20-acre campus.
Ringling College of Art and Design
The private, non-profit college has become a talent pool for studios seeking up-and-coming computer animators and designers. Ringling alumni captured Oscars for both animated feature (“Big Hero 6”) and short (“Feast”) at the 2015 ceremony, while students have won 11 of the past 13 student Academy Awards.
Rhode Island School of Design
A diverse array of film and television talent, from Seth MacFarlane to Gus Van Sant, has graduated from RISD’s film/video/animation program, which is the largest in the state. Students study all three departmental disciplines in their sophomore year, which alumni have credited with expanding their visual and storytelling skills.
Sarah Lawrence College
Intimate seminar and workshop environments, an expansive and comprehensive program that incorporates screenwriting and media arts, and one-on-one mentorship with faculty advisors are among the high points of Sarah Lawrence’s film program. Notable graduates include J.J. Abrams, Peter Gould (“Better Call Saul”), Joan Micklin Silver and producer Amy Robinson.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Opportunities for prospective film and television students at SCAD are plentiful. The school features state-of-the-art technology and facilities, including a 60,000-sq.-ft. Digital Media Center and Savannah Film Studios; the annual Savannah Film Festival, which is the largest university film festival in America; and workshops and presentations with television professionals at TVfest.
Palo Alto, Calif.
The lauded university’s film and media studies program is anchored in the visual arts. True to its reputation for selectivity, the MFA in documentary film and video admits only eight students per year, preaching artistic expression, aesthetics and social awareness as well as endeavors into new media.
Syracuse U., College of Visual and Performing Arts
Budding filmmakers in animation at Syracuse can look to celebrated alumni for inspiration, including directors Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me”) and Henry Selick (“Coraline”). The program’s ties with the Syracuse Intl. Film Festival open doors for student involvement.
UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television
Consistently considered one of the world’s best program’s, UCLA’s film program has hatched a platoon of filmmaking legends, from Francis Ford Coppola to documentarian Alex Gibney. Jeff Skoll’s recent gift of $10 million for the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment refocuses the school on promoting social change through entertainment.
U. of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts
This beacon of excellence in filmmaking education continues to grow and expand. In Aug. 2013, construction began on the IMAX lab/theater space, which features two full-size IMAX projectors. This march, USC was voted best game design school in the country.
U. of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication
Moody College’s prestigious department of Radio-Television-Film offers a curriculum that focuses on the intersection of production, screenwriting and media studies. Home to the country’s first comprehensive 3-D production program, nearby festivals like SXSW provide inspiration and opportunity for both students and alumni.
Located in the country’s homegrown arts mecca, students of the Nashville school’s Cinema and Media Arts program can hone in on a smorgasbord of topics like soundtracks, digital cinematography or 16mm shooting. The Vandy Meets Hollywood spring break program transports students to L.A. for studio visits and alumni networking.
A leader in undergraduate film studies since the 1970s, the recent establishment of Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image has only expanded the umbrella program, which includes Wesleyan’s department of film studies, its cinema archives and the student-run film series. In April, the College of Film and the Moving Image announced a $2 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
New Haven, Conn.
Offering both undergrad and graduate degrees, Ivy Leaguers at Yale are trained in film history, theory, criticism and production. Students can also take advanced screenwriting courses, use resources at the university’s Digital Media Center for the Arts and study abroad at Prague’s famed Famu.