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What are the best colleges for film majors in California (how about out of state?)?

I have been thinking about majoring in film, so is there any input on any colleges that are reputable for their film majors and/or alumni?

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Jacob’s Answer

Choosing the right college for a film major is a significant decision. California is home to several prestigious film schools, and there are also renowned options outside the state. Here are some notable institutions both in California and out of state known for their reputable film programs and accomplished alumni:

**In California:**

1. **University of Southern California (USC):** USC's School of Cinematic Arts is one of the top film schools globally, known for its industry connections and impressive alumni, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

2. **University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA):** UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television offers a renowned film program with a focus on both theory and practice. Alumni include Francis Ford Coppola and Ava DuVernay.

3. **California Institute of the Arts (CalArts):** CalArts is known for its experimental and artistic approach to filmmaking. It's where many influential animators and filmmakers, such as Tim Burton, got their start.

4. **Chapman University:** Located in Orange, California, Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts has a strong reputation, and its alumni have worked on major Hollywood productions.

**Outside California:**

1. **New York University (NYU):** NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City is renowned for its film program and has produced successful filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee.

2. **American Film Institute (AFI):** AFI, located in Los Angeles, is a top choice for those looking to specialize in film. It's known for its intensive conservatory programs and strong industry ties.

3. **Columbia University:** Columbia's School of the Arts in New York offers a diverse and comprehensive film program, with notable alumni like Kathryn Bigelow.

4. **Emerson College:** Located in Boston, Emerson has a strong reputation for its film and media arts program and is known for producing successful screenwriters and filmmakers.

5. **University of Texas at Austin:** The Moody College of Communication offers a respected film program with a focus on both production and theory. Graduates include Robert Rodriguez.

When considering film schools, it's essential to research each program's curriculum, faculty, facilities, and alumni achievements. Attend open houses or virtual information sessions, if possible, to get a feel for the campus and culture. Additionally, consider factors like location, internship opportunities, and your personal preferences in terms of film specialization (e.g., directing, screenwriting, cinematography).

Remember that your education is what you make of it, and networking and hands-on experience can be just as important as the school you attend. Ultimately, choose a college that aligns with your career goals, interests, and values to make the most of your film education.
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Chris Courtney’s Answer

If you're exploring options beyond California, Drexel University should be on your list! They not only offer an integrated internship program, but also promise a chance to secure a summer internship in sunny Los Angeles. That's something even some California schools can't boast of!

Chris Courtney recommends the following next steps:

You can declare a major in Film & Video Production, Entertainment & Arts Management, TV Production or Screenwriting & Playwriting
Tell your contact at the university that a 2014 alum sent you. (Feel free to use my name.)
Start looking up Drexel University Westphal College of Media Art & Design alumni. This includes people who grew up in Hollywood and chose to study there to learn the trade.
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Samuel’s Answer

Good afternoon Evan,

I don't know how far out-of-state that you want to go, but the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a great film program. I graduated from this university in the spring of 1984 and now this school is in the top 25 film departments in country.
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Paul’s Answer

USC and UCLA are the two best film schools in California.

Out of state, the one with one of the best reputations is New York University (NYU).
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Evan !

I would say that the best film schools in California are The American Film Institute, U.C.L.A, and U.S.C. The good ones in New York would be N.Y.U. and Columbia University. Why do I deem these the best ? They are all located in close proximity of the industry. Many of their alumni have had major successful careers. In addition, the contacts that you would make at these school would be extremely valuable. With a career in film, you'll need contacts. You cannot count on how your career will go just because you've attended these colleges, though, but you would have the opportunities and exposure to people and professional opportunities that aren't available at smaller unknown schools.

For the best opportunities in film, I would suggest Los Angeles or New York City. Sometimes that takes a commitment and planning to move. You've asked about out of state but did not indicate what state you are in. If you are in the Mid-West, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, and Washington University in Saint Louis are ranked as good schools for film. If you are in the South, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN and Emory University in Atlanta, GA are ranked high.

Just a little story to show you it doesn't matter sometimes what school you go to . . . I graduated from a state university studying acting. One of the top five biggest actors since the 1980's also went there when he was just taking classes but not going for a degree. He is today both a wealthy famous star, so you see, sometimes it really doesn't matter too much which school may be best, it's how hard you work and the exposure to opportunities that matters, with a bit of chance, too.

I hope that this was of help and wish you all the best as you start your film studies !
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