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Reviewed by
Alumni
Pros
  • - Campuses in all major South African cities
  • - A lot of practical experience during the undergrad
  • - Extensive Alumni network in South Africa
Cons
  • - Dated curriculum
  • - Certain aspects of the industry despises the arrogance of alumni (understandably)
  • - Out of touch faculty
This is specifically reviewing the Cape Town campus - I can not speak for the other.

AFDA is great at marketing and they are in the business of selling dreams. I spent three years there for my undergraduate (but heard similar issues within MFA students), and although I don't regret it (as I made amazing friends) part of me do wish I attended an institution that would have challenged me more with pushing the medium of film rather than conforming into a supposed structure that will be the yellow brick road to a successful film (yes, this school says f** it to all the established screenwriting structures, made up their own and force their students to use 10 beats in 2 minute films).

I've always thought that education should be a place where one is taught how to challenge the world and the thing that is being studied. This is not AFDA. You are taught to think in a box, and if you at all attempt to step out of it you get penalized.

The positive, however, has been the amount of team work that is required. Filmmaking is teamwork, and AFDA is about 3 years of just teamwork and a lot of practical experience.You can a lot of technical training and experience - and it undoubtedly has some of the best equipment in South Africa (for film schools). One or two of the faculty members are extremely passionate and do what they can within the constricted system to make your studies worth it.

If you want technical experience and build work friends and can afford it, it's not terrible. However, if you want to learn to think go to Wits or UCT and do what you can to intern and work in the industry on the side.

Affordability: For South Africans it is quite expensive
Alumni: It's extensive because they have a million campuses and are the oldest filmschool in the country.
Campus: Could be better.
Career Assistance: Cute.
Facilities: It's decent.
Professors: One or two gems.
Scholarships: Uncertain - but heard it's not very good.
Affordability
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
1.00 star(s)
Facilities
3.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
2.00 star(s)
Reviewed by
Current Applicant
Pros
  • The City - The bustling energy of the city and the vibrant and diverse arts and foods and cultures all slammed together into this relatively small area, all accessible by just hopping on the subway.
  • The Talent - This may be a controversial statement to some, but I also feel the talent pool of serious actors and performers in NYC is superior to that of LA. The level of talent (stage and musical actors, dancers, musicians) even among those who are still trying to make it, and their willingness to act for student films, is a serious blessing.
  • The Resources - The facilities are wonderful and up to date, and just walking around the building you can tell plenty of funds are flowing through that place. It seems like you'll feel well-supported in terms of equipment, sound, editing, ADR, foley, etc.
  • The Alumni - The proof is in the pudding. A stellar track record of producing great writer/directors who are making meaningful contributions to cinema and television, whether it be commercial or independent.
  • The Learnin' - It seems that while you do learn a bit about everything, you get to focus on a certain aspect of filmmaking in your second year, and you will be able to direct a significant project your second year if you so desire.
  • The Intimacy - Since NYU only takes 36 students per year, you'd get to know everyone pretty well and that points to stronger bonds forming for post-graduation relationships.
Cons
  • The Cost - Not just the expensive tuition (60k-70k) but the cost of living in NYC is pretty atrocious.
  • Local Opportunities vs. LA - While it's not a total con, the opportunities for jobs is pretty good from what I hear but pales in comparison to Los Angeles.
Keep in mind, these are simply my thoughts as a current New York City resident who has applied to the NYU MFA Grad Film program. Some of this is my own personal observation of life in New York City, and some of it is based on research, and some just pure speculation. I didn't submit ratings for certain categories that I simply don't know about yet, such as Career Assistance, Coursework, or Scholarships. I have toured their facilities though (beautiful and well-equipped), and I've managed to make it to the interview round so I'll hope to hear back from them sometime in March for the yay or nay.
Affordability
3.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Facilities
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
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Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • Los Angeles
  • Great Campus
  • You own the films you make
  • The curriculum is well designed and keeps you advancing
  • The cohort is small and becomes a close family
  • Only 24 people are accepted a year, so it is very selective
  • Since it is small, teacher focus on you and become invested in your success
  • It is more affordable than a private school
Cons
  • The facilities are not as fancy as some other updated schools
I am going to write this review from the rationale of why I chose UCLA, and compare it to the other big film schools that exist in the top four.
UCLA is the best film school out there, but that obviously depends on your goals. They only accept 24 people a year, and even less than that for Narrative Directing. USC MFA selects significantly more twice a year and you are not even guaranteed that you will make one film; at UCLA you are guaranteed to direct 4 films, and unlike AFI and USC you own all the rights to every one of those films and can do with them whatever you please. With UCLA you are also offered a very esteemed network from the number one public university in the country, although AFI is a great network it only provides you the network in the entertainment industry. UCLA TFT also has theater attached to it so it has access to excellent actors, prop and set designers, as well as composers from the music school, and access to a world renown screenwriting program.
The only problem that I have with UCLA is the facilities. We actually have great useful facilities with 6 soundstages, but if you want the most beautiful film school you have ever seen and looks like a palace - go to USC. UCLA is a public school; it has what you need but it is not beautiful. BUT, UCLA is located on a beautiful campus right outside of the gates to Bel Air, and USC is in a not so great neighborhood (take your pick.) AFI is in Hollywood, and if you have ever been there, you either hate Hollywood... or hate Hollywood. 🤷‍♂️

UCLA's program is top notch with wonderful filmmakers and well designed. The curriculum focuses on all aspects of production (Screenwriting, editing, directing, cinematography, producing, etc) which you should know as a good director, but directing is your primary focus. At AFI you only really focus on Directing, or Producing, Screenwriting etc. At USC it is just a degree in production and never really focus on one aspect unless you choose to.

Finally, NYU; Do you want to be in New York or Los Angeles?

I hope this helps. I love every day that I am at UCLA and all the focus that I receive from top notch instructors in order to become a successful filmmaker. I do not feel like I am lost in the machine of a school just trying to pump out students with a graduate degree that will serve me no purpose later on.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities
3.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
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charlottehuang
charlottehuang
Hi! Thanks for your sharing! I’m wondering since it’s a 3-4year program, what may cause the student spend 4 years finishing the program? Does it happen frequently? Or most of the students finish in 3 years?
Reviewed by
Admitted Applicant
Pros
  • All of the facilities and gear are amazing, brand new
Cons
  • Not many years in existence, hard to know what the track record will be
I went on the official tour in October (there are several between Sept and Dec) before I decided to apply. You have to sign up and bring an ID to get past security because the whole grad school is on a working film lot in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

They started with a question and answer session (with some people skyping in). Pretty standard. Then there is the walking tour of the facilities. It doesn't feel like a college campus. It's a studio, in a massive industrial building with views of Manhattan and the East River, and Feirstein takes up the fifth and sixth floors. There are film studios on the floors above where a lot of TV shows are shot. The Feirstein's part of the building has numerous and varied big studios - I lost count. The equipment cage has all brand new equipment, including Arris and everything that I could think of (all digital - no Bolexes here). The classrooms and edit studios all feel like professional high end commercial facilities in NYC or LA.

There is a big communal kitchen, I think I remember that there are even bathrooms with showers.

A new Wegmans just opened at the other end of the Navy Yard, there is a good coffee shop across the street, but I don't think there are a lot of restaurant choices unless you walk two long blocks up to Myrtle Avenue. Pratt Institute is up on Myrtle, so there is a great art supply store and everything else that you would expect around an art school campus. (The actual Brooklyn College campus is far away, on the other side of Brooklyn.)

The proximity to the subway is a drag. I used to live in this neighborhood. Google says that it is a 15 minute walk to the G but it feels further than that, and then you are on the G train. You'll have to change trains to get anywhere. It sounds like there is parking, but I'm not sure how much.

Over all, I am pretty sure that I'm going to commit. As a NY resident, it's pretty inexpensive. I like my life living here in NYC and don't want to move to LA or anywhere else. Tisch is expensive.

The people that are teaching is always the most important thing. The people here, from what I've read so far, look like they are very talented. There are women in prominent positions here, and from the films that they've done, I'm hoping that will translate into a smarter, more introspective cinematic point of view.

I am hoping that Feirstein may be a place where there is more opportunity to build something great compared to a more established film school that may be more ridge and crowded.

I'll try to remember to report back in a year with what the reality turns out to be.

Photographs of their facilities:


"BUILT FROM THE GROUND UP
The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema is housed in a brand-new 68,000-square-foot facility, purpose-built for a 21st-century film school. Our entirely digital production and post-production environment offers the most current and state-of-the-art workspaces, studios, stages and equipment, affording students the opportunity to create in a fully professional setting."
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Facilities
5.00 star(s)
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Chris W
Chris W
Fixed address. Thank you!
Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • Students are among the most motivated and productive
  • Atmosphere of collaboration emphasized both in student populations and in curriculum
  • Professors who would be consider diamonds in the rough are more common here
  • More opportunities to be on set or to work on a film than you know what to do with
  • Editing facilities are top notch
  • This is small and ultimately not very important, but I was surprised about the kind of clout going to SCA gave me within the school. There is a sense of pride that goes along with it.
  • Self motivated and disciplined students never fail to find a plethora of opportunities
  • Sound and Producing department faculty are among the best in the nation
Cons
  • Students are selected by less tangible standards than necessarily the commercial quality of their work, their resume or their film literacy. The gap in initial competency among students can cause some friction.
  • For a school that claims to focus on industry practice, the opportunity to work on anything even approaching industry scale work is few and far between. Even advanced classes can sometimes have a more Guerilla feel.
  • Since films are thought of mainly as a form of practice, not enough time or emphasis is given for the preproduction phase
  • Sound and Production Design are disciplines get little emphasis.
  • One can spin their wheels and go unnoticed if they don't self promote
Ultimately the school lives up to its ranking. It's not a conservatory. Perhaps it should be, but beyond that claim it shouldn't be judged against other conservatories.

Furthermore, the student network is among the most ambitious and collaborative. The attitude among the student population is the reason I decided to go to this school and I haven't regretted it.

If you aren't disciplined and self motivated you can end up getting a little overlooked at the school but with a 3 year program, there is plenty of time to self correct.
Affordability
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
2 members found this helpful.
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