Latest Film School Reviews

UC Berkeley Film Packs a Punch!
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Film and Media Studies
Pros
  • affordable to CA residents
  • accepts transfer students
  • hybrid of theory and filmmaking
Cons
  • department uncommunicative at times
  • theory-heavy at times (may be a pro to some)
I absolutely loved my time at UC Berkeley and I would not have traded doing my undergrad there even for a top spot at UCLA for a BFA in Film Production, which for many years was my dream. I ended up appreciating Cal's film department being small, being everchanging and growing, and for offering a really strong theoretical foundation that actually made my work that much more critical and strong in my filmmaking practice. Berkeley is amazing because you really have the opportunity to develop a style of your own without the pressure to conform to the standards of rigid, industrial, traditional narrative filmmaking which is often practiced at some bigger programs. As I begin my UCLA MFA this year, the only reason why I was open to it after attending Berkeley was because it seems like they're taking steps in the right direction to offer a similar sort of freedom Berkeley offered me after a long history of being a super industry-oriented school. I can't recommend the program at Cal more--this is where you go if you're a creative and need that creative freedom to explore your own style of writing and filmmaking. I don't think you can be a proper and thorough filmmaker without that foundation and I think a lot of undergrads tend to be really put off by places that aren't "BIG FANCY INDUSTRY FILM SCHOOL" because they think it's what they need to be a good filmmaker. Here to tell you that it's actually NOT what you need. That critical background will make you that much more qualified.

We have a great lab to access resources and equipment and it's actually way better than you'd expect. My only drawbacks are I wish the department was better at getting transfers more involved in departmental/campus happenings and that our DML lab (place you go to check out equipment) had more stuff in stock, but that's been growing and changing too over the years.

Graduated in December 2022.

I can answer any specific questions people may have--feel free to respond here or private message me.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
3.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
8ballqueen recommends this film school
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thank you R.I.F.S!
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: Certificate
I recently participated in their 10 - Week Program and I could not recommend it enough! This was the first time that I found a comprehensive film program with well qualified faculty and a cooperative environment. Even though this program was only ten weeks long, I learned more about all of the different aspects of filmmaking than in any other film course I have taken. Such an amazing group of students and faculty, thank you R.I.F.S for providing me with such an amazing opportunity!
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
BFA University of Colorado at Boulder BFA Film Production
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Pros
  • Very engaged faculty
  • rich history in experimental film
  • location
  • diversity of courses
  • faculty actively creating in industry
  • mentorship
  • facilities
Cons
  • location
  • equipment check-out priority for MFA
Honest review.

CU Boulder is an interesting place to learn filmmaking. The University boasts some excellent professors who are actively making experimental film and having successes as artists. Courses are engaging and we were exposed to making short films on celluloid. The program also offers courses on alternative processes and all the theory courses—although some of the professors are stern—are really good. There is also a deep commitment to exposing students to international cinema. Professors also advocate for their students, even when you haven't taken courses with them. They are supportive and take special interest in students who come in aware of what kinds of stories they want to tell.

The school on the whole could benefit from better diversity, and the film program, while diverse in its ranks, isn't as diverse in its student body. It's no worse than the University is on the whole.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
3.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
3.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
2.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
One member found this helpful.
UCF Film BFA (College of Sciences - School of Communication)
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Film - Feature/TV Writing
Pros
  • intimate program, close with professors
  • access to film equipment, soundstages, editing bays
  • teaches how to fund and shoot high quality short films on a microbudget
Cons
  • doesn't build to much of a career post-graduation
UCF's BFA program is split into 4 modalities: narrative production, documentary production, experimental production, and feature/tv writing.

I personally have had a wonderful time here being taught by member of the Academy/professional screenwriter Barry Sandler in the feature/tv writing modality. I think the benefits that UCF has is access to good equipment and a strong emphasis on independent microbudget filmmaking. The narrative track doesn't focus as much on story/character as I think it should, but the feature/tv writing track has well prepared me for the next development of my film career as I try to move more into directing. I have already got a few acceptances off of my junior year feature script and a short film that I was able to produce through the Honors Thesis program.

I would recommend for undergraduate program, but I struggle to recommend for graduate unless you already have connections into the industry and just want the opportunity to make a feature film.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
2.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
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Syracuse Film and Media Arts - BFA Film
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Film
Pros
  • High level of program flexibility
  • Resources of a large university mixed with the community of a small art school
  • Good faculty/peers, as of 2024 Guinevere Turner (co-writer of American Psycho) is a member of faculty
  • Fantastic abroad opportunties
  • Unique, in-depth approach to the art of filmmaking and storytelling
  • Exposure to different kids of media than a traditional film school (Iranian cinema, New Queer cinema etc)
Cons
  • Very expensive (almost $70k/year without a scholarship)
  • Generalist film degree means limited specialization opportunities
  • Lackluster alumni network
  • Serious lack of logistical production skills training
I'm in my last year at Syracuse University as a member of the department of Film and Media Arts, and it's been a lot of ups and downs. There's a lot to like about this program, the primary virtue being a result of its core philosophy: molding the student into a "total filmmaker" by teaching them all aspects of the production process, therefore allowing them to be more effective directors and producers. As someone who is looking to work as an independent writer/director, this was perfect for me. I learned more at Syracuse in my first year working on Senior Thesis sets than I ever did in high school, and the program's intense focus on production gives each student plenty of on-set opportunities. It's my understanding that some other film programs don't let students even touch a camera until their Junior year, and I'm grateful that Syracuse gave us a chance to start making films from day one. You continue this focus on production throughout your time at the school, culminating with each student being required to write/direct their own Senior Thesis film.

The program has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance the last few years (in 2020, long-time department chair Owen Shapiro retired, and only now in 2024 do we have a permanent new department chair, David Tarleton) and as a result it's been a little inconsistent about the curriculum and expectations for students. Prior to 2020, Syracuse was known for being pretty cutthroat, with a mandatory "Sophomore Critique" session taking place at the end of your second year, where faculty members would review your work and decide if you were allowed to continue in the program. Since the change in leadership, this culture has been walked back a lot, and the program is much more focused on fostering collaboration over competition. It's hard to tell what the biggest changes will be in the next few years, but it's safe to say that the program will be changing!

The biggest benefits of the program for me personally were the access to equipment (I work part-time at the school's rental house, which pays well and gives you good hands-on experience with professional gear) and the abroad opportunities. Syracuse has a unique partnership with FAMU in the Czech Republic, allowing students to spend the Fall or Spring semester of their Junior year in Prague shooting a short film on 35mm. If shooting on celluloid is an important factor to any prospective student, I would almost recommend attending Syracuse just for this one opportunity.

The biggest issues with the program are its cost (nearly $70k a year!), its underwhelming alumni network, and its lack of proper real-world production logistics training.

The cost is due to the fact that Syracuse maintains (or attempts to) a top-tier NCAA basketball & football team, in addition to offering an expansive, well-maintained campus and other university facilities. The unfortunate reality of this is that very little of your tuition fees will go directly towards the Film and Media Arts department, resulting in slightly outdated gear (the equipment cage offers Canon C300's and Sony FX6's, but nothing from Arri or Red) and requiring you to provide the financing for all of your class projects.

In terms of the alumni network, FMA is just too young to have any real notable alumni. One of the few exceptions is Dan Silver '01, who currently works as the head of non-fiction content for Netflix, but connecting with him and other alumni is a difficult process that isn't really facilitated by the university. Additionally, because the university is located in Syracuse, New York (barely a city in itself and four hours by car from NYC) your connections don't end up being particularly valuable outside of the niche Central NY film scene. Syracuse has one major production company, American High, which is known for producing a series of teen comedies, most notable 2019's Big Time Adolescence starring Pete Davidson. However, getting a position at this studio is nearly impossible, as you're competing with every other member of the FMA department, not to mention students in the entirely separate Communications degree at the Newhouse School. Syracuse does offer a semesterly Los Angeles program where they assist you with finding an internship, but if you're planning to go anywhere but LA when you graduate, this isn't very helpful.

Lastly, the film program really struggles to teach practical production skills to its students. A lot of my peers have learned the skills they need to write/direct, but very few of them were taught the process of running a set, resulting in unorganized shooting schedules and logistical catastrophes. I recognize that these are skills you could learn from a few months working in the industry, but I really believe that this gap is actively harming student productions and subjecting student workers to unfair treatment like 16hr+ work days. This is not only limited to students sets however, as I spent the summer working on a faculty member's feature film, which was marred by numerous incidents of unsafe behavior, ineffective prep work, and abuses of power. I don't believe the school does a very good job of teaching students the right way to run a set, and I wish the school would focus more on this.

The bottom line is, Syracuse is not perfect, but I think if you take it for what it is, you can get a lot out of it. Unless the school changes substantially in the next few years, I would say it's a great fit for the aspiring independent writer/director/producer who wants to learn everything they can about the production process. For those who want to specialize more in a specific field, like cinematography or production design, I would not recommend Film and Media Arts and would instead push those people to find a program with better facilities and a more specific focus on that field. Additionally, you should expect to have to work on your own to fill in the gaps in the school's education when it comes to production logistics (find yourself a good producer!) and alumni networking.

If there are any current SU students or alums out there, I would love to hear your thoughts! Also, if you're a prospective student, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.
Affordability
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
2.00 star(s)
Campus
4.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
3.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
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A Great School with Great Professors!
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Film/Video and Theater
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Small class sizes
  • Close relationships with professors
Cons
  • Not the best location
  • A lot of general education requirements
  • Growing alumni network
I was a student there from 2018-2022 and had a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone, especially people living within Massachusetts. It's super affordable compared to the rest of film schools in the area.

The school has a great reputation and many alum work in the local film scene. The alumni network is strong in New England and is ever-growing throughout the United States. Once I graduated, I discovered I was working the same jobs as graduates of expensive private schools in the state (minus the debt!).

The professors really care about you and are always trying to help you with your work. One of my professors even read my screenplay over their summer break when they had no obligation to do so!

The film program is special and small. You feel like you are truly a part of a community. I learned so much about myself as a creative person and found my voice as a writer. It was a great experience and I feel like it has prepared me for a career in the industry.

The equipment isn't as fancy as what you would find at a private school, but is still good. The school uses Blackmagic cameras throughout their production courses. Students learn how to edit on Avid initially, but can take courses to learn Adobe Premier and DaVinci Resolve. I specifically enjoyed the writing courses.

In terms of the rest of the university, I think that the real shinning light is the Communication department. I found my general education requirements to be tedious, especially when all I wanted to do was grow my filmmaking skills. However, I was an honors student and was limited to only one course per general education requirement. The best professors in the school are definitely found in the Comm Media Department.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
One member found this helpful.
Hidden Gem
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Screenwriting
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Small class size
  • Tight-knit alumni
  • Great mentorship
Cons
  • Tallahassee?
Before I get into the details, it's worth mentioning that I'm in my second year at this program and have really enjoyed my time here. I will be biased, like any FSU student would be. Getting an MFA is a big deal, I took out loans to be here. And I have not been let down, I actually think I was undersold this program. I happen to be a Florida state resident who attended film school in Chicago and New York before this. I'm really glad I didn't let my desire to return to a big city overshadow my needs from a master's program, because I would've lost out.

I'll go through my ratings.

Affordability: Like I said, I'm a Florida resident so this was obviously the most affordable option for me. However, it's still very affordable for out of state and international students. In the writing program, you get a graduate assistantship in your second year that drastically lowers the cost of tuition while giving you a stipend. Tallahassee is by far more affordable than NYC or LA.

Alumni Network: This was a huge selling point for me. I knew about the tightness of the FSU alumni but I personally haven't done much to get involved yet. They do a lot to help you connect with alumni. When you're here, you get to know the year above you, and then the year below you, and they become a big part of your network as well. Additionally, writers take an LA trip to pitch and meet with alumni and industry professionals. I'm taking my trip this summer so I can't speak on it yet. They also support students after graduation with finding work.

Campus: As writers, we have our own room in the building that is only accessible to us and faculty. Being such a small program, having a dedicated room to ourselves is really great. We don't have to search for a place to go write, and we don't have to worry about someone coming in and erasing our work on the boards. For FSU as a whole, it's a beautiful campus and it's clearly being taken care of.

Career Assistance: I spoke a little about this in alumni network. It's hard to say since I'm still a student. However, my coursework has been really helpful. From learning script coverage to a very intense and detailed TV writers room simulation class, I have learned so much that has prepared me for working in the industry.

Coursework: This is a conservatory style program. You're writing, a lot. And you're rewriting, a lot. We're constantly working on idea generation, pitching, and finding our voices. It's such thorough and purposeful work. I will be leaving here with at least four features, two and a half TV pilots, a spec script, and a short story I plan on expanding into a novel. I say at least because it's up to me if I want to do more. The professors here are incredibly supportive and personable. Their mentorship has been extraordinary. They pay a lot of attention to you, your work, your voice. They care about us personally, about us getting burned out, and help us build lasting writing habits.

Facilities & Equipment: This isn't really important to writers. We do have pretty nice chairs in the writers room. Five stars for that, and for having our own writers room.

Professors: I said a lot about this in the coursework category. They're very knowledgable and most are still working in the industry.

Scholarships: We have the graduate assistantship which has been phenomenal. Like I said before, it drastically lowers the price of tuition.

All in all, I love FSU. I highly recommend it. I've met lifelong collaborators here, written my best work, and grown so much not only as a writer but also in my ability to talk about myself and my work.

I'll edit this sometime after I graduate in August to give my review as an alumni ❤️
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
catmom recommends this film school
2 members found this helpful.
Be careful What You're Getting Yourself Into
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Screenwriting
Pros
  • Good Faculty to Student Ratio
  • Very professional editing and cinematography students to work with
  • Great Location
  • Good Value comparing to other programs
Cons
  • Mixed bag of directing, writing and producing fellows.
  • The writing department has a rigid concept of what's accepted as a Hollywood script
  • Political correctness taking a toll and driving away good teachers
  • The project pairing process can often be disastrous
What's AFI best for?
Students who had at least couple years of industry experience. I don't mean running around and shooting shorts with your buddies. Real paying experience working as a filmmaking professional, or you'd be better off spending the time and money addressing the lack of experience, i.e. interning, working with independent crews, rather than coming to AFI. The system is fast paced and rigid. It is designed to churn out industry professionals. If you still soul searching, don't come. If you want to make friends and have a good time, don't come. If you are a politically vocal person, don't come.
You need to have a very narrow mind of focus to reap the benefit of the school, that is to make money being a film professional.

The writing, producing, and directing program have significantly lower quality of candidates than the editing and cinematography program. If you want to attend the first three programs, you need to be a mature person who knows what you want. It's very easy to get into creative disagreements in AFI because its system of pairing people up practically encourages it.

If you are mature, competent, flexible about your work, then AFI is probably the best value of all top-tier schools. It's only two years instead of three. It introduces you to the heart of Hollywood. And most people hang around for at least couple of years after graduation.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
3.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Dean recommends this film school
2 members found this helpful.
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parkstickney
parkstickney
Can you elaborate on the cons more? A few of those are major red flags for any prospective student yet you still rate the school highly
M
mandaa
hello, which discipline did you do at AFI?
UCLA Extension - Directing Workshop 1
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: Other
In this class, you learn the basic language of directing (ex: shot types, shot sizes, camera lenses, camera movements, mise en scene, etc.). You learn the tools directors can use to convey story and emotions through the visual medium. You learn about story beats, axis, etc. You analyze films and scenes in class to discover how the director's choices convey emotionality, story, and character's thoughts and feelings.

You create 4-5 very short films (1-5 minutes long) using whatever camera you have (iphone is acceptable) to put into practice the theory you are learning in class.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
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UCLA Extension - Feature Film 1
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: Other
Took an online 10-week course for Feature Film 1. In this class, you learn the basics of story structure, analyze scripts, and start working on a draft of your own screenplay. Very much like a writer's group with weekly assignments and reviewing each other's work.

Great instructor, she was very knowledgable and works in the industry, but obviously the class is filled with people of all skill levels so the feedback from peers wasn't always super useful. It was a lot of "this is really good! I enjoyed reading it!" but not a ton of actionable feedback. Though there were also more advanced writers in there too that did provide better feedback.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
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MBA Screen Business (MSAB) . Good for Media industry managers.
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: Other
Pros
  • Only MBA in Australia focussing on media business
  • Usual group contacts (minor network as AFTRS is poor at alumni)
  • High level guest speakers / mentors as the Aus national film school
  • Flexible fulltime attendance in blocks around holidays for working folks
  • Good if you have a strong media startup idea already. Doubtful otherwise.
  • AFTRS has high reputation mostly undeserved since the early first generations Campion, Noyce, Beresford etc excelled but mediocre results since.
Cons
  • Chaotic organization. Course changed structure three times in two years with no consultation or warning.
  • Organization more interested in social justice issues than filmmaking
  • Few instructors (mostly technical) were excellent most were failed filmmakers or professional government media bureaucrats
  • MSAB almost unknown as relatively new and AFTRS just graduates and frogets.
  • AFTRS Alumni efforts are sites where they post propaganda and kick alumini off if you actually start using the tools they provide . No joke.
MSAB is the Schools only 'adult' course as the Head admitted to us.
It also runs intermittently and seems to be an experimental exercise by those in charge. First meeting half the class quit as they were told the promised mixed attendance (evening / weekends / holidays) had been changed without warning to fulltime blocks around school holidays. As several people had come interstate and changed work situations etc no one was impressed.

They also changed the structure again in the next semester and at the start of the next year (2 year program) without consulting or any warning again. Each time seemed astonished that students lives were impacted - every permanent staff member seemed to be a career arts bureaucrat and have zero empathy with working folks.

Structure was a standard MBA with coursework around Business planning , finances and management. Strategy and marketing. Entrepreneurship and design thinking. Some useful options on Public Policy and Growth and Change management for a growing startup.

Strengths were a stream of visiting heads of studios, tv networks, production houses and senior media public servants who provided real world pragmatism cold water to the startup magic vibe. Also some inspiring innovators in the space (and an equal amount of less inspiring friends of staff members who spouted theory as their practical experience was obviously thin).

Also a class trip to Singapore to study a large animation studio and visit their film board etc for a week or so was valuable and fun.

The small class size (as half never came back after the first encounter) made for a tight group. Several have moved on to senior roles in the national film bodies and broadcaster and several of the other startups seem to be growing but no breakouts I've heard of.

There was much talk of alumni networks and follow up but it equalled less than nothing as when some of us started using the vaunted alumni network to communicate about media projects we got kicked off for overposting. As far as I can work out it merely exists for the school to post marketing to alumni and recruit them for events.

If you want to a business qualification in film particularly with the aim of senior management in a government film body this is the course for you. Helps if you are a diverse minority - AFTRS ran around in circles for this group.

Also if you have a business idea in the media space this gives you a couple of years to develop and document it.

Otherwise I'm not sure what point it would be.


This is a fully funded government course and a fraction of the cost of other MBAs for some reason. In Australia you can pay back student loans as your income grows so its not every onerous and frankly if you don't want to you dont have to unless you're that successful you cant hide your obligation.

Unlike the US its just not a large issue.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Professors
3.00 star(s)
Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
Anonymous is undecided about recommending this film school
A Small Program with Real Potential
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Digital Filmmaking
Pros
  • Dedicated and knowledgeable Instructors
  • Hands on experience with television/short film production
  • Excellent instruction on fundamentals
  • No formal "Film School" application process
Cons
  • Inconsistencies regarding Pre-requisites
  • Limited equipment
  • Inconsistent with curriculum
Some good and some not-so-good with this program.

The Good: The Digital Filmmaking and Media studies track offers students the opportunity to gain real hands-on experience. There are several classes for the production of "The Bluffs", which is a serialized program created as a television show. There is a writing workshop for the new "Season" each Spring, a Production class the following Fall, and then and Editing and Post-production course the following Spring semester, with the final finished season presented at the conclusion of the Spring semester. UCCS also has some really amazing and talented professors who are really passionate about the craft of filmmaking. The Film Production capstone course allows EVERY student the opportunity to create a short film. The course is designed in such a way that each student is responsible for the entirety of the Pre-Production (creating a script, posting casting calls, holding auditions), Production (including shot lists, securing talent releases/waivers, crewing their productions with DP, 1stAD, 1stAc, 2ndAC, Gaffer, Sound Recordist etc.) and Post-Production (editing, color correction, etc.) for their short film projects.

The Not-So-Good: There are definitely instances where the curriculum isn't consistent from one instructor to another. The most glaring instance is the Screenwriting course. I had a wonderful (but tough) professor who emphasized the fundamentals but I know plenty of other students whose professor treated it like a high school creative writing course with no focus on structure or formatting. The department didn't really do a lot to enforce pre-requisites and as a result, we had a number of students in upper-division courses (Directing for Film and Television, for example) who had never even learned the basics. I even know of a student that was in the capstone film production course who was also taking their Intro to Film class at the same time. This led to a great disparity in terms of the knowledge and experience levels between the students in upper division courses.

Something to note... the Digital Filmmaking track falls under the Communication major. There is no formal "Film School" that you need to apply to. If you are admitted to UCCS as a Communication major, you can choose the Digital Filmmaking track.
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
2.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
3.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Anonymous recommends this film school
One member found this helpful.
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The Marketing is Misleading
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: BA/BS/BFA
Concentration: Animation
Pros
  • Some good faculty
  • Nice location
  • Opportunities for certain students
Cons
  • Cliquey students and faculty
  • Unnecessary Limitations on space and equipment
  • High adjunct faculty usage
I went to DePaul for animation, but was heavily involved in the cinema production crowd due to my partner attending the Direction MFA. I would say generally the animation program is good, but you only get what you give. Certain faculty are extremely good and caring while some of the more hyped up faculty who’ve worked in the industry while talented may not be the best at educating students.

In terms of what they market with cinespace and cameras it is relatively fraudulent. You may have some classes there and with the advanced equipment, but if you try to use it for productions for classes you will face roadblocks. The faculty in charge of the studios are extremely clique-y with students and will actively shut you out of facilities if they don’t like you. I’ve experienced reservations for thesis projects being changed to accommodate undergrad regular class projects at camera pickup with no warning and had sound stages cancelled without reason given. You can only make PD changes to the stages if you are tight with the head of the cinespace facilities. Faculty will not give you recommendations for VFX or Production Design students if you ask and are not personal friends with them.

Overall many members of the cinema faculty feel like they joined DePaul to exploit student resources for their own gain. They will tell you if you want recommendations for students that you have to name a price to pay while simultaneously trying to get you to work on their projects for free.

While there I witnessed them shuttle in female and BIPOC students and faculty (even those not in SCA) for photo ops and videos to increase the appearance of diversity in the program marketing materials.

I hope that progress has been made here, but to a certain degree I doubt it since many of the best faculty have moved to other universities while the worst offenders still work there.

Many of the courses in animation were taught by adjuncts who did their undergrad at DePaul. Typically these classes would then just be you teaching yourself a new program or using Lynda.com courses while the adjunct would either do outside work or not show up.

The best thing about the university is the peers you will meet. Some may be standoffish and form cliques with faculty but most are very cool and down to earth. While there I had the pleasure of working with and knowing students who’ve gone on to win Jury Prizes at Slamdance and Sundance.

Lastly, there is virtually no assistance placing students in internships. While there is an internship/experiential learning requirement it is up to you to fulfill this. If you cannot they will try to place you in a week long study abroad trip to fulfill the requirement.

Overall, I would say that this is an okay program especially the animation major. You will learn but only get what you give in terms of portfolio development. I would be more leery to recommend the cinema program given the extreme faculty dysfunction. However, you will learn the basics if you buckle in and grit your teeth at the less than savory dealings.

Scholarships if you receive one can be quite generous though living costs are high.
Affordability
3.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
1.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
3.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
2.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
Anonymous is undecided about recommending this film school
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Feirstein School
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Directing
Pros
  • Supportive and diverse community
  • Fantastic equipment and facilities
  • Well-connected networks
  • Variety of disciplines
Cons
  • CUNY provides inadequate administrative/financial help
The Feirstein School is a huge up-and-comer, a nascent program that will come to rival the top schools in coming years. Their equipment inventory, soundstages, and range of production and post-production facilities, including construction shop, FOLEY studios, many editing bays, motion capture, professional sound studios, not only give filmmakers a wealth of tools to make professional films, there is also the necessary staff, faculty, courses, and students to make full use of the facilities. Many of the professors also teach at other top film schools, mainly NYU and Columbia, as well as Pratt and others, so you're getting the same professor for a fraction of the cost. Another super important thing is the culture at the school, which is very much built around community, collaboration, and support. The refreshing lack of ego and competitiveness makes it a particularly good environment to learn and practice the craft of filmmaking. They also offer screenings, Q&As, workshops, and other such events that bring in members of industry on a regular basis. In addition, the school has a solid advisory council with mentors for students' thesis projects, including such names as Stephen Soderbergh, Ethan Hawke, John Turturro, and Darren Aronofsky. Far and away, Feirstein is the best film school you might never have heard of. But in ten to fifteen years, they'll be talked about in the same breath as Columbia, Emerson, UT Austin, and UCLA.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
jkosmacki recommends this film school
One member found this helpful.
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Solid basic education but for a high price
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: Certificate
Concentration: Foundation in Visual Art and Design - Film Production Stream
Pros
  • Community
  • Some of the equipment and facilities
  • Central location in Vancouver
Cons
  • Lack of resources
  • Price
I've heard Vancouver Film School (VFS) be referred to as a "puppy mill" and I think that's an apt analogy. They have a new intake of students every two months and it does, at times, feel like they're just trying to get as much money as possible. The resources at our disposal were not amazing; computers didn't always work, art supplies were old, camera equipment and lights we had access to were outdated.

I was in the Foundation in Visual Art and Design program which is probably the program the school cares least about. The actual Film Production program receives more attention, funding, and resources.

I think VFS gives you a good basic understanding of film production. Is it worth the tuition? I'm not sure. It also really depends on who your classmates are since these are the people you will be working with. People who had good experiences also had good cohorts, whereas others did not like their classmates had subpar experiences.

Foundation in Visual Art and Design is a unique program. I tried finding similar ones in North America and Europe and couldn't find much. It gives you a taste of the lens-based and digital art world. If you're not sure what you want to do, this is a good program to figure it out. The teachers were, on the whole, pretty good. There were some which weren't that great. They can offer connections in the industry and good advice. I got work on set through some teachers.

The program helped me a lot in figuring out what I wanted and I was able to fund it myself without taking out loans.

Overall, kind of a mixed bag.

If you're between VFS and another film school, I would probably go with the other film school.
Affordability
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
3.00 star(s)
Professors
3.00 star(s)
Scholarships
2.00 star(s)
Anonymous is undecided about recommending this film school
One member found this helpful.
Rome International Film School Review
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: Certificate
Concentration: Film Production
Rome International Film School was life-changing for me. I not only learned every aspect of the film making process, but I created strong bonds with classmates and faculty from all over the world. Exposure to these other perspectives on film, art, and culture has enriched my storytelling abilities and deepened my understanding of humanity. Furthermore, we students had round the clock access to top-tier camera and sound equipment, which created the atmosphere of a professional production house. Teachers were attentive and gave expert feedback based on their years of filmmaking experience. I can’t recommend RIFS more highly.
A waste of time, money, and respect
Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Film & TV Directing
Pros
  • Affordable tuition (with scholarship)
Cons
  • False advertising re: length of program, coursework, expenses
  • Consistent miscommunication re: school policy
  • Severely limited resources for grad students
  • Demotivating/confrontational faculty & staff
  • Zero financial support for film productions
The general attitude towards MFA film students at Columbia is antagonistic and confrontational. A lot of incoming students have no prior filmmaking knowledge, but some like myself have at least a couple years of professional experience. Yet all of us are treated as completely inept, naive, or even dangerous. In our first semester, the (now-ex) department chair sat us all down in an auditorium and told us we're not even here to make films. "You're making exercises, I don't know why you keep calling them films." What an incredibly demotivating atmosphere at 1104 S Wabash. I didn't realize I was spending thousands of dollars a semester for exercise school.

I was part of the first cohort to resume in-person learning for Columbia's MFA Directing program. This made us "guinea pigs" (the same ex-dept chair's words) in a supposedly restructured curriculum that aimed to create a sweeping blanket of introductory film knowledge. 1 sound class. 1 lighting class. Film theory 101. This strict curriculum also prevents grad students from being "qualified" to use any of the school's facilities in sound, lighting, cinematography etc. A former peer hoping to become a cinematographer was told directly "You came to the wrong place." They dropped out after the first semester. Instead of being equipped with hands-on knowledge and skills for our films, you are forced to seek out undergraduates who are trained in specific programs to use equipment/facilities, and MAYBE they'll work with you if they're not already swamped with their own work.

Undergraduates are given priority over everything, including equipment, facilities, even time/attention from the faculty. There's one networking mixer each semester and that's it. You're on your own. It makes total sense that the school doesn't want inexperienced students damaging expensive equipment or something, but at least give eager students the opportunity to learn about these things, or better yet, why not INCLUDE specified electives in the grad curriculum so we aren't discouraged from achieving our goals? Seriously. I am a 30 year old man who has been gaslit and talked down to like a child for the last 2.5 years for WANTING TO LEARN MORE.

If I could do it all over again, I certainly would not come to Columbia College Chicago and would absolutely re-think putting personal savings into graduate school for an MFA film degree at all. It is simply not necessary to find work in the film industry. If you're considering grad film schools, you should know exactly why you are entering a particular MFA program (location, facilities, networking) or you will likely end your time here frustrated and unfulfilled. I've left this school feeling far less inclined to even participate in the film industry than when I began, with only a couple "exercises" to show for it :(
Affordability
4.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
1.00 star(s)
Professors
3.00 star(s)
Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
fin_cinema does not recommend this film school!
One member found this helpful.
Last edited:
Scam
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Cinematography
Pros
  • Cheap-ish, sort of convenient location, sort of new equipment
Cons
  • Cheap, poor leadership, no career prep, haphazard and unorganized, unhappy staff
If you're a director you will be treated like a brilliant golden child whose story must be told, and have to do very little actual work/labor. You'll watch criterion movies and wax poetic about meaning and probably get into heated arguments about race/class.

All the other tracks (Cinematography, writing, etc) are set up to serve the directors. Essentially you are paying to work for free on student films. If you're lucky, maybe it will be a good one. And you get some glorious demo reel footage.

When I was there, we had no actual head of the cinematography department, teachers would show up late, with no plan for the class session, and basically wing it. They'd ask us "well, what do you wanna do? Wanna play with some lights?" Other teachers were arrogant and worked on one movie like 30 years ago. A handful were actively working in the industry, and therefore, their time at feirstein is a side-gig. Not so important to them. Understandable.

Also, getting gear and using the studios are a massive hassle.

Some of the admins are fine, but most are, in a classic hollywood/film world fashion experts at talking but not doing. Evasive and not accountable.

For a film school it's cheap, but considering you leave with basically nothing, it's very expensive. If you have money and time to burn, or a supportive partner/family that funds your life, it can be a fine way to spend 3 years playing around.

If you don't have have money or support, as in, you are a real person who works and pays to live in NYC, it's much much more difficult to make this work. And you will go into a lot of debt for this dream. So it's not really a place for poor people, to put it bluntly. Despite what their marketing may lead you to think.

If you really want to work on film sets, you're better off just doing that, starting as a PA or camera assistant, etc. If you want to make movies, shoot them on your phone. Because that's what you will do after spending 3 years here anyway.
Affordability
3.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
2.00 star(s)
Last edited by a moderator:
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CaptainJZH
CaptainJZH
heya, I'm in a similar boat as you, 3rd-year post-production track -- I've had a fairly good experience but that's because I sought out people who I could tell would be good collaborators but others in my track have had very poor experiences especially with how the directing track is overemphasized

the good (?) news is that next year they're officially doing away with the cine, screenwriting, post, etc. tracks altogether and just doing one singular "Live Action Filmmaking" track which according to the curriculum just looks like they just took the directing track and slapped a couple of screenwriting, cinematography and film studies courses in there

which I suppose is for the best since in my year, like, there's just 3 post students and 4 cinematographers, and like 20-30 directors, so they're recognizing that that's what most people want to go to film school for
The best English taught Film-making program in Rome.
Reviewed by: Alumni
I recently attended the Rome International Film School (RIFS) for both a year-long course and their summer program. It was a truly remarkable experience. I was in an environment that fostered creativity, collaboration, and personal growth.

One of the standout aspects of RIFS was the opportunity to connect with incredibly talented individuals. From fellow students to faculty members, I was constantly surrounded by a diverse and passionate community. It broadened my perspective on storytelling and technical expertise.

The Faculty at RIFS not only possessed extensive knowledge and experience in the industry but also had a genuine desire to see their students succeed. They were approachable, supportive, and always willing to go the extra mile to ensure we had the resources and guidance we needed to bring our creative visions to life. I made three short films at RIFS that I am genuinely proud of.

I highly recommend it to anyone who is passionate about pursuing a career in Filmmaking.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
Program going through a rough spell during my time, still good for some
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Film and Video Production
The main thing to understand is who this program can serve. It is for artist-filmmakers, especially those who work more independently in experimental nonfiction or analytical veins, interested in challenging conventions of filmmaking. Having a strong practice of working this way before will help. The program will help you develop your work conceptually more than practically. You will also come out with strong teaching experience, and ⚡no debt⚡. Perfect for those who match this profile and want to think of grad school as a residency.

I don't think it was a good fit for me personally. I came in with a fair amount of industry experience and a newer personal practice, and I went to grad school hoping to explore my voice and different process-based approaches. I think I would have benefitted from more active mentorship and a more robust community. I felt a bit isolated and unsure how to make work in this environment and shaken by some aggressive critiques. You have to bring your own energy and really be prepared to work by yourself.

A few caveats about my experience. COVID-19 really affected the program in many ways. Sense of community was down, morale across the department was down (it's worth noting that Iowa has become an increasingly red state, and this is a state school directly affected by state politics), mental health issues were on the rise, and enrollment was down. The program had also recently lost a key faculty member to Milwaukee, and really the program was down to 2 faculty and 7 MFAs across 3 years. By the second year of my MFA, we were down to 4 MFAs (2 graduated, 1 left, no new admits in the year following mine). I left before finishing my second year.

Here are my critiques:
The head of the program (for my time) is an incredible artist, not an incredible educator. There's a lot of personality to manage here. Some people manage better than others, depending on your own resiliency. He's a complex person with some real brilliance and exciting moments of insight and clarity, but he's very uneven. You will know if he supports you or not. It was always apparent that he was unhappy in his role, and that affected his students.

One of the things that drew me to this program is that it was far more diverse than others. However, the program completely failed to support the students it accepted. Faculty seem excited by international students and students of less conventional backgrounds, but don't take into consideration the challenges these demographics will have navigating grad school, especially the labyrinthine bureaucracy of an enormous state school, or even the structure of a critique. I think every student in my cohort felt confused about why we were accepted, we felt such a lack of interest and support once admitted.

I was attracted to the fact that Iowa has a more academic component—but you should consider what this means fully. Two film studies courses (which will require 10+ page papers), a comprehensive exam (a whole rigamarole with another 10-page paper) in your second year, and then a thesis paper to accompany your thesis work in your final year. I loved my film studies courses, but consider whether you want this degree of academics. These courses are also often challenging for international students in their first fully US context. I didn't get a lot of advising about the comprehensive exam process—for example, it would have helped to start collecting references in the first year. If you come from a more academic background this may be more obvious, but none of us really knew what a comprehensive exam even was—and it still doesn't make sense to me that this is what is required for thesis clearance, and no review of your film/creative work.

The program requires a certain number of film production courses, but for my time, these offerings were meager. The courses are primarily for undergraduates, with no different criteria or expectations for graduate students. This is especially weird when, as I said, I think the program best serves students with a degree of experience. Screenwriting classes will not count. Photo classes (which you may want to take for darkroom access since the department does not have its own) will not count, even though they will have a larger number of graduate students than your required film production classes. The cinematic arts department is very separate from the art school—even geographically separated by a river—which is a missed opportunity.

The program (or the graduate college?) is obsessed with your income. You are really not allowed to work outside of your fellowship/TA-ship, and the program will NOT turn a blind eye. Many of us found this to be a hardship, since this is real working experience we are not allowed to take. I will also say not paying for grad school is great, I wouldn't do it another way, but you are working for your pay, and you are not paid enough. MFAs are paid less than film studies students, and the wages are just above poverty levels. Iowa City is more expensive than you would think.

Here are some positives:
I made the most incredible community OUTSIDE of the program. This will probably be true for any small program, but I didn't realize how cool this would be. There is a beautiful group of artists drawn to Iowa, I met some of the most amazing people here, and got to collaborate with them in ways I never would have predicted. (Unfortunately, much of this work was "extra" to my requirements.)

Because it is a small community of filmmakers, there can be many more opportunities for those interested in working with other artists. PS One, a community arts space, is incredible.

All of the faculty are incredible filmmakers that I admire deeply. If you are independently proactive, you can get some decent face time with them.

The Writers Workshop, the most prestigious writing MFA in the country, is its own separate heaven, but you CAN take seminar classes, and these will count as electives. You might take these because there are brilliant writers and teachers leading them and you have the pleasure of enjoying them, and you might take them because they have absolutely zero requirements. One of the reasons I decided to go to Iowa was for this opportunity. It's another thing you will have to figure out how to navigate on your own, but I'd seriously recommend it.

There are Bolexes and Steenbecks and an Oxberry and a shitty Telecine and a couple of OK film studios and if you are the kind to figure things out for yourself, you can use these as much as you want, hardly anyone else is.

I understand that people in years prior to mine (or the two above me) had a better experience—I think the lost faculty made a big difference, but also just the particular make-up of the student body then. Some really great artists have come out of Iowa. My takeaway is the program matters less than the people (faculty and students). Research who is currently at the program. Ask current students to connect you with recent alumni who may give you a more honest picture. Realize that current MFAs of any program are partially trying to recruit people they think will improve their own experience.
--
I really hope the program turns around. They hired a new faculty who shows a great deal more interest in students. The last few years seem a little traumatic for the program, and I hope they reckon with it. Ultimately, I think my situation is just one of bad timing, but I couldn't stick it out.
Affordability
5.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
3.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
Anonymous is undecided about recommending this film school
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