Which school is better to go into as a Film/Media Major? (UCSD,UCI,UCSC,CSULB,CSUN)

Leo Kato

New Member
I got accepted into UCSD (Visual art- Media), UCSC (Film and Media Practice), UCI (Film Studies), CSULB (Film Production), and CSUN (Cinema and TV- Multimedia Production). I am deciding on whether I should follow a path in Film production or in New Media and am hoping that these universities would help me towards one pathway. However, I checked all the schools I got accepted in and all of them have great explanations of the film/media courses they offer. But, I want to know which one is really worth the 4 year education and would like your point of view. I've had a lot of experience creating shot films and commercials during high school. I would like to further polish my filmmaking skills during college. On the other hand, I feel that New Media is the new wave for creative content and would like to explore that field as well. I really appreciate your opinion or advice on this matter. Thank you.
 

qsjourney

Member
Hey there! Been there so want to share my personal experience.

I'd say new media can be different from film, but most new media folks I met these days are film people. It's easy for young generation to make that transformation. Seems to me that the biggest concern here is not film vs. new media, but film studies vs. production.

I think it really depends on what you'd like to focus on - film theories/ cultural practices or film production. I have friends in UCSB, UCI and UCSD and I imagine their programs are pretty similar? (Maybe UCSD's is different, considering it's called Visual Art lol) It's a wonderful theory-based program, and you have to take one or two production classes in order to graduate. But other than that they have rather limited production resources (equipment, editing suites, production classes, etc.), so there's definitely room to improve in terms of production opportunities. Many students ended up making one or two short films in their 4-year study. Some of them are really good and you work with a very intimate and close crew. But know that lots of production programs ask students to make one or two short films per semester. So the production experience you gained from a production-centered program is gonna be drastically different from a theory-centered program.

That being said, there's no rule saying these two can't intertwine. Those are all great film programs and no matter which one you decide to go, I'm sure it's worth the experience! Plus you can always transfer - it's unbelievably common for film students!

Once you decide if you are more interested in theory or production, you should definitely try and see if you can communicate with a current student or a faculty/ admission member.

(One last thing- having a theoretical foundation as a filmmaker is extremely important. Even if you go with a production path I'd still suggest to take some theory classes if you can!)
 

Leo Kato

New Member
Hey there! Been there so want to share my personal experience.

I'd say new media can be different from film, but most new media folks I met these days are film people. It's easy for young generation to make that transformation. Seems to me that the biggest concern here is not film vs. new media, but film studies vs. production.

I think it really depends on what you'd like to focus on - film theories/ cultural practices or film production. I have friends in UCSB, UCI and UCSD and I imagine their programs are pretty similar? (Maybe UCSD's is different, considering it's called Visual Art lol) It's a wonderful theory-based program, and you have to take one or two production classes in order to graduate. But other than that they have rather limited production resources (equipment, editing suites, production classes, etc.), so there's definitely room to improve in terms of production opportunities. Many students ended up making one or two short films in their 4-year study. Some of them are really good and you work with a very intimate and close crew. But know that lots of production programs ask students to make one or two short films per semester. So the production experience you gained from a production-centered program is gonna be drastically different from a theory-centered program.

That being said, there's no rule saying these two can't intertwine. Those are all great film programs and no matter which one you decide to go, I'm sure it's worth the experience! Plus you can always transfer - it's unbelievably common for film students!

Once you decide if you are more interested in theory or production, you should definitely try and see if you can communicate with a current student or a faculty/ admission member.

(One last thing- having a theoretical foundation as a filmmaker is extremely important. Even if you go with a production path I'd still suggest to take some theory classes if you can!)
Hello! Thank you for your response. I found it very helpful.

I also have additional questions. If I were to go to a production pathway, in your opinion, which school would be a good choice to attend between CSULB, CSUN, and UCSC?

Also for your UCSD friend, I've taken a look at the UCSD Visual Arts website and found that there were fairly good amounts of production classes in media and film balanced with Theory classes. Although I'm aware of the limited amount of resources that are available at UCSD compared to the other big film schools, I would like to know if the quality of the production classes there are similar to the ones in CSULB or UCLA etc.?

Thank you.
 

qsjourney

Member
Hello! Thank you for your response. I found it very helpful.

I also have additional questions. If I were to go to a production pathway, in your opinion, which school would be a good choice to attend between CSULB, CSUN, and UCSC?

Also for your UCSD friend, I've taken a look at the UCSD Visual Arts website and found that there were fairly good amounts of production classes in media and film balanced with Theory classes. Although I'm aware of the limited amount of resources that are available at UCSD compared to the other big film schools, I would like to know if the quality of the production classes there are similar to the ones in CSULB or UCLA etc.?

Thank you.
You're very welcome. I am unfortunately not too familiar with the CSUs, but I've heard wonderful things about them. I have also worked with CSU alums on set and I know they're cool! I guess the cost of attendance is much lower than that of UCs and since the program is more production-focused, you'll get more hands-on experience? But again, I've only spent time in the UC system so I don't claim authority on this.

Have you been to all those campuses? I mean obviously now wouldn't be a good time to do campus tours, but I think you should definitely at least take a virtual tour or attend online greeting sessions (if they're holding these!) for all potential schools. UCSD has a beautiful, beautiful campus and it's super close to the ocean and beachside. A very impressive library too.

One thing to also consider is if you like to explore more outside of your program. For example, maybe you'd like to do a semester abroad? Or if you want to take a very specific class/ a famous class taught by a renowned scholar? Those are all things to take into consideration. For example, UC has a wonderful Education Abroad Program that takes you to Locarno Film Festival :)

As much as I would like to offer more insight on production classes at SD, LA and CSULB, I don't think I can really give you an answer haha. It's one of those things that you have to actually see and experience for yourself because no one has attended all three schools and is able to offer a definite answer (well even if one does, it would be a subjective answer!). I think you should be happy in terms of where you are right now because no matter which program you end up choosing, you'll be surrounded by wonderful peers and inspiring professors as they are all top-tier film programs in the nation.
 

bjustman

Member
I got accepted into UCSD (Visual art- Media), UCSC (Film and Media Practice), UCI (Film Studies), CSULB (Film Production), and CSUN (Cinema and TV- Multimedia Production). I am deciding on whether I should follow a path in Film production or in New Media and am hoping that these universities would help me towards one pathway. However, I checked all the schools I got accepted in and all of them have great explanations of the film/media courses they offer. But, I want to know which one is really worth the 4 year education and would like your point of view. I've had a lot of experience creating shot films and commercials during high school. I would like to further polish my filmmaking skills during college. On the other hand, I feel that New Media is the new wave for creative content and would like to explore that field as well. I really appreciate your opinion or advice on this matter. Thank you.
For undergrad, it depends which program suits you. Trad on-set film/tv prod is still the gold standard. I'd start with CSUN or CSULB, because they're both production curriculums, and you'll get lots of on-set experience and probably new media experience. One of my classmates in grad school got her film studies degree at the U of Missouri, but the program offered little hands-on experience. There are other programs as well - Columbia School of Broadcasting, New York Film Academy also. When you graduate, and look for a job, employers dont care where you went to school. And that's a big point - you do NOT want to graduate undergrad with tons of loans. Attending a Cal State U or a UC school will really help you graduate w minimal debt. For grad school, I got accepted into CSUN but chose Loyola b/c of the esteemed tv writing program. Remember that life isn't over after graduation. You can always go back and take classes at, say, UCLA's Extension program. Many of my employers recommend that program and it's actually what got me my most steady job in the industry.

Make sure you take screenwriting courses. You'll learn why character is important and how to tell an interesting story. Anyone can make a movie, but if no one likes you characters or roots for them, your film won't get far. My undergrad is from MSU-Bozeman in film/tv prod and English double major, and I got my MFA in Writing and Producing for TV at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.

Lastly, move near the school you want to attend. Los Angeles traffic is horrible, and you dont want to be stuck 20 miles from your school and facing an hour and a half one-way commute to class. When you start doing internships, you'll want to be in the LA area so you are close to the industry.
 

Leo Kato

New Member
Thank you very much for your response! I would also like to ask if you know how good the UCI Digital Filmmaking minor? UCI is more theory based and the minor is the only thing that they offer that resembles a film production course.
 

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