So what are the best film schools in the USA for screenwriters? (Perhaps a better way to put it is would be: what are the best ways for me to rack up close to 120k in staggering student loan debt while learning the craft of screenwriting?)

Well…here is my very non-scientific and highly subjective list of the best film schools in the good old United States of America.

Transcript of Video Below:

Hi there, it’s Michael from ScriptBully magazine and in this short video I’ll go over the best film schools in USA where you can learn the craft of film and rack up huge amounts of student loan debt.

What do the best film schools have in common? Besides….being a great way to max out your visa card? They teach pro-level skills and (hopefully) set you up to actually make money working in the film business.

But how do you know whether a film school is worth the financial debt? Well…a big clue is how many working alumni do they actually have.

So here is my somewhat, though not entirely, scientific list of the top 5 best film schools in good old America.

At No.5 is…CalArts.

Originally founded by Walt Disney, probably as a way to find cheap animation talent he could exploit, this school is probably the most alternative of the bunch. And that’s because the opera class is right next to the directing seminar which is right next to 3-d animation department.

It’s a very collegial and cool campus atmosphere, even if the buildings are a bit on the…uh..dated side.

Graduates include John Lasseter of Pixar and Tim Burton. (I wonder if he had the same hair back then. Hmmm.)

Up next at No.4 is UCLA.

Often dwarfed by its cross town rival USC, the strength of UCLA is really in its faculty. We’re talking big wigs like William Froug, Lew Hunter, Richard Walter, Peter Guber. (All of whom whose books you should read.)

Seriously. Go read them.

There’s also a strong emphasis on classic storytelling. (Not as much risk-taking here as at other schools like Cal Arts.) But the goal is clear: get skills that will get you work.

And it’s also the cheapest school on the list. (Which can be nice when you’re carrying close to 100k in debt.)

Next up for No.3… let’s head to the East Coast for Tisch School of Arts at NYU

The alumni who’ve come out of Tisch are astounding. We’re talking Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Vince Gilligan (guy who created my favorite show “Breaking Bad”), Charlie Kaufman, Scrosese…the list goes on.

My personal opinion, and from people I’ve spoken with, is that it’s a fantastic breeding ground for directors and producers. (Maybe just a bit less so for feature writers. Though a TON of TV drama writers come out of here. ) But you could do a whole lot worse than spending your days and nights in Greenwich Village.

I could have really done either of these for no.1.

But my No.2 is AFI (American Film Institute.)

This one is really, really hard to get into. Unlike a traditional university, which has a film department. This is an instiutue with one purpose, create the best filmmakers they can.

Students here tend to be older, average age I think is 27. (So you won’t find any annoying 22 year olds who think they know everything.)

And It’s a 2-year program, which is really all about specialization. Meaning you’re going to work your ass off in your specifc field, not taking othe classes to broaden your education.

Alums include Susannah Grant, Paul Schrader and David Lynch. (Man what I wouldn’t have paid to have been in a class with David Lynch.)

And  the No.1 Film School in the Us according to my super not scienfic opinion is….USC

That’s right the University of Spoiled Children…I mean Univirsity of SOuthern California.

Ironically they are a bit more alternative in their emphasis, especially in their screenwriting programs. No paint-by-numbers Syd Field craft here.

Alums? Who didn’t graduate from here? Ron Howard, George Lucas, Steven Fricking’ Spielberg, Judd Apatow…. and way way too many more to name.

So..there you go. There are FIVE great ways to blow close to a hundred thousand dollars and (possibly) set yourself up for a great career in the film business.

If you’ve liked this video, please leave a comment or question below and facebook like it or tweet it. and if you’d like a free copy of my eBook 7 secrets of a kick ass and marketable screenplay head over to scriptbully.com for a free copy.

Good luck with your film career. And I’ll see at David Lynch’s house. Bye. richest and they think they’re best. (And they probably are.)

Ironically they are a bit more alternative in their emphasis, especially in their screenwriting programs. No paint-by-numbers Syd Field craft here.

Alums? Who didn’t graduate from here? Ron Howard, George Lucas, Steven Fricking’ Spielberg, Judd Apatow…. and way way too many more to name.

So..there you go. There are FIVE great ways to blow close to a hundred thousand dollars and (possibly) set yourself up for a great career in the film business.

Good luck with your film career. And I’ll see at David Lynch’s house. Bye.

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2 Responses

  1. Matt

    This was your best video yet! Really informative and entertaining. “The Yankees of film school” — classic.

    Go Bruins!

    Reply
  2. Opal Mehta

    What about film schools that are not in the United States? How do they rank and what do they cost?

    Reply

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