From the American Film Institute to France's La Femis, see which institutions made The Hollywood Reporter's inaugural list. Among the most selective film schools in America, AFI's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies in Los Angeles offers a two-year conservatory program where students specialize in fields including directing, producing and writing, often coming to the institute after working in the industry or having attended other schools. The richest film school in the world (alum George Lucas contributed $175 million, and alum Robert Zemeckis has given a bundle, too), USC probably has more graduates working in the industry than any other school and has the greatest support from the industry itself, with 10,000-plus alums who routinely donate millions for state-of-the-art facilities -- and notable support from non-graduate Steven Spielberg. TUITION Program fees range from $1,240 to $1,550 for local students; international students pay $6,665 to $7,905 per year for film programs. To study film in New York is to plunge into the belly of a very different beast than Hollywood, but for gritty artists like Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, NYU has proved a direct route to the top. UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television has long suffered in comparison with its richer and more industry-connected rival USC, but its vibe is distinctly different, with a multicultural campus that ranks among the best in California. DEGREES BFA in animation, art direction, cinematography, directing, editing and sound, producing and screenwriting. Lodz, as the school is typically called, has produced virtually all the elder statesmen of Polish cinema -- Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Skolimowski, Krzysztof Zanussi and the late Krzysztof Kieslowski came out of the facility, which was established in 1948. Syracuse's Department of Transmedia conveniently includes filmmaking, computer art (animation and visual effects) and video art all in one place. Even by Stanford standards, the MFA in documentary film and video program is exclusive: Eight students a year make movies the old-school way, on 16mm. Originally a Boston school of oratory, Emerson now boasts filmmakers and writers who are heard loud and clear in Los Angeles, where it's building a big satellite campus.
UWM is far from the coastal film capitals, but its small program trains mainstream talents -- its grads shot nearly 100 episodes of CSI. The 134-year-old RISD's Film, Animation and Video program trains grads in all three disciplines before they choose one.
The Art and Theory of Cinematography course is part of AFI’s cinematography masters program, instructed by Tal Lazar. The cinematographer stands at a crossroad between two worlds: An extremely technical one, and an artistic and creative one. For more information about AFI’s cinematography program visit The AFI Conservatory website. Its Peter Stark Producing Program, under The Graduate producer Larry Turman, remains the premier venue for aspiring producers and execs. Partial and full scholarships are available based on need and merit and are awarded on an individual basis.


Where else can you sit in a class of 12 and hear alum James Franco teach you how to turn a poem into a movie?
Created in 1946 when Prague was behind the Iron Curtain, it helped develop such iconoclastic filmmakers as Milos Forman, Ivan Passer, Agnieszka Holland, Emir Kusturica and Jiri Menzel and served as a hub for student rebels during Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.
Schamus, the head of Focus Features (who recently completed a doctorate on Carl Theodor Dreyer), is just one of the feathers in this Ivy League university's cap. But they might be surprised to learn that Wesleyan's Film Studies program is giving those two a run for their money, with a tight-knit group of alumni that includes Michael Bay, Akiva Goldsman, Joss Whedon, Larry Mark and Rick Nicita. Academically rigorous, the UNC School of the Arts is a plunge into film in collaboration with drama, music, dance, design and production studies and a 65-piece orchestra. With South by Southwest and a thriving indie scene swirling around them, they churn out work in a professional TV studio, two soundstages and digital picture, audio, editing and postproduction suites.
After the fall of Communism, Lodz expanded and acquired modern film equipment, and the acting department was revamped to stay in step with new media and the changing times -- actors were taught simultaneously to work in theater, film and television. When student Denis Leary asked a professor if he could perform his own scripts, the professor said, "It's Emerson! At the Sarasota, Fla., campus, you direct commercials your first year, documentaries the second, narratives the third and a thesis your fourth.
It is the cinematographer’s jo to balance between the two, to be a non-compromising technician and a sensitive artist who is alert to subtleties which elude others.
Comparing it to cross-town rivals UCLA and USC is a bit of apples-and-oranges, given its small size and emphasis on specialization, but AFI's glittering parade of alumni, from David Lynch to Darren Aronofsky, remains unrivaled when it comes to auteur filmmakers. The school is  a source of new talent for film and TV production and closely linked with the nearby Beijing Film Studio. Graduates also vie for a $200,000 prize to complete a debut feature film -- a gift no other school offers. With classes in Czech and English, its reputation is still strong enough that it draws many foreigners to its nine departments (ranging from still photography to documentaries to screenwriting), something helped by partnerships with NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, American University and Yale, all of which offer study-abroad programs there. They and others were drawn to the Middletown, Conn.-based university not just because of the cozy feeling or its tradition in the liberal arts but largely because of the reputation of film department founder Jeanine Basinger, who makes each of her 80 film majors learn to write, direct and edit a movie by hand (yes, they learn digital, too) as well as study other subjects to enrich their films.
That's now changed, but the NFTS has retained the stature that went with it despite a Beaconsfield location (away from the hub of filmmaking in London) and, until recently, dirt-poor facilities. The school has continued to expand by establishing new departments such as production, editing, script writing, photography, digital technology and TV journalism. The new Incubator Lab matches students with real-world mentors for 18 months after graduation -- and funds one winning project.


This course gives the students the necessary skills to plan and manipulate an image on set and in post. Students are guaranteed the freedom to make a thesis film and are given access to SAG members for their casts and $13,500 in financing. It's also the place where such directors as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige -- the ones who created arguably the most distinct new wave of filmmaking since America in the early 1970s -- cut their teeth. All degree programs are conducted in Chinese, though international students may take some courses in English or study Chinese at the Film Academy. In addition to its New York campus, Tisch School of the Arts Asia, located in Singapore, offers MFA degrees in animation and digital arts, dramatic writing and film production. CalArts-spawned geniuses like John Lasseter and Tim Burton can do more than draw -- they can draw on the artistic talents around them.
Then there's a staff that includes Barbara De Fina (Goodfellas) and Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding). Of course, if they want to know about movies, they can turn to Wesleyan's archive, which includes the papers of Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese, Federico Fellini and Clint Eastwood.
Screenwriters mix with poets and fiction writers in the nationally ranked Michener Center MFA program.
More socially conscious than most, LMU film professors mentor inner-city teens each summer, and some win scholarships. News and World Report called it America's Most Wired Campus, and digital animation is strong. The students will become aware of the story behind the images and what they are really saying.
Names like these give Columbia intellectual credentials that dwarf its peers and have helped attract such alumni as Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko, James Mangold and Kimberly Peirce -- not necessarily Hollywood's most commercial filmmakers, but always among its most original. That has provided avenues for such graduates as cinematographer Roger Deakins and directors Lynne Ramsey, Nick Broomfield and David Yates. Will it remain that way under its new chair, Fine Line Features founder and indie exec Ira Deutchman? Deutchman insists on story and collaboration -- two Hollywood ideals -- yet stresses the importance of the artist.



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