The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Top 25 Film Schools of 2013
USC boasts a new Interactive Media Building; AFI counters it's got James L. Brooks as its new artistic director. In its third annual ranking, THR surveys the nation's top institutions as they compete to turn out Oscar winners.
11. Boston University
"Traditional boundaries are crumbling," says BU Film & Television chair Paul Schneider, "so we did away with the silos." Instead of making students choose between film and TV, now all of the undergrads are film, TV and new media students with equal access to the full range of courses. BU also is breaking geographic boundaries with its Los Angeles program, which hit an all-time high of 91 students per semester. And its graduate Media Ventures program held its July project Pitchfest at the L.A. campus for the first time, giving students a chance to woo Yahoo, AOL and HBO. BU awards students who cross the country a T-shirt that reads: "Mom. Dad. I'm bi-coastal."
► Tuition: $43,970 graduate
► Notable Alumni: Producer Bonnie Arnold (How to Train Your Dragon), producer Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland), producer Debbie Liebling (Comedy Central/South Park)
12. University of North Carolina School of the Arts
UNCSA School of Filmmaking marks its 20th year with a new Animation/Production Design and Gaming building. UNCSA resembles a miniature studio lot -- it inspired Matthew Weiner to direct his first film, the upcoming You Are Here, in the school's hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. New faculty include Patrick Read Johnson (Dragonheart exec producer), animator Stephen Baker (Lilo & Stitch) and Bob Keen (Hellraiser makeup effects designer). Thirty-five UNCSA alums were represented at this year's Sundance Film Festival. And less than two years after graduating, writer Vera Herbert sold her first feature, Don't Make Me Go, to Big Beach, and her first pilot, Blink, to The CW, where it was directed by drama alum Peter Hedges. Says Mud director Jeff Nichols, "I wouldn't be the same filmmaker if I had not attended UNCSA."
► Tuition: $8,271 undergraduate ($21,416 out-of-state)
► Notable Alumni: Writer Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express)
13. Northwestern University
Where did Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who just earned her 14th Emmy nomination, beating Lucille Ball's record, and manager-producer Ken Kamins, currently working with Peter Jackson on The Hobbit franchise, get their start? Evanston, Ill.'s Northwestern, where the Radio-Television-Film curriculum is integrated into the School of Communication. It doesn't hurt graduates' prospects that the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance (NUEA), aka "the Purple Mafia," has become part of the L.A. and New York industry scenes. From Warren Beatty to Zach Braff to Jimmy Fallon's Late Night replacement Seth Meyers, the Northwestern crowd looks out for each other. Alum John Logan, the Tony-winning triple Oscar nominee, is now writing the next Bond film as well as Showtime's Penny Dreadful.
► Tuition: $45,120 undergraduate; $39,000 MFA screenwriting
► Notable Alumni: Sherry Lansing, Stephen Colbert
14. Columbia College Chicago
One of the country's largest private nonprofit arts and media colleges, it offers about 2,000 students almost 200 film and video classes in cinematography, sound and both traditional and digital animation. CCC's new Comedy Performance and Writing program requires students to spend one semester training with the venerable troupe at Chicago's nearby Second City, the famous comedy club/theater. Program coordinator Anne Libera says that the school emphasizes creative cross-training and includes courses in its Television, Arts, Entertainment and Media Management departments.
► Tuition: $22,132 undergraduate; $1,042 per credit for MFA in film and video
► Notable Alumni: Actor Scott Adsit (30 Rock), actress Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live), rapper-actor Common, cinematographer Michael Goi
15. Art Center College of Design
In a metropolis with the world's highest concentration of top-tier film schools, Pasadena's Art Center distinguishes itself with faculty who are all industry professionals teaching part-time while keeping their fingers on what's popular. Rush Hour screenwriter Ross LaManna, who recently became chair of both the undergrad and grad programs, has embarked on increasing the synergies among the programs and aggressively placing interns in top companies (The Weinstein Co., Marvel, Appian Way). "We just converted a 5,000-square-foot photo stage into a soundstage, doubling filmmakers' space," he says. "There's an intense visual aesthetic," says board member Greg Silverman, Warners' newly named president of creative development and worldwide production. "The students' work shows how design can be central to all thinking processes." Says cinematographer and teacher Affonso Beato, who created the school's stereoscopic 3D cinematography program and lab as well as an iPad app that calculates 3D shooting distances, "You're immersed in visual design here." Unlike some schools where competitiveness rules, Art Center emphasizes compassion and teamwork, but that doesn't mean the pressure doesn't get intense. Alum Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) told students the school's attrition rate "was like Vietnam." But he bonded in the trenches with Larry Fong, his cinematographer on 300. In May, alum John X. Carey directed Dove's most watched Internet commercial, and Michael Sucsy, known for HBO's Grey Gardens, got a deal to direct the feisty cheerleader movie Dare Me.
► Tuition: $35,980 undergraduate; $38,026 graduate
► Notable Alumni: Directors Michael Bay and Tarsem Singh