For those of you who are ready to become the next Scorsese, Spielberg, or Tarantino, you may want to consider attending one of the nation's top film schools. These institutions will allow you to hone your craft in a supportive environment, and never underestimate the power of all the contacts you'll make. Whatever the school specializes in film studies or is part of a larger campus, you can be sure that these programs will meet all the needs of an aspiring director.
Vanderbilt University – Established in 1873, Vanderbilt provides a degree program with an emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Numerous film festivals and contests are held for students, and courses range from film theory to the cultural rhetoric of film. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, which is known as the "Athens of the South" due to their large number of higher education centers.
UCLA – Also known as the University of California – Los Angeles, UCLA has long boasted one of the top film programs in the nation. Their film and television archive is second to none, and numerous workshops and seminars are held annually to allow their students to further develop their skills. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered, and students will learn everything from film theory to the more technical aspects. The cost is not cheap, but UCLA provides hopeful filmmakers with an elite education.
NYU – New York University allows students a chance to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, or PhD in the field of cinema. One of the oldest film schools in the United States, NYU also offers study in the fields of television, video art, and online entertainment. There's a massive video library to peruse, and students can also travel as far away as Shanghai thanks to the many summer internship programs.
University of Southern California – Also known as USC, this top school allows students to create their own short films, interact with industry professionals, and study near the heart of the entertainment industry. Those pursuing an undergraduate degree will be exposed to all facets of filmmaking, and dedicated professional can stay on to obtain a graduate or doctorate degree. Their facilities are unparallel, with massive sound stages, digital classrooms, and even places to develop your animation skills.
Web Film School – While there's no campus to attend or textbooks to purchase, that does not mean that the Web Film School is not packed with practical information. Focusing on areas often neglected at a four-year university, this program hosted by Dov Simens will guide you through the complexities of raising funds, finding a distributor, and negotiating contracts. Available on DVD or over the Internet, the program has been used and approved by such notables as Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Will Smith.
That concludes our look at the top film schools in the United States, but please keep in mind that many other institutions also exist. If you do not see your state listed, a quick search of the Internet should turn up the filmmaking programs located in your area.