Film making is a competitive profession and entering the film industry well armored is no small task. To be able to stay in business with a firm footing and stay clearly ahead of all your competitors, it is advisable to be basically trained not only in the techniques of the job, but also learn the routes of staying in the job.
Hollywood, with its competitive standards, has created the need for formal training in film making. The "Big Five" film schools, mainly on the West Coast with a few exceptions on the East Coast are attractive passageways for film students looking forward to entering the Film Industry.
The Famous Five
Some of the top rated Film Schools in the country are On the West Coast, such as The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), The University of Southern California (USC) and The American Film Institute (AFI) along with The New York University (NYU) and Columbia University on the East Coast in
New York complete the big five.
Of the Big 5, each film school specializes in a certain field.
It's a win-win situation when every film school offers a great experience with quality education and established professionals from the industry for guest lectures. While UCLA is applauded for the screen writers it churns out, the USC is best known for its stalwart managers. AFI uses its army of cinematographers as its USP and their unique film making styles from the East Coast partnerships NYU their share of the acclaim. Columbia University is an all rounder with its outstanding film theory for each program.
The USC film department is run like a studio. This has both a good and a bad side to it. The department's graduate students compete for five thesis positions. Those who do not get selected to direct thesis projects assist as crew on the sets. USC has a great marketing and networking stamina and hence it markets its students very boldly to the Film Industry.
UCLA's Screenwriter's are its best bet. A standard UCLA student graduates with approximately 8 feature length screenplays. As per the norm while UCLA students write a feature length script within 10-week quarters (which is similar to an actual eight week writing assignment in the industry), USC student would finish the same task in 1 year. The difference is evident.
Although the Peter Stark producing program at USC suits film executives, the UCLA Producing Program is tailor made for creating industry ready producers.
AFI is much tougher than USC in its academic procedures. Beginning with its limited thesis positions, not all filmmakers are allowed a sophomore year at college. Getting accepted to any of these film schools is far more difficult than getting an admission to Harvard Law School, for the simple reason that Harvard has a higher percentage of student vacancies than the Big 5 film schools do.
Other Film Schools
Florida State University has equal vacancies for writers, directors, cinematographer and editors which facilitates team work for thesis projects. Temple University, Philadelphia is really good for experimental film makers and should definitely be on the lists of Film School applicants.
Depending on what one chooses to specialize in, when picking a film school, one should apply to the any of the above discussed film schools with single-minded determination and good preparation.