If you ask most people where movies are made, they’ll all probably give you the same answer: Hollywood!
But the truth of the matter is more complicated, as films are actually filmed worldwide, from Marvel Studios in Atlanta to the legendary Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. In fact, you can shoot a movie in any place that has actors and a camera.
That’s also true of film schools, which is why you’ll find so many great programs in London, England.
Located in the heart of the UK film industry, these schools offer everything a budding filmmaker needs. Not only will you find teachers with years of practical experience and fully-appointed studios, complete with state-of-the-art technologies, but you’ll also get some wonderful shooting locations.
More importantly, the many London film schools give you access to other filmmakers and actors, providing a creative community needed to bring celluloid dreams to life. By bringing together other people with a passion for movies, these schools give students the chance to redefine British cinema.
As you might expect, each of the schools on this list has its own cultures and standards. Not every school is suitable for all students, so it’s essential to find the right one for you. This list covers the qualities and approach of each of London’s best schools, pointing you in the right direction for your future film career.
Here are our picks for 10 of the best film schools in London.
Central Film School
Although formed as recently as 2008, the Central Film School has already positioned itself as one of the best places to study film in London. In under 15 years, the school has trained Austrian filmmaker Kim Strobl, whose debut feature Madison was distributed by Filmladen and SP Distribution, and Bollywood filmmaker Zaid Ali Khan, director of the sports picture Khwaabb.
Thanks to a partnership with the Bertha Foundation, the school has recently increased its attention on documentary features. A philanthropic organization, the Bertha Foundation works to draw attention to critical social issues. Working in this program, students can create films with real-world importance.
Likewise, the school helps students break into the industry with its regular Professional Perspectives talks. These presentations bring in filmmakers such as director Nick Hornby and script supervisor Dawn Gilliam. The Q&A sessions give students practical advice about the actual work of movie-making.
London Film Academy
The London Film Academy got its start in 2001 as a non-profit to provide basic training and filmmaking.
Since 2006, the Academy has enjoyed a partnership with Club Panico, the collective created by patrons such as Sir Ben Kingsley and Terry Gilliam. Through this connection, students have career paths into the industry.
Current tutors working at LFA include David Pope, who has worked as a script consultant on films produced worldwide and who directed the feature film Miles From Nowhere.
Cinematographer Andrew Speller also teaches at LFA, bringing the knowledge he gained while working on Hollywood blockbusters such as Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Made of Honor.
For those looking to gain practical knowledge without pursuing a full-term program, LFA offers a number of short courses. These courses run from one day to six weeks and provide certification in topics such as advanced filmmaking and documentary filmmaking.
London South Bank University
There are many things that one wants in a film school, including knowledgeable tutors and a supportive student body. But one of the most essential things that film schools can provide is resources. On that point, London South Bank University is one of the best places to learn filmmaking.
The school’s Elephant Studios was built at the cost of several million pounds. The price was high, but well worth it, as the Studios include a soundstage, a newsroom, photography studios, editing suites, and more.
Within Elephant Studios is a dedicated film studio, with everything a budding director needs to create a professional feature. The large performance space also includes a lighting grid and a DMX lighting control, with a green screen available. To help performers prepare for their roles, the studio also has a green room for applying make-up and making wardrobe changes.
University of West London
While every school on this list will teach you the basics of filmmaking, the University of West London provides specialized training for those who want to approach moviemaking from various directions.
Undergraduates at the University can take courses in film and screen business, English and film, and content, media, and film production. In other words, the University allows students to study film from a business perspective, a literary perspective, or a practical perspective. Each of these programs takes three years and prepares graduates for a satisfying career in various aspects of media production.
At the University of West London, students learn from experts such as Professor Garin Dowd. In 2003, Professor Dowd published an academic monograph about the French director Leos Carax. Professor Dowd’s research focuses on the role of film as a modern storytelling method.
University of Westminster
Some people may consider film to be a degree pursued by starry-eyed dreamers with no practical value.
But 90% of those who graduated from the BA Honours film program at the University of Westminster find full-time work or advanced study in the industry within 15 months of graduation.
Graduates have gone on to be art assistants, VFX supervisors, and casting assistants on Hollywood features and events broadcast around the world.
Course director Tania Diez has over two decades’ worth of experience working for BBC, Channel 4, ITV, and more. Her work has been nominated for a BAFTA and recognized for multiple other awards.
With connections with Diez and other industry professionals, the University of Westminster is uniquely qualified to create the next generation of filmmakers, television directors, and production personnel of every type.
Goldsmiths, University of London
Housed within the Department of Media, Communications, and Cultural Studies, the Screen School at Goldsmiths, University of London takes a forward-looking approach to the study of filmmaking and media production.
With degrees such as a BA (Honours) in media & communication and an MA in filmmaking with focuses on editing, cinematography, and more, the Screen School equips students with everything they need to make the visual content of their dreams.
Tutors at Goldsmiths include Senior Lecturer Dr. Daisy Asquith, a filmmaker with more than two decades of professional experience.
Dr. Asquith has made documentaries for outlets such as the BBC, BFI, Channel 4, and more. Furthermore, Dr. Asquith has served on juries for awarding bodies such as BAFTA, the London Film Festival, and others.
With over fifteen years of experience in video production and editing, Senior Tutor Tassia Kobylinska teaches a variety of classes within the department. Kobylinska’s work includes documentaries produced for the public and charity sectors, including NGOs worldwide.
University of East London
Like all of the other schools on this list, the University of East London boasts a fully-featured film program, which gives students tools to work in all aspects of media production. But the University also devotes attention to the academic study of film and media.
The Moving Image Research Centre (MIRC) supports researchers and filmmakers who want to examine the history and meaning of moving images. Within the Centre, one will find a black box studio and pre/post-production spaces to create and display their own work.
But the Centre also serves as a vital hub for scholars studying moving images. Research areas include historiography, counter-cultural cinema, Deleuze studies, and more.
International students at the University of East London are served by the MIRC’s Malvern House Pathway Programmes. Working alongside the Pathway Programmes, counselors ensure that transfer students are given the proper accreditation to keep focused on their film studies.
MET Film School
A world-class media school with film, television, and online media programs, the MET Film School focuses on practical skills and application.
Both of MET Film’s two London locations are housed in world-famous film studios. Ealing Studios houses the main London Campus, allowing students to participate in creating shows such as Downton Abbey, Black Mirror, and the Edgar Wright film Last Night in Soho. The secondary London school offers six-month courses at Garden Studios, an innovative campus that emphasizes new media and online production.
MET Film operates in conjunction with MET Film Productions, a professional production company. Recent films produced by MET Film include the award-winning Misha and the Wolves, directed by Sam Hobkinson, and Jerry Rothwell’s unique documentary Donor Unknown. Students in the MET Film School have worked on every MET Film production, giving them real experience.
London Film School
Founded in 1956 as the London School of Film Technique, the London Film School is the oldest dedicated film school in the United Kingdom. According to outlets such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the London Film School is not just one of the top film schools in London, but one of the best in the world.
London Film School alumni include the legendary cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Fujimoto has worked with the most influential directors of his day, including Jonathan Demme, Terrence Malik, and M. Night Shyamalan. He was the director of photography on classics such as The Silence of the Lambs, Miami Blues, and Devil in a Blue Dress.
After earning his MA from London Film School, director Michael Mann went on to make films such as Thief, Heat, and The Last of the Mohicans. The visual approach Mann learned at the School has defined crime cinema.
King’s College London
The Department of Film Studies at King’s College London is a leader in the academic approach to cinema studies. The research and studies produced by the Department drive the criticism and reception of films from across the world.
The College built this reputation thanks to the work of its amazing faculty members. Professor of Film Studies Chris Berry earned his Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles. His monographs on TransAsian Screen Cultures and Queer Asia were published by Hong Kong University Press.
Dr. Belén Vidal holds a Ph.D. in Film Studies from Glasgow University and currently serves as Senior Lecturer at King’s College London.
She has written several monographs on film, which have been published by Columbia University Press, Amsterdam University Press, and Routledge. Dr. Vidal was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for her project on Spanish cinema.