6. Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television
The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University prides itself not only on its small class sizes (12:1 student to faculty ratio) but also its equitable student body, 49% of which is female.
This commitment to diversity is not just an advertising number, but a key part of the school’s teaching. In March of 2021, Associate Professor Miranda Banks moderated a roundtable on “Anti-Racist Film and Media Pedagogy,” in association with EDIT Media. The talk helped students think critically about the media they create and engage with, which gave direction to their future projects.
It’s projects such as these that help LMU-SFTV gain attention from observers. On the most recent lists, the school ranked 7th in the nation, according to both The Hollywood Reporter and Animation Career Review.
5. American Film Institute Conservatory
At the American Film Institute’s Conservatory, those who come to study are not just “students;” they are “fellows.” More than a mere quirk of nomenclature, the term fellows reflects the school’s approach to film study, which treats every member as a participant in a larger project. The fellows learn from one another, each improving the quality of the community as they hone their craft.
Over their two years in the program, fellows must work on several short films, with minimum oversight from faculty. In the creation of these projects, fellows experience a type of boot camp that introduces them to the essentials of filmmaking, including cinematography, directing, editing, and more.
As challenging as the program sounds, no one can argue with the results. Former AFI fellows include masters of the form such as Terrance Mallick, David Lynch, and Julie Dash.
4. California Institute of the Arts School of Film/Video
Founded in 1961, the California Institute of the Arts School of Film/Video has long been recognized as one of the world’s best film schools, especially for those studying animation. Not only did Walt Disney himself pick animators from Cal Arts forerunner Chouinard Art Institute, but the school trained many titans of the industry, including Brad Bird, Henry Selick, and John Musker.
Building on the work of these impressive graduates, Cal Arts works to advance the arts by emphasizing openness, experimentation, critical engagement, and creative freedom. “Through artistic practice,” declares the school’s motto, “we transform ourselves, each other, and the world.”
The school continues its history of excellence with initiatives such as the Herb Alpert Award in Arts, an unrestricted prize of $75,000 given every year to “risk-taking mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre, and the visual arts.” Past winners have included filmmakers Craig Baldwin and Sharon Lockart.