Schooling Film

Written by Eric Kohn on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

Film school has always been a sketchy
proposition. Attendance can be as costly as the budget for a small film, and
the educational value of attending classes to learn things you could ostensibly
pick up on your own or through apprenticeships means that the whole experience
could amount to a waste of time. For the right person, however, film school
offers the ideal entry point to comprehending the craft and the industry. There
are numerous educational opportunities for budding filmmakers in New York
City—some more noteworthy than others. If you’re looking at your choices, here
are a few that merit some consideration.

Tisch School of the Arts at New York

Scorsese went there—but so did Brett Ratner.
NYU’s well-founded role in feeding a diverse crowd of filmmaking talent into
the world speaks not only to its vast influence and historical definition, but
also the discordance of the environment. Nanette Burstein’s 2004 reality series
Film School provides a keen window
into the frustrations of NYU’s highly competitive graduate program, where
filmmakers of various ages and ethnicities take advantage of the school’s
massive technical resources and often fail. But for every missed opportunity,
there’s a groundbreaking work that manages to get noticed by the right people.
The three-year M.F.A. program provides the usual mixture of courses in
craftsmanship and creative thinking, but the more intriguing opportunity lies
with the school’s MBA/MFA dual degree program in producing, now in its third

Ghetto Film School


Predominantly aimed at teenagers with minority
backgrounds, the Ghetto Film School is one of the more unique educational
programs in the country, creating opportunities for young filmmakers whose work
might otherwise go unnoticed. Based in the South Bronx, the school boasts
support from high-profile filmmakers including Spike Jonze and Lee Daniels. It
also recently partnered with the Cinema School, a new public high school
dedicated to the filmmaking craft that opened at East 172nd
Street in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

The Film Program at Columbia University’s
School of the Arts

Positioned as a rival to NYU, the Columbia
University School of the Arts’ Film Division has plenty of reasons to stand out
in the crowd, starting with its faculty. The school’s staff includes a broad
range of accomplished filmmakers with firm ties to local and international film
culture, including Bette Gordon, Tom Kalin, Mira Nair and Ramin Bahrani. Famous
alumni? Everyone from Kathryn Bigelow to Peter Farrelly. Generally acknowledged
as a haven for aspiring screenwriters, Columbia requires students to work on
each other’s projects, encouraging a collaborative, rather than overtly
competitive, approach.

New York Film Academy

You’ve probably seen the subway ads for this
factory of a film school, where students can take individual courses or
complete a two-year M.F.A. program in production. As NYFA also has a location
in Universal City, Calif., students looking for a highly immersive experience
may be let down by the school’s commercial nature, but most alumni say that
technical classes will get the job done if that’s all you need to know. Learn
to shoot and cut your film; just don’t expect a fun ride while doing so.