A Guide to the Top Film Schools in New York

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Are you an aspiring filmmaker or movie producer looking to launch your career, but you’re not quite sure where to begin?

We know that determining which film school or program is the best fit for your specific needs can be overwhelming.

So, we compiled this breakdown of the best film schools in NYC that you can attend to pursue studies in film. This list of the top film schools in New York and beyond will hopefully provide some assistance as you search for the school and program that best meets your needs.

New York University

New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film & Television is a well-established school with a fantastic reputation across both the American and global film industries.

Two of the film degrees that New York University offers are Cinema Studies and Film and Television Studies degrees.

The cost of tuition can range from $65,000-$85,000, depending on the program you choose and your living arrangements.

Cinema Studies is a four-year program. There are four tiers of the program, and each year students complete one tier. While completing this program, students will learn about film theory, film history, and how to analyze cinema from a variety of critical perspectives.

The Undergraduate Degree in Film and Television Studies is also a four-year program. Its curriculum involves learning about a wide variety of different cinematic disciplines to ensure that students will graduate with a well-versed knowledge of film.

These disciplines include acting, animation, screenwriting, directing, sound production, and much more. Some of the instructors that students may be working with include Gay Abel-Bey, Sharon Badal, and Michael Burke.

One of the additional benefits of New York University is that the school offers a program for high school students who harbor an interest in the film.

An array of the industry’s most influential filmmakers have graduated from New York University, including Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Ang Lee, Dee Rees, Tamara Jenkins, Debra Granik, Jim Jarmusch, and Chloé Zhao.

New York University’s film programs are a great way to immerse yourself in the film industry. Students at the film school complete over 5,000 film projects each year.

Ithaca College

Ithaca College offers a bachelor’s degree in Film, Photography, and Visual Arts. It is a four-year program for students in pursuit of a degree in a broad range of all media forms, such as film, photography, video, and fine arts.

The cost of undergraduate tuition is roughly $44,000.

This program is widely known as a pioneer of video production schools. Ithaca is consistently innovating and pushing the envelope with silent films, graphics, and music.

In Ithaca’s program, students get to jump right into the curriculum. Freshman year begins with photography and film production classes. You even have a chance to learn in an authentic television studio.

During the program, students have the opportunity to create many different types of film and media. As their degree progresses, they go on to learn more about video production in addition to other areas in the fine arts, such as 2D design and drawing.

Janice Levy is the program director who students may find themselves working with while attending Ithaca.

Some notable graduates of Ithaca College are David Boreanaz, David Muir, and Robert Iger (the latter of whom is the Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company).

Pratt Institute

Image: Alexander Severin

Known as a school that is rapidly growing, Pratt Institute’s Film/Video program is the perfect place to go to gain true insight into the viewpoints of working professionals in the film biz.

The cost of tuition to attend the Pratt Institute is roughly $52,000 for an undergraduate degree. This is relatively low for a film school in New York City.

Pratt Institute’s Film and Video Undergraduate program covers a wide variety of moving images and art forms. The intent is to enable students to expand their creativity, as well as their comprehension of traditional and non-traditional forms of film and media production.

A portion of the film and video curriculum is carried out in a workshop setting. Students learn via movie screenings, technical demonstrations, and critiques. The culmination of the program is a senior project as well as a sample reel of the student’s work.

As a student in the program, you may find yourself working alongside instructors such as Perry Bard, Dianne Bellino, and Jacob Burckhardt.

Pratt Institute has had some students who have gone on to become very influential figures in the film industry graduate from its halls. Some of the esteemed graduates include Robert Redford, Betsey Johnson, and Jeremy Scott.

Vassar College

Vassar is esteemed for its film major. The program offers both film studies and film production. The college also puts quite a bit of emphasis on the film studies portion of the program, covering the history of cinema and film theory. This is one factor that sets them apart from more production-heavy programs.

The program curriculum covers film methodology as well as screenwriting techniques.

Based on the full list of curriculum courses that the program provides, there are classes that cover a broad range of topics, including sight and sound, film research thesis, and cinema modes.

The cost of tuition is around $56,000.

Gina Abatemarco is the adjunct instructor in film, Sophia Harvey is the associate professor of film, and Denise Iris is the assistant professor of film. These are but some of the renowned instructors who teach at Vassar College.

If you look at some of the biggest names in the movie and TV industry today, particularly on-camera talent, you may notice that a lot of them are graduates of Vassar College. These names include the likes of Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow, and Anne Hathaway.

Columbia University

Columba University is generally considered to have one of the top film programs in the country.

Columbia University’s School of the Arts has many amazing programs for creative individuals to choose from. However, their most well-known program may be their film program.

Columbia offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in film. Students are able to explore a wide variety of disciplines within the film industry.

Columbia University is going to cost you about $57,000 in tuition.

Screenwriting/Directing and Creative Producing are the two degrees that Columbia’s film program is most known for.

The Screenwriting/Directing program is a three to four-year commitment. The first two years mostly consist of creative workshops. The final half of the program largely consists of working on one’s thesis and art research.

The Creative Producing program is a three-year commitment. There is a significant emphasis placed on the producer being the driving force behind filmmaking.

Students spend the first year learning in classes alongside their fellow screenwriting and directing students in order to enhance their knowledge of all three key creative roles. This blended style of learning creates a well-rounded producer.

Some of the instructors at Columbia University are Jane M. Gaines, Ira Deutchman, and Ron Gregg. Many of these professors have years of experience in the film industry and are happy to pass these connections on to their students.

Some of Columbia University’s notable alumni include Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko, James Mangold, and Nicole Holofcener.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University teaches students how to create a film, from the initial stage of brainstorming concept ideas, through to completion.

Coursework revolves around these major areas of study: production, transmedia, and studio concepts.

The first two years are extremely structured and revolve around learning the history and theory behind the art of filmmaking.

Once a student completes the first two years of the program, they get the opportunity to become more submerged in hands-on learning. One of the requirements of the program is that you obtain practical work experience. In fact, at Syracuse you will have many opportunities to find work and get real-life experience in the industry.

The tuition for this film program comes out to be roughly $52,000.

Some notable alumni that have come out of Syracuse University include Betsy Johnson and Jim Brown.

Bard College

The Film Studies program at Bard College lasts two years. The culmination of the program is a senior project in the history of film. This occurs after students finish the prerequisite production workshops.

Bard College’s film program encourages its students to think creatively by offering a wide variety of areas to study in. These include animation, performance, narrative and non-narrative filmmaking, and more.

As a student first stepping foot in the program, your curriculum will include classes in history and the fundamentals of production. The upper-level courses are intended to enhance students’ creative and critical awareness.

Ephraim Asili, Charles Burnett, and Ben Coonley are some of the staff members students may be learning from during their time at Bard.

You’re bound to notice quite a few famous names when perusing the list of alumni who have received their diplomas from Bard College. They include Chevy Chase, Tom Ford, and Adrian Grenier.

Bard College generally costs around $35,000 to attend. This makes the tuition one of the cheaper options when looking at film schools.

Great Film Schools to Create Lasting Connections

When you’re embarking on your journey toward a career in the film business, attending film school is a great opportunity that will allow you to experiment with various facets of filmmaking and form lasting industry connections.

That’s where Voices.com comes in. We’re the number one marketplace that connects creatives with voice actors that can bring that extra dimension to their projects. 

While studying in a film production program, you will inevitably be coming into contact with and collaborating with actors. Sourcing professional voice actors is a perfect way to add voice over narration to your project or make your animated short come to life.

As you grow more familiar with the industry, you’ll learn that professional narration can make or break a fiction film or documentary. Employing dubbing tracks to localize content is also a key strategy that movie studios like Netflix regularly make use of. That’s not to mention the proliferation of animated films that are being produced today, all of which hire large casts of voice actors and can even go on to compete for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards.

Almost all of the film schools listed above require a portfolio of your work as part of the admissions process. If you’re looking for trained actors to lend their voices to your work, Voices.com is a great resource to tap into.

Sign up for a Voices.com account to find the right actor you need to take your film project to the next level.

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