Film Production: VCUarts vs. SCAD vs Ringling vs UNCW vs Belmont vs Lynn?

My daughter has gotten into film/cinema programs at all of these colleges and now needs to make a good decision. Which program would you choose & why?

Congats to her. I have no idea but that’s impressive. Obviously Belmont is religious…very. Does that matter?

VCU and SCAD are both great names and assuming it’s SCAD Atlanta, both are in large cities. UNCW and Ringling are near the water and in smaller cities.

I would check career outcomes - this will be a brutal field - and I imagine cost should matter as well because the likelihood of career success will be low - so how much do you want to spend?

Also, is there a certain type of film/cimema she wants - movies, documentaries, corporate training, etc. and which curriculum matches.

Has she been on each campus - and do any stand out?

What types of hand on experience does the student get - and how much? When I went to Syracuse, we were given very little hands on experience (for journalism). When I visited a friend at U of Montana, they did more int he week I was there then I did in four years at Syracuse - so that does matter.

Interested to see the guidance you get.

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What is the cost difference after merit and financial aid? Initially, salaries can be low on some production crews.

Are any of the public options in state?

SCAD can be amazing but also cost prohibitive.

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Which program at VCU - cinema or film/photography?

I dug into the cinema program for my junior. It is interesting. Between sophomore and junior year, and again between junior and senior year, you spend your summer at VCU, working on a movie. I believe you get 12 credits the first summer and 18 the next.

In one place on the website, it says you must double major or double minor outside the school of arts - worth calling and double checking. The cinema major is completed in three years, so I don’t know if the senior year is for the other major, you could graduate early or what.

The program looks strong. My daughter decided she didn’t like the structure of the summers, but I could see someone loving it.

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Schools that require a double major or minor do so because - they’ll say to give you a better understanding of the world…blah blah blah but it’s because they know the outcome of the major will be dismal long term and it gives you a back up. My double was History and this was why - I was journalism but the school required at least a minor.

I think it’s wonderful for kids to pursue their dream. I did. But it’s good to have a back up.

Making a film sounds like an awesome experience. But I would still check to see where they’re grads…and those of other schools - end up.

Business, likely couldn’t be done as a double, but would be a great complement to film given the complexities of budget, distribution, promotion, etc.

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I never said it was a bad idea. I just mentioned it was a requirement - something she should be aware of.

Absolutely. It’s great you brought up for OP so they’re aware. And great info on summers. Wasn’t criticizing.

I was looking at SCAD curriculum last night. Very intense. But I noticed the lack of traditional classes. Almost as if it were a trade school.

I personally like a traditional university. But obviously SCAD is well reputed. And shows great placement stats although doesn’t list the jobs obtained, etc. so I’d ask for that if I was OP.

OP has some great choices !!


For our family, Ringling is the highest cost by far. SCAD is next highest. The others are all about the same cost (roughly equal to our EFC). She has been invited to apply to a full-ride scholarship at Lynn, but I’m not sure that anyone has ever heard of it?

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She has been admitted to the Cinema program at VCUArts. She just found out on Friday, so we are frantically trying to find out more about the school and the double-major requirements, etc.


Several people have told me that SCAD is over-priced and rather commercialized. But they come up over & over on the top film schools list. We have visited both the Savannah and the Atlanta campuses. It is nice that it is so easy to switch between the two campuses each quarter.

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Belmont is in-state for us, which means that she’ll get the TN HOPE scholarship in addition to a Belmont academic scholarship + some grant aid. I think the film major is pretty new there, but the chair of the department seems very well-connected. My daughter is excited about the Christian aspect of the school since she hopes that she won’t feel like the only heterosexual student. (During last summer’s Gov School for the Arts in Filmmaking program, she felt left out for being the only heterosexual student.)

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Not sure about Belmont. Honestly never heard of Lynn. But Belmont is not often mentioned in what I can find.
Have you visited any of these schools?

Two factors are industry connections and facilities.
My D went to Ringling for computer animation which is of course their claim to fame. From what I do know is that they have top notch facilities for both majors. Their goal is to give an education in every aspect of the field to make you employable. They bring in industry experts on a regular basis.
From what I can gather (hearsay on-line) they are copying FSU film to some extent as it is one of the top nation’s film schools. They just completed another part of their facilities.

SCAD I know much less about but I’d look closely into the two campuses, Atlanta and Savannah. They have a film festival. (My D’s computer animation from Ringling was in many film festivals also so I’m not sure this is exceptional for SCAD).

I would visit to get a better feel for campuses. I think both SCAD and Ringling
will have good connections to the film industry which are very important.
Look at the school’s websites for student work and where alumni now work.

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I’m in Franklin so I understand Hope. Neither of my kids stayed in state but it’s nice for those who do.

I personally think the part of being the only hetero sexual is something that may have happened because it’s in a small groups or it may be the industry. But and I don’t know, if the industry demos trend this way, then she’ll struggle if that’s her chosen industry if she maintains that bias.

Personally I wouldn’t go to a new program. Nor would I go to Belmont outside of music. And Belmont does have lgbtq students. And the new President is looking to open the school up more.

I do think drilling into detailed outcomes is important.

And costs matter it sounds like.

I ‘d find the dissection of comfortable pricing for you and your future. And strong outcomes in the field. And I mean seeing the actual jobs. If SCAD is saying 99% placement, then in what roles ? Are they contract? Can kids pay their bills or are they job to job like that industry is ? Obviously GA is a film Mecca now so that helps.

At a school like VCU you’ll have more diversity of majors so her whole life won’t be film…especially if there’s a chance she changes tracks.

And a double major can only help in the certainly possible scenario that she’s not able to land a film position. And she’ll meet kids outside of film.

Bottom line - no matter how good one is over another, putting yourself in financial jeopardy is a no no.

If Lynn may be free, I’d do a deep deep dive. Free is good !!

Good luck.

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This is an aspect of the industry at large she will run into on a regular basis. I truly understand she feels uncomfortable. There isn’t an easy way around it but to respect others while respecting her own beliefs at the same time. She’ll have to figure that out for herself. Right now she wants to pursue a major and learn from the best possible source. Keep that as the focus.


Has she considered the many facets of film making? Motion graphics, graphic design, special effects? Screen writing? Just wondering. When D was in Computer animation there are so many facets–most students found their niche in the pipeline before deciding to be strictly “an animator”.
Point is that the industry job field is very broad. The best experience will let you dip your toe into everything so you can then delve deeper into what lights your fire.


I think she is mainly focused on screen writing. But she would like to learn all aspects of filmmaking.

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A number of years ago (2012?), Lynn hosted one of the Presidential debates. Then everyone had heard of it.

You’ll find in the specialized field everyone in that field knows of the good schools. Or something happens at the school then everyone ‘hears’ of it, like last year when little St. Peter moved up the March Madness bracket. Sometimes it’s nice to be the Big Fish in the little pond.


But not necessarily in a competitive industry where networking is very important.


I’m NOT an expert here. But a screenwriting interest isn’t the same as film producing (which is my first thought). I think creative writing, film study etc with that interest. Very different from being behind the camera and producing a film. I could be very wrong of course. Now those ARE parts of all these courses of study BUT the focus of one college over another may be very different. Knowing that however I’d still lean towards Ringling or SCAD but now definitely rethink UNCW.

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I’d say go visit where you can. UNC-W might be a good fit. It’s a pretty average student body (good mix of all kinds), but Wilmington has had some good film connections in the past and Roy Cooper, the governor, did just sign some legislation to help the film industry again. (Previous 1 term governor Pat McCrory (2013-2017) made a lot of people mad when he took away the film subsidies.)

More info on Wilmington’s film industry here: Movies Filmed in Wilmington, NC

UNC-W does have a good Creative Writing major. I don’t know that much about the film or screenwriting program there, but I’d say it’s worth checking out.

SCAD is going to be super artsy kids. More baseball players and surfers at UNC-W.

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