Help choosing a school for a film major

<p>From something I posted in the Parents Forum:</p>

<p>There are so many film programs at so many schools that it might make sense to help your search by making a matrix of sorts to help narrow the field. And the narrowing should, of course, be based on understanding your real interests and passions. Just choosing a school by name alone may get you into a school which is not quite what you expected.</p>

<p>I'm surprised that there is no internet site which has such a matrix, but it can get complicated. Below, I will list some things to consider, and schools can be ranked for you based on these.</p>

<p>First pass: Are you interested in studying film or in making films? If making films, then a production major is what you want to look for.</p>

<p>An obvious thing to consider, but is sometime not apparent initially is whether the major is even open to undergrads. Some schools have critical studies as an undergrad film major, with film production as a graduate program only.</p>

<p>A huge thing to consider is whether admission to the undergrad film program is as a freshman upon entry, or whether it is only open in Junior year. A university may have hundreds of potential film majors, but will only accept 15-30 after spending 2 years in sort of pre-film limbo. And if you are not one of these limited few? Hmmmm.</p>

<p>What kind of role do you really enjoy? In high school it seems like everyone wants to direct, but in college you see people following passions in more narrow specialties. For example, interests may go to screenwriting or producing or the technical aspects or photography or audio production or.... many many other tracks. You may want a school that can offer opportunities in all of these areas.</p>

<p>What kinds of films? If the passion is to enter the business making studio films, you will want quite a different school than a school for one who's passion is making quirky, independent productions.</p>

<p>How regimented do you want to be? In some film schools, you will not own your productions; they become the property of the school. You will not be able, for example, to enter your film in a festival or competition of your choice. That decision will be the university's. In other schools, the films you make will be all your own.</p>

<p>Look at the resources and facilities available. Most schools have lists of the equipment and studios and labs available. Look at whether these listing seem to be enough for students to easily reserve, or whether it will be nearly impossible to reserve equipment/lab space when everyone will have a film project due on the same week.</p>

<p>And finally, check out the opportunities for making films. Is it study study study and finally in Jr or Sr year, make a film? Or will the student hit the ground as a freshman and be instantly thrust into the production fray.</p>

<p>Oops... one more item, which will be hard to check without talking to current students: What is the atmosphere/camaraderie of the fellow students? Is there a cut-throat competitiveness? Or are all of the students crewing for all of the others?</p>

<p>The schools are so different, and it takes quite a bit of digging to find the subset that would be a best fit.</p>

<p>...And some excellent additional points by paying3tuitions:</p>

<p>Some more to add:</p>

<li><p>If you want some of the non-directing aspects of a film school, how much better are the "admit" rates? At first, we heard answers of "8% admittance" to the film school. Deconstructing that, we learned that for screenwriting applicants (just one example), it's more like 25-30% of screenwriting hopefuls admitted; albeit the numbers are smaller...both in applicants and spots provided.</p></li>
<li><p>Are facilities open "24/7" and if not, then when?</p></li>
<li><p>What are the extra fees for production courses? (read the course catalogue online!)</p></li>
<li><p>Internship opporunities, visiting filmmakers, studying abroad...</p></li>
<li><p>Comraderie with other students on campus, or just socialize with filmers?</p></li>
<li><p>Any chance (realistically) to double-major in an academic subject?</p></li>
<li><p>BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts, a degree since around l960, well known in artistic circles but less so beyond...) or BA? And if a BA, how much is expected in General Distribution requirements. (don't cross those schools off the list either! Maybe a History course will inform your filmmaking.</p></li>
<li><p>If it's a BA "wait-around" program, can you get those courses at a less expensive school and transfer in by junior year, or do they strongly prefer their majors from within their own school?</p></li>
<li><p>Which majors should you declare if you have to wait the 2 years? (UCLA doesn't want declared "Theater" majors becoming their Film School people in junior year, because they want to see more academic diversification and foundation...I think I understood that right. S put down "English" as his major, on advice of the Film Department, which might have been wise or foolish, we'll never know (he got in elsewhere but not to UCLA).</p></li>
<li><p>What, if any, camera equipment is provided to students?</p></li>
<li><p>Relationship to the Theater Department for finding the actors. Does the department help or advise, do you cast via Craigslist, or what?</p></li>
<li><p>Financial aid policies.</p></li>
<li><p>Financial aid policies.</p></li>
<li><p>FINANCIAL AID POLICIES!!</p></li>