Top Film Schools — It’s All In Your Perception

Top Film Schools – In Whose Opinion?

top film schoolsTop film schools – I often see articles and web sites devoted to proclaiming them. They extoll the advantages of attending one film school over another without letting on that these articles and sites are often created by the very film schools that they recommend or by entrepreneurs seeking commissions for sending new students.

You might find this slightly shocking that highly regarded universities would lower themselves to spending millions of dollars to advertise and declare themselves one of the top film schools. But look into the history of film schools and it all becomes clear. If you are considering attending a so-called top film school you might even find your mind changed.

Before the very first film school, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, was founded the film studios mostly relied on their in-house training programs to prepare workers for their entertainment factories. Films were not considered artistic expressions for the most part. Rather movies were cranked out in assembly-line fashion by armies of workers earning low wages and each performing a small range of specialty tasks.

The First Film School

USC Top Film School CheerleadersThe hours were long and the turn-over was high as the workers quickly realized there was very little glamour in working for a film studio. In 1929 a group of prominent studio executives came up with a devious idea for how to save money on training. They negotiated with USC to create a ‘film school’ to train workers. The school would charge tuition to students thereby making a profit and the studios no longer had to pay for the training but could merely pick from the most promising of the graduates.

If you find this unbelievable just realize that the earliest roots of public education in America go back to the need to train factory workers at the beginnings of the industrial revolution. It also turns out running a film school is hugely profitable as star-struck students will compete for entrance and happily pay any amount of tuition to attend.

Top Film Schools – At What Cost?

The universities that are rated as the top film schools are able to charge up to $100,000 for a degree that in fact will only qualify the graduate to work in the most menial and lowest-paid positions in modern film production. If today’s students are serious about wanting to find success in the film industry they shouldn’t worry about which are the top film schools but rather look at who really makes the big money in Hollywood and train for those positions.

There is, as everyone knows, a handful of extremely talented and popular film directors and actors who command million dollar salaries but they are the exception. Most studio workers and actors are often unemployed and struggle to make a livable income.

The people in Hollywood making the big salaries are, for the most part, the executives, producers and lawyers that control the production of movies and represent the various artists who are involved in creating the movies. Don’t let the apparent glamour fool you. The movies are a business and the best training for success in the entertainment business is usually a business administration or law degree with an emphasis in the entertainment industry.

A number of top film schools offer such majors and although it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as going to film school to become a filmmaker the ultimate difference in the success you will likely achieve is huge.


  1. says

    In the end, isn’t it about what you want to get out of it and not cost or “rating”. Not everybody needs the top/best film school in the world

  2. says

    I completely agree with you on this article. This is something new graduates like myself should have read before apply to film school.