Students with film school degrees have participated in a wide expanse of studies that give them more than just a working knowledge of the film industry. They are prepared to participate in film making and marketing on a level that only extensive learning experience could make possible. Topping the growing number of film schools capable of turning out well prepared film makers are two schools—The American Film Institute (IFI) and Southern California University (USC).
AFI is considered by film industry observers as having one of America’s most varied slate of studies aimed at preparing film school students for their futures in the industry. The Los Angeles-based school boasts a two-year conservatory schedule that has students taking part in various aspects of film-making. That includes specialties like directing, producing and writing. It isn’t unusual for students attending AFI to have been active working in the film industry, or who decided a previous school didn’t provide the spot-on curriculum needed to impress potential employers.
The facilities at AFI are small in relation to those at USC and other schools. But it is connected with a large number of the film industry’s most influential people, and can count on them to spend time explaining to students how and why films are made. That includes an outstanding slate of graduates—David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Darren Aronofsky, to name a few. Students at AFI are assured they will be able produce a thesis film, complete with actors provided by the Screen Actors Guild. AFI also promises $13,500 to bring a student’s film to completion.
Across town is USC, with a film school lousy with money donated by grads like George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis. In fact, the school’s more than 10,000 film graduates provide millions that keep the USC film school in touch with virtually every innovation the industry might develop. USC can also lay claim to having more graduates working in films than any other school. If AFI can brag about its choice student body, USC can counter with the finest in technical training, a film industry critical must. The importance of advanced technical studies in films is blatantly obvious. Movies like Avatar and the Star Wars series rely heavily on the technical machinations that make the impossible appear routine. USC pours trained technical experts into an industry where “dream factory” is for real.
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