Higher learning of film in the heart of Hollywood

Across the nation, institutions offer distinctive programs and practices in the entertainment industry.

Some of the nation’s leading film schools, of course, are nestled in the heart of Hollywood. Enter stage left—the Los Angeles Film School.

This creative arts institution offers an immersive film learning experience; leading edge campus facilities; high profile faculty from the entertainment industry; and a supportive culture that helps students network for near-term gainful employment and successful career advancement. “We exude nothing but pride when speaking of our graduates. Their many awards and accomplishments are the result of their hard work and dedication,” said President Diana Derycz-Kessler in a 2013 PR Newswire interview.

Founded in 1999 by indie film producer Caroline Pfeiffer (The Quiet, 2005; Elvis and Anabelle, 2007), Los Angeles Film School has evolved from film study and production to offer degrees in recording arts, music production, game production, computer animation and entertainment business. Beginning in 2008, the game production and computer animation degrees were created as natural next programs. From Derycz-Kessler’s commentary in Animation Magazine, we learned that “game developers and computer animators have stories to tell, much like our filmmakers.”

Providing solid foundations in film leadership, management, marketing, accounting, finance, intellectual property and digital distribution, students are well-equipped to enter the fast-paced and ever changing entertainment industry. Eschewing more traditional styles of classroom lecture, LA Film School’s learning model is project-based. This style of engaged learning is designed to replicate real-world challenges students will likely face after graduation. Resonating with emergent millennial student preferences, the LA Film program also instills core values, ethics and corporate social responsibility.

Across the nation, institutions like the New York Film Academy, Colorado Film School, and Ringling College of Art and Design (Fla.) offer distinctive programs and practices in the film and entertainment industries.

At the New York Film Academy, Los Angeles campus, students can pursue fine arts degrees in Filmmaking, Producing, Screenwriting, Acting for Film and Game Design. Speaking to the school’s focus on creating connections between departments, NYFA Senior Director David Klein said in an online interview for Backstage, “Producers have access to the filmmakers. The screenwriters do collaborations with the producers … and you get this community of artists working together to create stuff.”

At the Colorado Film School, students can pursue degrees in the fields of Cinematography, Post Production and Writing and Directing. An affordable option because of its collaborative relationship with, among others, the Community College of Aurora, Founder and Executive Director Frederic Lahey noted, “Excellence in professional film education doesn’t have to be expensive or exclusive. It just has to be focused and smart.”

For its part, Ringling has cultivated a reputation for integrating cutting edge technologies with classical foundations in art and design. Ranging from Digital Filmmaking to Fine Arts Sculpture to the Business of Art & Design, Ringling offers varied fine arts degrees while earning the U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Most Wired Campus designation. As Vice President of Marketing and Innovative Partnerships Rich Kaplan articulated in a recent Broadway World online article, “We are more than just an art school. [We’re] a place that teaches creative thought and communication and its application for future leaders and innovators.”

The film and entertainment industries stay in perpetual motion, yet sit at the cusp of a film education renaissance. By embracing state of the art educational technologies and social media communities to create the latest and greatest movies, music and videos, students are trained in their chosen art or craft, and learn 21st century business skills. This is what makes contemporary film and entertainment schools exceptional, and relevant to the industries they serve in the heart of Hollywood.

—James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of The Sustainable University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.) and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.


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