The top film schools in the world

After a long trawl through the web, we’ve pulled together a list of all the top film schools worldwide. There’s a lot of discussion and focus on US film schools in the online world, which you should expect, after all, the US represents a huge slice of commercially successful, globally distributed TV and film production. But for all the justifiable focus on US film schools, there’s a growing acknowledgement of the quality of education world-wide. Here’s a few of the most notable institutions around the world…


Brightest light of American filmmaking is probably the American Film Institute 
(Los Angeles). It’s pumping out graduates who are described as “Worthy to watch” at a rate of about 260 per year. 37 alumni have received Oscar nominations in the past decade alone. An additional 118 have participated in award-winning TV and cinema projects ranging from Boyhood to Mad Men. Also worthy of note are the more specialised courses, like the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA) a private college with a focus on conceptual design. Its list of celebrated alumni includes director Zack Snyder, and designers Ralph McQuarrie (“Star Wars”) and Syd Mead (“Blade Runner”).

On the other side of the country, Sarah Lawrence College (Yonkers, N.Y.) boasts a stellar reputation in recent years, with notable graduates including J.J. Abrams, Peter Gould (Better Call Saul), Joan Micklin Silver and producer Amy Robinson. It’s possibly even challenging the former biggest East Coast hit factory the New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a prestigious roster of alumni such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Joel Coen and Ang Lee.

But of course, it’s not all about cinema these days. In the multimedia, multichannel world it’s important to note the likes of more TV and CGI focused courses too. Northwestern University’s multidisciplinary arts education has produced major figures in nearly every aspect of film and television production, from three-time Oscar-nominated writer John Logan and Emmy-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus to DC Comics TV hits producer Greg Berlanti and such acclaimed producers as Sherry Lansing, Jason Winer and Ken Kamins. Also highly rated is Ringling College of Art and Design (Fla) which has become a talent pool for studios seeking up-and-coming computer animators and designers. Ringling alumni captured Oscars for both animated feature Big Hero 6 and short Feast at the 2015 ceremony, and students have won 11 of the past 13 student Academy Awards.

The Rest of the World

Of course anyone who’s been to the cinema in the last century will know the world is full of filmmakers, not just the USA. In fact, arguably, world cinema has never been more accessible or visible in the cinematic universe than it is today. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the rest of the filmmaking world…

  1. National Film & Television School (U.K.)
Founded in 1971 and considered one of the most prestigious film, television and new media schools in the world. The school also boasts an abundance of award-winning alumni, including the Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins and screenwriter Terence Davies.
  2. Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Learning (Canada). Possibly the top global institution for aspiring animators. Animation course offerings began in 1971, launching graduates to work for companies including Pixar, DreamWorks, Cookie Jar, Cuppa Coffee, DHX, Nelvana, Corus and Electronic Arts.
  3. Ecole de la Cite Cinema et Television (France). Founded by Luc Besson (yes, Luc Besson) the mission of this free school is to encourage gifted young artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a formal film school program. Even if it doesn’t produce Oscar winners, who cares?
  4. Swedish Film Institute (Sweden). Stockholm’s film school is considered to be one of the most prolific and influential film schools in Scandinavia, producing much of the talent associated with Trollywood (the moviemaking scene in Trondheim, and the force behind many of Sweden’s internationally acclaimed TV series.
  5. Super16 (Denmark) 
With no senior management, this independent institute was founded as an alternative to Denmark’s more established film school, and to this day receives no state subsidies. It’s the disruptive element in Scandi TV and film.
  6. Tel Aviv U. (Israel) 
Tel Aviv U. alumni include Gideon Raff, the creator of Emmy award-winning Showtime TV series Homeland, Hagai Levi, co-creator of HBO TV series In Treatment and Ari Folman, writer and director of the Oscar-nominated 2008 film, Waltz With Bashir.
  7. Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (Jordan). 
Launched in 2008 the Red Sea Institute is the Middle East and North Africa’s go-to film school for international students.
  8. Whistling Woods Intl. (India)
 Founded in 2006, Whistling Woods offers India’s first MBA in media and entertainment. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai founded the school with a truly international intent, with exchange deals lined up in the U.K. and Nigeria.
  9. Korean Academy of Film Arts (Seoul). 
Joon-ho Bong is one notable alumnus of the prestigious Korean school. The school’s advanced program, started in 2007, requires students to finish a full-length feature film in order to graduate. This is where low/no budget filmmaking really shines out in the world of film schools.
  10. Australian Film, Television and Radio School (NSW). Academy Award-winning alumna Jane Campion says it all, but don’t forget the slew of great films that were spawned from here like Chopper.

Of course, what’s missing from all of the above are the courses built around filmmaking for viral smash hits on YouTube, Vimeo and Vine. So where are the smartphone film courses? Smartphone filmmaking itself appears to be off the curriculum as a course in its own right at most film schools. For most students, smartphone courses are supplementary, taking the form of webinars or YouTube tutorials rather than university modules. They’re sometimes sponsored by the phone manufacturers themselves too… but it begs the question, how long before one of the institutions above launches its first smartphone specific film course?

7 Simple Rules of HYPEREAL

There’s no recipe for creativity. In fact, the whole notion of creativity brings with it the implication that there are no rules to govern it, otherwise it becomes formulaic. But in reality, in the creative industries and media we have rules applied to many aspects of the work. They’re often there for practical purposes, like designing with gutters on a 2-page fold layout to avoid embarrassing type issues (like the above). We don’t load website backgrounds with hours of video. We don’t film TV ads with porn in them, design logos that need a magnifying glass to be read, use Comic Sans font for Investment Bank marketing materials and so on. The medium, whatever it is, demands a certain kind of treatment, a logic and framework within which the creativity is set. So then, what are the rules that govern HYPEREAL?

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Best Smartphones And HD Cams For Filmmaking

The essence of HYPEREAL filmmaking is to produce films as simply and realistically as possible. This is good news for filmmakers because it means you don’t need expensive kit. In fact, you don’t actually want it either. Why? To answer that question, ask yourself if The Blair Witch Project would have been better if it was shot in HD on high end kit. Sure, the quality of the film might have looked better, no doubt, but the nature of the film would have been spoilt if the quality was too high. In fact they would have needed to spend a lot more time in post-production using effects kit to reduce the quality or nobody would have believed it was found footage shot on camcorders. The same is true of Paranormal Activity. Read more

Making A Film With No Script

When you talk about HYPEREAL film to people, the “film with no script” part tends to cause a lot of resistance. It’s hard to accept. How can you make a film without a script? It doesn’t compute. Which is, of course, all the more reason to do it… because the problem with a lot of mainstream cinema is it feels like a computer wrote it.

It’s easy to dismiss this sort of sentiment as just some hipster gripe about Hollywood. But there’s a rationale behind it. A great deal of modern cinema starts out as a pitch using the classic “three act synopsis” model. You’ll recognise it. Title, logline (or elevator pitch, as it’s also called), then a three act plot synopsis. It’s a practical, workable formula. But the problems with formulas in the arts is they have a tendency to make the art formulaic. Read more

Open Source Filmmaking

There’s more to open source filmmaking than meets the eye. In fact, the whole concept is a difficult one to turn into a practical working process. The concept of open source is easy to grasp and makes huge sense for software, by creating products that are “open” you grow a community of developers around it. It builds an ecosystem of helper apps, widgets and improves the interoperability of one piece of software with others which gives it better chance of success. It is a smart way of generating freemium sales, brand loyalty and, more broadly, producing better products. But for film, it’s a different ballgame. Read more


Tell an actor that you’re directing methodology is reliant on the Stanaslavski System (heavy on improvisation) and they’ll probably get it.  It’s something one of our founding HYPEREAL collective members, David Bark Jones (film/TV actor and STARVECROW co-creator) teaches as part of our HYPEREAL production workshops.  It’s also a key component of most acting courses, but for the HYPEREAL filmmaking process to work, it needs to be taken a little further.

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The Witch Didn’t Start It – Where Found Footage Came From

You know all about Found Footage films by now. Everyone does. Films that appear to be cut together from shaky camcorder shots, filmed by participants who are (by the time you watch the film) either missing or dead. It’s a brilliant set-up to build the audience anticipation before the the film begins. From the moment you see the trailer you know the protagonists are in jeopardy of some sort. And jeopardy is, without question, one of the key elements for building dramatic tension and hooking an audience.

You might be less familiar with found footage comedies, but they exist. It’s a formula that’s also crossed over from the cinema into TV series and TV movies too. But where did it all start? The answer most people (except for film buffs and filmmaking students) think of is The Blair Witch Project (1999). But the roots of found footage go way deeper than that.

Here’s five milestones that created the found footage genre…
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Filmmaking On Smartphones

When we started making STARVECROW nobody was sure precisely where the project would lead the team. That sort of uncertainly comes with experiments and unexplored territory. But one thing was certain: The goal was to shoot a professional, feature-length, cinema-ready film on mass market, popular tech. That kind of filmmaking on smartphones wasn’t really possible back in 2010 when the project started, and as a result, the quest to stick to the original mission presented some unique filmmaking problems.The idea came from a conversation over a beer between David Bark Jones and John Carver. It began (as often these things do) talking about how the name of John’s road “Starvecrow Lane” would make for a great horror movie title (without the “Lane” obviously). They wanted to create a film that looked real. No crew. No lighting. The actors would be at the heart of the filmmaking process, improvising the scenes and filming themselves whilst doing it. It was taking the found footage genre to its next logical step. Read more

Our Favourite Editing Apps

Just look at that pic. A cute “Indie” template on an iPad. Fees like the death of cinema doesn’t it? We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s an app for that” and it often makes creative types groan and roll their eyes. In the professional media production scene you’ll meet designers who can’t live without the full Adobe CC suite, editors and effects teams that won’t work without Final Cut Pro, Maya and plus a room full of high powered workstations. The conventional wisdom is apps for editing and creating moving images are just for fun, not serious professionals… right? But hang on a second. That’s not really true, is it? When you stop to think about it, some great works of TV and cinema have been cut using cheap 8mm and 16mm ciné cameras and scotch tape, which were the low-end apps of filmmaking back in the day. Read more