Colleges With the Best Film Making Facilities

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These 30 Media Production Schools are the Leaders

So you want to work in film and TV. That’s a highly competitive field and one that requires you to be an expert in all things media. College will help you achieve this goal, but only some colleges will train you up in a practical manner.

While there are thousands of film programs across the USA, the distribution of equipment and facilities is highly uneven. Some colleges boast the latest and greatest in state of the art equipment, while others are outdated. What’s worse is that some colleges tempt students in with the best cameras, studios, and editing facilities, only to restrict access to these to only a few weeks every year.

Going to a college that doesn’t train you up with the latest filmmaking equipment is a terrible idea. Getting a foothold in the industry is that much harder if you graduate without knowing how to properly shoot a camera, light a set or edit a scene. But a college that shows you how it’s actually done can mean that you have a shining showreel even before you graduate. The best media colleges enable their students to get media work before or just after they graduate by letting them make student films that others think is a professional production.

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Top 30 Colleges with the Best Film Making Facilities

  1. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    USC tops three methodology lists. And these entries highlight how much money it receives and how many graduates get into filmmaking. This information means that the University of Southern California clearly spends vast sums on the best equipment and ensures its students know how to use it. And USC wants to guarantee that it stays on top. It has invested in technology that is only just beginning to be used in media today, such as virtual reality and other forms of immersive media. Some of the equipment that students get to use at USC on a regular basis include computer labs with Avid editing systems, a color correction suite, sound mixing stages, a Foley stage, an ADR stage, animation studios, a game innovation lab, a mobile and immersive media lab, the 20th Century Fox HD multi-camera soundstage and nine more film and TV production stages. Additionally, another media production building onsite has enough media production rental equipment for hundreds of simultaneous location shoots, along with scenery, props, costume and makeup facilities. It also has a separate student-run television station not related to degree work. It has received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from filmmakers such as George Lucas. These reasons and more are why the University of Southern California tops The Wrap's list, The Hollywood Reporter's list, Niche.com's list and our list.

  2. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Seven out of the eight methodology sources name New York University as one of the country's best media colleges. And the college is really showing its credentials with its media facilities and equipment. It has over 120 cameras available for students, which range from 35mm cameras to DSLR digital cameras. And NYU's film department virtual tour shows that it has all the media production equipment and resources that students could possibly need. Niche.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Wrap allrank NYU as the second best film school nationally. Undoubtedly, NYU has the best media equipment and facilities on the East Coast of America.

  3. American Film Institute
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    The training given to the American Film Institute's graduate students is more intense than any other film school. This is because AFI makes the students produce more films than any comparable course. It does this by breaking up classes, "into teams that mirror a real production environment." Naturally, strong levels of training are given during this time. On top of an almost continual use of state of the art equipment, students train in the Warner Bros. Building, which provides a soundstage and production offices, and the Sony Digital Arts Center, which has the world's most up to date post-production facilities. The college is third place on The Wrap and fourth place on The Hollywood Reporter. Prepscholar also considers AFI to be a tier 1 college. However, the big catch with this college is that admission is capped to only 140 individuals every year.

  4. University of California Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    For over 50 years, UCLA alumni have climbed to the top of the media world, including director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola. And in the present day, the college is continuing this trend with some of the best media facilities and equipment on the globe. This includes animation studios, color correction suits, digital media labs and one of the best screening rooms in existence, the James Bridges Theater. You can tell the extent of UCLA's media equipment just by looking at the wide variety of lighting and grip equipment on offer. UCLA features on seven out of eight methodology lists, being ranked third place on College Affordability Guide, fourth place on The Wrap, third place on The Hollywood Reporter, and fourth place on Niche.com.

    3. American Film Institute

  5. California Institute of the Arts
    Location

    Santa Clarita, CA

    Featuring prominently on seven of eight methodology lists is California Institute of the Arts. And for the students who study at the college that was founded by Walt Disney himself, a range of incredible media equipment awaits. The college will provide every conceivable piece of tech, "from underwater camera systems to portable digital stop-motion kits." This equipment is all broadcast quality. Additionally, students can film on green screen production stages, or anywhere that suits them. The college's video studio offers a 40×45 foot shooting area and has equipment that can shoot in digital video, 16mm film and 35mm film. California Institute of the Arts also offers a sound facility with over 45,000 sound files and more than 60 hours of production music, a recording studio, a film directing studio specifically for training, a permanent film set, a black and white studio, editing suites and more.

    4. University of California Los Angeles

  6. Chapman University
    Location

    Orange, CA

    MovieMaker specifically cites Chapman University's equipment and facilities, stating that they are top notch. The Wrap also goes into detail in highlighting the college's world-leading Digital Media Arts Center, which has an 18,000 square foot digital arts studio, a 1,500 square foot directing stage, an 800 square foot art studio, and a 4K screening room. But the college also has a $42 million, 76,000 square foot production studio. This is equipped with a television and broadcast journalism stage and control room, editing facilities, set workshops, a Foley stage and a production design studio. Also, a third studio is for its documentary filmmaking program. This area has a 7,000 foot sound stage, a 2,000-foot cinematography stage, a 6,000 square foot scene shop and a 7,000-foot prop warehouse. Additionally, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Prepscholar, Niche.com and Top Universities/QS all highly recommend the college.

  7. University of North Carolina School of the Arts
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Both film industry publications and student-generated sources rave about University of North Carolina School of the Arts's film education. The Wrap places it eighth. The Hollywood Reporter places it at 14th, and Niche.com places it at fifth. Additionally, MovieMaker commends it for accelerated access to the film industry. It also features on Variety and QS/Top Universities's lists. The Hollywood Reporter points out, University of North Carolina School of the Arts has recently made its incredible facilities even better. It just partnered with Oculus to create the Institute for Performance Innovation. This focuses on gaming and VR systems, allowing students to experiment with cutting-edge equipment. This is another practical college. As University of North Carolina School of the Arts' website states, "In your first two years at UNCSA, you will direct and shoot numerous digital projects as you take hands-on courses in every facet of modern film production." In the final two years, students advance into a specialism and collaborate on films that go on to be submitted to worldwide film festivals.

    6. Chapman University

  8. Emerson College
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Almost every methodology list ranks Emerson College highly, making it the best film school in Boston. This is no easy achievement, considering that it has competition from Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, MIT and many more prestigious institutions. Further research shows that Emerson College has achieved such a high ranking in part due to its facilities and equipment offerings. Not only is the equipment state of the art, but there are also workshops offered throughout the year on how to use the equipment properly. These workshops include two rigging guides, color correction, panel lighting, Steadicam and more.

    7. University of North Carolina School of the Arts

  9. Loyola Marymount University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    This college is prominently placed on six out of the eight methodology lists. It's based in LA, and while it may not be as famous as some LA film schools, the college's equipment, and facilities more than make up for this. As the facilities page of the college website states, one of the best things about the college is gaining access to five Red One cameras, many other cameras, an animation lab, industry standard lighting and grip equipment and computers with the best media software. It has two shooting stages, one for film, and one for TV. The film stage is 60×90 foot, and the TV stage is 25×46 foot. The college certainly puts this equipment to good use In 2014-2015, the college saw 790 student film productions made in total.

  10. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    While most lists regard Emerson College as the superior Boston film school, BU is expanding rapidly. In the last five years, it has more than doubled its production studio size, for example. Boston University offers several innovative programs that allow students to use media equipment and facilities in practical ways. One is BUTV10, which is a student-run media production company. Additionally, its internship program allows students to work in a major media center, be it LA, London, Sydney or anywhere else with a large film industry. Also, with so much of the faculty actively working on current media projects, many students are able to gain experience on actual industry film shoots!


  • Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools


    At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
    We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.


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Yes, it’s true that to be a great media professional you need to know film theories and be able to adapt your studies to other areas. But without the practical knowledge to back this up, you’re going to have to do a lot more work on your skills after you graduate. In fact, being media equipment savvy can mean the difference between being stuck in internships for years and rapidly rising to the top of your game.

With this in mind, you need to know which colleges actually have the gear and offer access to studios. Until now, that information was not readily available online. That’s why we’ve put together this essential resource that will guide all budding filmmakers to the right college for them. The 30 colleges below have the best equipment, have well trained, professional instructors, let students spend lots of time using the equipment and do many other things to make their students technical wizards when it comes to media production.

Ranking Factors

Identifying the best media equipment in every college has been a challenge. Before this list, there were no comparative lists. However, there was a range of online articles from media industry publications that ranked the best colleges for filmmakers. Additionally, rankings of the best media colleges were readily available from respectable university ranking sites. Combining the data of these sites provided the first clues as to which colleges have the best equipment. This data comes from these lists:

The Wrap, Top 50 Film Schools of 2017 Ranked, From USC to Full Sail: https://www.thewrap.com/the-top-50-film-schools-of-2017-ranked/

College Affordability Guide, Affordable Film & Video Degrees:https://www.collegeaffordabilityguide.org/subjects/film-video-photo/

The Hollywood Reporter, The Top 25 American Film Schools 2017: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/top-25-american-film-schools-2017-1029477

Variety, Entertainment Education Report: The Best Film Schools in 2018: https://variety.com/2018/film/spotlight/entertainment-education-film-school-stars-1202785789/

MovieMaker, The Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada 2017: https://www.moviemaker.com/archives/best_of/best-film-schools-in-the-us-and-canada-2017/

Prepscholar, The 9 Best Film Schools in the US: https://blog.prepscholar.com/best-film-schools-in-the-us

Niche, 2018 Best Colleges for Film and Photography: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-film/

Top Universities/QS, Top Film Schools Around the World: https://www.topuniversities.com/courses/communication-media-studies/top-film-schools-around-world

After this research, we looked into the colleges themselves, analyzing how much money each college had spent on equipment and media facilities and where this money was spent. Lastly, we looked for accounts of the students stating that they had been able to use the equipment in a useful and frequent manner.

Our priorities for ranking these colleges are as follows: media equipment quality, money spent on equipment, statements of satisfaction from students, ranking on the methodology lists and other miscellaneous factors.

Related Rankings

Additional Resources

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.


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