The Best Film Schools in the U.S. : MFA Film Programs

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Top Video Art Schools

Film and video are constantly evolving art forms that have the ability to transcend the popular television and theatrical formats on which most theory is based. This happens at the base artistic level where expression is experimented with in hopes of making a statement and breaking through to new modes of production. Many film graduate schools simply focus in on conventional narrative or documentary filmmaking types, but some of the top film schools also create programs around film and video art. In these programs you are not as restricted by convention, but at the same time you will go through the technical and fundamental education for any filmmaker. Here are some the top graduate programs that focus on filmmaking in the context of film and video art.

California Institute of the Arts

The California Institute of the Arts is not only one of the best film and video programs, it is one of the top five film schools in the country. It’s Master’s of Fine Arts programs are broken up into two areas. Their Film Directing Program is a MFA that focuses entirely on narrative filmmaking, and this links in somewhat more with traditional film schools. Their Program in Film and Video, on the other hand, is an art focused system that uses the principles of art education utilizing filmmaking technology and techniques. What this program hopes to do is increase the creative potential in a way that is somewhat “out of the box,” and therefore it is a little more student driven. Thankfully, you do have the ability to really determine the type of film work you want to do so you can easily include more narrative work as well.

San Francisco Art Institute

The San Francisco Art Institute takes their Master’s of Fine Arts program into a completely different area. Instead of having a focused film and video program, as they have in their undergraduate, the San Francisco Art Institute utilizes an open Master’s of Fine Arts program that is open to all art form. What this means is that through this you focus in on the forms that you want and can then direct this toward film and video art. This is dramatically different than any film school and will require a lot of determination from students, but those who are looking for an experience where they completely define how they want to express themselves artistically this will work perfectly. They also force a professional component through industry relations and internships, so this is an important component.

University of Iowa

If you want to focus even more on art as opposed to a specific “film school” experience then the Intermedia department of the University of Iowa. Intermedia is a section of the University of Iowa’s School of Are and Art History where you will use different media types in creating video art projects. This means bringing in experimental video, new media, large and small scale installation work, and interdisciplinary studies from a range of different school’s at the University of Iowa. They have a full set of film and video facilities for production and post-production, so they maintain the tools that you will need, but what you will create will in no way be limited by what is commonly conceptualized as regular film. You will actually have the choice here of achieving a simple two year Master’s of Arts program or a thesis oriented three year Master’s of Fine Arts program.

Honorable Mentions

A number of other schools hold programs that will also initiate you into the pathways for film and video art, but each with their own speciality. New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is the best film school in the world and through the interdisciplinary work you can control your experience enough to focus on the more experimental side. The Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation remains one of the top film programs and it allows you to define the type of film and video work you want to create and therefore you can begin to integrate other forms of expression. This is a good location since RIT is also home to other top technical art programs so you can begin to draw on other artistic traditions.

This post is part of the series: Top Film Graduate Schools

Here are articles that will help you sift through all the film graduate programs and fine the one that is right for you.

  1. Top Master’s Film Schools in Los Angeles
  2. Top Documentary Master’s Programs
  3. Top Film and Video Art Programs
  4. Finding the Best International Film Graduate Program