If filmmaking is your passion, then you may be in the market for film schools. Most people think they need to move to Hollywood or New York to attend stellar film schools. There are excellent film schools in Hollywood and New York… but there are plenty of other great film schools, probably in an area near you.

The rankings for film schools are based on several factors, typically including:

• Reputation in the entertainment industry
• Student success
• Famous faculty and graduates
• The ability to supply students with connections within the entertainment industry

Making the final choice of film schools is difficult. The following tips may help you narrow down your list.

• Do you only want to direct or would you like to learn all aspects of filmmaking? This includes editing, camerawork, producing, writing, acting, and more. Some film schools only focus on directing while others offer a well-rounded program including all areas of filmmaking. Which type of film school works best for you?

• How up-to-date is the equipment at your prospective film school? Technology changes daily in the entertainment industry and equipment can quickly become outdated. A film school may have an incredible program, but if it’s all about using outdated equipment, you’ll be lost when you start building a career. Choose a film school on the cutting edge.

• Do you have any entertainment industry connections? If not, consider film schools that do have connections that can help you launch your career. This includes the opportunities for internships, job placements, and even participation in film festivals and competitions.

• Is the faculty at your prospective film school actively working in film? If the teachers are “out there” directing and working within the entertainment industry, they should have more connections and be on top of current trends.

• Do you need to attend a film school near where you live? If so, look for a schools in your area. If not, consider your housing choices at film schools far away.

• How will you pay for film school? Consider your tuition options, including scholarships, financial aid, student loans, payment plans, and more.

Once you’ve pinpointed the type of film school that may be perfect for you, start requesting information and visit film schools to narrow the list further.

The following film schools are consistently on the list of “best” film schools. However, keep in mind that one of the “best” film schools may not be the best school for you, depending on your circumstances and career aspirations.

The American Film Institute
(http://www.afi.com/)

University of Southern California (USC) – School of Cinematic Arts
(http://cinema.usc.edu/)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – School of Theater, Film, and Television
(http://www.tft.ucla.edu/)

Columbia University – School of the Arts
(http://wwwapp.cc.columbia.edu/art/app/arts/film/index.jsp)

University of Texas – Radio, Television, and Film School
(http://rtf.utexas.edu/)

Florida State University (FSU) – College of Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts
(http://film.fsu.edu/)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
(http://www.scad.edu/)

New York University (NYU) – Tisch School of the Arts
(http://www.tisch.nyu.edu/page/home.html)

San Francisco State University – Cinema Department
(http://cinema.sfsu.edu/)

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) – School of Film/Video
(http://film.calarts.edu/)

North Carolina School of the Arts – School of Filmmaking
(http://www.ncarts.edu/filmmaking/)

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
(http://www.saic.edu/)

Northwestern University – School of Communication – Radio, Television, and Film
(http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/departments/rtf/)

(In addition, look at The Film School Directory at www.filmschools.com
for a complete list of film schools not on this “best” list.)