UNCSA School of Filmmaking makes Hollywood Reporter’s ‘honor roll’

by Mark Burger

The Hollywood Reporter, one of the top entertainment publications in the world, recently published its sixth annual list of “The Top 25 American Films Schools,” and the UNCSA School of Filmmaking ranked 14 th in the nation.

For the article, in which “academic experts, industry professionals and scores of film-school alumni” were consulted, the article stated that the School of Filmmaking is “transforming into a cutting-edge tech hub. This fall, it’s offering a new track in immersive entertainment and augmented reality as students create a VR (virtual reality) movie with help from Jacquie Barnbrook, producer of The Martin VR Experience.”

The UNCSA School of Filmmaking has been similarly honored by The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 25 American Film Schools” in years past, and although it ranked lower than the film schools at USC (University of Southern California), AFI (American Film Institute), NYU (New York University) and UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), it should be remembered that UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking only opened in 1993.

“There are a great many film programs up and down the list,” said School of Filmmaking dean Susan Ruskin in an official statement. “In the end, it is a very personal decision by each individual student deciding which school is the best fit.

Industry professionals are taking note of the caliber of our program, and they are interested in coming here to teach.”

Over the last four years, the School of Filmmaking has seen an 18 percent increase in enrollment, with approximately 360 students enrolled this semester. Ruskin said that applications had increased by 37 percent this year. The School of Filmmaking’s new master’s degree programs in creative producing and screenwriting are part of the reason.

“We’re over-enrolled,” she said of the new graduate programs. “We knew there was a demand in the film and television industry, and we designed our program to fit the need. It is gratifying to see that in launching our unique program, we attracted the attention of so many highlyqualified and motivated storytellers.”

The School of Filmmaking was also lauded in a cover story in EdTech magazine that focused on the school’s render farm, a cluster of high-performance computer servers which are used in the creation of animated images, not unlike those used by Disney Studios. As associate dean Henry Grillo stated in the story: “When (students) leave this institution and they go to work on a professional set, they’ll feel completely at home.”

“With our world-class faculty and our cutting-edge facilities and equipment, we are well prepared to train the next generation of cinematic storytellers,” said Ruskin. “It is gratifying to be acknowledged by leading industry publications like The Hollywood Reporter and EdTech. It’s evidence that the same, relatively young film program as UNC School of the Arts is making its mark in the entertainment industry.”

Among the School of Filmmaking alumni who have made their mark — and continue to do so – are David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), Danny McBride (“Eastbound & Down”), Paul Schneider (Goodbye to All That, written and directed by UNCSA graduate Angus MacLachlan), Jeff Nichols (The Loving Story), Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens (Land Ho!), editor Zene Baker (Neighbors), cinematographer Tim Orr (Year of the Dog), Jody Hill (Observe and Report), Craig Zobel (Compliance) and Chad Hartigan (Morris from America), to name a few.

This semester at UNCSA, overall enrollment is at an all-time high with 1,305 students, and an additional 263 highschool students began classes Aug. 15.

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