The Hollywood Reporter: Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College among nation’s top film schools

SHARE The Hollywood Reporter: Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College among nation’s top film schools has released its list of the Top 25 Film Schools in the country and three Illinois schools have made the grade: Northwestern, DePaul and Columbia College.

The trio are in excellent company, as the list boasts the film schools from powerhouses such as USC, UCLA, NYU and Columbia University in New York.

According to the website, THR “conducted its widest-ever survey: More than 2,300 ballots were submitted from the guilds, Film Independent, the American Cinematheque and the schools themselves.”

Here’s some of what THR had to say about the Illinois contingency:

14. Northwestern University

Northwestern, which ranked No. 8 on THR’s Top 25 Drama Schools list, is renowned for a long line of acting alums from Charlton Heston to Zach Braff (who has returned to teach workshops). But its School of Communication also emphasizes writing. “Stephen Colbert and Julia Louis-Dreyfus studied acting but also learned dramatic writing, improv and sketch comedy,” says dean Barbara O’Keefe. The school’s Mee-Ow improv group has proved a training ground for such Saturday Night Live players as Louis-Dreyfus and Seth Meyers. Although one adjunct teacher complains, “They’re producing film lovers, not filmmakers,” O’Keefe notes, ‘Northwestern is especially successful at nurturing writers and producers.’ … Northwestern is moving into nonfiction with the creation of an MFA program in documentary filmmaking.”

RELATED: Three Chicago drama schools make Hollywood Reporter’s list of Top 25 in nation

17. DePaul University

“DePaul’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media, headquartered in Chicago’s Loop, ‘is a very sexy film school,’ says “Trainspotting” writer Irvine Welsh, who starts teaching there this fall. Says actor alum David Dastmalchian (“Prisoners”), ‘It has that perfect blend of edgy, indie-spirited faculty who know the craft and industry and the facilities and partnerships of a large studio laboratory.’ USC-turned-DePaul professor Brad Riddell calls his new colleagues Kristyn Jo Benedyk and Matt Irvine “the Bonnie and Clyde of film education,” seizing Chicago’s rich resources for students, who get to work with pros at Cinespace Film Studios and on shows like Chicago Fire.’ ”

20. Columbia College Chicago

“Cinema Art + Science at Columbia College Chicago claims to be the largest U.S. film school, with about 1,800 BA, BFA and MFA students. That tally increases the odds its graduates will surface in Hollywood. … About 200 students a year are admitted into the undergraduate Advanced Practicum program, which has turned out director Collin Schiffli and the rest of the team behind South by Southwest special jury award winner ‘Animals’.”

For the complete list and comments, visit

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