With the rise of YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat, it may seem like the professional film industry is at risk, but students of film know better. The huge number of filmmaking technology available is allowing more people to enter the industry and learn the trade, increasing the number of opportunities for both students and professionals.
If you're considering a film study abroad program, the world is your oyster. Films are written, set, filmed, and produced in nearly every country in the world, and film schools are almost equally present. Your choice of study abroad program is only limited by your personal interest in a given country or school and the style of filmmaking you'd like to learn. Other than that, the opportunities available will only continue to grow as you continue your education and career in film.
Photo credit: Sam McGhee.
Generally, film study abroad courses fall into one of two categories, and most programs provide a combination of both: film studies (the critical analysis of film in its different forms and context) and film production (the writing, directing, and post-production work that goes into creating a film).
In your film studies classes abroad, expect to watch many locally produced and directed films from your host country and region. Though the techniques of filmmaking are somewhat standardized by technology, story forms, social and political influences, and stylistic aspects of each film vary depending on the time and place in which it was made.
Your courses will teach you to both consider these variables and analyze the films you watch. You won't exactly be a "critic" after your film studies courses, but you'll understand how to think like one.
Film Production (Filmmaking)
Film production is an important part of all degree programs related to film. Even if you don't specialize in filmmaking, you'll likely learn the ropes and produce several films during your education. When studying abroad, expect to have the same requirements: most programs require you to write, direct, and produce at least one short film as part of your classes. Not proficient at one or more of these tasks? Studying abroad will be a great chance to practice.
Where to Go
Film is one of the great cultural unifiers: in the 21st century, films are both set and produced in every corner of the world. Film schools are equally prevalent, and some boast international reputations worth considering. Here are some of the options.
The Czech Republic
Though based in Eastern Europe, Prague has quickly risen to be one of the preeminent cities for film studies in Europe. Several film schools provide students with the chance to both critically analyze and produce films while studying abroad in the Czech Republic. For example, USAC is partnering with Charles University to provide classes in English while you study film, politics, and culture. If you want to learn Czech, you'll be able to learn enough in and outside of your classes to speak technically about the filmmaking process -- a valuable skill if you decide to continue your career in Prague someday.
France has long been a haven for the arts, film included. From the film schools of Paris to the world-renowned festival at Cannes, there are plentiful opportunities for students to immerse themselves in French culture and continue their education. In addition to film studies and production, some programs in France allow you to learn about marketing and the business side of the film industry too.
Each country has its unique style of filmmaking, and India's Bollywood style is perhaps the most famous outside of its namesake Hollywood. Studying film and production in India is a great opportunity to expand your horizons as a filmmaker. In Pune, you can study social issues, economics, and complete an internship in documentary film through the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA).
If you've watched any of the major blockbuster sagas produced in the past several years (like Lord of the Rings!), you've very likely seen a movie that was produced at least in part in New Zealand. Both the North and South Islands are home to acclaimed film schools, and several of the best post-production and special effects companies in the world offer study opportunities here.
Perhaps less known than other countries with distinct filmmaking styles, the unique style of South Korean films are increasingly prevalent in Western film markets. There are several excellent film schools and universities that offer study abroad programs for budding filmmakers in South Korea.
Planning Your Trip
While many parents might worry that becoming a filmmaker comes with a "starving artist" lifestyle, the good news about studying film abroad is that most programs offer comprehensive support included in the tuition cost.
Housing for Film Study Abroad Students
Dorm-style housing is nearly always included in university-based study abroad programs, including for students in the film department. If you decide to study abroad at a film school or private company, this may not be the case, so it's best to research programs closely so you can consider that additional cost should you apply.
Many programs also offer scholarships for film students, since the all-inclusive cost of a semester studying abroad may be higher than your current tuition costs. These are usually offered directly through the film school or university, so be sure to ask about them during your research process. Otherwise, try researching film institutes and festival organizations to see if they offer any support for student filmmakers. You may also be able to apply to general grants and scholarships that cover any type of study abroad program.
Contributed by Valerie Stimac
Film Study Abroad Programs
Which countries are the best for filmmaking?
Since movies are both produced and filmed in every corner of the world, you can find a filmmaking study abroad program almost anywhere. A few countries known for their film education include France, New Zealand, India, South Korea, and the Czech Republic.
How can I afford a film program?
Film students can either study abroad through their college, a film school, or a third party program provider. Typically, scholarships are provided through these institutions, or it's possible to find general grants and scholarships that can off-set the tuition costs.