Aug. 14, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891,



(WINSTON-SALEM) The School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is among the top 25 film schools in the country, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR). In its fourth annual ranking, on newsstands Aug. 8 and released online July 30, the magazine placed UNCSA’s Film School at #13.

“It is gratifying to be counted as one of the best, and it is quite an achievement for a school that has been in existence for only 20 years,” said Film Dean Susan Ruskin. “Our alumni continue to excel in all areas of the film and television industry, and that reflects very positively on the training they receive here.”

Chancellor Lindsay Bierman, who arrived on campus July 21, said he is very proud of the ranking. “Dean Ruskin continues to advance the film school through innovative thinking and entrepreneurship,” he said. “Our top-notch faculty attracts top-notch students who will fuel the state's creative economy and define the art of filmmaking in the 21st century."

Ranked ahead of UNCSA were schools such as the University of Southern California (USC), the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles, and New York University (NYU) and Columbia University in New York.

“North Carolina can be very proud of its top-tier film school,” Ruskin said. “We are doing here in Winston-Salem what the really big schools are doing in major metropolitan areas.”

THR based its ranking on 2,300 ballots from industry guilds, Film Independent magazine, the American Cinematheque magazine and the schools themselves. Their responses were weighed with the help of educational insiders.

Ruskin, who completed a ballot, said the comparisons are tricky. “The programs are all very different -- some public, some private, some with graduate programs and some with undergraduate only,” she said. “It is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.”

Ruskin said UNCSA is unique because the school pays the total cost for students to make a film each of their four years. “No other school does that, and we do it for a lot less than the cost of most of our peer institutions.”

In-state undergraduates at UNCSA pay $8,363 in tuition, compared to $53,484 at Columbia, $48,272 at NYU, and $47,562 at USC. The average tuition for all top 25 schools is $33,135.

In its description of UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking, THR noted: “The 20-year-old school in Winston-Salem looks like a Hollywood studio backlot and has fielded a small studio's worth of talent.” It mentioned Film alumni Danny McBride, Jeff Nichols, David Gordon Green, Travis Beacham and Summer Shelton.

“Our alumni are the next generation of filmmakers,” Ruskin said. “We will be hearing their names and viewing their work in film and television for years to come.”

The Hollywood Reporter quotes Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who utilized UNCSA student and facilities for his debut feature film ARE YOU HERE:  "UNCSA has become not only a state-of-the-art facility, but Susan's (Ruskin’s) real strength is preparing students realistically for their future while filling them with inspiration."

THR also mentioned UNCSA faculty, including iconic director Peter Bogdonovich, cinematographer Tom Ackerman A.S.C. and sound designer Wade Wilson. “That is our true strength,” Ruskin said of the article. “Without the expertise of our faculty and the imaginations of our students, we are just a collection of buildings.”

The film school ranking can be found at:

 In June, THR ranked UNCSA’s School of Drama at #6 in the world and the high school Drama program at #3, based on a poll of 60 top casting directors and agents.


Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is America’s first state-supported arts school, a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system when it was formed in 1972. For more information, visit