UNCSA film and drama schools ranked by top industry publications

The School of Filmmaking and the School of Drama have been recognized by two leading publications of the film and television industry. The Hollywood Reporter (THR) ranked the graduate-level film music composition program within the School of Filmmaking at No. 12, up from No. 14 last year, on its list of the Top 20 programs in the world. TheWrap listed the film school No. 11 on its annual list of the top 50 film schools in the U.S, while in a new ranking the publication listed the School of Drama in its 20 Great Schools for Acting and Theater.

Student cinematographer in the School of Filmmaking. / Photo: Wayne Reich

Student cinematographer in the School of Filmmaking / Photo: Wayne Reich

“These accolades reaffirm the well-deserved recognition for our outstanding institution,” said Deborah LaVine, dean of the School of Filmmaking. “With esteemed faculty possessing strong industry ties, global collaborations with film schools, and a dedication to diverse storytelling mediums such as immersive experiences, animation and beyond, I'm thrilled by the dynamic growth happening within our school. UNCSA continues to offer exceptional value to our students.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Nov. 8 issue ranked the Top 20 schools that offer training in film music composition by polling industry leaders from Hollywood’s Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Composers Diversity Collective, the Alliance of Women Film Composers, and the music branches of the Motion Picture Academy and Television Academy. The article noted that students in the graduate program at UNCSA “are given priority in scoring more than 30 shorts produced by student filmmakers, with works ranging from live action to animation, video games, virtual reality and documentary, as well as commercials and advertising.”

The ranking also highlighted partnerships with other universities including Wake Forest University, the University of Central Florida and the recent collaboration with IFS Cologne, a top-ranked film school in Germany.

In the article, alumnus and faculty member Chris Heckman said the program “has always stressed the importance of collaboration directly with filmmakers in the creation of original films, and this exchange with IFS opens up new opportunities for our students to network with filmmakers in Europe as well as in the U.S.”

Set of student film "If God is a woman, her name ain't Josie" / Photo: Wayne Reich

Set of student film "If God is a woman, her name ain't Josie" / Photo: Wayne Reich

The graduate film music composition program will become the Graduate Composition for Film and Visual Media program, a part of the School of Music at UNCSA, in fall 2024. The program, with a revitalized curriculum to meet the needs of the industry now and into the future, will provide students easier access to fundamental music courses and facilities, as well as better access and ability to form relationships with performers in addition to filmmakers.

TheWrap, in its October College Issue, cited the film school’s value compared to that of larger private universities and highlighted the campus’s facilities including Studio Village, a mini backlot; and The Cube, a space with state-of-the-art digital production technologies inside the school’s Center for Design Innovation.

The ranking also noted the school’s film archive as “the fifth largest non-commercial film archive in the country” and recent work by several alumni and two staff members on Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” as 70mm projectionists. TheWrap also cited the $2.28 million in support from the Chapel Hill-based William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust gifted UNCSA to support the Posse Arts Program.

In the same issue listing the 20 Great Schools for Acting and Theater, TheWrap cited the collaboration among UNCSA’s five arts schools: Drama, Filmmaking, Music, Dance, and Design and Production. The publication also cited the School of Drama’s notable alumni including Jennifer EhleLucas HedgesJoe Mantello and Mary-Louise Parker.

About the School of Drama

Frequently ranked as one of the best drama schools in the world, the School of Drama is an immersive experience that prepares talented young artists for successful careers on stage, online, and in film and television. Conservatory training grounded in classical values adds technical skills to shape creatively inspired and versatile actors who are in-demand today. Students perform constantly in both small workshops and major productions across the theatrical repertory. An outstanding resident faculty gives personal attention to their students’ growth. Students receive invaluable on-camera training, and opportunities to explore creative entrepreneurship while offered coveted exposure to industry professionals in the major hubs of the entertainment industry in America. The School of Drama is led by Dean Scott Zigler.

In addition to those cited by TheWrap, among UNCSA’s prominent School of Drama alumni are Billy Magnussen (“Made For Love,” “No Time to Die,” “Aladdin”); Anthony Mackie (“The Falcon and the Winter Solider”); Krys Marshall (“For All Mankind”); Elizabeth Lail (“Gossip Girl,” “You”); Dane DeHaan (“Oppenheimer,” “The Staircase,” “Zero Zero Zero”); Diedrich Bader (“Veep,” “Better Things,” “American Housewife”); and Orin Wolf (producer of Broadway’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Tony Award-winning producer of “The Band’s Visit.”)

About the School of Filmmaking

Consistently recognized as among the nation’s best training programs for filmmakers, the School of Filmmaking has produced some of today’s most creative storytellers.

The award-winning faculty have decades of real-world experience and a passion for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in concentrations that include animation, cinematography, directing, film music composition, picture editing and sound design, producing, production design and visual effects, and screenwriting. Students are able to develop individualized portfolios through collaborations with other students from different disciplines which enables them to learn industry standards and protocol, and practice their craft on state-of-the-art sound stages and studios with professional equipment. Through the curriculum, faculty and staff are able to connect students with visiting guest artists and gain exclusive access to never-before-seen films, shows and scripts. The film school’s Media + Emerging Technology Lab (METL) is dedicated to the exploration and production of immersive storytelling content. Students have the added benefit of annual trips to Los Angeles and New York City to connect with industry professionals. The film school also maintains partnerships with the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem and the Sundance Film Festival.

Notable alumni from the School of Filmmaking include Vera Herbert (“This is Us,” “Don’t Make Me Go”); Danny McBride (“The Righteous Gemstones,” “Eastbound & Down”); David Gordon Green (the “Exorcist” and “Halloween” franchises, “Manglehorn”); Zach Seivers (“Nomadland,” “Raymond & Ray”); Brett Haley (“Hearts Beat Loud,” “The Hero”); Rebecca Green (“It Follows,” “I’ll See You in My Dreams”); Jody Hill (“The Righteous Gemstones,” “Vice Principals”); Jeff Nichols (“The Bikeriders,” “Loving” ); Martha Stephens (“To the Stars”); Aaron Katz (“Land Ho!” “Gemini”); Kaitlyn Ali (“Queen & Slim,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7”); Tim Orr (“Raising Victor Vargas,” “Joe”); Will Files (“The Batman,” “Stranger Things”); and Zoë White (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Westworld”).

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November 28, 2023