Cinema Art and Science Department ranked as a top film school by Variety

By Marisa Sobotka, Campus Reporter

Zoë Haworth
Cinema Art and Science Department ranked as a top film school by Variety

Columbia’s Cinema Art and Science Department was ranked as one of the “Stellar Film Schools of 2017” in an April 26 list in Variety Magazine.

Staff at the entertainment publication compiled the list of 32 colleges from around the country. The college was one of the few in the Midwest with noteworthy film programs, along with DePaul University and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Starting in the Fall 2017 semester, the department will be renamed the Department of Cinema and Television Arts to reflect its recent merger, as reported May 1 by the Chronicle.

This is not the first time that the program has been recognized nationally by a renowned publication, according to Bruce Sheridan, chair of the former Cinema Art and Science Department. He said Columbia is the only school in the Midwest that has been ranked in the Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 film schools.

“Hollywood Reporter and Variety are focused on the high end of the cinema industry,” Sheridan said. “We are focusing on having that profile, and this is a recognition of extremely high-level success.”

The Variety article recognizing Columbia noted the department’s “nearly 200 specialized undergraduate and graduate courses,” comprehensive curriculum, extensive internship programs, including the Semester in LA program and that it is the only college with a “year-round academic program on a Hollywood lot.”

Jon Katzman, executive director of Semester in LA, said the ranking demonstrates how much the industry respects the program, which has created “inroads” for students from Chicago.

“It recognizes the work we have done, having so many industry professionals come through our doors and students that successfully leave our classrooms and enter into the Hollywood workforce,” Katzman said.

Traditionally, the program runs for five weeks, but a new pilot program set to start in the Fall 2017 Semester will run over the course of 15 weeks, according to Katzman. Students will still be encouraged to find an internship while in Los Angeles, but the new program will be more academically focused.

“We are hopefully building a program that is going to be inclusive for more students at Columbia,” Katzman said. “This program is very important, and we have to do a better job of understanding the successes we are having in L.A.”

Other notable resources are the Media Production Center, which hosts production stages and technology, and the practicum courses offered to students.

The practicum courses offer the opportunity to get first-hand film experience. Junior cinema art and science major Paxton Wanink said she was not surprised about the program’s recognition, noting she has participated in four practicum projects at Columbia.

“You get to see how collaborative filmmaking is, how everyone specializes in their own craft and how a film gets made,” Wanink said. “Not a lot of people can say they have done that in school; it is a very unique experience.”

Sheridan said while the ranking is helpful, the department will continue to focus on student experiences and content that gives a voice to creators.

“We are not trying to make Hollywood movies, studio movies or experimental movies; we are supporting all moviemaking based on what students want to say in the world,” Sheridan said.


Correction made 5/22/17: Columbia’s Cinema Art and Science Department was incorrectly stated as being ranked eighth in Variety Magazine’s Stellar Film Schools in 2017. Variety’s top film schools list did not include rankings, but was rather in alphabetical order. The Chronicle regrets this error.