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January 28


Winter 2021

Final Frame: Film Schools – 100 Years of Learning New Ways

Photo courtesy of USC School of Cinematic Arts

Film school studies have taken on a new dimension in the time of COVID, as our article in this issue speaks to. The oldest film school in the world is believed to be the Moscow Film School, founded in 1919 by film director Vladimir Gardin with help from legendary director Sergei Eisenstein. The first film school in the U.S. was launched in 1929 within the University of Southern California with the course “Introduction to Photoplay” and evolved into the School of Cinematic Arts, which is now ranked as one of most prestigious film schools in the world with many notable alumni.

This photo showcases iconic actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. leading an early film class at USC. Fairbanks was a key figure in the film school’s founding and in its curriculum development. USC became the first university in the U.S. to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in film. The school’s founding faculty included Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, William C. deMille, Charlie Chaplin, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg and Darryl Zanuck. This was at a time when a new technology – ‘talkies’ – was just coming in.

There are now estimated to be more than 300 film schools in the U.S. and several hundred more in Canada, the U.K., Europe and Australia, with many more colleges and universities offering film studies, which means courses in VFX, animation, virtual production, and many other related fields. This image captures how it looked 90 years ago at USC when “learning new ways” meant something very different than it does today, with virtual learning now an essential component of educating the next generation of
animators, filmmakers, creative and technical talent.

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