Filmmaking Schools in Illinois Feature Image

Filmmaking Schools in Illinois

Looking for classes in a specific city? Check out our lists of Filmmaking Schools in Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, Naperville, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.

Are you looking to break into the film industry in Illinois? Choosing the right school can be the key to your success.

This article evaluates the top filmmaking schools in Illinois, offering unique insights into their programs, hands-on training, and career opportunities.

Explore these top-tier institutions to find the best fit for your aspirations and start your journey in filmmaking today.

Columbia College Chicago – Filmmaking

Columbia College Chicago offers one of the most extensive filmmaking programs in Illinois. The School of Media Arts here merges theoretical education with hands-on experience.

Why Choose Columbia College Chicago?

  • Diverse Program Offerings: The college provides various specializations across filmmaking, screenwriting, and post-production.
  • Industry Connections: Faculty includes industry professionals and alumni who are actively engaged in the film industry, offering vital real-world insights.
  • Annual Events: The Manifest Urban Arts Festival provides a platform for students to showcase their creative works.
  • Ample Support Services: Student counseling, career centers, and health resources enrich the overall student experience.

The college’s location in Chicago offers additional exposure to filmmakers and artists, making it a well-rounded option for those serious about the film industry.

Illinois State University – Film and Digital Media Program

The Film and Digital Media Program at Illinois State University provides a comprehensive education in both the theory and practice of film. Students can tailor their educational paths to fit specific interests.

Features of This Program:

  • Flexible Curriculum: Students can focus on critical studies, film production, directing, or screenwriting.
  • Collaboration Opportunities: The program offers joint projects with theatre majors, enhancing the interdisciplinary approach.
  • Networking Events: Presentations at regional symposiums and other academic settings provide opportunities to showcase student work.

Without strict additional SAT/ACT or GPA requirements, the program is accessible, making it easier for those passionate about filmmaking to get started.

DePaul University – School of Cinematic Arts

DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts offers a wide range of specializations, including animation, cinematography, and editing.

What Sets DePaul University Apart?

  • Industry-Standard Facilities: The school boasts professional soundstages, high-end editing suites, and DePaul Cinespace Studios.
  • Hands-On Experience: The Indie Studio program funds student projects, and the Visiting Artists Series brings valuable industry insights.
  • Prime Location: Situated in Chicago, the program benefits from the city’s vibrant film scene.

This school provides an immersive educational experience designed to prepare students for a dynamic career in filmmaking.

Chicago Filmmakers – Filmmaking Classes and Workshops

Chicago Filmmakers offers a variety of classes and workshops tailored to all skill levels. This community-focused institution covers everything from digital filmmaking to screenwriting.

Highlights of Chicago Filmmakers:

  • Diverse Learning Opportunities: Classes range from fundamental skills to advanced creative collaboration.
  • Experienced Instructors: Courses are led by industry professionals and university professors.
  • Supportive Community: Events such as screenings and industry dialogues nurture local talent.
  • Membership Perks: Memberships offer discounts on classes and access to exclusive events.

Supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, this school stands out for its inclusive approach and dedication to fostering local talent.

Southwestern Illinois College – Filmmaking Associate in Arts Degree

The filmmaking program at Southwestern Illinois College offers an Associate in Arts degree focusing on Film Appreciation, Film History, and Screenwriting.

Why Choose Southwestern Illinois College?

  • Specialized Courses: Students can take courses like Sound Design and Video Editing II to tailor their learning experiences.
  • State-of-the-Art Facilities: Cutting-edge equipment and industry-standard facilities are available for student use.
  • Accessibility: With multiple campuses, including Belleville and Granite City, the program is convenient for many students.
  • Financial Support: Initiatives like Augie Choice cover costs for internships and projects.

This program prepares students for diverse careers in television, advertising, and video production, making it an appealing choice for aspiring filmmakers.

Northwestern University – Radio/Television/Film Program

Northwestern University’s Radio/Television/Film Program is a prestigious choice for those passionate about filmmaking. This program delves into the intricacies of media production, offering both theoretical and practical learning experiences.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive Curriculum: The program covers a wide range of media types, including cinema, interactive media, and television.
  • Experienced Faculty: Instructors include practicing filmmakers and media artists, bringing real-world expertise to the classroom.
  • Hands-On Experience: Students gain skills in writing, editing, and media production through hands-on projects.
  • Strategic Location: Located near Chicago’s vibrant film scene, students have excellent professional and internship opportunities.
  • Strong Alumni Network: Graduates have strong connections in major media cities such as LA and New York.

The combination of a liberal arts foundation and vocational training makes this program highly respected in the industry.

Augustana College – Film Production Program

Augustana College offers a film production program integrated with its Department of Theatre and Film. This program allows students to start working with cameras and other equipment from the very first day.

Program Benefits:

  • Practical Experience: Immediate hands-on experience with UHD camcorders, production equipment, and iMac editing labs.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: Opportunities to gain skills across both theater and motion picture disciplines.
  • Internships and Mentorships: Located in the Quad Cities, students have access to internships with Emmy-nominated studios, such as Fresh Films.
  • Financial Support: Initiatives like Augie Choice help cover costs for internships and cinematic projects.

With its strong focus on both practical skills and a liberal arts education, Augustana College offers a well-rounded approach to filmmaking education.

Illinois Wesleyan University – Film Studies Minor

The Film Studies minor at Illinois Wesleyan University provides students with a structured curriculum that balances both the theoretical and practical elements of filmmaking.


  • Core Courses: Courses such as Film Aesthetics and Film Theory offer an in-depth understanding of the medium.
  • Practical Training: Classes on Videography and editing with DaVinci Resolve introduce students to industry-standard tools.
  • Hands-On Learning: Students get to create various types of films, from shorts to documentaries.
  • Facilities: The program includes a dedicated sound stage for lighting and other experiments.

This minor effectively prepares students for varied roles within the film industry by providing both analytical and technical skills.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale – Bachelor of Arts in Cinema

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Bachelor of Arts in Cinema program offers a well-rounded education in film, combining theory, history, and practice.


  • Small Class Sizes: Students benefit from personalized attention and mentorship.
  • Thematic Education: The program covers a broad range of topics, ensuring a deep understanding of visual storytelling.
  • Collaborative Environment: Cross-departmental collaborations enhance learning experiences.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: The focus on both theoretical and practical aspects prepares students for diverse career paths.

While specific details on program fees and faculty are not readily available, prospective students are encouraged to inquire further for comprehensive information.

How to Choose the Right Filmmaking School in Illinois

Choosing the right filmmaking school in Illinois is a crucial step for your career. Here are some key considerations to guide your decision:

  1. Program Curriculum: Evaluate whether the school offers a balance of theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
  2. Faculty Expertise: Look for schools with faculty who are industry professionals or accomplished filmmakers.
  3. Hands-On Training Opportunities: Ensure the school provides ample opportunities for practical experience, including internships and collaborative projects.
  4. Industry Connections: A school with strong ties to the film industry can offer networking opportunities and job placements.
  5. Financial Aid Options: Investigate scholarship opportunities, grants, and flexible tuition plans.
  6. Facilities: Check for access to professional equipment, studios, and editing suites.
  7. Campus Location: Consider how the location might impact your educational experience—proximity to a vibrant film community can offer additional benefits.

By focusing on these criteria, you can find a school that aligns with your career goals and personal needs.

Filmmaking Schools By State

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont
Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Your Journey to a Film Career Begins Here

Embarking on a career in filmmaking starts with choosing the right educational institution. Each of these filmmaking schools in Illinois offers unique strengths, from diverse curriculums and state-of-the-art facilities to strong industry connections and supportive learning environments.

Whether you are aiming to become a director, editor, screenwriter, or any other professional in the film industry, these schools provide the resources and training you need to succeed. Dive into their offerings, weigh your options, and take the first step toward making your cinematic dreams a reality.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *