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Filmmaking Schools in Madison WI

Not in Madison? Check out our lists of Filmmaking Schools in Green Bay, Kenosha, Milwaukee, and across Wisconsin.

Looking to break into the film industry? Start your journey with the best filmmaking schools in Madison, WI.

This guide highlights top programs that offer unique resources and hands-on experience, giving you the skills you need to succeed.

Here’s where to find the best training in production and screenwriting.

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Graduate Film Program

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate Film Program provides extensive training through a distinct focus on film studies. You’ll explore motion picture history, theory, and criticism, while constructing models of film forms, styles, national cinemas, and genres.

Key Features:

  • Film Studies: Emphasizes the analytical study of individual films, filmmakers, and primary industry documents.
  • Graduate Support: Financial aid is available for many students through teaching roles, requiring proficiency in English.
  • Resources: Access to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, a leading archival collection in the US.
  • Networking: Weekly colloquium for presenting work and interacting with guest lecturers.
  • Publication Opportunities: Engage with The Velvet Light Trap, a graduate-produced journal focusing on film, television, and media.

Graduates often continue to Ph.D. programs or become media scholars and educators, contributing to the film industry’s academic sphere.

Madison College – Video Production Certificate

The Madison College Video Production Certificate is ideal for professionals in related fields aiming to enhance their video production skills.

This 14-credit, two-semester program covers fundamental techniques.

Key Features:

  • Fundamentals: Courses include Video Production, Story & Pre-Production, Video and Design, and Advanced Video Production.
  • Practical Skills: Develop expertise in lighting, sound, editing, and applying design and storytelling principles.
  • Flexible Learning: Part-time classes suitable for working professionals, held at Madison College Truax campus.
  • Cost: Estimated at $2,401.86 and does not qualify for financial aid.
  • Simple Admission: Straightforward application process with no prerequisites, though early application is encouraged.

This certificate boosts your resume and skills, making it a valuable addition if you’re in photography, graphic design, or visual communications.

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Communication Arts BS

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Communication Arts BS program nurtures your filmmaking talents with a blend of theory and practical experience.

Key Features:

  • Core Areas: Comprehensive education in film production, screenwriting, and digital media.
  • Interdisciplinary Approach: Collaboration with journalism, advertising, and digital media fields.
  • Hands-On Experience: Access to modern facilities, production studios, and advanced equipment.
  • Support: Engage with the local arts community through film festivals and events.
  • Competitive Admission: Requires strong academics and commitment.

This program prepares you for various roles in the filmmaking industry, leveraging the university’s reputation and extensive resources.

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Digital Cinema Production Certificate

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Cinema Production Certificate offers an in-depth learning experience in digital cinema.

Key Features:

  • Focused Curriculum: Requires 13 credits spanning several core courses, such as Media Production, Editing and Post-production, and Writing for Television and Film.
  • Performance Standards: Must achieve a B or higher in specified courses, with a minimum 2.0 GPA for all related coursework.
  • Residency Requirement: At least 7 credits completed in-residence alongside the undergraduate degree.
  • Advisory Support: Academic advisors available to guide students through eligibility and requirements.
  • Practical Experience: Internships and use of the Instructional Media Center’s advanced equipment.

This certificate provides a versatile foundation in directing, producing, editing, and sound for multimedia storytelling.

By exploring these outstanding filmmaking schools in Madison, WI, you can find the right educational resources to launch and grow your career in the film industry.

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast course is an excellent option for aspiring screenwriters who want to develop high-quality scripts quickly. This online course, available through the Continuing Studies Division, helps you transform your ideas into polished first drafts.

Key Features:

  • Experienced Instructor: Christine DeSmet, an experienced screenwriter, provides expert guidance.
  • Efficient Workflow: The course is designed to help you create compelling scripts in a shorter timeframe.
  • Proven Success: Former students like Julian Renner have achieved notable accolades, underscoring the course’s effectiveness.

Whether you’re aiming for Hollywood or independent film, this course provides the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed in screenwriting.

Art+Literature Laboratory – Filmmaking Workshop

The Art+Literature Laboratory offers a unique, eight-week filmmaking workshop for adults. This free workshop is designed for storytelling through accessible means, like cellphones and tablets.

Key Features:

  • Inclusivity: Targets underrepresented groups, including the working class, people of color, and refugees.
  • Experienced Instructors: Hamidreza Nassiri and Carmine Grimaldi provide professional insights.
  • Community Engagement: Films produced are showcased, archived in public libraries, and entered in film festivals.

Held at the Madison Public Library’s Hawthorne branch, this workshop is an accessible step toward filmmaking for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

How to Choose the Right Filmmaking School in Madison WI

Selecting the ideal filmmaking school in Madison, WI, involves considering several crucial aspects to ensure it aligns with your career goals and personal needs. Here’s what to look for:

1. Curriculum

Ensure the program aligns with your interests:

  • Production: Courses that focus on directing, cinematography, lighting, and editing.
  • Screenwriting: Programs that offer specialized classes in storytelling and script development.
  • Media Studies: Emphasizes film theory, history, and criticism.

2. Faculty Expertise

Experienced faculty with industry connections bring invaluable insights:

  • Learn from Professionals: Faculty who have worked in the film industry.
  • Mentorship: Instructors who can guide your career path.

3. Hands-On Experience

Practical experience is paramount in filmmaking:

  • Internships: Opportunities to work in actual film production settings.
  • Workshops: Structured sessions that mimic real-world scenarios.
  • Resources: Access to advanced production equipment and studios.

4. Financial Considerations

Weigh the financial aspects carefully:

  • Tuition Costs: Consider your budget and explore financial aid options.
  • Return on Investment: Evaluate how the education will impact your career opportunities.
  • Program Type: Decide between full-degree programs or shorter certificate courses.


Choosing the right filmmaking school is essential for your future success. Evaluate each program based on these key criteria to find the best fit for your needs.

Concluding Thoughts on Filmmaking Schools in Madison WI

Selecting the right institution from the array of Filmmaking Schools in Madison WI is a critical step in your career journey. Each program offers unique strengths and opportunities to launch and grow your career in the film industry. Explore these options, consider your personal needs, and take the next step towards achieving your filmmaking dreams.

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