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Filmmaking Schools in Rochester MN

Not in Rochester? Check out our lists of Filmmaking Schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and across Minnesota.

Curious about finding the best filmmaking education in Rochester, MN?

You’re in the right place. This article explores the top filmmaking schools in Rochester, MN, offering insights on their unique approaches, hands-on experiences, and industry connections.

Whether you’re looking to hone your directing skills or dive into animation, discover the programs that can help you break into the film industry.

Film Connection – Filmmaking Program

Film Connection offers a unique approach to filmmaking education. Instead of traditional classroom settings, it places students directly in real film production environments. This hands-on experience allows aspiring filmmakers to learn from industry professionals while working on actual film projects.

Key Features of Film Connection

  • Practical Learning Environment: You’re placed as a film extern inside actual production companies in Rochester, MN.
  • Professional Mentorship: Learn directing, producing, editing, and screenwriting from established industry experts.
  • Cost-efficient: Gain real-world experience without the financial burden of traditional film schools.
  • Networking Opportunities: Build valuable industry connections right from the start.

Located in a city known for its active film and television production scenes, Film Connection offers a practical path for aspiring filmmakers to break into the industry. Notable alumni have worked on major films and popular television shows, leveraging the connections and experience gained through this program.

The hands-on approach, focused on real-world experience and industry networking, sets Film Connection apart as a compelling choice for those serious about filmmaking.

Winona State University – Film Studies

Winona State University offers a dynamic Film Studies program designed to prepare students for diverse careers in the film industry. With a curriculum that emphasizes collaboration and practical experience, students gain a deep understanding of filmmaking from multiple perspectives.

Key Features of Winona State University Film Studies

  • Broad Curriculum: Covers cinematic techniques, narrative form, and genres such as horror, sci-fi, documentary, and more.
  • Focus on Film Culture: Explore important trends and styles in both American and world cinema.
  • Campus and Community Involvement: Opportunities to work on film projects with local organizations and showcase work at events like the Frozen River Film Festival.
  • Interdepartmental Collaboration: Courses in film music, acting, and video production make you a well-rounded professional.
  • Extracurricular Opportunities: Volunteer experiences at film festivals and community projects enhance your learning and networking opportunities.

Notable alumni, such as Hailey Torborg and Brynn Artley, have leveraged their education to achieve remarkable success in the industry. Hailey served as President of Film Club and interned at major film festivals, while Brynn’s work has been featured in prestigious festivals and events.

Career Prospects for Graduates

Graduates of Winona State University’s Film Studies program are well-prepared for careers in:

  • Advertising
  • Cinematography
  • Directing
  • Film Review Writing
  • Production Finance
  • Technical Writing

Madeline Peterson, a distinguished alumna, exemplifies the program’s strength with her dual major in Film Studies and English, as well as her successful internships and festival volunteer work.

With its comprehensive coverage of filmmaking aspects and robust community engagement, Winona State University provides a solid foundation for a flourishing career in the film industry.

Rochester Institute of Technology – Film and Animation BFA: Animation Option

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) offers a Film and Animation BFA with an Animation Option, making it a standout choice for students interested in various forms of animation.

Key Features of RIT’s Animation Option

  • Diverse Tracks: Choose from 2D animation, 3D animation, or stop motion animation, allowing you to focus on your preferred style.
  • Hands-On Learning: Begin making films from day one, gaining practical experience from story development to post-production.
  • Cutting-Edge Technology: Utilize state-of-the-art labs equipped with TVPaint, Maya, Toon Boom Harmony, Dragonframe, and Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Industry Exposure: Participate in the Study Away: LA program for a semester in Los Angeles, learning from industry professionals.
  • Specialization Opportunities: Specialize in video game arts, collaborating with developers on game and digital media projects.
  • Real-World Experience: Engage in cooperative education and internships supported by RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.
  • Networking Events: Attend Creative Industry Days to connect with professionals in art, design, film, and animation fields.

RIT’s approach ensures you get comprehensive knowledge and practical skills in animation. The emphasis on real-world experience and industry connections makes it a competitive choice in the realm of filmmaking education.

Visit RIT’s Animation Option to learn more.

How to Choose the Best Filmmaking School in Rochester MN

Selecting the right filmmaking school can shape your career and opportunities in the film industry. Here are key factors to consider:

1. Program Curriculum

Understand the curriculum:

  • In-Depth Learning: Ensure the curriculum covers all filmmaking aspects, such as directing, producing, screenwriting, and editing.
  • Career Alignment: Match the program with your career goals to ensure it provides the necessary skills and knowledge.

2. Faculty Expertise

Research instructors’ backgrounds:

  • Industry Experience: Look for faculty members with significant industry experience and connections.
  • Diverse Expertise: Instructors should have diverse skills and specialties, offering a well-rounded education.

3. Hands-on Learning

Prioritize practical experience:

  • Real-World Projects: Choose programs that emphasize student participation in real-world film projects.
  • Technical Skills: Ensure access to modern equipment and technology, providing hands-on technical skills.

4. Industry Connections

Evaluate networking opportunities:

  • Internships: Look for schools with strong intern partnerships in the film industry.
  • Alumni Network: A robust alumni network can offer mentorship and job placement opportunities.

5. Facilities and Equipment

Check the availability of resources:

  • State-of-the-Art Labs: Access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment is crucial.
  • Tech Integration: Ensure the integration of advanced software used in the industry.

6. Student Projects and Showcases

Assess project opportunities:

  • Film Festivals: Opportunities to showcase work at film festivals or school events.
  • Portfolio Development: Programs should help you build a strong portfolio through various projects.

7. Internships and Externships

Real-world experience:

  • Externships: Programs like Film Connection offer externships within actual production companies, providing immersive learning experiences.
  • Career Readiness: Internships prepare you for the professional world by offering practical work scenarios.

8. Alumni Success

Research alumni outcomes:

  • Success Stories: Consider the success of past graduates in the film industry.
  • Notable Achievements: Schools that highlight successful alumni indicate effective training and industry relevance.

9. Location

Consider geographical benefits:

  • Proximity to Film Hubs: While proximity to major film hubs can be beneficial, programs like Film Connection offer industry experience in your local area without relocation.

10. Cost

Balance financial aspects:

  • Tuition: Assess the cost of tuition and available financial aid or scholarships.
  • Return on Investment: Weigh the potential benefits and opportunities the program offers against its cost.

These criteria will guide you in choosing the filmmaking school that matches your aspirations and career goals.


Choosing the best filmmaking school in Rochester MN is a pivotal decision for aspiring filmmakers. Whether you prefer the hands-on, immersive experience offered by Film Connection, the comprehensive Film Studies program at Winona State University, or the specialized Animation Option at the Rochester Institute of Technology, assess your needs carefully to find the right fit.

By considering factors such as curriculum, faculty expertise, hands-on opportunities, and industry connections, you can select a program that offers valuable training and sets you up for success in the film industry. Explore these top schools and start your journey toward a rewarding career in filmmaking.

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