The Best Film Schools in Canada of 2020

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Canada’s multi-billion-dollar television and film industry is weathering the global pandemic better than many, with world-class film, visual effects, animation and post-production companies already well established and employing thousands of talented people across the country. To help fuel the talent pipeline, film production schools have grown and continue to thrive in the major hubs that draw productions from around the world, producing award-winning graduates and making Canada a great place to launch a career in the film industry.

From Vancouver to Halifax, Toronto, Montreal and in smaller centres, the movie and TV business employed nearly 181,000 people in 2018-2019 in roles that included everything from special effects and animation to sound editing, camera operation and post-production. In that same period, the total volume of film and television production reached a record $9.32 billion, generating a GDP of $12.8 billion for the Canadian economy according to the Motion Picture Association.

From one-year diploma and certificate programs to four-year bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Canada’s leading film schools provide a range of technical programs to choose from to prepare you for a career in film production. Film school graduates are also employed in journalism and advertising, where demand for visual storytelling skills is strong. Whether you want to be a sound editor, screenwriter or shoot a cinematic masterpiece, these schools and the industry professionals who teach at them will help you build the knowledge, skills and networks you need to enjoy a career at the epicentre of Canada’s creative economy.

1.

University of British Columbia 5/5

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2.

Vancouver Film School 4.15/5

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3.

York University 4.15/5

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4.

Ryerson University 4.15/5

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5.

Capilano University 4/5

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6.

Toronto Film School 5/5

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7.

Concordia University 5/5

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8.

Simon Fraser University 5/5

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9.

Sheridan College 5/5

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10.

Fanshawe College 4/5

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11.

George Brown 3/5

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12.

Red Deer College 3/5

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13.

Trebas Institute 4.5/5

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1

University of British Columbia

5 out of 5
ubc-film-school
$ $ $ $

About University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world and recognized as North America’s most international university. UBC’s Vancouver campus is home to a renowned film training program that has produced innovative artists and theatre practices for more than 50 years. Film production is hands-on and students learn by doing. The goal of the program is to produce independent filmmakers with the skills and imagination to contribute to and shape the industry. Students learn from more senior students as they work together on student film sets outside of class. Program graduates include the producer of the acclaimed television series The Good Fight.

What You’ll Learn

This four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program is taught at a variety of locations around the UBC campus including the NBC Studio — a convertible classroom space featuring a green screen and lighting grid. Editing rooms have computers with both Final Cut Pro and Premiere software for editing as well as software for other aspects of post-production. Courses include Introduction to Motion Picture Directing, Film and Media Production, Motion Picture Sound, Post-Production Techniques, Cinematography and more.

Locations

Vancouver

2

Vancouver Film School

4.15 out of 5
vancouver-film-school
4.15/5
$ $ $ $

About Vancouver Film School

Founded in 1987, VFS operates like a major film studio with multiple production facilities for creating film, TV, games, animation, design, digital applications and more. You will have access to the school’s alumni directory and make connections that will help you launch your career. The school offers 15 post-secondary programs taught by industry professionals across eight campuses across Vancouver in the heart of Canada’s Hollywood North.

What Students Are Saying

I graduated from the film production program in 2007 and found a job almost right away. I landed in LA and began working as a Production Assistant on the show Desperate Housewives and other shows. I have to say, VFS helped me fit right in and gave me the skills and industry knowledge I needed to grow. I really enjoyed my time there and think it's a great place to learn art, camera and assistant directing.

Gino Sartor, Film Production

What You’ll Learn

You can graduate with a diploma in film production in one year with a demo reel of your work. Students explore the five disciplines of filmmaking during the year and can specialize in two of five key creative streams: directing, cinematography, producing, production design and post-production.

Locations

Vancouver

3

York University

$ $ $ $

About York University School of the Arts

Guided by award-winning professionals with real-world experience, students gain practical experience, explore career options, build relationships with prospective employers through field placements, internships and the School’s partnerships with creative industries and arts organizations, from Facebook to Canadian Stage.

Small classes (From 25 students in the first year to 10-15 students in the third and fourth year) allow for strong mentoring by our internationally recognized (and continuously productive) faculty.

What You’ll Learn

This four-year program includes courses in cinematography, editing, and sound alongside studies in the concepts and practices of screenwriting, directing and producing. Students work together in crews on a range of digital and film formats, utilizing industry-standard production and post-production facilities. The program combines in-depth technical instruction with a strong emphasis on the creative aspects of film as a medium of storytelling, social engagement, and self-expression.

Locations

Toronto

4

Ryerson University

ryerson-school-of-image-arts
$ $ $ $

About Ryerson University

Located in the centre of Toronto and steps to the city’s entertainment district, Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts is known for its film school and the ability for students to make connections in the film industry while learning alongside professionals who are embedded in the industry that continues to be a vital part of the economy in Ontario.

What You’ll Learn

The hands-on Image Arts: Film Studies, Bachelor of Fine Arts program provides real-world experience side by side with working filmmakers and internship opportunities. Courses include film production, film technology, film theory, writing, directing, producing, cinematography, sound, art direction and editing. In the third year, students can pursue the Integrated Digital option to focus on digital media through specialized production and technical courses.

The Film Studies Program offers a comprehensive academic framework for undergraduate studies in the theory and practice of analogue and digital storytelling leading to career choices in the Canadian screen industries and to further study at the graduate level. The program emphasizes experiential learning and is designed to nurture personal visions that will contribute to the growth and diversity of Canadian culture, as well as enhancing Canada’s presence in international film and video.

Locations

Toronto

5

Capilano University

4 out of 5
capilano_university
$ $ $ $

About Capilano University

Located in North Vancouver on the slopes of the North Shore Mountains, Capilano University is known for small classes (25 students on average) providing individualized attention and support. Instructors have credentials from the professional fields in which they teach — from business and music to applied behaviour analysis, with connections from working in their respective industries. Many programs offer practical work placement learning in the form of co-op and work practicum placements. It’s also in the heart of Canada’s West Coast film industry.

 

What You’ll Learn

This four-year Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts Degree program is delivered in the university’s Bosa Centre for Film and Animation. You will work with up-to-date professional equipment and facilities that include an 8000 sq. ft. sound stage, 3D camera rigs and a 3D editing lab. Courses include technical directing, cinematography foundation, production design, advanced editing, sound editing and sound recording, and screenwriting and producing.

Locations

Vancouver

6

Toronto Film School

5 out of 5
toronto-film-school
$ $ $ $

About Toronto Film School

Located at Dundas Square in the core of Toronto’s vibrant downtown and close to the city’s entertainment district and filmmaking centre, the Toronto Film School offers a hands-on, collaborative education opportunity covering all aspects of filmmaking. The school offers small classes with lots of one-on-one instruction and mentoring. You will build relationships with fellow students and a professional network while in the program and out in the field.

What You’ll Learn

Whether you’re looking to be a director, producer, camera operator, sound designer or post-production supervisor, the Toronto Film School programs can take you in several directions in the world of filmmaking.

Courses include audio, editing, cinematography, production, camera and set procedure, marketing and promotion, advanced directing, storyboards and visual storytelling. Upon completing the Film Production Diploma, there is the opportunity to apply for a six or 12-month work placement to obtain valuable work experience and an additional diploma.

Locations

Toronto

7

Concordia University

5 out of 5
$ $ $ $

About Concordia University

Located in the vibrant, multi-cultural city of Montreal, Concordia provides the perfect backdrop to learn the craft of film making surrounded by the city’s busy film industry. With relatively small class sizes, 75 per cent of courses have fewer than 60 students. The school draws more than 50,000 students every year, and the faculty has strong ties to the industry.

What You’ll Learn

At the centre of the Bachelor of Fine Arts, Film Production program is the Filmmaking I, II, and III courses. Supporting the core production courses in the program are technical courses such as cinematography and sound. Other courses incorporate the process and aesthetic considerations such as writing, directing, expanded cinema, montage, production design and creative producing.

The Master of Fine Arts, Film Production combines seminar courses in art criticism, history and theory, augmented by workshops, visiting lectures and special projects, with independent, supervised studio practice in the first two years and the third year is devoted to studio practice and production.

Locations

Montreal

8

Simon Fraser University

simon-fraser-university
$ $ $ $

About Simon Fraser University 

Established in 1965, Simon Fraser University is located in Canada’s West Coast filmmaking hub with campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey. The film program is located in the School for the Contemporary Arts in downtown Vancouver. Given the location, the school maintains strong ties with national and regional festivals, post-production houses, sound houses and industry professionals.

What You’ll Learn

The Bachelor of Fire Arts film program combines technical training and skills development with instruction in cinema studies and history. Of the approximately 125 people who apply to the program each year, 24 are accepted. Those 24 students move together as a group forming close working relationships. The program offers three options for study: Major in Film, Extended Minor in Film, Minor in Film and Video Studies. In the first-year students learn to shoot 16mm film on Bolex cameras and how to hand-process film. In the third and fourth years, the option to shoot on film is still there, though many students still opt to work in digital video.

Locations

Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey.

9

Sheridan College

5 out of 5
sheridan-college
$ $ $ $

About Sheridan College

Located west of Toronto, Sheridan College is well known for its creative programs and attracts instructors with relevant and recent industry experience. Their production facilities are current, allowing students to learn from the best in an ideal setting. Student work consistently wins awards at film festivals in North America.

 

What You’ll Learn

The Advanced Television & Film Production one-year program integrates the practical, technical and creative aspects of television and film studies while providing the direct, industry-relevant experience. Students will be trained on specialized skills and understand technologies and production methods required in the industry. Courses will cover directing, screenwriting, editing, sound, production design, post-production and cinematography. Camera students will work in professional-style camera teams coached by industry gaffers and cinematographers. Audio students are trained in software such as Pro Tools, and Sheridan has two industry-style mixing theatres for audio mix playback.

In the Honours Bachelor of Film and Television, you can choose electives in direction, production, writing and editing to find where your talent lies. You’ll specialize in documentary or drama production, scriptwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, or sound in your final semesters. You’ll work in teams, partnering with others in different specializations to pitch, seek funding, write and produce your project. You’ll go through the same process filmmakers do to prepare you for the industry. Students do a 14-week work placement (between semesters 6 and 7) and a portfolio project.

Locations

Oakville, Ontario.

10

Fanshawe College

4 out of 5
fanshawe-college
$ $ $ $

About Fanshawe College

Located in southwestern Ontario, Fanshawe College is one of Ontario’s largest colleges with four campuses in London, Woodstock, St. Thomas and Simcoe and is home to more than 43,000 students every year. Fanshawe’s hands-on Advanced Filmmaking program is designed for students looking for practical skills to provide them with the knowledge needed to enter the film and television world.

 

What Students Are Saying

I did film at Fanshawe and it delivered what it promised. Some of my instructors were awesome while others were so-so. I grew up in London and stayed close to home but realized after I was in the program that there are other schools in Toronto that have a better reputation. Also people talk about Fanshawe's "slacker vibe", but you don't have to fall into that trap. You can find slackers at every school. In the end, I have a stable job in my field and I live in Toronto. So no regrets, but make sure you put in the work and start networking from Day One.

John Hofman, Film & Television Production

What You’ll Learn

This graduate certificate program will build on your prior technical, theoretical and creative knowledge and introduce you to the range of possibilities available when working as part of a film crew. You will be guided through the hands-on technical and artistic aspects of documentary and narrative filmmaking by industry professionals. You will gain an understanding of the Canadian film industry and have the option of taking an internship with one of the college’s industry partners. Brock University and Fanshawe have developed an articulation agreement to allow qualified students to earn both a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Film Studies and an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Advanced Filmmaking. You can start at either Fanshawe or Brock.

 

Locations

London, Ontario.

11

George Brown

3 out of 5
$ $ $ $

About George Brown College

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, one of the most important filmmaking hubs in North America. The city is a “living lab” for students in the film programs. It is here they will learn the craft of sound and video design and production and gain access to professionals in the field who may ultimately hire them one day. There are three main campuses and several other locations that place students in the heart of downtown Toronto — St. James Campus, Casa Loma Campus and the Waterfront Campus.

What You’ll Learn

With the growth of the mobile entertainment and gaming industry in North America, there’s an increased demand for sound designers. George Brown College’s Sound Design & Production program focuses on creating sound for film, television and games. Students work in collaboration with other media programs to create sound for shorts, animations and games. Courses include sound design theory, sound design, applied postproduction, game audio design, production and location sound and more.

George Brown College’s Video Design & Production diploma program will expose students to traditional and emerging film techniques. Courses include digital video technology, digital production, digital storytelling, audio production, video editing and visual effects, directing, and a capstone project.

 

Locations

Toronto: St. James Campus, Casa Loma Campus and the Waterfront Campus.

12

Red Deer College

red-deer-college-creative-arts-film
$ $ $ $

About Red Deer College

Located about halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, Red Deer College was established in 1964, offering more than 100 programs. In 2018 received approval to become a university offering degree programs and is transitioning to become a polytechnic university in the next three to five years.

What You’ll Learn

This four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts degree program in film, theatre and live entertainment will prepare graduates for entry-level work as performers, directors, producers, or technicians in mid to large-sized theatres, film sets and production companies. The program offers a choice of majors, including film production and live entertainment. The four years are dedicated to mentored work-related experience where students can work in a relevant industry or on independent projects. Courses include an introduction to film, visual fundamentals, advanced cinematography, post-production and more.

 

Locations

Red Deer, Alberta

13

Trebas Institute

4.5 out of 5
trebas-institute
4.5/5
$ $ $ $

About Trebas Institute

Study film production in Toronto — one of the top centres of filmmaking in North America. Established in 1979, Trebas Institute is a private career college focused on providing the skills needed for people to succeed in the entertainment industry. About 80 per cent of graduates from Trebas Institute find a job related to their field within six months into careers such as film and video editors, gaffer/grip, screenwriting, post-production work, and cinematography.

What Students Are Saying

Recently graduated from Trebas Institute; such good vibes. The teachers are outstanding and are all working professionals in the field. The helpfulness of the faculty and instructors really stood out. The whole programme was geared towards helping kickstart careers and advancing in our industries - many resources provided and networks made. Definitely a breeding ground of the up-and-coming in the entertainment industry in Montreal. I will definitely go back to visit.

Rio Aleksandr,

What You’ll Learn

You will be immersed in learning how to operate essential equipment for the film industry, including cameras (HD, 4K and more), lighting and audio equipment, green screens, contemporary video post-production and editing software. Projects will include working on short films, a web series, television broadcasts and commercials. The instructors have vast experience in entertainment production and are always bringing new techniques to the learning experience of each program.

Locations

Toronto

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