The School of Cinematic Arts achieved the number one ranking for film schools nationwide in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual list for the fourth year in a row.
The publication cited USC’s innovative virtual reality incubator as one reason the University received the top spot.
USC recently partnered with Jaunt VR, a company that provides virtual reality cameras to immerse people in an all-encompassing viewing experience, to create the Jaunt Cinematic Virtual Reality Lab. The first stage of the lab will consist of a trial period to allow students and faculty to understand the program. Eventually, virtual reality classes will be offered once professors are familiar with the system.
“I think what makes us a compelling choice is our focus on the future,” said Elizabeth Daley, dean of the School of Cinematic Arts. “The Hollywood Reporter mentioned our efforts in virtual reality. We believe our students have the talent to conceive and create exciting VR content, and we want them to have the technology to explore and experiment.”
USC alum George Lucas’s $10 million donation to establish an endowment for minority scholarships further distinguishes SCA from other film schools, according to The Hollywood Reporter ranking. Each year, a group of minority students will be selected as George Lucas Scholars and receive financial assistance from the school. The goal of the scholarship fund is to help increase minority representation within the film industry, thus allowing more diverse perspectives to be showcased in theaters.
“Diversity … might seem like an issue that is removed from technology,” Daley said. “But it’s also incredibly important to our industry’s future because we cannot continue to grow without being inclusive.”
Daley also noted SCA’s prominent faculty, many of whom have won Academy Awards and have produced innovative works throughout their careers. Daley said that SCA’s mix of scholarly and professional faculty creates a more holistic experience for students.
USC’s location near the Hollywood studios and other film companies, as well as its extensive alumni network in the industry, also likely plays a role in its success.
“I think location matters a lot,” said Sadie Cibula, a freshman majoring in cinema and media studies. “A lot of people know USC. I went to a high school where a lot of my friends’ parents had been very successful in the entertainment industry after going to USC.”
As of 2015, USC SCA alumni have collectively won 82 Oscars with 289 nominations as well as 129 Emmy wins and 607 nominations. On Sept. 18, more SCA graduates have the chance to win an Emmy.
“We graduate students who are broadly educated in both the theory and practice of filmmaking,” Daley said. “They are not narrowly trained in one special area and so are able to move more quickly into their career. They know the history of the field, they know how to use the tools, and they have a vision for their own work.”