DePaul Cinema dean describes why school is tops

Dean David Miller, Acting Direcotr of the School of Cinematic Arts

While DePaul’s omission from The Hollywood Reporter’s 2015 list of 25 best film schools in the US was disappointing, Dean David Miller is presenting many good reasons confirming why the school “is easily a Top 25 program” – listings notwithstanding.

Dr. Miller has been dean of the College of Computing and Digital Media since it started in 1981.  He is Acting Director of the School of Cinematic Arts of which he said, “It’s the best film school in the Midwest for a number of reasons,” in a statement to ReelChicago, starting with faculty. 

One of the school’s newest hires is former Disney animator Brian Ferguson, who teaches alongside top local talent, such as full-time faculty as cinematographer Pete Biagi and producer Steven A. Jones.

Another good reason: DePaul Cinespace, a 20,000-sq. ft. soundstage where students can learn their craft hands-on, one of a handful of such collaborative facilities in the US.

“Students can reserve and use a 3-ton grip truck for location production of student films. With Arri Alexas, Red Epics and Canon C300s as our premier cameras and exceptional access to equipment, no school in the country has better,” he said.

Miller also pointed out a lengthy list of industry notables who have enlightened students by speaking at the school, mentioning David Simon and Jon Favreau as commencement speakers.

“Oscar-winner Bruce Joel Ruben and writing team David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples spoke at our Page One Screenwriting Conference … and the Wachowskis, Bob Odendkirk, Werner Herzog, Paula Wagner, Tim Robbins, Steve Levitan, Bob Gale, Lucy Alibar, have been featured at our School of Cinematics Arts Visiting Artists Series in recent years,” he noted.

Student achievement notable as faculty, visiting celebrities

Miller also takes great pride in student achievement, calling students and alumni “just as notable as our faculty and visiting celebrities.” Last month, senior Zoe Lubeck won the US BAFTA Award for best student film.

“Three recent graduates from our MFA in Screenwriting, a fairly new degree, are quarter finalists in the prestigious Nichols Fellowship Screenwriting Contest this year; two have advanced to the semifinals, putting them in the top 2% of entrants. 

“Another graduate, Josh Golden, just sold a script he wrote as an undergraduate to New Line Cinema.

“Alumnae Amanda Pflieger produced the SXSW Audience Award-winning film, ‘Animals,’ and Angie Gaffney is co-founder and executive director of Stage 18 film/media incubator at Cinespace.”

New MFA in Documentary to start in 2016

DePaul’s first degree in cinematic arts, begun ten years ago, has grown to have MFA degrees in Cinema, Screenwriting, and Animation, he said.  An MFA in Documentary will begin in fall, 2016. 

“At the master’s level, we offer an MS in Cinema Production and an MA in Animation. Our undergraduate programs include BA and BFA degrees in Animation, and BA and BS degrees in Digital Cinema.  More than 1,000 students were enrolled in these majors in 2014-15.”

With so much going for it, Dean Miller sounds confident that DePaul will more than qualify as a Top 25 film school in anyone’s list as it continues to move forward.