The University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television ascended to No. 24 in The Wrap’s latest ranking of the country’s Top 50 Film Schools, marking the highest overall ranking the school has achieved in six years. It retains its No. 6 spot among public film schools nationwide.
The annual publication, which was released on Oct. 20, offers “insights into the schools that shape the future of the film industry for prospective film students, parents, and industry professionals.” The rankings are determined based on a number of factors including class size, student body diversity, scholarships, networking opportunities, and faculty and alumni success.
The UArizona School of Theatre, Film & Television (TFTV) had several significant achievements in the past year.
• Faculty members Jacob Bricca, ACE and Lisa Molomot won a 2023 Peabody Award for their accoladed and timely documentary Missing in Brooks County, about the fate of migrants crossing rural Texas. As founder and co-chair of the American Cinema Editors Education Committee, Bricca regularly brings A-list editors into the classroom such as Academy Award winning editor Paul Rogers (Everything Everywhere All At Once).
• The School marked the 25th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death with a screening of documentary filmmaker Beverly Seckinger’s film Laramie Inside Out, as well as a new Arizona Repertory Theatre production of the Tectonic Theater Project’s ground-breaking play The Laramie Project, for which Matthew Shepard’s parents were in attendance. Emmy-nominated TFTV faculty member and Tectonic Theater Project member writer/actor Greg Pierotti directed the play he originally co-wrote and performed. Drawn from over 200 interviews about the murder of Matthew Shepard, The Laramie Project was a turning point in the national conversation about hate, love and acceptance in America. Pierotti and his fellow Tectonic members adapted the play into an Emmy-nominated film for HBO, viewed by a global audience of more than twenty million to date.
• Faculty member and filmmaker Lisanne Skyler, an alumna of the Sundance, Venice, New York, and San Francisco International Film Festivals, runs TFTV’s Internship and Early Career Program like a professional talent agency with faculty and alumni providing personalized career guidance and placement to students and emerging alumni, and recruiting partnerships with Paramount, Disney, NBCU, The Gersh Agency, UTA and Disney. This year through TFTV’s partnership with the Disney Apprenticeship Program, graduates Desirée Bourret (’22), Sebastián Leyva (’22) and Anthony Romero (’22) were placed into entry level positions at ABC News Studios, with a competitive starting salary and relocation costs. Faculty and staff, many of whom are festival veterans of Sundance, Cannes, Venice, New York, San Francisco and Berlin, additionally connect students through their professional individual networks.
• University of Arizona Film & Television alumni are equal parts high achievers and dedicated mentors, sharing job leads, visiting classes, jurying student films and offering internships. Recent speakers in TFTV classes include FX’s Director of Production Sean Florchak, producer Neal Edelstein (Mulholland Drive) and six-time Peabody Award winner and eight time-Emmy Nominated director Paul Pennolino. A 2023 Primetime Emmy nominee for Outstanding Directing in a Variety Series, Paul frequently shares with UA directing students insights from a career spanning ten seasons of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, TBS’s Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, National Geographic’s Explorer and Apple TV Plus’s The Problem with Jon Stewart.
• With full sponsorship from the Hanson FilmTV Institute, ten students traveled to the Sundance Film Festival in January, where they worked as festival volunteers and met with industry professionals, gaining connections and behind-the-scenes knowledge.
• University of Arizona also brought emerging TFTV filmmakers to SXSW to present their festival-lauded films as part of an interdisciplinary program. “Being at SXSW was an extraordinary experience and an incredible opportunity to present the film I created at the University of Arizona and to encourage others to pursue their passion at the UA School of Theatre, Film & Television,” said Zach Lovvorn (’20).
• TFTV students collected awards and nominations for their work in front of and behind the camera at the 2023 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Student Production Awards. Marking a first-time Acting win for the University of Arizona, Senior Babacar Ba collected the award for Outstanding College Talent Performer for his starring role in Ryan Ramsey’s senior thesis film Deserted. TFTV was also represented in the category of College Fiction Short Form – Rene Marcelle and Fiona Paskoff earned a nomination for their dark comedy Opening Night.
• TFTV film students again made waves on the global film festival circuit this year. At 7, Tatum Sailors’ heartwarming short doc which tracks the life of a 7 year-old boy living with Type One diabetes, has been selected for 6 festivals including San Diego Comic Con, the Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival and the Academy Award-qualifying Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. It’s A Worm’s World, Jason Lee and Kaleigh Brown’s film about the vital role of the humble earthworm, has drawn attention at festivals from Texas to California to Australia.Read The Wrap 2023 College Issue