This is your
Chicago Classroom

Real filmmaking education. Real film industry connections.

An Immersive
Film Education

From directing to producing to editing and screenwriting, our externship-based, mentor-taught programs avoid the unnecessary costs and unrelated requirements of ordinary film schools and programs. Work directly with an accomplished industry filmmaker at a fully-equipped film production company.

Programs

You will study inside a real film production company in your city as you develop your movie idea with a professional filmmaker. Then you will fly to Los Angeles or New York to pitch your idea to an executive that could buy or get your movie idea made.

Film Production & Editing Details

The screenwriter is the person who creates, takes, or adapts an idea and formulates a screenplay. Without the writer, there would be no movie. Period. He or she is the starting gate. He or she is the person that starts the ball rolling down the hill.

Screenwriting Details

In many ways the film editor is the most misunderstood of all film professionals. Often considered just a film technician, a good editor is, without doubt, much more than that. He or she is also a qualified storyteller of the highest order.

Film Editing Details

The cinematographer is literally the set ‘magician.’ DPs are responsible for the technological wizardry to help create the needed light, while at the same time also having the keen sensibility to shape the light for the greatest artistic effect.

Cinematography Details

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Chicago

Film Connection Locations
Schedule a Tour

Visit a Film Production Company
In Chicago

Get started with a tour of one of our Illinois apprenticeship/externship locations. Or call us for more information at (312) 878-4470


  • Personal Details
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  • Tuition

Contact Information

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Note: If you are serious about learning real-world audio production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world radio production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world film production the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Note: If you are serious about learning real-world culinary skills the way we teach it, answer the following questions to expedite your admissions process.

Which of the following do you have experience with?

What large city is closest to where you live? (Or, which city do you live in?)

Are you willing to go there twice a week for six months?

Tuition

How do you plan on paying for your tuition?
*When paid in full, tuition will receive a $2000 reduction, bringing the program’s total tuition of $12,200 to $10,200 not including administrative fees.

Are you a member or veteran of the military?


What are your goals?


* Not all programs are available in every state. Consult an Admissions Representative to learn more.

Tuition
Comparison

Film Connection’s mentor styled education is a cost-effective approach to hands-on, curriculum backed education in film production and editing and cinematography.

 

Learn More About Tuition

 

View BBB A+ Rating for Film Connection Film Institute
$12,200 Tuition
$0* Loan Interest

Trade
School

$44,000 Tuition
$61,000 Loan Interest

2-Year
Junior College

$22,000 Tuition
$20,500 Loan Interest

4-Year
Traditional College

$88,000 Tuition
$122,000 Loan Interest

Average Accrued Interest Charges
Sources: Sallie Mae student loan calculator - Nerd Wallet - Best Value Schools - Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

About Our Chicago Film School Alternative

Our fully-immersive curriculum
covers all of the following:

Building Relationships

Learn filmmaking in the real world with the Film Connection’s mentored externship-based approach. We make building relationships an integral part of what we do.

Hardware and Equipment

Film Connection mentors work in the real world where the competition is fierce and having the right gear matters. As an extern you have access to the latest hardware and tools of the trade.

On-Set Etiquette

Knowing how to handle yourself on the set is a prerequisite for any successful career in filmmaking. Your mentor will guide you through proper etiquette during real film shoots.

Making Movies

We believe the whole point of going to any film school or program should be to learn how to make movies—especially YOUR movie. Our curriculum is designed around this concept, from start to finish.

What is the Next Step?

We get it. This isn’t your normal four-year college or trade school program. We’re different, even innovative and you need to understand more before you apply. Here’s how you can get more info:


Request Information Externship Location Call Admissions

Meet our Mentors

Why learn from teachers when you can learn from the professionals?

Steven Schott Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Steven Schott Chicago Mentor

Background

Credits: Jeff Foxworthy Show, The Lost Calendar, The Final Season Request an Invitation

Daniel Sollinger Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Daniel Sollinger Chicago Mentor

Background

Producer: The Alphabet Killer, Six Ways to Sunday, Alone in the Dark II, In My Sleep, Girls Against Boys, Deadliest Warrior, Age of Kali Request an Invitation

Joe Van Wie Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Joe Van Wie Chicago Mentor

Background

Following a spirited and notorious adolescence in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Joe did a stretch at New York University and ended up spending nearly a decade as an accomplished part of the New York City’s lively film and TV industry. During this time, he racked up credits ranging from producing feature films premiering at international film festivals to directing and producing content for a variety of national cable television networks. His most recent film is the locally-shot award-winning feature Forged. Joe is an active board member on the boards of Dress for Success, The Scranton Club and the American Advertising Federation of NEPA. Joe is also a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the American Association of Political Consultants, and two time Pollie award winner. Request an Invitation

John Lux Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

John Lux Chicago Mentor

Background

John Lux is the Chief Operating Officer for the IDEAS media and experience design company, which employs film program graduates nationwide. The projects his company handles stretch from Florida, to Europe, and as far as Shangai, China. Request an Invitation

Rebecca Ramon Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Rebecca Ramon Chicago Mentor

Background

Rebecca Ramon hails from Battle Creek, MI and is a proud Midwestern girl. She believes that’s exactly what keeps her down to earth and youthful. With a BA in Broadcasting & Cable production from Western Michigan University, and an MFA in Film Production from Chapman University, one of the top ten film schools in the nation, she’s definitely standing on her own two feet. Not only does Rebecca have a formal education, her mentor for post production was Paul Seydor, a member of ACE; the honorary society of motion picture editors. Paul edited movies such as “White Men Can’t Jump” and “This Christmas”. In other words, she has learned from the best, and has over ten years of experience, which ranges from pre-production to post-production in several mediums. Most importantly, she has the passion to share her knowledge as a mentor. Request an Invitation

Tabitha Hartbauer Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Tabitha Hartbauer Chicago Mentor

Background

The BSP editing facility sets the standard for editing in Colorado. Three video edit suites utilize “Premiere Pro CS6”, “Final Cut Pro” and “DaVinci” and project Panasonic High Definition 1080p images on to 110” Stewart Screens. Request an Invitation

Jason Hewitt Chicago Mentor

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Jason Hewitt Chicago Mentor

Background

Odd Thomas, 13 Sins, Blood Out, Left Behind, Season of the Witch, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, The Outsider Request an Invitation

Steve Riach Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Steve Riach Chicago Mentor

Background

Steve is an award winning producer, director and writer of over 250 films, documentaries, television shows and home video properties, including specials from the Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series, NBA and NCAA Championships, and college football bowl games. Request an Invitation

Avery Williams Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Avery Williams Chicago Mentor

Background

Avery O. Williams works steadily in both the film and theater worlds. He is the co-writer of the feature film Directing Eddie starring Valerie Perrine and Jade Barrymore, directed by Lawrence Kaldor which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was voted Best Comedy at the 2001 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. He wrote and directed the industrial film for the City of Atalanta entitled Surviving Domestic Violence and he wrote and co-produced the film short The Willie Witch Projects, which was showcased at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and is distributed by Trimark Pictures in their compilation entitled The Bogus Witch Project. Other short subject screenplays that have been made into films include Notes In A Minor Key, The Willie Witch Projects and The Chocolate Factory, Part 1. Request an Invitation

Harry Findysz Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Harry Findysz Chicago Mentor

Background

“The Film Connection Program uses real world people to mentor real world jobs.” -Harry Findysz, Tucson, Arizona, Southern Arizona Video Productions Producer of Live Television, Music Videos, Documentaries, Winner of Ashbury Best Music Documentary 2016 Linda Chorney The Cantina Request an Invitation

Greg Freeman Chicago Mentor

Read Profile

Greg Freeman Chicago Mentor

Background

Greg Freeman is an award-winning Director of Photography with nearly two decades in news, sports, entertainment, special programming, documentaries, and commercials. Greg has directed projects for nearly every major television network including ABC, Discovery, ESPN, HBO, HGTV, NBC, PBS, and more. Request an Invitation

View Full List

Chicago News

Great Movies about Moviemaking

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For The Love Of…Lists

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Five Scientific Discoveries That Need to be Movies

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Filmmaker Daytrips: LA Film Locations

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Truffaut: A Brief History

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Five Romantic Movies Nearly Everyone Will Love

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Can Being Too Indie Hurt Your Career?

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Not the Norm: Non-Traditional Roles in Film and TV

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The Film Scene in Chicago

The Chicago, Illinois Film Connection Film School Alternative

The Chicago, Illinois Film Connection Film School Advantage

1) Located Where You Are.

Our on-the-job training approach means we’re not limited to any central campus location. The Film Connection has locations all over the United States, including right here in Chicago. This means your pathway to Hollywood begins right here in the Windy City. Learn near where you live. Advantage: Film Connection.

2) Graduate With Little or No Debt with Low Tuition.

Let’s face it: student debt can be a dream-killer. The last thing you need is to be buried in debt right when you’re trying to start your film career—and yet that’s just what the other film schools will ask you to do! We don’t do it that way. We keep our tuition rate low so you can actually afford to attend our film school, and graduate with little or no debt. Other schools not only cost more, they have lots of add-on charges. Advantage: Film Connection.

3) Learn On-the-Job.

Filmmaking is a learn-by-doing profession—so why do those other schools insist on trying to make you learn it in their classrooms? Our film school program is apprenticeship (externship)-based, which means you’re placed as a working apprentice (extern) inside a Chicago production company, where all your classes take place on-the-job and on the set. It just makes more sense. Real-world experience, not useless theoretical classroom instruction. Advantage: Film Connection.

4) One-on-One Training With a Mentor.

At the Film Connection, we don’t call our instructors “teachers,” because they’re much more than that. Your instructor will be a seasoned film professional with real credits, years of experience and tons of connections—and this person will become your personal mentor, training you one-on-one. One teacher to one student. Advantage: Film Connection.

5) Endorsed by Hundreds of Film Professionals.

Who endorses the Film Connection? The film industry knows who we are, because we have a proven track record of getting our students plugged to successful film careers. More professional endorsements than any other film school. Advantage: Film Connection.

6) Real Job Placement Assistance.

Once you graduate, you won’t be left on your own. For up to a full year after graduation, our Stay Connected Program actively works with you to help you find gainful employment in the film industry. (But guess what? You might not even need our help. Many of our apprentices get hired through their mentors.) “Job placement” at other schools means handing you a cold-call lead list when you graduate. Advantage: Film Connection.

7) Become an “Insider” While You Learn.

Most film students have to go pounding on doors after they graduate. Things don’t work that way around here. With the Atlanta Film Connection, you’re in the door from day one of your training, because we put you inside a real film production company from day one. This covers one of the greatest hurdles most filmmakers face—getting someone on the “inside” to pay attention to them! As you apprentice (extern) on-the-job, you become an industry insider; it’s that simple. You’re the one actually being considered for the job while those other film school folks are outside pounding on the doors. The other guys are on the outside, looking in. Advantage: Film Connection.

8) Free Tutoring.

If you get stumped with an assignment and need help, and your mentor isn’t around, “who you gonna call?” Call us! We provide unlimited private tutoring to all our students. Unlimited private tutoring. Advantage: Film Connection.

9) Genuine Industry Connections.

The dirty little secret of the film industry (well, it’s not really a secret) is that connections are everything in this business. No matter how skilled you are at what you do, you won’t get anywhere in the film industry without connections. This is one of the greatest advantages of the Film Connection. We put you in the heart of the action, where the film professionals spend their time—and that’s where you’ll be going to school for the next six months. This means you’ll be in regular contact with hundreds of industry pros—the people who can one day hire you. Real world film industry connections. Big Advantage: Film Connection.

10) The Path to Hollywood Starts Here.

Here’s something you’ll never hear another film school offer you: a real chance to break into Hollywood with your own film! The curriculum at the Chicago Film Connection is designed to guide you through the development of your own film idea. At the end of your apprenticeship (externship), when you’re ready to make your move, we’ll arrange a meeting in Los Angeles with actual industry executives, where you’ll have the chance to pitch your film! (They don’t call us the Film Connection for nothing—we’ve got connections in L.A., too!) A real chance to break into Hollywood. Big Advantage: Film Connection. NO OTHER FILM SCHOOL DOES THIS.

Your CHICAGO, ILLINOIS FILM SCHOOL ALTERNATIVE

While there are several Chicago Film Schools from which to choose, only the FILM CONNECTION gets you working inside an actual Chicago film production company as a film student apprentice (extern), where you will learn directing, producing, editing, camera, screenwriting or general production by working alongside the pros. Hands down, the smartest way to break into the film business in Chicago is to start inside a Chicago film production company as a film apprentice (extern). We’re the school that puts you there. Why spend 50 thousand dollars or more to go to film school at a traditional film trade school? Our film school alternative costs far less, and gets you educated right in a real production company–the smartest, most cost effective way to get a film education. Be smart, learn from the pros, and get connected as you get educated. The FILM CONNECTION of Chicago can help you realize your dreams without breaking the bank. To APPLY for our Chicago Film School, click here. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS is the country’s 3rd largest DMA, behind only New York and Los Angeles. The city is rich in sports history, playing host to the Chicago Cubs and White Sox in baseball, the Bulls in basketball, the Bears in the NFL and the Blackhawks in the NHL. From a media perspective, all four networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) own and operate major Chicago TV stations, and of course, the Oprah Winfrey Network is headquartered here. Notable figures in the film and TV industries who were born in Chicago include Walt Disney, Harrison Ford, John Cusack, John Mahoney, Quincy Jones, Pat Sajak, Robin Williams and Benny Goodman. The “Windy City” also boasts a rich history in film; a little known fact is that Chicago was America’s largest filmmaking hub before Hollywood assumed the title. Film icon Charlie Chaplin launched his career in Chicago, working for pioneering film company Essenay Studios alongside Gloria Swanson before moving to Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Chicago saw a rebirth of filmmaking under the leadership of Mayor Jane Byne, and since that time, thousands of films and TV shows have been filmed in and around Chicago. Here’s just a sampling of them:
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • The Dark Knight
  • Wanted
  • Flatliners
  • A League of Their Own
  • Cheaper By the Dozen
  • The Fugitive
  • Prison Break (TV Series)
  • Divergent
  • Chicago Fire (TV Series)
  • Chicago P.D. (TV Series)
  • Public Enemies
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Save the Last Dance
  • Road to Perdition
The rapid pace and high volume of TV and film production in the city allows the FILM CONNECTION to offer its Chicago film students exceptional opportunities to learn one-on-one from a working professional mentor in a real film production company in Chicago. The other film schools will stick you in a classroom; we train you on-the-job, where you can actually connect to the film industry. With strong professional connections and relationships forged over the years, the FILM CONNECTION is in a unique position to help fulfill our students’ dreams of a career in the film and television industries—and that’s just the start. With our structured curriculum and your mentor’s help, you can even develop your own film idea, and then the FILM CONNECTION will arrange for you to pitch your film to real LA film industry executives! Between our comprehensive on-the-job training and unprecedented opportunities to make connections both in Chicago and Hollywood, it’s little wonder that the FILM CONNECTION’s mentor-apprentice (extern) approach is endorsed by some of the biggest names in the film industry! Enroll today, and let us get you on the path to your dreams. To APPLY click here.
Connections Matter

Learn From Industry Pros

The Film Connection film school alternative is endorsed by filmmakers who are making movies, maybe even the movies you love.

Professionals in the film business—including famous producers, screenwriters and directors—endorse Film Connection’s programs for one simple reason: they know our immersive hands-on method works.

Mark Kohn

Marc is an accomplished executive with a consistent record of managing costs, measuring progress with metrics and creating operational efficiencies. He’s a thoughtful and enthusiastic professional possessing the ability to create a vision, gain executive alignment and effectively lead dynamic high performance teams for success.

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Jason Hewitt

Jason Hewitt, a native of Louisiana, left the technology industry to join the film and television industry. Hewitt was an early mover in the Internet economy, founding the website creation and marketing management company Planet Symphony in 1994.

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David Fuhrer

David’s stage and studio clients include: Bravo, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, Sex & The City, American Cancer Society, Clairol, Law & Order – Criminal Intent, Amazon, Verizon, VH1, The History Channel, MTV, Director’s Guild of America and many many more.

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ICM Partners

and RRF have donated to the Hide & Seek Foundation’s SOAR (Support of Accelerated Research).

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Carl Millender

Carl Millender born in Shreveport, Louisiana on March 5, 1970 is a pioneer in the film and television industry. In 1990 Carl Millender became a cultural consultant for NBC’s new programs, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-air”, “Seinfeld”…

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Brian Glazen

Equal parts MacGyver, Steven Spielberg and Gandhi, Brian has ideas. Ideas about marketing, ideas about communication and ideas about fixing just about anything that might be broken. When he’s not sharing his ideas with clients you can usually find him fixing things at his own home or eagerly searching for things that may need fixing…

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Sam Borowski

“Film Connection truly is the ‘Film School of Hard Knocks.’ It helps new students to gain experience and network and teaches one thing I always preach to young filmmakers: practicality. It gives new students and would-be filmmakers, writers and editors, a chance to connect personally with their mentors.”

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Alex Keledjian

Producer of Project Greenlight

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Richard Berg

Richard Berg is an Art Director’s Guild and Emmy nominated Production Designer. He is responsible for the Production Design of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Eleventh Hour, Miami Medical, Chase and Modern Family. Berg is also an architect.

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Jeff Kushon

Great program. I’m proud to be a part of it.” Jeff has worked on over 200 film sets and has been a Set Decorator on hit movies, “Dude Where’s My Car”, “Nurse Betty”, “Blade 2”, “Beautiful”, “She’s All That” as well as TV shows “Modern Family”, “Trust Me” and “Miami Medical”.

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Luis Estrada

“Our first apprentice (extern) in this program was put right in the middle of the action and it was amazing how he was able to learn by doing. This Film Connection is great for people with a sincere interest in this field. Our apprentice (extern) turned out to be a reliable resource and we hope […]

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Matt Pellowski

“Being paired with working professionals and established companies allows up-and-coming artists to learn on the job, introduces them to the realities of film production, and helps them acquire the tools needed to become successful. Two of our current staff are graduates of the Film Connection.”

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Contact the Chicago Film Connection


155 North Wacker Drive--4250
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 878-4470


233 South Wacker Drive 84th Floor
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 878-4470

Email: [email protected]
Hours: M - F 11:00AM to 8:00PM

Recording, Radio, Film Connection & CASA Schools is licensed by the State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission.