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The Film Industry
in Virginia

Whether you want to be a cinematographer, film editor, director or producer; whether you want to write screenplays or work on the set; whether you want to do local production work in your home town or take your dream all the way to Hollywood; the Virginia Film Connection is your gateway to the film industry.  We’re a film school unlike any other, because with our program, you won’t spend a single day in a college or trade school classroom. Instead, you’ll be placed as a working extern in a real film production company, and paired with an actual film professional who teaches you one-on-one.  All your classes happen on-the-job and on the set, where you gain valuable work experience and make real industry connections that you could never gain in a film school classroom.

Here’s the great part: you don’t have to migrate to Los Angeles and get lost in the throng of other wannabe filmmakers in order to get your start in the film industry.  Thanks to a diversity of scenery and generous incentives offered by the state, Virginia has a large of amount of ongoing film activity, which means you can get connected to the industry right here! 

Just look at this partial list of major film and television productions that have done location filming in Virginia:

  • War of the Worlds (2005)
  • Lincoln (2012)
  • Dirty Dancing (1987)
  • Minority Report (2002)
  • Cold Mountain (2003)
  • The Recruit (2003)
  • Evan Almighty (2007)
  • What About Bob? (1991)
  • Argo (2012)
  • Captain Phillips (2013)
  • John Adams (HBO Mini-series, 2008)
  • TURN (AMC TV series, 2014)

Between these and other major productions coming into Virginia, plus the independent film scene and ongoing local productions, there are more than enough opportunities to plug in to the film industry in Virginia—but it won’t happen if you’re stuck in a classroom.  You HAVE to be where the action is happening—and that’s exactly where the Virginia Film Connection puts you.  From Roanoke to Richmond, from Charlottesville to Portsmouth, and everywhere in between, we have real film professionals ready and waiting to teach you the ropes!

The beauty of our film school is that the structured curriculum can be tailored to your needs and interests.  We’ll pair you with a professional who specializes in your area of interest in film, whether screenwriting, cinematography, film editing, directing, etc.  You’ll get plenty of hands-on experience working with your mentor on-the-job, and you’ll make lots of great connections along the way that can further your career.  And if your ultimate dream is to break into Hollywood to make your own films—we’ve got you covered there, too.  Your mentor will guide you through the development of your own film idea from concept to completion—and when you’re ready, we’ll set up the opportunity for you to pitch your film in Los Angeles to real film industry executives!  (We told you—we’re your gateway to the film industry!)

Of course, any film education you receive is worthless if you graduate with so much student debt that you can’t even get your career started.  This is an inherent danger with other film schools and their ridiculous tuition rates—but not with us.  We don’t want you getting buried in debt—we want you to succeed in your career.  So we keep our tuition rates fair and manageable, roughly 75 PERCENT LESS than our competitors charge, so you can graduate with little or no student debt and get started on your film career.

You’re now at a crossroads.  You can spend a lot of money to sit in a classroom at some other film school, graduate with a meaningless degree and a lot of debt, and hope for the best; OR you can go to the only film school that puts you in the middle of the action from your very first day of training, and get a real leg up on your new film career, for a fraction of the cost.  If you’re serious about a career in film, you owe it to yourself to look at the Virginia Film Connection. APPLY NOW FOR FREE, and we’ll give you the details. 

Programs

In the Film Connection for Film Production & Editing program, you will study directing, producing and screenwriting inside a real film production company in your city as you develop your movie idea with a professional filmmaker. Then, upon meeting the necessary requirements, you will be given the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles or New York and pitch your film idea to an executive who could buy or get your movie made.

Film Production & Editing Details

In the Film Connection for Cinematography program, you will learn the techniques involved in capturing a moving image and will start to develop “the eye of the DP.” The cinematographer is literally the set ‘magician.’ DPs are responsible for the technological wizardry required to get the needed shots and to shape light to achieve the director’s desired artistic effect.

Cinematography Details

Workshops

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 who gets the ball rolling down the hill.
 
In the Film Connection for Screenwriting workshop, you will learn the elements that make for a “Killer Script” by developing and writing your own feature length screenplay under the direction and mentorship of a working professional screenwriter.

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 so much more than that. He or she is also a qualified storyteller of the highest order.
 
In the Film Connection for Film Editing workshop, you will develop your knowledge of storytelling and screenplay structure as the foundational blueprint of a film. You will also develop your technical understanding of editing as an extern to a professional editor in a post-production facility.

Film Editing Details

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Meet our Mentors

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

Michael Van Orden Film Connection Mentor

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Michael Van Orden Film Connection Mentor

Background

Credits: Being Doug, Called to Serve, The Washing, Spit

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Albert Dabah Film Connection Mentor

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Albert Dabah Film Connection Mentor

Background

Albert has been in the video production business for thirty-three years, owning and running Simba Productions in New York City.

Clients: CNN, HBO, Apple

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Bob Kelley Film Connection Mentor

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Bob Kelley Film Connection Mentor

Background

Clients: Discovery Canada, PBS, UCDavis, Associated Press, Fox News, Blackstone Media, NBC Universal

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Marc Silber Film Connection Mentor

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Marc Silber Film Connection Mentor

Background

With a background in visual media, director Marc Silber has interviewed scores of entrepreneurs, CEOs and creative professionals over the years. His interview series has received hearty praise and has helped countless business leaders and artists tell their story.

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Craig Roessler Film Connection Mentor

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Craig Roessler Film Connection Mentor

Background

A film and television studio executive and producer for over twenty years, Craig has directly overseen, managed, and/or produced 25 films and seven network series with budgets totaling over $500 million. 

Craig is known for his project-management skills, having close working relationships with talent and directors, producing big looking, studio-quality content on tight budgets, quickly providing workable solutions for development and production issues, and completing projects on time, on budget.

As Senior Vice President of Production, Programming and Creative Affairs for MGM Television Worldwide Inc., Craig had direct oversight of all content development, and oversaw pre-production, production, post-production, while working with business & legal affairs, marketing, and promotion. His MGM product was nominated for 10 Emmy awards and numerous others including DGA, Golden Globes, PGA and SAG awards. 

He oversaw studio projects such as the series Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, Dead Like Me, and The L Word, as well as Showtime Movies Inherit the Wind, Twelve Angry Men, In the Time of the Butterflies, That Championship Season, and Rocky Marciano, which opened the Monte Carlo Film Festival. Craig has worked with a wide range of talent, from well-established actors and directors to breaking new talent. 

Craig grew up in Los Angeles and Colorado, working summers on ranches breaking and training western saddle horses. He attended Columbia University, working his way through school as an actor on NBC’s soap opera “Another World,” while learning production work skills for quick, quality content.

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Kel Thompson Film Connection Mentor

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Kel Thompson Film Connection Mentor

Background

America’s Production Company was established in 2005 by Kel Thompson who has degrees in photography & advertising from Texas State University. Kel is also a graduate of the Palm Beach Film School. Kel was first published in photography at 17 years old in TX. Kel worked for News24Houston as their first helicopter videographer, before being hired by a major event production company in Florida. Two years later he established America’s Production Company after learning the ropes in photo, video, audio and event production.

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Zef Cota Film Connection Mentor

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Zef Cota Film Connection Mentor

Background

Alphabet City Films is a film production company based in New York City, NY. We are a collective of writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, and other talented filmmakers. We have created many short films, and recently produced our first feature length film: The Trouble.

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Jim DeGroot Film Connection Mentor

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Jim DeGroot Film Connection Mentor

Background

Clients: Green Bay Packers, Disney, National Guard, Doritos, ABC World News, Good Morning America, St. Joseph’s Medical Centers, Homeland Security

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Eero Johnson Film Connection Mentor

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Eero Johnson Film Connection Mentor

Background

“I’m Eero Johnson. I’m a film and video producer living in Bellingham, Washington. For over ten years I’ve been creating commercials, corporate videos, web videos, sales DVD’s, music videos … whatever it takes to get your message to your audience. I have a great group of clients and I love what I do.”

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Chris Varner Film Connection Mentor

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Chris Varner Film Connection Mentor

Background

In a career spanning nearly 20 years, Chris has worked in almost every facet of video production, from lens to post. His credits include EPK work on “Sleepy Hollow”, “Under The Dome”, “The Longest Ride”, “We’re The Millers”, “Iron Man 3”, “One Tree Hill” and more.

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John Raffo Film Connection Mentor

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John Raffo Film Connection Mentor

Background

John Raffo started as a photographer in New York before turning his attention to screenwriting. Over the last twenty years he’s worked on a variety of credited and uncredited projects (including, DRAGON, THE BRUCE LEE STORYTHE RELIC, and THE INTERPRETER”). His original screenplay RENKO VEGA AND THE JENNIFER NINE appeared on the 2011 Black List. THE 7TH SWORD is his first story written directly as a graphic novel.

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Shawn Hamer Film Connection Mentor

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Shawn Hamer Film Connection Mentor

Background

17 time Emmy award winning DP/Camera Operator, Producer and Director with over 20 years of experience in the Film, Television and Audio business. Extensive professional experience for top clients across the country from Miami to Anchorage, from New York to San Francisco. International production experience in South & Central America as well as China for both documentary and commercial production. Well versed in handling both low and high budget production ($1k to $3.5m). Professional still shooter as well with full ProFoto strobe lighting and speedlight kits. Lots of contacts in the Detroit metro area and in major cities across the globe for every type and size production – full cinema production, 3D production, aerial shoots, camera car, crane/jib, etc. I also have shot, explored, camped and lived all over Michigan – I know the state EXTREMELY well, particularly it’s remotest regions.

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Sebastian Triscari Film Connection Mentor

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Sebastian Triscari Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Young people are the future of this industry. Mentorship programs like The Film Connection are the most efficient and effective ways for anyone who has a passion to gain the information and experience necessary to be successful!”

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Mitch Kaufman Film Connection Mentor

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Mitch Kaufman Film Connection Mentor

Background

A native of Atlantic Beach, Mitch Kaufmann has been offering video services to area businesses and residents since 1984. He started Atlantic Video Productions by shooting weddings, business seminars, and sporting events.

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Horacio Jones Film Connection Mentor

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Horacio Jones Film Connection Mentor

Background

Award winning director, Horacio Jones is a multi-faceted Video Producer, Director, and Editor. He has turned CinemaViva into one of the leading video production studios in San Diego. In addition to making outstanding corporate video productions, he is committed to making socially conscious and inspiring films and documentaries that bring magic into peoples lives in fun and colorful ways.

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Deen Olatunji Film Connection Mentor

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Deen Olatunji Film Connection Mentor

Background

Deen’s most recent film is “Warfare”, which was screened at the heart of Dallas and several other cities across the United States. Deen has also worked on several feature, short films and other content, which include “Kanaani” (Popular TV Series”), “The Call”, “King Sacrifice”, “Who Am I” , and “Dancing With The Docs-Texas”. (TV Series). He is currently working on his next projects “The Alarm Clock” (Short Film) and “Eze Back To School”  (Feature Film) all coming up in fall and winter 2016.

Deen believes the RRFC program is great because it’s one of the few reputable schools that teach you on the field which he states is a great way of learning.

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Rex Piano Film Connection Mentor

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Rex Piano Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The Film Connection allows aspiring writers to work with professionals.  The students not only learn theory, but practical applications to screenwriting.  I wish it was around when I was a student.” — Rex Piano, Producer/Director, Impact Earth, Fall of Hyperion, Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire, Murder Dot Com, Hope Ranch, The Month of August

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Matt Kaczkowski Film Connection Mentor

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Matt Kaczkowski Film Connection Mentor

Background

Matt Kaczkowski graduated from Winona State University with a BA in Mass Communications Broadcasting. He spent three years as a DJ and produced an award-winning radio production.  Prior to starting SilverWater Productions, Matt was an event planner and A/V services coordinator for 4 years. Matt’s passion for film and video is a catalyst for SilverWater’s success.

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Ivan Alzuro Film Connection Mentor

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Ivan Alzuro Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Unlike the local University, Film Connection sends us committed and focused students. We have turned 1 student into full-time contractor – that says it all!”

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Daniel Lir Film Connection Mentor

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Daniel Lir Film Connection Mentor

Background

Dream Team Directors is a prestigious directorial team founded by Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir. Their company motto, “Let our dream team manifest your dream”, symbolizes the expansion and positive attention they win for their celebrity and high-profile brand clients and collaborators such as Adidas, MTV, Coldplay, P. Diddy, Smashbox Cosmetics, Atlantic Records, Chrome Hearts, Oscar De La Renta, Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe nominee Anthony Mackie, Matt Bennett of the “Big Bang Theory” and Lea Michele of Fox’s “Glee.”

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Rocco Michaluk Film Connection Mentor

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Rocco Michaluk Film Connection Mentor

Background

Michaluk has been creating award winning Film & TV productions for over 15 years. His Film Clients include Columbia Pictures, Indian PaintBrush, PBS, NBC, American Empirical Pictures and Fountainbrush Films. His Television clients include NBC, Television Academy / Emmy’s, MTV, Viacom, E! Entertainment, CBS, ABC, Travel Channel, Leftfield Pictures, PETA, and others.

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Alejandra Huerta Film Connection Mentor

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Alejandra Huerta Film Connection Mentor

Background

Alejandra Huerta specializes in On-Screen Promotions, Executive Presentation Tapes and Sizzle Reels. She started her career with Andromeda in Miami offering Production Services to MTV Latin America as an editor for on-air promotions. She then relocated to New York where she became a successful producer and editor for Viacom and NBC Universal. After her professional experience in NY she relocated to Florida where she continues to manage, produce and edit projects at Andromeda Productions.

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Joaquin Palma Film Connection Mentor

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Joaquin Palma Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The thing I admire most about the program is that it pairs you with people doing the job that you are aspiring to do. In doing that, I feel it gets rid of the “glamour” that people associate with this business, and helps them realize that it is, in fact, A JOB. It takes hard work, a lot of practice and a sincere courtesy towards one’s colleagues to get ahead and stay relevant; not that tired stereotype of the suffering artist that won’t settle for anything less than his vision of perfection! I don’t think they teach you that at traditional film schools.” — Joaquin Franco Palma

Joaquin Franco Palma was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a first-generation American. Having started his career as a production assistant, Joaquin has gone on to become an award winning writer and director of both independent features and TV; most notably, as a staff writer on the Emmy nominated HULU series, EAST LOS HIGH. Aside from writing for the screen, Joaquin is also a published author of fiction and is a youth writing volunteer for the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND and NOSOTROS ORGANIZATION programs.

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Drew Mason Film Connection Mentor

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Drew Mason Film Connection Mentor

Background

I started getting serious about making videos during summer backpacking trips with my friends between college semesters at Central Michigan University. Shortly after graduating, I was asked to produce a local TV show. I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. Since then, I’ve produced videos for documentaries, national ad campaigns, and commercials for multinational companies. Recently I was part of a team that produced videos for Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City, and we received an Emmy Award for special event coverage.

My introduction to the business wasn’t with videography; I was a wedding DJ for nearly 8 years. Through this experience, I discovered that weddings are not only among my favorite things to be a part of, but also to film. I love capturing the excitement, love, and energy surrounding them.

When I’m not editing videos – haha, funny joke – I like to make music. In fact, I serenaded my wife Amanda with my ukulele for our first kiss. True story! I also try to get out to the backcountry wilderness with just a backpack from time to time, especially in beautiful northern Michigan.

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David McClain Film Connection Mentor

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David McClain Film Connection Mentor

Background

Credits: Coca Cola, Google, Dateline, Travel Channel, NBC

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Demetria Kalodimos Film Connection Mentor

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Demetria Kalodimos Film Connection Mentor

Background

In 2000, Demetria established Genuine Human Productions, writing, directing, shooting and editing true stories about real people…genuine humans. Demetria Kalodimos has anchored and reported television news for more than 30 years. She’s won some of journalism’s most prestigious awards including 15 regional Emmys, 2 National Headliners and 2 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

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Grant Salisbury Film Connection Mentor

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Grant Salisbury Film Connection Mentor

Background

Over fifteen years post production experience in Orlando—Grant has provided video editorial, 2D & 3D animations, and motion graphics for a multitude of media clients through his post production company, GFX Creative.

Short & Long Format Video Editorial, Event & Theme Park Animations, Infomercials, Broadcast Commercials, Corporate Communications and Interactive Media for The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sea World, Lockheed-Martin, AAA Insurance, 3M, Siemens, Honda, A&D Medical, Toyota, FedEx and others.

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Jae Macallan Film Connection Mentor

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Jae Macallan Film Connection Mentor

Background

Jae Macallan is the owner, producer, and lead editor for Yoyostring Creative in Seattle, WA., with satalite offices in Portland, OR and San Diego, CA.  Yoyostring produces traditional video as well as animation, 360 VR, live video switching and video mapping. 

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Ron Osborn Film Connection Mentor

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Ron Osborn Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Simply put, there is no better or more effective way to teach anything than one-on-one, mentor to student.  This is what the Film Connection does.” — Ron Osborn

A writer/producer in television for 35 years, Ron has been nominated for 7 Emmys, 3 Cable Ace Awards, and 2 Writers Guild Awards on shows like MOONLIGHTING, THE WEST WING, and the adult animated DUCKMAN.  He has written pilots for every primetime network, numerous cable networks, as well as movies like MEET JOE BLACK; and has developed feature projects with Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard, and George Lucas, among others. .

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Sam Borowski Film Connection Mentor

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Sam Borowski Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The Recording Radio and Film Connection is such an effective program, because it takes the student out of the classroom and puts them in the very field they seek to be a part of. With mentors that actually work in the student’s respective field, they get first-hand knowledge of how everything works and just what to do. I think it’s the best way to get hands-on experience and the lessons learned are very valuable. I also think that the interview process helps to match a student with a mentor that will be right for them.” – Sam Borowski

Directed and produced the feature film, Night Club starring Oscar-Winner Ernest Borgnine, Natasha Lyonne and Paul Sorvino. Wrote and produced the feature-length documentary Creature Feature: 60 Years of the Gill-Man with Oscar-Winner Benicio Del Toro and narrated by 2-time Emmy-Winner Keith David. Also directed and produced the film Maniac.

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“I learned more about the history of film today and how people used to film videos and movies and clips with still photography. I met some more filmmakers and editors who were really nice and fun to be around”

Day 1

Brett Wilson, San Diego, CA Majored in Editing / Production

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
$12,750** 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

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

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