UArizona School of Theatre, Film & Television Among Top 25 in U.S.

The Wrap’s annual ranking of the Top 50 Film Schools also kept the school at No. 6 among public university film schools.

By Kerryn Negus, School of Theatre, Film & Television

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.

The school retained 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 several factors, including class size, student body diversity, scholarships, networking opportunities, and faculty and alumni success.

The UArizona School of Theatre, Film & Television had several significant achievements in the past year.

Associate professor Jacob Bricca and Lisa Molomot, an adjunct instructor in the James E. Rogers College of Law, won a 2023 Peabody Award for their acclaimed and timely documentary “Missing in Brooks County,” about the fate of migrants crossing rural Texas.

The school marked the 25th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death with a screening of documentary filmmaker and professor Beverly Seckinger’s film “Laramie Inside Out,” as well as a new Arizona Repertory Theatre production of the Tectonic Theater Project’s play “The Laramie Project,” for which Matthew Shepard’s parents were in attendance. Emmy-nominated writer and actor Greg Pierotti, an assistant professor in the school, directed the play he originally co-wrote and performed.

Professor and filmmaker Lisanne Skyler, an alumna of the Sundance, Venice, New York and San Francisco film festivals, runs the school’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, NBCUniversal, The Gersh Agency, United Talent Agency and Disney. This year through the school’s partnership with the Disney Apprenticeship Program, 2022 school graduates Desirée Bourret, Sebastián Leyva and Anthony Romero were placed into entry-level positions at ABC News Studios, with a competitive starting salary and relocation costs.

School alumni are equal parts high achievers and dedicated mentors, sharing job leads, visiting classes, jurying student films and offering internships. Recent class speakers include FX’s Director of Production Sean Florchak, “Mulholland Drive” film producer Neal Edelstein 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, Pennolino frequently shares with UArizona students insights from a career spanning 10 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 school’s Hanson FilmTV Institute, 10 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.

The school also brought student filmmakers to SXSW to present their festival-lauded films as part of an interdisciplinary program.

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 UArizona, senior Babacar Ba collected the award for Outstanding College Talent Performer for his starring role in Ryan Ramsey’s senior thesis film “Deserted.” The school also was represented in the category of College Fiction Short Form – Rene Marcelle and Fiona Paskoff earned a nomination for their dark comedy “Opening Night.”

Film students again made waves on the global film festival circuit. “At 7,” Tatum Sailors’ heartwarming short documentary, which tracks the life of a 7 year-old boy living with Type 1 diabetes, has been selected for six 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’s and Kaleigh Brown’s film about the vital role of the humble earthworm, has drawn attention at festivals from Texas to California to Australia.

Picture above – Behind the scenes during the filming of "Deserted," the senior thesis short film written and directed by Ryan Ramsey.
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