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It was in 1976 when Alabama emerged as a prime location that showcased the Cotton State’s picturesque landscapes and urban cities. With the film and TV industry thriving in the age of digitalization, Alabama is now home to emerging film companies and aspiring filmmakers. In 2009, this Southern American state launched generous tax incentives that, to this day, continue to attract entertainment producers.
As one of the states with generous incentives in the production industry, Alabama features a $20M cap on credit expenditures. Non-resident salary is restricted to $500M for below-the-line staff, while above-the-line personnel has a $1M credit limitation. Alabama has no sunset date when it comes to its production incentives program. Its annual cap is $20M makes it one of the most competitive production incentive programs in the South.
Alabama’s tax credit program features a 25% credit on non-resident employment and production fees and 35% for resident employment.
Alabama is no stranger to the entertainment industry. While Sweet Home Alabama is arguably the most popular movie attributed to the state, many other blockbusters have featured Alabama’s diverse settings throughout the decades, including To Kill A Mockingbird, Forrest Gump, Space Camp, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, and Selma.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly income for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Film in Alabama are $52,280 and $48,190, respectively. If you’re an Alabama resident or planning to pursue a career in the state’s film and production industry, here are some of the best film schools in Alabama as an overview.
Aspiring filmmakers, camera operators, film producers, scriptwriters, and production staff can find more detailed information through the Alabama Film Office.
BEST FILM SCHOOLS IN ALABAMA
Film Connection: Montgomery-Selma Film School
Film Connection’s Montgomery-Selma Film School is an excellent alternative to traditional film schools. Although it doesn’t have an undergraduate and graduate curriculum like many colleges and universities, Film Connection’s certificate programs are endorsed by many professionals in the film and media industry.
Film Connection’s certificate programs allow students to enroll in a unique learning model combined with mentor-based experience or externship. If interested, students can enroll in either one of the following certificate programs:
- Film Production & Editing
The Film Production & Editing Certificate offers a holistic plan of study to help aspiring film producers and film editors learn as an extern. Students will acquire the essential skills and expertise for becoming professional directors. With Film Connection, they will study in an actual film production company in Montgomery-Selma.
A professional filmmaker will guide students to develop a movie idea through a set of learning objectives. Once the program is completed, students can travel to New York or LA to pitch their movie ideas.
This certificate program consists of three major learning components: directing/shooting, writing, and Producing. Each component has a set of skills to be polished with a professional mentor. As a holistic program, the curriculum has 21 lessons that discuss every aspect that makes a great film.
The Cinematography Certificate will teach students the essentials on how to become a Director of Photography. In the externship program, Film Connection will pair students with a professional Director of Photography who’ll teach them the ins and outs of the profession and mentor them on how to develop an “Eye of the DP.”
As a Director of Photography/Cinematographer, an eye for details isn’t taught in books or somebody; thus, students will learn by example and experience. The certificate program features ten classes, training students in-depth about aspect ratio, shot sizes, frame rate, and the rule of thirds.
Birmingham-Southern College is one of the few film schools available in Birmingham. Birmingham residents wanting to have a career in broadcasting, cinema, TV, and print media can enroll in the BSC’s Media and Film Studies Major program. It is an interdisciplinary, innovative program aligned with Birmingham’s film and media industry. Aside from that, students will also develop their proficiencies in arts, humanities, and social sciences.
Majors in Media and Film Studies will complete seven core courses that provide a comprehensive background in the practical, critical, theoretical, and historical study of various media. BSC offers two concentrations in the Media and Film Studies program to allow students to choose a specific industry. They can either pursue the Media History, Theory, Criticism, or the Media Production concentration.
For financial aid, Media and Film Studies majors can apply for the Media and Film Studies Scholarships. To participate, students must submit their portfolio consisting of a written statement and a film/media sample or a screenplay/written creative short story sample. Their portfolios will be showcased during BSC’s Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship Day.
Many major motion pictures and independent films are shot annually in Birmingham, Alabama’s biggest city and home to the Birmingham-Southern College. Considered the most biologically diverse film setting in the US outside of New York and California, Birmingham or the whole of Alabama makes an excellent backdrop for any movie, TV show, and film.
Popular movies filmed in Birmingham are 42, Borat, Inheritance, Moms’ Night Out, and Alabama Love Story.
Hollywood Huntsville is North Alabama’s sole film and acting school. It is one of the best film schools in Huntsville, offering comprehensive services and training in the film and media industry. The institution offers everything you need in one place since it is a production company, casting office, film school, and film acting school.
Regardless of age, Hollywood Huntsville has a corresponding program offered through its acting school. The Young Students Program, Additional Classes for Teens & Adults currently enrolled in camera acting training, and the Professional Acting Program.
Students will have the opportunity to learn from Ayoka Billions C.S.A., a professional full-time casting director who has nine years of experience in industrials, music videos, commercials, TV shows, and movies. She has offered several top-notch casting services around Alabama, the Southeast region, and other states in the country.
Hollywood Huntsville’s Bill Billions is a well-known producer, director, and actor of popular movies and will be the lead teacher in training classes. Its training has a unique combination of career training aligned with the southeast standards and Hollywood-level acting training.
As part of the Hollywood Huntsville program, students will have the chance to learn in-depth and improve their craft through its Film Lab. The Film Lab can collaborate to create movies, films, TV shows, and other content.
Hollywood Huntsville offers Private Coaching & Taping and Career Counseling. Participants preparing for an audition can choose one out of five packages offered by the school. Students with an acting profession can seek professional advice regarding action plans, acting niche, and review of current materials through Huntsville’s career counseling sessions.
The City of Huntsville is also home to the world’s largest flight museum, the US Space & Rocket Center, featuring 1,500+ artifacts. Its iconic inventions include the Full Stack, Explorer I, and the authentic Saturn V rocket. Aspiring filmmakers can produce movies featuring space and galaxy explorations through the center’s Rocket Garden and various space-flight simulations. Huntsville’s US Space & Rocket Center, one of the city’s primary attractions, is the filming location for the movie SpaceCamp.