The 3 Best Film Schools in Oregon

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The United States has a solid film industry. It is not surprising to find many aspiring filmmakers all over the country. The motion picture field employs about 257,000 workers. It is highly competitive, but it also ushers in rewarding career opportunities for those whose interests lie in the creative industry–including in the State of Oregon!

To pursue the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of films—whether as a director, producer, editor, or scriptwriter—earning a Film degree is the way to go!

Most film programs take four years to complete. On top of their classroom lectures, film students typically embark on a final project that applies their knowledge and puts their skills to the test through actual practice. There may be opportunities for internships as well, which means more hands-on experience for aspiring filmmakers.

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To be successful in their chosen field, film students must ensure they have what it takes to make it. Here are some of the skills they should keep in mind and acquire.


A film won’t come to fruition without a script – its very backbone. While not every film student is expected to write a genius script, they should be able to whip up one, understand how they are written, learn their structures, and recognize whether they adhere to these structures or not.

Visual Storytelling

It is the director’s main job to translate the screenplay into a visual treat. Visual storytelling is such an important skill for filmmakers! Many programs start students out with silent films. It helps them convey the action onscreen without the aid of words. Visual storytelling can stand on its own, even before the enhancement brought about by dialogue and music.


The filmmaking process is often complex, bringing together different elements to create one big picture. Every step of the process requires good communication. The film’s vision must be effectively conveyed from the writer and director to the actors and editors. That is why good communication skill is imperative among filmmakers.

Now that students know the skills expected from them to succeed in the film industry, it is time to look at the film schools that they can consider for their film degree. Oregon has some of the best.


Portland State University

Portland State University

Portland, OR

Known as one of the country’s innovative universities, Portland State University offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Film. This program brings theory and filmmaking together to provide students with a comprehensive curriculum that blends knowledge and practice. Students can refine their creative vision through the tutelage of outstanding professors with demonstrated experience in both the film industry and academia.

Students are not only taught and encouraged to develop their creative vision. They are also equipped with sound technical skills and a deeper understanding of film history. Some of their featured courses include Film Analysis, Introduction to Digital Filmmaking, Classical Film Theory, Film History, Branded Media, Contemporary Korean Cinema, Digital Cinematography, Transitional Film Noir, Film Programming and Film Festival, Documentary Film Production, and Contemporary Film Theory, among others.

Students must aim for a grade of C+ or higher for this Film major. The program requires 180 total credits. Students have the option to add general elective credits to meet the requirements.

Providing a supportive and collaborative environment, the Portland State University film program makes it a point for students to work effectively individually or in groups, allowing them to gain a range of experience for their future pursuits. Graduates are expected to be prepared to work in film productions and other aspects of the film industry. Others pursue further education by earning an MA, MFA, or Ph.D. degree.

The Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Portland recently opened a sound stage facility for TV, film, and commercial productions, a favorite destination of filmmakers. The city is a top pick for film projects that make their mark in the industry, like Twilight, Short Circuit, and The Goonies did.

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University of Oregon

University of Oregon

Eugene, OR

The University of Oregon, under the Department of Cinema Studies, offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema Studies. This program explores the different facets of moving images and shapes students into becoming skilled producers and thoughtful critics.

Unlike other film schools that teach students to make movies, the program instead focuses on the different approaches to and perspectives on film, television, and new media. Taught by industry experts, the program highlights the creative and technical aspects of storytelling. It also explores cinema as an art form in the historical, philosophical, or geopolitical context.

The interdisciplinary nature of the University of Oregon’s BA in Cinema Studies program features a diverse set of courses that explore film history, film theory, film criticism, and film aesthetics. The program also looks at the film production process,

Students acquire collaborative skills, communicate their ideas through a broad array of media, and appreciate the cultures and histories that filmmaking highlights.

As part of their rigorous training, students will be able to use state-of-the-art facilities, including a postproduction lab that features 27-inch iMacs equipped with necessary creative software like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, and AVID, among other industry-standard production software.

They also have full access to equipment like RED Camera and C100s. Even better, students have the opportunity to take part in a study-abroad program in Dublin, Ireland – a great chance for them to study Irish culture through the lens of film.

Eugene, which plays a key role in the thriving Oregon filmmaking industry, is home to the University of Oregon. The city is chock-full of opportunities to explore the local film scene. It has been a chosen location for many film productions, including Without Limits, Stand By Me, Personal Best, and Animal House, to name a few.

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Willamette University

Willamette University

Salem, OR

To learn about film and visual media, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies. Offered by Willamette University, this program is a good foundation for those who want to pursue a career in filmmaking, journalism, and media criticism. It presents plenty of learning opportunities to aspiring filmmakers, whether their interests lie in avant-garde video, narrative feature films, or the rhetoric of world cinema. They can expect to gain skills that will aid them in research, writing, and developing their visual, creative, and technical abilities.

While the main focus of this program is on analysis instead of production, the students can still explore the different aspects and learn the ways of production through taking in additional electives. They have the option to complete a production-oriented creative project in their senior year.

The BA in Cinema Studies courses at Willamette University features an introduction to Cinema Studies, which exposes students to the basic elements of film and moving images. Students learn about constructing the image frame, editing, and formulating narrative strategies.

As a major, the cinema studies program requires students to render a total of 36 semester hours. Courses may include Video Art, Advance Photography, Feminist Film Criticism, Filming Identity: Israeli and Palestinian Documentary, Visual Anthropology, Cinema in the Middle East, Propaganda: 21st Century, and Russian and Soviet Cinema, among others. In their last year, students will need to complete either a creative or critical senior project, subject to the approval of the Cinema Studies faculty.

Willamette University is located in Salem, Oregon. Its strategic location means students can fully enjoy the film scene in Salem. The city is an excellent filmmaking location. Some of the films shot in Salem include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Bandits, and Dark Horizon.

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor