New York City’s First Public Graduate Film School Opens

New York mayor Bill de Blasio joined City University of New York chancellor James Milliken, media and entertainment commissioner Cynthia López, Barry Feirstein, and other elected officials to open the doors to the Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. The Feirstein School, which welcomed an inaugural class of 69 students this fall, is the only public graduate school in the nation seamlessly integrated into a working film lot, Steiner Studios, and is the first public graduate school of cinema in New York City.

“New York City has long been a global capital for film and television production, but today we are making an unprecedented commitment in the future of this industry and in New York’s finest young filmmakers,” said de Blasio. “By opening the Feirstein School, we are unlocking the door of opportunity for a talented and diverse group of students who want to get the best, most cutting-edge education in cinema, and then put those skills to use right here in New York City. I thank former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his extraordinary vision on this project and to the generous private funders who helped to make this first-of-its-kind school not only top-notch but highly affordable for a group of aspiring filmmakers who reflect the multicultural creativity of our city.”

The Feirstein School is designed to provide affordable access to career opportunities in cinema, while simultaneously creating a pipeline of diverse talent that can work in the local film industry in New York’s five boroughs. Announced in 2012, the project is funded through a public-private partnership model. The city has invested a total of $8 million to support the creation of the school, as well as numerous scholarships, so that more New Yorkers have the opportunity to pursue careers in film and television production.

The cost of tuition at Feirstein is approximately $59,000 for in-state students over three years, while the cost of comparable three-year MFA programs at private institutions can often exceed $150,000. Under the de Blasio administration, the city’s commitment to the school has increased by 20% over initial investments. The city’s overall contribution includes $4.7 million for construction, $2 million for scholarships, $1 million for curriculum and programming, and $500,000 for creative grants and marketing.

Through the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the city has worked closely with Brooklyn College in various aspects of the school’s development, including marketing and financing. The school is the result of an extensive public-private partnership involving the Brooklyn College Foundation, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Steiner Studios, New York City Council, the Brooklyn Borough President and the City University of New York.

The Feirstein School will provide students with access to state-of-the-art production and postproduction facilities in one of the largest sound stages in the country, as well as a full complement of lighting, grip and electrical equipment. Degree programs include M.A. in Cinema Studies and M.F.A in Cinema Arts, which is composed of five tracks: cinematography, directing, postproduction, producing and screenwriting.

Seasoned directors, producers, and actors, will contribute to the school’s advisory board. Among them are actor, author and director Ethan Hawke; director Steven Soderburgh; and Emmy award-winning producer Celia Costas.