As a young person wanting to enter the film industry, one of my big questions was always whether or not to go to film school. And if so, which one? There are plenty of stories about people who learned everything on their own. But I felt I would like the help of some formal training and in the end, I did a very theory-laden degree from the Sorbonne. An NYU screenwriting summer school class complemented this experience. It gave me great exposure to films from around the world.
Before deciding to do that course, I inquired about a few other well known schools:
FTII in Pune, India – where many prominent people in Bollywood went
NYU – where Spike Lee, Joel Coen, Martin Scorsese and countless other legends trained
FAMU – in Prague, Milos Forman’s alma mater.
Lodz (pronounced Woodge) where Polanski and everyone from Poland went. This five year program even attracts international students who spend an entire year learning Polish before they start.
Den Danske Filmschole – where Lars Von Trier and other Dogma guys developed their style
This week at the festival in Clermont-Ferrand, I heard about the KHM in Germany. If I knew about this place twenty years ago, I’d have tried to attend. There’s still time. Maybe in twenty years, I can get a job teaching there.
The KHM of Cologne (Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln) is a truly unique school, founded on a novel idea – bringing together the teaching of artistic disciplines with media and science courses. In just 20 years, the school has become a goldmine of talent, clearly illustrated in the large numbers of international prizes received annually. Here’s a behind the scenes look at their success.
Founded in 1990 as an unprecedented teaching experiment, the KHM of Cologne continues its mission to educate future artists. « From the start, the school has provided a unique course load which combines arts, new media, and sciences… It all started with a key observation. We noticed that in the preceding twenty years, media and new technology have tended to mix and interact with art, offering exciting new possibilities, » remarks Ute Dilger, a representative of KHM.
You could even say that this wish to unify « Everything » in the process of making images is reminiscent of the days of the « Bauhaus » movement. « We are trying to best prepare our students for the future ».
Although KHM is based in Cologne, a city which is home to many television channels and media companies, the school is entirely government funded. Admissions applications are free of cost, and students are selected based on the submission of portfolios. « Our students should find the form of artistic expression which is best suited to them, and by providing them with such a diverse range of subjects, we help them make that choice, » explains Raimund Krumme, professor at the KHM. « If you were to only learn in one area of creative expression, you would definitely limit your creative potential. »
The school features an abundance of great professors, and the diversity of the teachers is another huge plus. « The professors are very accessible and we do so many things with them, » says Pauline Flory, a French student at the KHM. It’s an intense experience. Learning is constant, and being at the KHM means applying yourself all the time. « The typical student of our school has a great curiosity and a hunger to try all kinds of things to see what is possible. Our students are quite astonishing, and really unique, » beams Raimund Krumme. This one of a kind concept attracts students and teachers from all over the world.
With fifteen films in competition at Clermont-Ferrand and two Oscars for Best Short Film, the Kunsthochschule für Medien of Cologne remains a few strides ahead of other schools.