Stanford University

The good news for budding documentary filmmakers is that Stanford University offers an MFA program specializing exclusively in nonfiction filmmaking. However, places are extremely limited and very competitive, with room for only eight students a year on the course. The lucky students that do manage to get a place on the program tend to fair very well, the short thesis docs they produce at the end of the two-year course always seem to win awards on the festival circuit, and sometimes even get picked up for public television too.

Paloma Martinez, from graduating class of 2018, directed a short then went on to win two awards at the San Francisco Film Festival and it was also broadcast on PBS as part of their POV series. The small class sizes allow students to have much more one-on-one time with their tutors. Stanford University also offers an undergraduate film program that covers a range of study including a dedicated screenwriting course and hands-on production courses. Notable Stanford alumni include co-creator of Westworld, Lisa Joy, writer and director, Jon Alston, and Sarah Naftalis.

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