USC School of Cinematic Arts

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USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC School of Cinematic Arts logo.svg
Motto Limes regiones rerum[1]
Motto in English
Reality ends here[2]
Type Private film school
Established 1929
Endowment $200 million[3]
Dean Elizabeth M. Daley Ph.D.
Academic staff
88 full time
200 part time[3]
Administrative staff
135 full time
300 student workers[3]
Undergraduates 865[3]
Postgraduates 653[3]
Location Los Angeles, California, United States

The USC School of Cinematic Arts (formerly the USC School of Cinema-Television, or CNTV) is a private film school within the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, in the U.S. state of California. The school offers multiple undergraduate and graduate programs covering production, screenwriting, critical studies, animation and digital arts, and interactive media & games. Additional advanced programs include the Media Arts and Practice PhD Program, the Peter Stark Producing Program, and the Business of Entertainment (offered in conjunction with the USC Marshall School of Business MBA Program).

It is the oldest and largest such school in the United States, established in 1929 as a joint venture with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,[1][4][5] and has been ranked as one of the best film programs in the world on several occasions.[4][6][7]


The George Lucas Instructional Building (top) was demolished in 2009 after the opening of the new Cinematic Arts Complex (bottom).

The school's founding faculty include Douglas Fairbanks, D. W. Griffith, William C. DeMille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl Zanuck.[5] Notable professors include Drew Casper, the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Professor of American Film; Tomlinson Holman, inventor of THX; film critic and historian Leonard Maltin; and David Bondelevitch, President of the Motion Picture Sound Editors.

In April 2006, the USC Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to the USC School of Cinematic Arts.[8]

On September 19, 2006, USC announced that alumnus George Lucas had donated US$175 million to expand the film school with a new 137,000-square-foot (12,700 m2) facility. This represented the largest single donation to USC and the largest to any film school in the world.[9] His previous donations resulted in the naming of two existing buildings after him and his then-wife, though Lucas was not fond of the architecture used in those buildings. An architectural hobbyist, Lucas laid out the original designs for the project, inspired by the Mediterranean Revival Style that was used in older campus buildings as well as the Los Angeles area. The project also received another $50 million in contributions from Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company.[1]

In the fall of 2006, the USC School of Cinematic Arts joined forces with the Royal Film Commission of Jordan to create the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA) in Aqaba, Jordan.[10] The first classes were held in 2008, and the first graduating class for the university was in 2010.


Donations from film and game industry companies, friends, and alumni have enabled the school to build the following facilities:[11]

At the center of the new television complex is a statue of founder Douglas Fairbanks. He is seen holding a fencing weapon in one hand to reflect his strong ties with the USC Fencing Club.


The Eileen Norris Cinema Theater, a 340-seat theater that regularly hosts film screenings, lectures, and special events.[12] It was where THX was first developed and installed.[13]
  • Since 1973, at least one alumnus of SCA has been nominated for an Academy Award annually, totaling 256 nominations and 78 wins.[14]
  • Since 1973, at least one SCA alumnus or alumna has been nominated for the Emmy Award annually, totalling 473 nominations and 119 wins.[14]
  • The top 17 grossing films of all time have had an SCA graduate in a key creative position.[14]
  • The Princeton Review has ranked the Interactive Media and Games Division's video game design program best in North America multiple years in a row.
  • Both The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today have ranked SCA the number one film program in the world, with its unmatched facilities, proximity to Hollywood, and numerous industry connections being the primary rationale.
Awards for USC Cinema short films

Notable SCA alumni[edit]

See also List of University of Southern California people

Notable Alumni[edit]

List of Endowed Chairs[edit]

  • Elizabeth M. Daley: Steven J. Ross / Time Warner Dean's Chair in Cinema-Television. Chair Graciously Funded by Time Warner Inc.
  • Drew Casper: Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Endowed Chair. Chair Graciously Funded by Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell
  • Lawrence Turman: Peter Stark Endowed Chair. Chair Graciously Funded by Ray Stark
  • Jack Epps[disambiguation needed]: Jack Oakie Endowed Chair in Comedy. Chair Graciously Funded by Victoria Oakie
  • Stephen K. Nenno: Chair in Television Production. Chair Graciously Funded by Stephen K. Nenno
  • Judy Irola: Conrad Hall Endowed Chair in Cinematography and Color Timing. Chair Graciously Funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation and Steven Spielberg
  • Doe Mayer: Mary Pickford Endowed Chair. Chair Graciously Funded by the Mary Pickford Foundation
  • Todd Boyd: Katherine and Frank Price Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture. Chair Graciously Funded by Katherine and Frank Price
  • Ellen Seiter: Stephen K. Nenno Endowed Chair in Television Studies. Chair Graciously Funded by Stephen K. Nenno
  • Midge Costin: Kay Rose Endowed Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing. Chair Graciously Funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation
  • Larry Auerbach: Larry Auerbach Endowed Chair. Chair Graciously Funded by Marcia Lucas
  • Tracy Fullerton: Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. Chair Graciously Funded by Electronic Arts, Inc.
  • John Watson: Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Endowed Chair in Producing. Chair Graciously Funded by Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Charitable Foundation
  • Mary Sweeney: Dino and Martha De Laurentiis Endowed Professorship. Chair Graciously Funded by Martha De Laurentiis
  • Dennis Wixon: Microsoft Endowed Professorship. Chair Graciously Funded by Microsoft Corporation
  • Michael Fink: The Kortschak Family Endowed Division Chair in Film and Television Production. Chair Graciously Funded by Walter G. and Marcia B. Kortschak and Kortschak Investments, L.P.
  • Richard Weinberg: Charles S. Swartz Endowed Chair in Entertainment Technology. Chair Graciously Funded by Stephanie Rothman
  • Nancy Forner: The Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Editing. Chair Graciously Funded by The Wunderkinder Foundation
  • Bruce A. Block: The Sergei Eisenstein Endowed Chair in Cinematic Design. Chair Graciously Funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation
  • Alex McDowell: The William Cameron Menzies Endowed Chair in Production Design. Chair Graciously Funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation
  • Mark Jonathan Harris: Mona and Bernard Kantor Endowed Chair in Production. Chair Graciously Funded by The Estate of Mona and Bernard Kantor
  • David Weitzner: Mark Burnett Endowed Chair To Honor The Director of the Summer Production Program. Chair Graciously Funded by Mark Burnett
  • Michael Renov: The Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary Chair for the Study of American Film. Chair Graciously Funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation

Other Notable faculty members and instructors (Past and Present)[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Michael Cieply, A Film School’s New Look Is Historic, The New York Times, February 9, 2009, Accessed February 10, 2009.
  2. ^ The New York Times reports the motto as meaning "Reality ends here", but a more direct translation of the Latin approximates as, "The border is the regions of things".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g USC School of Cinematic Arts, Accessed October 23, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Waxman, Sharon (2010). "At U.S.C., a Practical Emphasis in Film". New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Rachel Abramowitz, L.A.'s screening gems, Los Angeles Times, Accessed June 16, 2008.
  6. ^ "USC, NYU Top THR Film School Rankings Again". Indiewire. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  7. ^ "The Top 25 Film Schools in the United States 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  8. ^ Stuart Silverstein, George Lucas Donates USC's Largest Single Gift, The Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2006
  9. ^ John Zollinger, George Lucas Donates $175 Million to USC, USC Public Relations, September 20, 2006
  10. ^ Jordan Signs Cinema Pact With USC, USC Public Relations, September 20, 2006
  11. ^ Facilities
  12. ^ Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre Complex, USC School of Cinematic Arts Facilities, Accessed January 3, 2009.
  13. ^ USC Self-Guided Tour, University of Southern California, Accessed June 8, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Mel Cowan, Cinematic Arts Celebrates 80th Anniversary With All New Campus, University of Southern California, March 31, 2009, Accessed May 1, 2009.
  15. ^
  16. ^ The Student Movie Makers, TIME Magazine, February 2, 1968
  17. ^ Rinzler, J.W., The Complete Making of Indiana Jones; The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films, Del Rey, 2008, ISBN 978-0345501295.
  18. ^ Bapis, Elaine M. , Camera And Action: American Film As Agent of Social Change, 1965–1975, McFarland, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7864-3341-4.
  19. ^ Alumni Profile: Cannes Do Spirit, Trojan Family Magazine, Spring 2002, Accessed September 19, 2006.
  20. ^ KAVI – a short film written and directed by Gregg Helvey » Cast/Crew. Retrieved on 2014-06-05.
  21. ^ Weinraub, Bernard. "FILM; An Unusual Choice for the Role of Studio Superhero", The New York Times, July 9, 2000. Accessed November 27, 2007. "Mr. Singer attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for two years, and then transferred to the University of Southern California."
  22. ^ "Passings: Dick Hoerner, L.A. Rams fullback, dies at 88; John A. Ferraro, actor, director and USC teacher, dies at 64". Los Angeles Times. December 19, 2010. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  23. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 9, 2012). "James Franco to teach a USC film production class next spring". Los Angeles Times. 
  24. ^ "Respected Cinematographer, Professor and USC Alumnus obituary". USC School of Cinematic Arts. December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°01′23″N 118°17′09″W / 34.023056°N 118.285833°W / 34.023056; -118.285833