USC School of Cinematic Arts

USC School of Cinematic Arts
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]
Awards for USC Cinema short films

Notable SCA alumni

See also List of University of Southern California people

Notable Alumni

List of Endowed Chairs

Other Notable faculty members and instructors (Past and Present)


  1. 1 2 3 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. 1 2 3 4 5 USC School of Cinematic Arts, Accessed October 23, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Waxman, Sharon (2010). "At U.S.C., a Practical Emphasis in Film". New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  5. 1 2 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. 1 2 3 Mel Cowan, Cinematic Arts Celebrates 80th Anniversary With All New Campus, University of Southern California, March 31, 2009, Accessed May 1, 2009.
  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.

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

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