Just one year in, the Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City has already set the bar for creative comedic storytelling.
Honoring The Second City alum and famous writer/director of classics like “Groundhog Day,” “Caddyshack,” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” the Harold Ramis Film School does justice to its namesake by fostering young comedic talent through a curriculum based on Ramis’ own sensibilities. Ramis strongly believed in not only studying screenwriting and filmmaking, but also in the importance of classic literature, film, and TV.
Heralded as the first film school to focus solely on comedy, HRFS was established in 2016 to be a creative haven for comedic writers, directors, and producers — something that is sorely lacking in Hollywood.
Now its first 15-student class is poised to graduate on Sunday, Aug. 27, and to commemorate the milestone, HRFS is planning a full day of festivities including a graduation ceremony, student-work screening, and celebration.
Chairman Trevor Albert, a longtime Ramis collaborator, producer of “Groundhog Day” and “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and self-proclaimed “first student of the Harold Ramis Film School,” couldn’t be more impressed with the talent in the class.
“A year ago, a diverse collection of brave comedic storytellers from across the country showed up in Chicago to join our inaugural program,” said Albert. “A year later, I’m blown away to see how beautifully these filmmakers have refined their craft, thrived as collaborators, and exceeded all expectations. This group includes writers, directors, and producers who — I’m confident — will leave their mark on the entertainment industry.”
As a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards committee, Albert has screened more than his share of student films (he estimates more than 100 hours each award season).
“I’ve worked in Hollywood for years and have never seen such a concentration of inspired comedic voices in one place,” Albert said.
Founded on the cornerstone of creative collaboration, HRFS has successfully become a unique academic institution with its multifaceted curriculum that combines comedy theory, writing, filmmakers’ laboratories and seminars led by industry all-stars like Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Spy,” and “Freaks and Geeks”).
“When Harold’s wife Erica Mann Ramis and Andrew Alexander, the CEO/Executive Producer of The Second City, floated the idea of creating this school, I was immediately intrigued. I thought the possibility of teaching young people comedic film storytelling under the roof of The Second City was an inspired idea,” said Albert.
Many of The Second City’s former pupils have come out to support the film school, including Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key, Eugene Levy, Tim Meadows, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Bob Odenkirk and Martin Short, are all alums of the famed institution and currently sit on the film school’s advisory board.
Rounding out the star-studded board are icons and industry giants like Judd Apatow, Betsy Beers, Doug Belgrad, Stuart Cornfeld, Paul Feig, Joe Flaherty, David Kramer, Debbie Liebling, Adam McKay, Masi Oka, Amy Pascal, Gigi Pritzker, Erica Mann Ramis, Jay Roach, Bob Teitel, Betty Thomas, Dave Thomas, Peter Tolan, and Emma Watts.
These stars are paying it forward, creating the comedic safe space they always wanted but never had.
“A lot of former film school students I’ve met throughout my career talk about how they felt alienated being a part of a school where comedy wasn’t taken seriously or was even shunned,” said Albert. “We have assembled an extraordinary group of filmmakers and educators and created a school that, not only celebrates, but truly honors comedy. I think that makes us pretty unique. Although we’re in our early days, the Harold Ramis Film School seems to be working brilliantly.”
Enrollment for the 2018 Winter session is now open, which runs from Jan. 22, 2018 until Dec. 17, 2018. To enroll or learn more information on the Harold Ramis Film School, visit the website at www.ramisfilmschool.com or follow along on Facebook and Twitter using @RamisFilmSchool.