In case you haven't noticed, we live in a world where a lot of magic happens not only behind a camera's viewfinder or encircled in a focus ring, but rather off-screen, off-camera, and through the wizardry of digital animation and visual effects. And since we all know Rome wasn't built in a day, we can agree that learning the chops to create contemporary movie magic requires a certain kind of training—and educational pedigree matters.

On the heels of a successful inaugural academic year, Brooklyn College's Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Steiner Studios has recently added a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Digital Animation & VFX to its suite of degree programs. Feirstein is the first public graduate film school in New York, and the only one in the country housed on a working film lot. So, let's be honest, this is definitely real-life hands on education.

With an emphasis on experimentation and imagination, and a foundation in narrative structure, the Feirstein M.F.A. in Digital Animation & VFX (DAVE) bridges the worlds of technology-based innovation and cinematic storytelling, preparing students to compete in this explosive and visionary field.

"The talented and diverse students in our inaugural class have surpassed our expectations," says Founding Director Jonathan Wacks. "And with the addition of our DAVE master's program, as well as our interdisciplinary approach to learning, they will be exceptionally well prepared to excel in a wide range of fields, from filmmaking to video game design."

Other degree programs offered at Feirstein include an M.A. in Cinema Studies, an M.F.A. in Cinema Arts, with course emphasis on producing, directing, screenwriting, cinematography and post-production, and an M.F.A. in Media Scoring and Sonic Arts.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Cooper

Mercifully, since we're not all rolling in dollars, merit- and need-based scholarship opportunities are also available for students. They include the Robert De Niro Award, Barry R. Feirstein (class of '74) Cinematic Arts Graduate Scholarship, Paul (class of '51) and Betsy Mazursky Scholarship, Joel (class of '62) and Candice Zwick Scholarship in Directing, and the New York City Mayor's Office for Media and Entertainment scholarship (MOME). In addition, MOME has made an unprecedented grant to Feirstein, providing up to $10,000 for senior thesis projects or up to $2,500 in research funds to support screenwriters and cinema studies students.

The school's advisory board includes film industry heavyweights committed to Feirstein's mission and vision. They include Academy Award-nominated actor Ethan Hawke, Emmy Award-winning producer Celia Costas, Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky, Robert Richardson, the only American cinematographer to win three Academy Awards, Maryse Alberti, who shot the recent hit Creed, and Oscar-winning producer, director and screenwriter Stephen Soderbergh. The Feirstein faculty are also seasoned educators who bring real world experience to their practice, from the school's Founding Director Jonathan Wacks (Repo Man, 21 Jump Street) to cinema scholar Paula Massood.

Located at Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Feirstein is housed in a 68,000-square-foot facility, purpose-built for a 21st-Century film school. This entirely digital production and post-production environment offers state-of-the-art workspaces, studios, stages and equipment, including a foley stage, motion capture studio and a 4K surround-sound screening room.

So if you've got an itch—an inkling, an idea, even a fleeting daydream that film school is the yellow brick road toward your best creative future, why not take the plunge? Opportunity is waiting. So visit Feirstein's website, and make sure to connect on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the e-Newsletter today.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between the Feirstein School and Gothamist staff.