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The Second City and DePaul University to offer degrees in comedy filmmaking

The Second City
DePaul students in the School of Cinematic Arts can now take comedy filmmaking classes at The Second City. (Second City/Timothy M. Schmidt)
Chicago has been the backdrop for many iconic comedy films and television shows -- from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" to "The Blues Brothers." A new collaboration between The Second City and DePaul University is designed to expand comedy education and to inspire DePaul students to dream up and produce more funny movies and television shows right here in Chicago.

Starting in fall 2018, DePaul's School of Cinematic Arts will offer comprehensive new undergraduate and graduate degrees in comedy filmmaking. Offerings will include a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting with a concentration in comedy; a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and television with a concentration in comedy filmmaking; and a minor in comedy filmmaking.

Students from DePaul's School of Cinematic Arts will attend classes at The Second City, as well as within DePaul's expansive studio and classroom facilities at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, where network dramas "Empire," "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Med" regularly shoot. New classes include DNA of The SecondCity, Evolution of Comedy, Comedy Improvisation for Filmmakers, and The Comedy Director at Work.

"Together, DePaul and Second City will merge the crafts of comedy storytelling and filmmaking into the most comprehensive program of its kind. The curriculum will give students the opportunity to create, develop and showcase their comedic writing and directing from the script to the screen," says Gary Novak, director of DePaul's School of Cinematic Arts.

"Second City has been nurturing comedic talent in Chicago for nearly 60 years. Two years ago, in starting the Harold Ramis Film School, we successfully expanded our approach to attracting and developing nascent screenwriters and directors. By partnering with DePaul, we will now have the opportunity to teach an even broader range of students comedy in an accredited environment," says Second City CEO Andrew Alexander.

DePaul's 35,000-square-foot facilities at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios on the city's west side include three professional soundstages, green screen cycloramas, a 3-ton grip truck and high-end editing suites and mixing studios.

"Usually, Chicago is used as a backdrop in film, and the ideas and money come from elsewhere. What's changing now is that we have the opportunity to develop the ideas and scripts here, and we have the means to oversee post-production and distribute the final product. It's very empowering for our city to be able to offer that," says filmmaker Dan Klein, an assistant professor in the School of Cinematic Arts.

The Second City's Harold Ramis Film School was named in honor of the late Second City and "SCTV" alumnus Harold Ramis, creator of iconic comedies ranging from "Ghostbusters" to "Groundhog Day." The world's only film school dedicated entirely to comedy, the institution's faculty, master class guest lecturers and advisory board include some of the film industry's top names.

"I'm happy to know that the partnership with DePaul will allow even more emerging comedic minds to learn and build under the legacy of Harold Ramis and The Second City. There's a special skill to being a collaborative and innovative filmmaker with an eye for comedy. Harold did this exceptionally well, and I feel confident that with our colleagues at DePaul we will continue to help foster the next generation of talent," says Trevor Albert, Harold Ramis Film School chair.

To learn more about the new degrees in comedy filmmaking, visit​