Harold Ramis Film School

The Harold Ramis Film School is the only film school in the world focused entirely on comedy.  

We educate writers, performers, directors, and filmmakers through the collaborative styles of comedic content creation embraced by The Second City and alumnus Harold Ramis.

I look for the meaning in what’s funny, and I look for what’s funny about things that are meaningful to me.           - Harold Ramis

Explore and download a digital version of our brochure.

Applications Due: July 15, 2020
Fall Start Date: August 24, 2020

The Filmmaker Program

In the spirit of Harold Ramis, we encourage students to work from the top of their intelligence. At our school, students are exposed to great comedic films, literature and inspired teachers to help nurture their emotional and intellectual storytelling abilities.  Our students are immersed in comedy training, film history, writing and film production classes to give them the context in which to create. Students will graduate our program with produced content be it a screenplay, sitcom pilot, hour-long pilot, or short film.

Applicants to the program are in the emerging stage of their careers as filmmakers. This program is designed for people with a comedic point of view and a desire to create content.

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At the Harold Ramis Film School we cultivate filmmakers who create collaboratively, tell comedic stories, and understand the traditions and trends in the business. During their year here, students are immersed in these key areas:

  • Comedy Theory

    These courses lay the foundation for your creative process. You are immersed in the methods of The Second City, learning how to use improvisation as a tool for collaboration and content generation. Students screen great comedic works from the past and present to absorb the work of comedians in various media and eras. These courses lay the foundation for your creative process.

  • Writing

    Great filmmakers are great storytellers. In the writing courses at the Harold Ramis Film School, students explore the mechanics and art of telling a worthy story. Beginning with a foundation in traditional writing and classic storytelling techniques, students cultivate and develop their own comedic voice, and learn how to turn that into shootable content. All students complete the year having written a fully completed script.

  • Filmmaking

    Through our unique Filmmaker’s Laboratory and Directing Workshops, students make films in the studio and in the field throughout the entire year. Students learn how a director prepares, how to work with actors, and how to collaborate with the various roles on a film set. These production classes will put into practice the lessons on collaboration and storytelling from the other areas, and culminate in students making their very own short film.

  • Master Seminars

    In addition to these core classes, throughout the year students attend Master Seminars. Working artists from the industry lead discussions and hands-on workshops connecting students’ work in the program to the real world. The Second City has a wonderful extended family of successful comedy writers, directors, and producers who will give students the inside scoop on working in the business.

Additional Info

For additional information on curriculum, applications and scholarships, contact:

Harold Ramis Film School

Any press inquiries, contact press@secondcity.com.





Advisory Board

Betsy Beers

Doug Belgrad

Steve Carell

Stuart Cornfeld

Joe Flaherty

Keegan-Michael Key

David Kramer

Eugene Levy

Debbie Liebling

Andrea Martin

Adam McKay

Tim Meadows

Catherine O'Hara

Bob Odenkirk

Masi Oka

Amy Pascal

Gigi Pritzker

Erica Mann Ramis

Jay Roach

Martin Short

Bob Teitel

Betty Thomas

Dave Thomas

Peter Tolan

Emma Watts

Development Team

Anthony LeBlanc

Jack Newell

Lyn Pusztai

Erica Mann Ramis

Abby Wagner

Harold Ramis

The work of actor, writer and director Harold Ramis has profoundly changed the course of American comedy. Among the iconic films Harold helped create are Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Analyze This to name just a few.

Harold  joined The Second City Mainstage in 1969, writing and performing in six revues over four years. A Chicago native, Ramis’ exceptional stage work led him to roles on The National Lampoon Show and SCTV. Ramis turned his focus to film when he created a script for National Lampoon’s magazine which was turned into the screenplay for the groundbreaking comedy Animal House.

After co-writing Meatballs, starring Bill Murray, Ramis turned his focus to directing with Caddyshack, which he also co-wrote. Continuing a streak of successful films, Ramis’ work on Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day solidified his status as a legendary American filmmaker.  Upon his passing, President Barack Obama was moved to make a public statement about Harold’s influence on American culture:

“Harold Ramis is one of America’s greatest satirists and, like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago’s Second City. When we watched his movies – from ‘Animal House’ and ‘Caddyshack’ to ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ — we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.”