Colin Young CBE (born Glasgow, 1927) is a former British film educator, chairman of the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA, founder of the film program at Rice University, Houston, Texas, and the first director of the British National Film and Television School. He was awarded a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, the highest honor of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, in 1993.
He was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 5 April 1927. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Philosophy and Morals. He worked in Scotland as a film journalist before going to California to study film at UCLA.
At UCLA, he moved from student to teacher, becoming chairman of the School of Theater, Film and Television in 1965. Graduates during his tenure included Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader, John Milius, Haskell Wexler, Barry Levinson and Lawrence Kasdan. He had a policy of employing filmmakers who were in between jobs to teach: although as David MacDougall said some of them "couldn't teach", despite that "they were infected with the virus of cinema and we caught it from them".
In 1970 when the decision was made to establish a national film school in the UK in order to revitalise the British film industry, he was invited to apply to become the founding director, a post which he took up in 1971. He worked there for more than 2 decades, at a time when the school produced alumni including Bill Forsyth, Terence Davies, Julien Temple, Beeban Kidron, and Nick Park.
Young believed the difference between film school graduates and those who learned on the job was that the former "will have their time directed by themselves in a school environment which is keyed to their development and will leave within them a spirit of an inner-directed development as opposed to the industry’s outer-directed one."
He placed a particular emphasis on documentary, particularly what he called "observational cinema", which sought to avoid both melodrama and didacticism. The School produced documentarists including Nick Broomfield and Molly Dineen. He also favoured a loosely structured "active curriculum" in which students learned by working on projects rather than being taught in more formal situations.
He left the school in 1992 and founded Ateliers du Cinema Europeen in Paris, to train European film producers.