November 1, 2001

Documentary Production Training Overview

If you want to be a documentary/nonfiction filmmaker, making your first film is the first step (Note: The term “film” refers to “film and/or video and/or digital moving image media” throughout this article.). This portfolio work will help you get a job, a grant, attention at film festivals—and help your next project find support.

A good way to evaluate documentary production training programs is to consider how the program will help you make portfolio works. One should look at the faculty, their credits, the courses offered, the equipment, facilities, and financial aid available. Look at films produced by the students as part of the institution’s program. Courses that deal with knowing how to use a particular camera or computer-editing program are useful, but understanding concepts such as proposal and script writing, research, editing, marketing, finance, direction, etc. will be even more useful in the long term. Supplement your program by attending film festivals, screenings and readings to stay current with the field. Membership organizations like IDA, AIVF, IFP, FAF and other regional centers provide a good way to stay in touch with developments and network with fellow documentary filmmakers.

In reviewing hundreds of programs for the selection listed in this Guide to Documentary Production Training, I found that while there are a handful of first-rate programs that provide mostly graduate degrees, there are also thousands of excellent classes in programs that provide professional training for individuals who may or may not need a college degree, or for those who already have one. This guide is not intended to rank programs, but rather to suggest a methodology for evaluations based on looking at the output (films produced by students) of the production programs, the courses offered, support given to students, equipment available to students and experience and professionalism of the faculty. The available approaches have been organized into four areas (See Table I for some pros and cons for each of these approaches.):

A. College/University-Undergraduate and Graduate Training

B. Continuing Education Programs/Workshops/Classes Sponsored by Colleges and Universities

C. Continuing Education Programs/Workshops/Classes Sponsored by Media Arts Groups or Others

D. Self Instruction/Mentoring

Each choice offers a somewhat different path to a goal we would define as making a complete portfolio film/video on which to begin to build a career. Whether the end product is a 10-minute fund-raising sample of a longer work, or a polished short or even a feature length film, like most art-related fields, a sample work is needed to raise funds for future works, or to be hired as a filmmaker.

A. College/University-Undergraduate and Graduate Training

Very few recent high school graduates are either ready educationally or have the maturity to commit to a life in nonfiction filmmaking. While many college programs offer undergraduate training in film and video, most of the production classes that produce the “award winners” tend to be offered on the graduate level. Programs can be found in schools of communication, theater, journalism, broadcasting, anthropology, art and other disciplines, in addition to film and television departments. This is due in part to the relative newness of moving-image media as an academic discipline and to the fact that most academic programs deal with documentary filmmaking as an interdisciplinary area. Fiction filmmaking is perceived as more glamorous and tends to get more resources, faculty appointments, support courses and higher student enrollments. While the production of films is clearly a discipline, because documentary films are about people or process or history or whatever, they can be located anywhere within the humanities, sciences and arts. This suggests that if your interest is making documentaries about “history,” then getting a degree in history would make more sense on the undergraduate level than getting a degree in film.

Finding a documentary production major where the majority of classes are in filmmaking is not as easy as it might appear (Note: All data used was verified from program websites; see directory for links.). There are very few documentary filmmakers holding full-time academic appointments in the institutions in the attached listing; most are adjuncts or part-time. For example, despite an impressive production faculty at Harvard, documentary filmmaking is not listed as an emphasis or major. University of California at Berkeley locates its documentary faculty in its School of Journalism, Center for New Documentary, but also offers classes in its undergraduate and continuing education programs. Stanford’s documentary program is in its School of Communication and is a major only on the graduate level. UCLA offers a two-year undergraduate emphasis as part of its major and a mentor program on the graduate. USC’s Visual Anthropology Program (MA) offers classes in Visual Anthropology within its school, and the School of Cinema-Television provides the training in video production. USC’s Annenberg School of Communications’ Broadcast Journalism Program provides a major “devoted to the production of television news and nonfiction programming.” In addition to these three programs, USC also offers summer workshops in documentary. Temple University and NYU (Tisch) have both graduate and undergraduate production programs located in different schools; Temple offers training in both its Anthropology Department and School of Communications and Theater for both undergraduates and graduates, while NYU has similar programs in two schools and an adult education program in another program. Columbia College in Chicago has offered programs that work for both younger and older students for many years on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Reviewing student documentary work is a useful way to see what kinds of films students in documentary programs are making. The Motion Picture Academy and the Television Academy run the two highest profile competitions (see Tables II and III for respective winners and their schools), both of which are open to all US students. There are few dual winners in the competitions, and this is a matter of format: The Motion Picture Academy requires that works be shown in film formats, even if they were shot on video, while the Television Academy only reviews works on video. Stylistically, the works reflect the tastes of the respective academies; films that are aesthetically non-traditional in form generally do not place, although the Motion Picture Academy does have a separate experimental category.

Finally, it is important to find out what kind of support the programs provide to students for making their films. Is equipment provided? Film stock? What kind of editing and other postproduction facilities are available? How many students in the program get to make films? Who owns the film when the student finishes with the program? How available are faculty members to work with students? For further insight, one might also talk with students currently attending the various programs for their perspective.

B. Continuing Education Programs at Colleges and Universities offer excellent specialty classes in documentary production. These classes are usually less expensive than full-time programs and can help prepare individuals for a mid-career switch. Classes range from documentary history to digital editing to production. In many cases, these are not the same classes that are offered in the colleges’ main programs, but are adult or continuing education programs. In others they are. Some of the schools offer intensive summer programs and most offer evening classes throughout the year. Classes can be as specific as learning an editing program like Final Cut or shooting with a digital camera. Check out the course offerings closely, read the bios of the faculty and review the course syllabuses before enrolling. It is also useful to visit their facilities and see their equipment. Ask what equipment is provided to students in their classes and for how long. Does the program limit the hours of editing and other facilities? Will this affect your ability to make your portfolio work?

Many programs allow you to go to the first class without paying a fee. Some of the best-known programs are NYU Summer Program (Tisch), NYU School of Continuing Education and USC Summer Program (in the School of Cinema-Television). The Center for Documentary Studies (at Duke University) is a good example of a hybrid program that does not give degrees but is associated with a college. The New School in New York also has an excellent evening program.

Continuing education programs/workshops/classes are ideal for working professionals. In some cases these programs offer certificates and, in a few, degrees, both of which may be helpful in terms of advancement in your current position. The IRS generally considers training to maintain and improve skills deductible business expenses, and many larger companies will help pay the cost of classes for their employees.

Some programs are available for high school students; all will take students from other colleges and universities. These programs should be considered by college graduates as an alternative to graduate programs because of their relative low cost and high quality, and students who hold non-related degrees such as law, medicine, business, etc. should consider these programs for the same reasons.

C. Continuing Education Programs/Workshops/Classes Sponsored by Media Arts Groups or Others offer a rich range of courses and programs. These range from the “don’t call us—we’ll call you” programs offered by Sundance and CPB/PBS, where participants have to be “invited” to participate, to the programs and classes offered by regional organizations such as the Northwest Film Study Center in Portland, 911 in Seattle, Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco, BFVF in Boston, IDA in Los Angeles and the Maine Photographic Workshops. The Art Institute schools (national for-profit program) offer first-rate classes in 23 locations. While the Art Institute does offer degree-granting programs, many of the classes can be taken without going for a degree. Other programs to check out would include the NY Film Academy (numerous locations in the US, workshops) and the Vancouver Film School, which offers an intensive 48-week professional program as well as individual courses. These classes are ideal for college graduates. Action/Cut Directing Seminars based in New York offers training programs in locations around the US. They differ from the college and university sponsored programs in that many are less formal and less expensive, and offer an excellent first place to start. Like the continuing education classes at formal educational institutions, classes can be found that address a specific topic, such as how to make a DVD or use an editing program, find grant money, etc. Since their sponsors are not high overhead institutions, costs are usually lower, classes are shorter—perhaps a weekend or a few evenings—and teachers are very responsive to student needs.

D. Mentoring/Self-Instruction can work for those who find that going back to school is impossible because of family or professional commitments. Pick your mentors well and find ways to accommodate their schedules. Any self-directed course of study requires a great deal of discipline. One of the difficulties of not working within a program is the need to find equipment and assemble a production crew. While practical knowledge of the field helps, it is important to screen the many hundreds of nonfiction works that have shaped our field since the early works of Lumiere. Be sure to look at films that have content similar to the ones you want to make. See how other filmmakers solved similar problems.

With self-instruction, the goal is still to make a portfolio work that will help get you attention, future work, grants and other support for your own projects. Examples of recent Oscar® winning first documentary films include Big Mama (2000) and One Survivor Remembers (1995). Most first portfolio works, however, represent a step in the process of building a career and are not ends in themselves. Experience is one of the best teachers but does not replace true rigorous training and classes.

Some final thoughts:

I am frequently asked to recommend documentary/nonfiction film/video production training programs. Some queries come from associates with college-bound children, but the majority comes from investment bankers, doctors, writers, lawyers, fiction filmmakers and others who want to know where to go to learn how to make films about the world around them. Considering the lack of jobs and difficulty in finding funding for films, it is surprising that there are so many choices and options in literally thousands of documentary training programs. The good news is that the new technologies make it easier and cheaper than ever to make films. With the availability of high-quality courses and low-price professional equipment, even if one has never made a film before one can start in a matter of days. Now there are no more excuses.

 

Mitchell Block (mwblock@aol.com) is president of Direct Cinema Limited (directcinema.com) and works in Los Angeles consulting on nonfiction acquisitions for HBO/Cinemax as well as numerous independent productions worldwide. He has been teaching independent film producing at USC’s School of Cinema-Television on an adjunct basis since 1979. He executive-produced the 2001 Oscar® winning film Big Mama for HBO. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures, the Television Academy and the University Film and Video Association. He has been on the board of the IDA for eight years.

©2001 Mitchell W. Block (All rights reserved)

 

Pros and Cons

 

College/University Programs, Graduate and Undergraduate Training

  • Pros. Provide comprehensive curriculum. Allow for production of first-rate films.  Conclude with college or advanced degree.  Offer loans to pay costs. Many outstanding faculty members and state of the art facilities. 
  • Cons. Can take a few years (or longer). Not “professional” or intended for training of working adults, since they are full time. Expensive. Degree may not prove valuable. High debt load if funded with loans. No job placement for graduates.
  • Questions to ask
    • What is emphasis of program?
    • Tell me about your faculty?
    • What kind of support is available for students?  Tuition?  Housing?  Living?  Film expenses? 
    • What equipment and facilities are available to students?
    • Who gets to make films?
    • Who owns the portfolio film? 
    • Any job placement programs or internships?
    • How many non-film courses does the degree program require?  

Continuing education programs/workshops/classes that are part of colleges and universities

  • Pros. Excellent classes with excellent instructors. Postgraduates can focus on selected classes to fill gaps in training and skills. Far less expensive than degree programs. Excellent equipment resources in some cases. Certificates or classes have resume value. 
  • Cons. Uneven quality of classes faculty and facilities. Programs are expensive in some cases. Certificate may not have value. 
  • Questions to ask
    • Same as above plus: 
    • Any job placement programs or internships?
    • How are students selected?
    • How available are faculty?
    • Are credits transferable to a degree program?

Continuing education programs/workshops/classes that are part of media arts groups or other training programs.

  • Pros. Excellent classes with excellent instructors. Postgraduates can focus on selected classes to fill gaps in training and skills.  Far less expensive than degree programs. Usually less expensive than programs at colleges. 
  • Cons. Uneven quality of classes, faculty and facilities. No advanced degrees. Certificate may not have value. 
  • Questions to ask
    • Same as above plus:
    • -What is the policy toward refunding fees if I am unhappy with the course?
    • -What kind of backgrounds do the other students have?
    • -Am I at the same level as the other students in my class?  (Am I comfortable with them?) 

Self instruction/Mentoring 

  • Pros. Least expensive. Allows maximum resources for portfolio work.
  • Cons. You get what you pay for. Difficult to find good or appropriate mentors. Hard to get “student deals”.

 

Listing of College Television Award Winners/Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation – 1991-2000

 

Program 1st Place Winners 2nd and 3rd Place Winners
Brown University 1994  
Columbia University 1995 2nd 1991, 2nd 1998
NYU 1998  
Stanford University (Graduate) 1992 2nd 1997
University of Arizona   3rd 1997, 2nd 1998, 2nd 1999
University N Carolina, Greensboro   2nd 1992
University of Texas Austin 1996, 1997  
University of Southern California 1991, 1993, 1999 2nd 1995, 2nd 1999, 3rd 2000
University of California Berkeley 2000 2nd 1993, 2nd 1996, 2nd 2000
     

 

Listing of Student Documentary Academy Award Winners from 1973 to 2001

  • Adelphi University, 1976
  • Antioch College, 1975
  • Bob Jones University, 1989
  • Boston University, 1979,1980,1981
  • Brown University, 1989
  • California Institute of the Arts, 1986, 1989
  • Columbia College, 1983
  • Harvard University, 1995, 1996
  • Loyola Marymount , 1989,1992,1996
  • North Carolina School of the Arts, 1999
  • New York University Tisch School , 1978,1982,1984,1985, 1986,1993,1998
  • Regent University, 2000
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 1988
  • San Francisco State, 1990
  • Scottsdale Community College, 1997
  • Stanford University (Graduate Program), 1984,1985,1986,1987,1989,1990,1991,1992,1995,1996,1997,1998,1998,2000
  • Temple University, 1973,1978,1979,1992
  • University of Colorado, 1985
  • University of Utah, 1994
  • University Texas Austin, 1977,1979,1983
  • University of California, Los Angeles, 1980
  • University of California, Berkeley, 1978,1983
  • University of Southern California (USC), 1976,1981,1987,1988,1990,1993,1997,2000
  • Wesleyan University, 1994

Source: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

 

Listing of Documentary Training Programs

Program Name Description
911 Media Arts Center Continuing Education-Part of a Media Arts Center Offers a wide range of classes by industry professions for the beginning to the advance filmmaker. Offers equipment and other facilities to its members.  

 

 

Action/Cut Directing Seminars


Continuing Education-Not Part of a University  The only film learning workshop in the industry that offers unique step-by-step & shot-by-shot audio-visual, in-depth analysis of actual "real" feature film and television scene studies.

 

 

Adelphi University School of Communications


Undergraduate Program Film- and video-making are presented, incorporating an artistic, historical and theoretically integrated approach that is central to Adelphi’s philosophy of studying media. Students learn how media are created and how the artistic, historical and theoretical knowledge they have acquired affects the viewer’s reaction. They gain direct experience during production classes in how the creative process can mold and even change the intended objective of the communication.

 

 

Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF)


Continuing Education-Part of a Media Arts Center AIVF programs informational, educational, and networking events to help filmmakers navigate their careers by staying informed and connected. Each month members can attend seminars and panels with guests ranging from top executives at distribution companies to festival programmers to foundation program officers.

 

 

Antioch College


Undergraduate Program Communications The Communications concentration encourages students to investigate the multiple layers of meaning present in every communications exchange, from spoken conversations to television viewing. In addition, Communications students are required to complete three levels of studio/practice in order to gain mastery of both the technical and communicative elements involved in film, video, photography or journalism/print media. An emphasis on the political, social, historical, and contemporary roles of the documentary permeates the Communications curriculum and informs student work.

 

 

Bob Jones University


Undergraduate Program, Broadcast Journalism The broadcast journalism major exists to meet the need for a vital, professionally enhanced Christian witness through the electronic media. Young Christians who are verbally gifted and skilled in the means of mass communication can offer the needed corrective to the current secular media.

 

 

Boston University


Undergraduate Program Film and Television have developed as individual media with their own histories of production techniques, artistic disciplines, content and business operations. However, there is much sharing and mutual influence between these media, and many career opportunities span both film and television. The Department of Film and Television responds to this situation by providing two flexible programs of undergraduate study. Graduate Program This two-year MFA program, which emphasizes narrative filmmaking, trains students to become complete filmmakers. Students learn all aspects of film production, from initial scripting to directing, cinematography, sound design and editing, and they study the work of master filmmakers. At the same time, students practice the art of storytelling through their screenwriting courses, then apply what they have learned in their production courses. The faculty's goal is to enable each student to graduate with a short film capable of winning student film festivals, as well as a feature-length screenplay.

 

Boston Film and Video Foundation 


Continuing Education-Part of a Media Arts Center BF/VF has been offering workshops, courses, classes and labs in the field of film, video and digital media arts education for the past 25 years.

 

 

Brigham Young University


Undergraduate Program provides students an undergraduate liberal arts education and graduate education in theatre and film in the areas of acting, design & technology, directing, education, media arts studies, music dance theatre, nonfiction multimedia, theatre studies and writing.

 

 

Brown University


Undergraduate Program The Department of Modern Culture and Media provides a place for the study of the mass media—especially film, photography, print journalism, and television—in relation to modern society itself and to such other cultural products as modern literature, art and philosophy. In this Department, faculty and students attempt to unite aspects of modern culture that are normally separated by university departmental structures (such as fine art, literature, and philosophy). The center also proposes the study of cultural forms (film, video, journalism) that are seldom treated with adequate seriousness in the liberal arts curriculum.

 

 

California Institute of the Arts


Undergraduate, Graduate and Certificate The Live Action Program is designed for students who are interested in utilizing film and video as mediums for personal expression and exploration, for whom independent film and video is a vocation, not simply a mode of production. Students are free to develop their own work (over which they retain control and copyright, as in the other programs) in a workshop atmosphere, as respected members of a community of artists in which authority must be constantly tested and where teaching works through persuasion rather than coercion.

 

 

Chapman University


Undergraduate and Graduate Program The School of Film and Television offers students a variety of curricular options leading to careers and/or graduate study in the dynamic worlds of film and television, broadcast journalism, film and television production and new media. The broad-based program includes a BA degree in film and television, with emphases in screenwriting and film studies, and a BFA degree in film and television, with emphases in writing/ directing, cinematography, editing, new media and broadcast journalism. The school also provides graduate-level work through an MA degree in film studies and an MFA degree in film and television production.

 

 

Columbia University


Undergraduate and Graduate Program Unlike most graduate film programs, the Film Division at Columbia includes directing, screenwriting and producing faculty within one department. The advantage this gives students is that they get first-rate training in all three skills. They don't have to choose which area to concentrate in until their second year. Columbia believes that “a little experience writing and directing makes one a better producer; experience producing and writing makes one a better director; and experience directing and producing makes one a better screenwriter.”

 

 

Columbia College-Chicago Documentary Center


Undergraduate and Graduate Program Founded in 1988, the Documentary Film Center is a teaching and learning study center dedicated to the advancement of the documentary genre. The center supports students in the production of documentary films and provides a course of study designed to help students prepare for a career in documentary filmmaking.

 

 

Dartmouth College


Undergraduate Program The Film Studies program at Dartmouth College offers a wide range of courses in the theory, history, and criticism of film and television as well as a limited number of courses in film and video production and screenwriting. The major allows students not only to shape their own emphasis within it (for instance, history and criticism or screenwriting), but also to take at least one additional course relevant to their emphasis outside the department.

 

 

Emerson College


Undergraduate Program The film curriculum integrates theory and applied course work in film production, screenwriting and film studies. Advanced topics include color cinematography, lighting, sound and editing. Television/video. courses promote creativity, critical thinking and analysis in digital and analog modes. In the capstone course, selected students plan, write, produce and evaluate major video projects. You can see your experience in action through Emerson Independent Video (EIV), where more than four hours of weekly programming is produced, and as an active member of the Emerson chapter of the National Broadcasting Society. Graduate Program For many, the program culminates with the student conceiving, writing, directing, producing and editing a master’s project such as a video documentary, a video narrative, a music CD or an interactive website.

 

 

Film Arts Foundation (FAF)


Continuing Education-Part of a Media Arts Center Film Art Foundation's seminars and workshops--taught year-round by working professionals—deal with a wide range of topics of interest to independent filmmakers, no matter what their experience or background.

 

 

Florida State University


Undergraduate and Graduate Created in 1989, the Film School operates its main studios in Tallahassee and its music recording stage and back lot property in Quincy, Fla. Taken together, these facilities, with their state-of-the-art digital postproduction equipment, are among the largest and best equipped in the world devoted wholly to film education. Florida State is the only school in America that pays for all of its students' production expenses, including thesis films. It is also the only school that provides and requires a thesis film on the undergraduate level, for which it also pays all expenses. Altogether, students make over 150 complete sound films each year, of which 10 are thesis films. The School offers BFA and MFA degrees. Because of the conservatory nature of the program, FSU can admit only about one out of 10 applicants-- 15 freshmen, 15 transfers from FSU or other institutions and 24 graduate students.

 

 

George Washington University


Undergraduate Program Here you’ll encounter a diverse group of scholars, practitioners and highly-motivated students who are passionate about the role of media and politics in our society. Upon graduation you will join an accomplished group of alumni who have made their mark in the field of communication. Students have the option of receiving a BA degree in Electronic Media, Journalism, or Political Communication. We also offer an MA degree in Media and Public Affairs that explores the role of communication theories and practices in national and international life.

 

 

Hampshire College


Undergraduate Program The scholars and artists of this school represent such distinct fields as philosophy, literature, film, photography, history, classics, architecture and environmental design, art history, dance, digital imagery, comparative religion, video, painting, music, media and cultural studies, journalism and critical theory. Yet despite the obvious diversity of training, interests and professional activities, Hampshire examines the connections and mutual influences of its critical disciplines and languages of inquiry. Whether analyzing an ancient text, Shakespeare, or a post-modern art form, producing a film or multimedia project, choreographing dance or improvising music, Hampshire is concerned with the construction of new forms as well as the analysis of their historical origins, cultural contexts and human significance and value. The School is dedicated to fostering a new expanded form of literacy that responds to the rapid transformation of the entire scope of cultural activities by electronic means.

 

 

Harvard College


Undergraduate and Graduate Program The principal educational goal of the Visual and Environmental Studies Department is to provide students with an opportunity to gain an understanding of the structure and meaning of the visual arts through theoretical and practical explorations in areas that include painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, design, film, video and photography.

 

 

Ithaca College


Undergraduate Program Each program involves students in all aspects of communication including the history, structure and function of communication organizations; the technical, creative and aesthetic elements of media production; and the evaluation, criticism and analysis of media and communication systems. Creative expression and experimentation are strongly encouraged, and students are invited to participate in the school's various student-operated curricular opportunities, including cable access channel ICTV and the professional production unit, Park Productions.

 

 

Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles


Undergraduate Film Production majors move from a broad- based foundation in liberal arts and science into the theory and practice of filmmaking and a wealth of practical experience in its techniques. Early courses explore the art of cinema, its visual qualities, and the relationship of visuals to writing and the elements of sound. By the third year, you are moving into the hands-on production of sound films from concept to final print. You will learn the special skills of directing, cinematography, lighting, editing, and other post-production techniques. Graduate Program The Film Production Emphasis is designed for students with an undergraduate background in film production. Students with deficiencies in production background must complete all undergraduate prerequisites listed for film production. Progressing from the graduate core courses, the film production students must complete a final thesis project, which will be a major production in film. These projects involve an academic rigor beyond the ordinary student film class. Students must also bear the cost of raw stock and processing for their film projects.

 

 

The Maine Photographic Workshop


Continuing Education-Not Part of a University The Workshops offer classes in the latest technology; 16mm and 35mm film cameras, DV, Betacam and HDTV video; Avid Certified Training, Final Cut Pro weekend crash courses, plus workshops and master classes for writers, actors, producers, editors, cinematographers, documentary and dramatic filmmakers from around the world. Specialized workshops in documentary are available.

 

 

New School School of Continuing Education


Undergraduate Program The New School’s Department of Communication offers a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum that enables students to develop critical and responsible understanding of the mediated global culture in which we live and acquire skills to produce and distribute media messages in a variety of genres. Master of Arts in Media Studies Since 1975, The New School has offered the MA degree in Media Studies in an innovative program that combines both theoretical and practical understanding of media and their role in our quickly changing world. Certificate in Film Production The New School awards a certificate attesting to successful completion of a sequence of eight courses that culminate in production of a 16mm, sync-sound film.

 

 

New York University Tisch School of the Arts


Undergraduate Program Undergraduates are provided with a variety of creative experiences in the conceptual and production phases, and intensive course work is offered in directing, producing, writing and acting, as well as in the craft and technical skills of film editing, video post-production and sound mixing. Students are encouraged to experience the full range of artistic expression by taking courses in other departments of the Tisch School, as well as at the College of Arts and Sciences. Graduate Program Graduate students develop their creative talent through actual production experience and learn about business procedures used in the profession. The program culminates with production of a thesis film in the form of a dramatic short or documentary.

 

 

New York University School of Continuing & Professional Studies


Certificate in Documentary--The Evening Program This certificate, an optional professional credential, is awarded to students who successfully complete seven courses: six required and one elective. Electives are chosen from other courses offered or cross-referenced, with adviser approval. Additional courses are offered in the spring and summer semesters. Note: The program offers a wide range of courses that can be taken without attending the certificate program.

 

 

Northwest Film Center, Portland Museum of Art


Certificate and/or Continuing Education, Media Arts Center Those who wish to formalize their studies within the continuing education curriculum in preparation for a career as a professional media artist may apply to enroll in the Film Center's Certificate Program in Film, a non-degree course of study in film aesthetics, production and business. The Certificate may also be pursued by those wanting to transfer coursework in film to a formal degree program elsewhere, or by those who simply desire to improve their knowledge of the media arts through a structured program.

 

 

North Carolina School of the Arts


Undergraduate Program The School of Filmmaking trains exceptionally talented students for professional careers in the moving image arts. This program stresses the collaborative creative process of filmmaking. The program does not seek to train professionals as specialists in one facet or another of the filmmaking arts and sciences. It does, however, seek to develop and nurture the complete filmmaker — a storyteller of vision and insight who knows and appreciates the entire spectrum of components that are essential to the creation of a theatrical motion picture. The intense conservatory training concentrates on cinematography, directing, editing and sound, producing, production design and screenwriting. The School of Filmmaking works closely with the Schools of Drama, Design & Production, Music, Dance and the Visual Arts Program as essential contributors to the filmmaking process.

 

 

North Texas State University


Undergraduate Program encompasses both creative skills-based training along with theoretical knowledge covering history, criticism, economics and policy, all built upon a strong liberal arts foundation. This educational experience prepares students for many different career opportunities in and around the electronic media and film industries, as well as preparation for advanced study. Graduate Program offers a Documentary/Ethnographic Video and Film Studies/Production (including courses such as Documentary Pre-Production, Non-Theatrical Film, Documentary Production, Cinema/Video Vérité) emphasis.

 

 

Northwestern University


Undergraduate and Graduate Program in the history, theory, and production of media. Northwestern’s educational orientation is broad-based and interdisciplinary, offering a range of perspectives on media forms from cinema to broadcast television to alternative media to emerging technologies. Northwestern emphasizes that media are social and cultural practices in dialogue with the broader contexts of the humanities. The department is dedicated to integrating theory and practice, to creating intersections with other disciplines, and to fostering cutting edge media production. Northwestern’s goal is to educate students to critically interpret contemporary media, envision alternative structures in theory and in practice, and reinvent the media of the future.

 

 

Norwich College


Undergraduate Program Norwich College offers an alternative BA in the American progressive tradition for students interested in interdisciplinary, external, off-campus study in humanities, social sciences, environmental studies, creative writing and fine arts. Independent study, internships, co-op education, Internet technology, distance learning and faculty mentors are appropriate for transfer students, home schoolers, and selective high school graduates. Graduate Program The MFA in Visual Art Program allows artists to live and work at home while earning a degree. Students develop their own studies and work under the close guidance of experienced faculty advisors and artist-teachers. The program integrates art theory and practice with individual ideas and life experiences, and puts students in touch with a national community of artists, art historians and art critics.

 

 

Regent University


Graduate Program The school offers three majors—cinema-television, script and screenwriting and theatre arts—and multiple areas of study within each major. Production facilities are made available to all cinema-television and theatre arts students. The school is committed to providing ample equipment and facilities for student use, as well as an outstanding production experience. Each year the school funds a number of student-led films, television programs and music videos, which have a pro-social theme or redemptive message.

 

 

San Francisco State University


Undergraduate Program The College of Creative Arts has the only academic program primarily devoted to the creative arts in Northern California. Comprised of a variety of disciplines, interdisciplines and departments in visual, media and performing arts areas, the college provides unique opportunities for specialized focus, collaboration, interdisciplinary learning and multidisciplinary pursuits.

 

 

Southern Illinois University


Undergraduate Program The program in cinema production encourages students to develop their personal artistic expression. The emphasis is on training the “total filmmaker.” Production students are involved in all phases of production from writing to final sound mixing. Students gain hands-on practical experience with a wide range of film, sound, and digital equipment in the classroom and lab sessions, by crewing on various student productions, and by working on their own productions.

 

 

Stanford University


Undergraduate Program is intended for liberal arts students who wish to build a fundamental knowledge of communication in society. Majors take courses from two communication orientations within the Communication Department, plus a selection of elective courses. In addition, undergraduates take one class in statistics. Courses include both theory and practicum courses in media and society, print journalism and communication research. Through electives, including an optional senior project or honors thesis, a student may build greater depth in any of these areas. Graduate Program in Documentary Film and Video in Stanford's Department of Communication is designed to teach students the conceptual and practical tools for producing nonfiction film and video. The program emphasizes the development of ideas and the means for effectively communicating them through visual media. The philosophy of the Documentary Film and Video program is based on creating an environment in which students learn the methods of documentary through their own productions and through collaboration on the projects of their classmates. Students also participate in rigorous critiques of works-in-progress. The program is intensive and requires residency for two consecutive years. Stanford’s experience indicates that mature applicants with work experience tend to flourish and excel in the program. The conceptual and technical skills required for documentary work are sufficiently different from fictional narrative to make the Stanford program inappropriate for students interested in feature filmmaking.

 

 

Temple University


Undergraduate Program Designed for students interested in media production, media organization and management, media institutions and telecommunications, and/or media and social processes, the degree combines theory and practice Graduate Program This degree offers advanced training for filmmakers, videomakers, screenwriters and media artists. The MFA program is one of the most awarded graduate programs in the country--projects have received top prizes in every major student competition in the US and abroad, as well as major professional recognition including several Oscar® nominations. The program embraces all media art forms, with special attention to documentary, alternative voices in narrative film and television, independent narrative, and works of both an artistic and social consciousness.

 

 

Temple University Graduate School of Anthropology


Graduate Program The Department of Anthropology at Temple University offers graduate studies programs in the anthropology of visual communication, leading to a Ph.D. The program is designed to train students of cultural anthropology who wish to study various modes of visual and pictorial communication and/or to communicate anthropological knowledge in some form of pictorial media. Students interested in producing films, videotapes and photographs will be trained as cultural anthropologists of visual communication, not as professional imagemakers.

 

 

University of California, Berkeley Center for New Documentary School of Journalism


Graduate Program The Center for New Documentary at the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism is dedicated to creating new, affordable and innovative models of documentary film. "Documentary film is worth fighting for in this society," said journalism professor and filmmaker Jon Else, head of the journalism school's documentary program and director of the new center.

 

 

University of California, Los Angeles


Undergraduate Program major in Film and Television is a two-year, upper division program for students who have completed two years of general college studies. The program provides an introduction to the history and theory of these art forms and basic learning experiences in production within the context of a liberal arts education. The focus of the first year production experience is television and video and film craft courses. During the senior year, students complete a Senior Concentration in Film Production, Television and Video Production, Screenwriting, Animation, Critical Studies or Digital Media. The school also has an excellent internship program that frequently leads to a student's first professional employment upon graduation. Graduate Program brings together people from diverse backgrounds to create a lively mixture of students and a dynamic laboratory for the study of film and television as collaborative arts. The Department of Film and Television offers four specializations that lead to the MFA degree. The MFA degrees in Production/Directing are three-year programs. From expanding understanding of these art forms in the classroom to producing film and television works in the studio or on location, the MFA curriculum provides a strong foundation for a professional career as a film/television storyteller. Extension Programs Film, Television and Digital Media. UCLA offers a diverse program in film and television production for students who choose not to be in degree programs.

 

 

University of Colorado, Boulder


Undergraduate Program Founded in 1972, the Film Studies Program of the University of Colorado, Boulder is nationally recognized for its diverse and innovative course offerings, its many areas of specialization, including narrative film, documentary, experimental cinema and animation film, and its successful integration of both Critical Studies and Film Production tracks. This is the only film degree-granting program in the state of Colorado, offering both BA and BFA degrees. The faculty includes internationally recognized scholars and filmmakers who are committed to teaching students not only how to make films, but also about the aesthetic, philosophical, historical and cultural contexts of film. The program has a vast collection of 16mm film prints for classroom use only, as well as cameras, equipment, optical printers, and film and digital video editing equipment for the exclusive use of the students.

 

 

University of Montana, Bozeman


Undergraduate Program In Motion Picture/Video/Theatre the curriculum begins with first-year foundation courses emphasizing an understanding and analysis of motion pictures, photography and theatre. Students who successfully complete the five required foundation courses and meet the required average GPA move on to a second-year curriculum consisting of the basics of production: lighting, camera, directing, editing, sound, writing, acting and design. In the third year, students who qualify by attaining a minimum average GPA on their required MTA courses in the first two years build upon these basics in production process workshops that are required of all students in fiction, nonfiction, television and stage. Graduate Program The Department of Media and Theatre Arts, with major support from Discovery Channel, offers an MFA designed primarily for students with education and/or experience in science or natural history who want to become professional filmmakers. This is the only degree program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking in the US. This program is primarily designed for people who have at least an undergraduate degree in science, although admission is also open to others who have significant training and/or experience in filmmaking, particularly those who may have experience working in the area of science or natural history. The 60-semester credit program normally takes three years to complete. The first two years of intensive instruction will be in film and video production and in a highly individualized curriculum of science. The third year will culminate in a thesis film and can be completed off-campus. The program has a strong international component, including relationships with other universities and agencies that will allow degree candidates to film their thesis in such places as East or South Africa or India, should they desire.

 

 

University of Southern California


Undergraduate and Graduate Programs The Film and Television Production Program emphasizes exploration of the student filmmaker's personal creative voice through hands-on filmmaking. Both undergraduate and graduate students begin by making several short films, then progress to more complex productions involving more participants. Students learn the collaborative nature of the filmmaking through crew experiences. The process allows students to develop skills in all areas of the craft, experimenting with both the creative and technical aspects of production. Students can experiment with traditional narrative filmmaking, documentary, television production and new media. Graduate and undergraduate students can choose from a wide range of courses that offer deep study in each area. Faculty come from the ranks of working professionals, ensuring that information transmitted in the classroom is at the cutting edge of the field. At USC, documentary production is superb training for all Cinema-Television students, including those planning to focus on narrative fiction in their careers. Recent student productions have been nominated for Academy Awards, broadcast on network and cable television and received many top film festival prizes.

 

 

University of Southern California School of Anthropology


Graduate Program The goal of USC's MA in Visual Anthropology (MAVA) program is to give students competence in the production of scholarly and professional electronic media. An interdisciplinary program, the training in video production is provided by the School of Cinema-Television. The MAVA program requires a two-year/two-summer commitment.

 

 

University of Texas, Austin


Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered in film and television production.

 

 

University of Utah


Undergraduate Program This program offers a series of courses covering the history, aesthetics, and criticism of the motion picture. Significant experience in film and video production is also a required element of the program. Cinema from around the world - narrative, documentary, experimental, and animation - form the core of the course of study. Undergraduate film/video studies at the University of Utah are designed to develop the student's critical thinking skills, broaden understanding of visual literacy, and foster award-winning creative work. Graduate Program prepares students for employment in the motion picture industry and/or entry into the teaching profession. Students are required to do significant production work in film, video and screenwriting. In addition to course work in production, students undertake substantial work in film history, theory and criticism

 

 

Wesleyan University


Undergraduate Program Film studies is an independent program of study in which the motion picture is explored in a unified manner, combining the liberal arts tradition of cultural, historical and formal analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels.

 

 

Yale University


Undergraduate Program Each student defines an area of concentration comprising six courses, which should form a coherent program in which the study of film is integrated with a particular discipline. Senior requirement. During the senior year, each student completes work culminating in the submission of a senior seminar essay or senior project. Alternative projects might include producing videotapes. A limited number of students making films or videotapes are admitted to the Documentary Film Workshop

 

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