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Programs: Graduate Degrees: M.F.A. in Filmmaking

Objectives of the Program

The SFA School of Art graduate filmmaking program is inherently interdisciplinary and is designed to provide advanced studies for film students seeking the Master of Fine Arts degree. The mission of the M.F.A. program is to develop filmmakers who may obtain professional status in the independent media, industrial media, entertainment industry, or academic communities. The program also encourages work that is aesthetically challenging and seeks to develop filmmakers who will express a personal voice through their work. Specialized areas of filmmaking such as cinematography, screenwriting, production design and audio may be chosen in consultation with the graduate film program advisor, who will recommend specific courses.

Admissions

Admission requirements are the same as for the M.A. or M.F.A. in Art except that applicants must submit a tape or DVD of movies they have created or movies in which they had a major role in production, or a portfolio of scripts, or a portfolio of production design artwork, or any combination of the above.

Assessment

The graduate film program advisor, the Director of the School of Art, and the graduate advisor of the School of Art will review the application materials; and the Graduate Portfolio Review Committee will review the portfolio and make admission recommendations to the dean of the Graduate School. If an applying student is from an interdisciplinary program, an advisor from that discipline will be consulted. Applicants may be accepted on a restricted basis pending completion of course work to be specified by the Graduate Portfolio Review Committee and the Graduate Film Program advisor.

Time limit

The average time for a full-time graduate student to complete course requirements is five fall / spring semesters and two or three summer semesters. All work for the Master of Fine Arts degree must be completed within six years from the time the student is first enrolled in the M.F.A. program. An extension of one year may be requested.

Curriculum

The Master of Fine Arts degree in filmmaking curriculum requires 60 graduate credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree.

Requirements

Hours: Description:
12 hrs. ART 512 Graduate Art Film/Video Production
12 hrs. Art history (6 of these credit hours may be from interdisciplinary history courses)
12 hrs. interdisciplinary coursework
12 hrs. ART 513/514 Graduate Feature Production or ART 575/576 Advanced Graduate Studies
6 hrs. ART 530/531 Graduate Studio Techniques/Graduate Studio Media
6 hrs. ART 590/591 Thesis Writing/M.F.A. Exhibition
60 hrs.

ART 512 Graduate Art Film/Video Production will be taken for 4 semesters during the fall and spring for a total of 12 credits. Graduate students in film production will for the first three semesters of ART 512 produce, shoot, edit and premiere a short film each semester. The fourth semester of ART 512 will be dedicated to the preproduction and production of the thesis film. Graduate students who are interested in a specialization within the film/video profession will work on other graduate students’ films and/or the schools’ films.

The 12 graduate credit hours of history must include 6 credit hours of advanced art history. The additional 6 credit hours may be taken from approved interdisciplinary history courses, i.e., history of the cinema.

The 12 graduate credit hours of interdisciplinary studies can be selected from any combination of English, Music, Art or Theatre courses. Decisions relating to what courses are related disciplines and how they will fulfill the graduate student’s curriculum needs will be determined in consultation with the Graduate Program Film Advisor. The Director of the School of Art and the director or chair of the related discipline must approve all interdisciplinary curriculum decisions. Every effort will be made to tailor graduate students’ curriculum to their respective professional pursuits.

ART 513/514 Graduate Feature Production or ART 575/576 Advanced Graduate Studies are each a 3 credit hour course which will be taken concurrently for 6 credit hours. ART 513/514 Graduate Feature Production is taught in Summer I and meets 8 to 12 hours each day, Monday through Saturday. ART 513/514 will be taken for two summers for a total of 12 credit hours. Each summer a professional filmmaker who has worked extensively in the film/video production field will teach the class. ART 575/576 Advanced Graduate Studies may be taken in place of ART 513/514 if the student has taken summer Feature Production at least once.

ART 530/531 Graduate Studio Techniques/Graduate Studio Media are each a 3 credit hour courses which will be taken concurrently for 6 credit hours. These courses are a required for other graduate art students and taught by a team of art faculty. Coursework typically includes critiques of work-in-progress, artistic discussions and readings. This course will be taken during the student’s second fall/spring semester in the program.

ART 590/591 Thesis Writing/M.F.A. Exhibition will be taken concurrently during the graduate student’s last semester for 6 credit hours. That semester will be dedicated to concluding the production of the thesis film, its premier and defense. If the film cannot be finished, premiered or defended within that time frame, then it will be necessary to enroll in another semester of ART 591 M.F.A. Exhibition.

M.F.A. Thesis

The thesis applies what the student has learned and done in filmmaking through an in-depth film project. The thesis is initiated in the same way as for the M.F.A. in other disciplines. The film project requires a detailed recorded preproduction and production book and a distribution plan. The Graduate Program Advisor in Filmmaking will review the project throughout the preproduction, production and postproduction processes. In addition to the thesis film, a written thesis / support document is required. The introduction of this document cites similar, related and antecedent work; the body explains the work, its statement and the method of production; and the conclusion provides an evaluation of the film.

Part A: Screening

The thesis film will be publicly screened. Immediately following the screening the candidate will make a 15- to 20-minute presentation consisting of an introduction, statement of purpose, background, and working methods as related to the thesis film.

  • Following the screening and presentation, 5-10 minutes are allotted for general audience questions directly related to the presentation, followed by 5-10 minutes for faculty questions.
  • A majority vote by closed ballot of faculty in attendance is required for a candidate to proceed to Part B of the examination. A five-member M.F.A. Public Presentation Committee is elected annually to evaluate the presentations and, joined by the Graduate Program Advisor of Filmmaking, cast the official vote; however, all graduate faculty in attendance may vote.
  • The candidate is limited to three attempts to pass Part A.
  • The time and venue of the presentation will be chosen in consultation with the Thesis Director and the candidate within the first two weeks of the semester of the thesis exhibition.
  • It is the candidate’s responsibility to publicize the event.
  • Attendance at these presentations is a required component of 530/531 coursework.

Part B: Thesis Defense

The film is screened for the four-member Thesis Advisory Committee (Thesis Director, two Committee Members, and Graduate School Representative). Immediately following the conclusion of the film screening, the Thesis Committee will conduct a 30- to 45-minute examination referencing the thesis film and the written thesis / support document.


The written thesis and the film will be submitted to the Thesis Committee for final approval. The final step in completing the M.F.A. program is to have a public screening of the thesis film. Following the screening, the candidate will explain the production and answer questions from the public, faculty and students. After the screening has been adjourned, the School Graduate Comprehensive Committee, the Graduate Film Program Advisor and the Director of the School will meet for final approval of the candidate’s public presentation.

Interdisciplinary Studies

With related schools’ or departments’ approval, the following interdisciplinary studies may be taken as graduate credit to fulfill the requirements of the M.F.A. in Filmmaking. Additional courses relevant to filmmaking may be petitioned for approval: such course work must be completed at advanced level.

Theatre

  • Advanced Acting
  • Acting for the Camera
  • History of Cinema I
  • History of Cinema II
  • Play Directing
  • Advanced Directing
  • Playwriting>
  • Design for Theatre

English

  • Introduction to Narrative Film
  • Film Movements and Themes
  • Topics in Film: Genre and Auteur
  • Advanced Topics in Film Theory
  • African-American Cinema
  • Advanced Topics in Film World Cinema
  • Advanced Creative Writing>
  • Advanced Creative Writing: Screenwriting

Music

  • Composition
  • Music Technology (sound engineering, recording technology)
  • Scoring and Arranging
  • Film Music

Art

Any advanced art course that relates to a student’s film discipline

Suggested Curriculum for Full-Time M.F.A. Filmmaking Students

See Curriculum: Requirements above for degree requirements.

Summer II

3 Credit Hours Recommended

Semester: Credit Hours: Course:
Summer II 3 ENG 473 Screen Writing (interdisciplinary studies)
Fall 3 ART 512A Graduate Art Film/Video Production
Fall 3 Interdisciplinary studies
Fall 3 ART, THR or MUS Graduate Art History or interdisciplinary history*
Spring 3 ART 530 Graduate Studio Techniques
Spring 3 ART 531 Graduate Studio Media
Spring 3 ART, THR or MUS Graduate Art History or interdisciplinary history*
Summer I 3 ART 513A Graduate Feature Production
Summer I 3 ART 514A Graduate Feature Production
Fall 3 ART 512B Graduate Art Film/Video Production
Fall 3 Interdisciplinary studies
Fall 3 ART, THR or MUS Graduate Art History or interdisciplinary history*
Spring 3 ART 512C Graduate Art Film/Video Production
Spring 3 Interdisciplinary studies
Spring 3 ART, THR or MUS Graduate Art History or interdisciplinary history*
Summer I 3 ART 513B Graduate Feature Production or ART 576 Advanced Graduate Studies
Summer I 3 ART 514B Graduate Feature Production or ART 575 Advanced Graduate Studies
Fall 6 ART 590/591 Thesis Writing/M.F.A. Exhibition
Fall 3 ART 512D Graduate Art Film/Video Production
*A total of 6 graduate credit hours must be from advanced art history.

Specializations

The M.F.A. in Filmmaking is primarily set up for independent filmmakers, but a student may specialize in a production area if he or she so desires. If students seek to specialize in a particular area, they will be expected to have the foundations within that field.

Cinematographer

Students who wish to specialize in cinematography should have a BFA in film/video or have a BA in communications with an emphasis in television. Their course of study is the same as the general course of study. Their ART 530/531 is primarily in filmmaking, and they work on the summer feature as a cinematographer or gaffer. They work with the filmmakers in creating movies using their knowledge in cinematography. They work on the summer feature as upper level technicians.

Sound and Music

Students who wish to specialize in sound should have a BFA in film/video or a BA in communications with an emphasis in radio/television. Their course of study would be the same as the general course of study. Their ART 530/531 is primarily in filmmaking, and they would work on the summer feature as sound technicians. They work with the filmmakers in creating movies using their knowledge in production sound recording and in postproduction sound and mixing and work with the film score composer(s) and technicians in the final mix. Those with the requisite skills and training may also serve as music editor and/or composer.

Production Design

Students who wish to specialize in production design should have a BFA in studio art or theater, a BA in art with a minor in theatre technology or a BA in theater with a minor in studio art. Their course of study is the same as the general course of study. Their ART 530/531 study is primarily in drawing or, as their skills require, design, and they work on the summer feature as production designers.

Screen Writing

Students who wish to specialize in screen writing would be expected to have a BA degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Their course of study is the same as the general course of study with the exception that their 12 graduate credit hours of interdisciplinary studies would be in English. Their ART 530/531 is primarily in writing. They produce screenplays and work with the filmmakers in creating movies from their scripts. They work on the summer feature as writers.