At the Digital Cinema MFA program, we aim to help you develop as a professional filmmaker, to tell compelling stories using the latest digital tools and best practical filmmaking techniques of the Hollywood and independent film traditions.

Our students work closely with faculty to develop the creative and technical skills required to critically evaluate films, screenplays and video projects based on aesthetic, practical and commercial criteria and to define and achieve professional and aesthetic objectives for film and media productions.

In a unique one-course/subject at a time format, students focus on each of the cinematic perspectives: cinematic storytelling, cinematic design, editing, sound design, cinematography, directing, and producing.

Students practice creative development and problem solving in real world situations covering all aspects of low-budget and independent filmmaking.

Throughout the program, students work in a variety of film production leadership positions to develop the communication and collaboration skills necessary to be successful in today's professional media marketplace.

By the end of the program students have developed film narratives from concept to shooting script and guided film projects through pre-production, production, post-production and film festival distribution and marketing.

Graduates should be able to apply professional concepts and techniques from the Hollywood and Independent filmmaking traditions to craft visual stories for a variety of digital distribution channels based in their interests and career objectives.

The first year seminars and workshops focus on filmmaking crafts and the development of several short films. In the program's second-year, students follow a professional production cycle through courses in producing, directing, and production management. Students develop a script from pitch outline to shooting script over 12 weeks working through courses in producing, directing, and production management to develop a Producer’s Pitch Book, a Director’s Look Book and a Production Book based on a short script.

In the Production Management course students are assigned the roles of producer, line producer, director, cinematographer and production designer and use digital technologies and collaborative workflows to complete pre-production, including, casting, location scouting, production and cinematic design, and digital storyboarding for the film.

The second year production residency is held each year in July in an intensive, one-monthon-site workshop and practicum format at the National University learning center in Los Angeles. The production residency features master studio workshops with film professionals such as a DGA director, an ASC cinematographer, an assistant director, and sound and editing professionals and seminars in 4K production workflow, directing actors, blocking, production scheduling and on-set protocols. During the first week students also work collaboratively in their production team completing preproduction prep, hold rehearsals, scouting locations, prepare shooting plans and secure film permits, insurance, and equipment.

Production is scheduled for the second week of July. Digital Cinema MFA production fellows work on set in their leadership positions and in other crew capacities with a mix of professional mentors, faculty, and production crew interns drawn from production certificate programs in LA. A typical residency film is shot over two to four days on a 4K digital cinema camera, working with professional actors and a complete film crew.

Editing and Post production takes place the last two weeks of the month. Each student edits her/his own version of the film, following a professional 4K cinema post-production workflow: syncing dailies, rough assembly editor’s cut and director’s cut, locking picture, sound design/mixing, color correction and final conforming. On the last day of the residency the film is shown at a Hollywood film studio screening room.

Digital Cinema MFA Program Features

  1. Three‐year production MFA
    • 22 courses/81 quarter units
    • May be completed as scheduled in 32 months.
      (Individual results may vary based on consistency of full-time status and scheduling changes)
    • Spring admission (April/May)
    • Year-round curriculum
    • 87% of courses offered online or may be available in hybrid mode onsite in Los Angeles
    • Required Production Residency in LA in July of 2nd year
    • Access to professional experts, equipment, facilities and training in a 4K Digital Cinema workflow
    • Produce 4‐6 short portfolio films
  2. Accreditation and Memberships
    1. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
    2. Member of College Arts Association and University Film and Video Association
  3. Tuition/Fees are lower than the majority of Film Production MFAs.
    1. To request a tuition fee schedule and other program information:
    2. Estimated degree cost does not include residency travel and living expenses, or a student’s personal film equipment, projects or MFA Thesis production costs.

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