New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Master of Arts

Master of Arts (MA) in Film and Media Production

MA Film students shooting a scene MA Film students using a camera MA Film student films with a camera NYFA filmmaking student uses RED camera

Overview of our MA in Film and Media Production

The Academy makes the accelerated schedule possible by creating an extended academic year, allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in one calendar year.

New York Film Academy MA degree programs are offered only at our Los Angeles campus.

Throughout the filmmaking MA program each student writes, shoots, directs, and edits eight films, and works on at least 20 more.

NYFA Filmmaking Student Highlight Reel 2017


The New York Film Academy Master of Arts (MA) in Film & Media Production is a three semester accelerated graduate program. Designed to educate aspiring content creators, it is a hands-on, total immersion, professional course of study. Each student will create eight of their own film media projects in an array of formats and genres. They will work in collaboration on their classmates’ projects on at least 20 more. The capstone of the MA Film and Media Production program is a written thesis paper exploring the ideas and themes that are studied during the course of the entire program. MA students will have opportunities to develop and deepen their thesis papers in the second semester of their studies in Thesis Development class, under the expert guidance of NYFA’s professionally active faculty. Students will then progress to finalize their thesis work in the third semester, in Thesis Review.

Film and media production is constantly evolving in the 21st century — and so is the New York Film Academy’s filmmaking Master’s program. NYFA's filmmaking MA program provides creative visual storytellers with skills to help students pursue their passion. The intensive curriculum challenges students, develops their skills, and teaches students to be adaptive artists. Students will gain experience shooting their projects on the newest in HD, film, and digital equipment, from Canon 5D to Red Dragon, as well as classic film cameras like Panavision and Arriflex.

NYFA Spotlight on Fulbright Scholar Abdallah El Daly

NYFA MA Film student on location


MA Filmmaking students begin their immersion in film production through a series of intense classes in directing, screenwriting, cinematography, and editing. These classes support a number of short film productions that quickly put students’ skills into practice and assist them with developing proficiency in the overall production process. Each student will direct four short film/media projects in the first half of the semester.

Students will also develop their leadership and collaborative skills through fulfilling the essential roles of Director of Photography, Assistant Camera Operator, and Gaffer (Lighting Technician) on the films of their classmates.

Dialogue production is explored in depth in the second half of the semester while classes in directing, screenwriting, and editing continue. The final project of the semester is the digital dialogue film, which students will write, direct, and edit.

Throughout the semester students are immersed in a course about the changing formats of media production in today’s entertainment marketplace. This course prepares them to undertake production of their thesis film in semester two either as a short film or as a new, still developing format, such as webisode, or content for mobile applications.

The combination of these classes will prepare students for the second semester and production of their Thesis Projects.

NYFA MA Film student adjusts the camera
  • Art, aesthetics, and technique of visual storytelling including directing, cinematography, and editing.
  • Fundamentals of film production and digital editing.
  • Survey and examination of contemporary media formats and distribution vehicles from a content creator’s perspective.
  • Fundamental training in acting and directing actors.
  • Immersion in screenwriting craft.
  • Develop an ability to collaborate with — and lead — a student film crew.
  • Write, direct, and edit four short film/media projects.
  • Crew as cinematographer, gaffer, and/or assistant camera on approximately 12 additional films.
  • Write a short film script with dialogue.
  • Write, direct and edit a dialogue film.
  • Successfully complete Production Lab exercise.


The second semester of the Master of Arts in film and media production program challenges students to develop their craft artistically and technically, and to progress beyond their earlier achievements with the medium. Building upon the filmmaking foundations learned in the previous semester, students continue with their directing, screenwriting, cinematography, and editing classes.

Film Production Lab Two, an intensive in the field production class, provides instruction in all of these areas through a series of “in the field” productions. The development of professional on-set conduct, leadership, and collaborative skills are also rigorously developed in this class.

Branding and marketing is studied at length prior to production of the thesis project. This allows students time to acquire many provisions they need to promote their projects.

NYFA MA Film students The last film project of the filmmaking MA is the Final Film: a single production of up to 15 minutes in length, or multiple shorter media projects. It may be a short film intended for film festivals and distribution which incorporates all of the disciplines instructed throughout the semester, or a new format as studied in the Media and Society class. Current examples include webisodes, branded entertainment, short TV pilots, or commercials. The students’ ambitions and capabilities as evidenced in the thesis project are expected to increase from the first semester projects. Students will also expand their knowledge of production and collaborative abilities through acting as crew members on five of their classmates’ productions.

Intensive classes in post-production assist the student not only with completing the final steps of the filmmaking process, but also with developing an ability to give and receive editorial and creative feedback on their project.

  • Advance in proficiency in the fields of directing, editing, and cinematography.
  • Develop an increased ability to produce short films at a higher level.
  • Advance in proficiency in collaboration and leadership skills.
  • Acquire a comprehension of branding and marketing as required to promote the thesis project.
  • Develop an ability to give and receive constructive editorial and creative feedback on a project.
  • Direct and edit a thesis project of up to 15 minutes in length (shot on 16mm film, 35mm film, or High Def).
  • Develop proficiency with the second semester equipment package.
  • Participate as a principle crew member in five fellow students’ films.
  • Direct or DP a Film Production Lab Two project.


The thesis project will be presented in a movie theater for an invited audience. Students are responsible for inviting all guests. This public screening is not part of the formal evaluation process, but serves as a celebration of the students’ progress and achievements thus far.

Course Descriptions

Semester One
Film Production I
Film Production Studio I
Cinema Studies
Media & Society
Semester Two
Film Production II
Film Production Studio II
Producing & New Media
Thesis Development
Principles of Visual Aesthetics
Semester Three
Final Film Production
Thesis Review
Emerging Formats
Psychology of Film


Film Production I

In this course, students begin to learn the language and craft of film aesthetics from a director's perspective. They learn to integrate several concepts from the arts, the behavioral sciences, and the humanities to achieve maximum psychological impact by studying the director's decisions in camera placement, blocking, staging, and visual image design. This course requires that students challenge themselves not only to become competent directors but also compelling storytellers by utilizing the advanced expressive visual tools to tell their stories. Instructed by directors practiced in the art of visual storytelling, students are exposed to the unique ways that directors stage scenes and choose particular camera angles in creating a sophisticated mise-en-scène.

Students then take these complex concepts learned and apply them to production workshops where they work alongside their instructors in filming and producing short narrative scenes. While the use of lenses, lighting, and editing are practiced and explored, students are also taught the critical significance of performance through acting classes, adhering to the philosophy that in order to direct actors, one must understand and experience acting as art and methodology. Students learn how to speak the language of acting, identifying a scene’s emotional "beats" and "character objectives" in order to improve performances.
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Film Production Studio I

Film Production Studio is designed to teach you the tools of the trade. Split up into intensive hands-on sessions exploring Cinematography, Editing, and Sound, students will learn the essential techniques needed to create professional, high-quality projects.

Cinematography: Through intensive in-class exercises, students shoot 16mm film and learn the complexities of film exposure, the psychological effect of focal lengths, and the use of advanced lighting techniques to evoke a story’s mood and tone. As students incorporate dialogue, they also learn the technical nuances of shooting and lighting high definition video on Canon 5D cameras.

Editing: Students are taught multiple aesthetic approaches to editing film and video. They learn how to apply concepts such as temporal continuity and spatial continuity, as well as less traditional discontinuous editing techniques to their work. Students study both the nuanced effects of editing on storytelling, and then apply them to their own films. The results allow students to apply the psychological and emotional effects of editing to their overall stories.

Sound: Often overlooked, high-quality sound is essential to any successful film or new media production. Through hands-on exercises, this module is designed to relay the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in this crucial area of film production.
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This course introduces students to the nuanced tools and language used in writing a film project. Students take a story from initial idea, treatment and outline to a rough draft, and finally, a shooting script. The intersection of story structure, theme, character, tension, and conflict is examined through detailed scene analysis. Students intensively workshop their ideas with classmates and instructors, providing constructive criticism while accepting critiques of their own work. Encouraged in the advanced methods of story design through visuals and action, the scripts they write become the basis for all projects in the first semester.
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Cinema Studies

Cinema Studies introduces students to the evolution of the motion picture art form as a visual storytelling medium and the motion picture industry from their inceptions. Students will be given a thorough creative, technological and industrial view of the filmmaking art. Students will be prepared for more advanced academic and production related studies and practice of filmmaking. The approach is historically developmental. Students will understand why a film creatively works or doesn’t work and why. The course considers primarily American film development though the impact of international filmmakers is given due analysis.
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Media & Society

In the twenty-first century media is constantly in transition. New narrative formats are emerging almost daily and content producers must not be left behind in this dynamic environment. This course examines these new forms in depth and the unique requirements that they place upon narrative storytellers. Creating content for webisodes, mobile and alternative viewing platforms, branded entertainment, as well as commercials and the music videos are discussed in depth in this class.
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Film Production II

This class further explores the aesthetic elements of mise-en-scène: shot choice, composition, setting, point-of-view, action of the picture plane, and movement of the camera. Students practice different approaches to coverage by breaking down scenes from their own scripts, and applying sophisticated visual approaches. This class also takes a comprehensive look at casting from the actor’s and director’s point of view. Students are asked to identify the dramatic beats of their scenes and translate this into effective casting choices. Students learn to adjust character objectives through rehearsal of their own scripts. A strong emphasis is put on establishing believable performances.

In a series of production exercises, these ideas are practiced in a setting where students shoot scenes on 16mm film and HD with the guidance and critique of their instructor. These practice scenes are fully pre-produced (storyboarded, cast, scouted, rehearsed and pre-lighted) and treated as actual productions, produced in tandem with students in the corresponding NYFA MFA Acting For Film Program. Students are more fully trained in the etiquette of the film set, and the intensive collaboration required for a professional film shoot. Filling all of the necessary crew roles, students spend a full production day shooting scenes with a more advanced grip and electric equipment package.

Finally, under the tutelage of their instructors, students submit detailed proposals for their Thesis films in preparation for their final third semester productions.
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Film Production Studio II

This class immerses students in the more advanced technical and creative demands of film and new media production.

Cinematography: Students work with more advanced 16mm cameras before transitioning to the RED Scarlet to continue studying HD cinematography. In addition, students complete the full range of camera formats in the 35mm filmmaking component. This intensive segment of the class is an opportunity for students to see how the wider frame and higher resolution of 35mm effects their shot design, framing, composition, staging, camera movement, lens choice, and lighting.

Editing: Students sync and edit with dialogue, and learn more advanced techniques in sound mixing and color correction. Students make creative discoveries as well when they compare the very different versions that are edited from the same material. This necessary training in cutting and re-cutting properly prepares them to undertake the challenge of picture and sound editing their Thesis Film.

Screenwriting: This class is an intensive workshop aimed at developing, writing, and polishing scripts for the students’ Thesis Films. Students critique each other’s screenplays through table-reads and engage in lively roundtable discussions of each work. In the process, students learn that even the masters rewrite their work many times over while developing sophisticated visual stories on the page.
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Producing & New Media

Producing & New Media leads students through the entire pre-production process, as well as presents them with the possibilities of gaining exposure through the digital realm. Students also learn how to make creative choices from the producer’s points of view, identifying target audiences, exploring audience expectations, and crafting realistic budgets for their films. Using script breakdowns, students learn how to plan and keep to a schedule and budget for their Thesis Film productions.
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Thesis Development

In this course, students begin to formulate ideas and arguments that will serve as a basis for their final thesis paper. Throughout the semester, effective strategies for finding topics, researching, and professional writing techniques will be explored. The thesis paper should build upon ideas, concepts, and theories explored from semester one, and now continued through semester two.
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Principles of Visual Aesthetics

This course is an examination of the major philosophical issues raised in connection with visual arts, and contemporary media. What we think about art has a direct impact on how we experience and make art. Visual aesthetics involves the study of art theory and the concept of "beauty" as it specifically relates to the visual arts. Topics include the concept of beauty, critical evaluation, artistic truth, and meaning in the arts. Traditional, as well as postmodern viewpoints will be explored through such questions as: What is the nature of art? What is the value of art? What is the function of art? How do we evaluate art? and What is beauty?
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Final Film Production

Students start the third semester with a finished script of up to 15 pages, having fully developed their ideas and prepared the scripts for production. Working with instructors to develop a production schedule, students make final preparations on their film shoots, resulting in a production period that is as intense and demanding as a professional feature film shoot. They continue to meet with instructors in one-on-one advisement sessions to get feedback on their shooting script, casting, storyboards, floor plans, schedules, and budgets.

Each week during the production period, students come together with their Directing and Producing instructors to debrief on the most recently completed production and green light the next production. The green light process requires students to present a production notebook to their instructors, who will determine that the student is fully prepared creatively and logistically.

After the production period, students build their films in the editing room. They screen rough-cuts of their films for their directing and editing instructors and receive feedback from their peers before presenting their finished films to an invited audience at the end of the semester.
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Thesis Review

Students meet with a Thesis Review Board to oversee their progress on their thesis paper. During these sessions the board will review work submitted and make constructive recommendations as to how to proceed with the thesis writing process. Thesis papers will be due for review in their entirety during the final class session.
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Emerging Formats

As the tools of production have become more affordable, and the ubiquity of the Internet has created more media outlets, standing apart from the field is more important now than ever before. This class examines how to use these tools to create your own specific “brand,” and ultimately how to create a market for your projects, or intellectual property.
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Psychology of Film

This course examines various facets of film narrative and filmmaking from a psychological perspective. Through case studies, students learn about the psychology of the filmmaker, and study their own approaches and recurring themes. The psychology of the audience is also explored, in relation to different genres, audience expectations, and viewer responses. Finally, by studying the psychology of the film character, students can enhance the depth of their own developing thesis films by adding layers of meaning to their characters’ behavior.
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