REQUEST INFO APPLY
New York Film Academy
1-800-611-FILM  |  1-212-674-4300
New York Film Academy Master of Fine Arts
Request Info

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Filmmaking

MFA film students shoot with a camera outdoors MFA film students operate a film camera on set MFA filmmaking student folding a clap board MFA Filmmaking students work with a film camera on set

Overview of our MFA in Filmmaking

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

New York Film Academy MFA degree programs are offered at our Los Angeles and South Beach Campuses.

Qualified students have the option of completing course work at the New York Film Academy in New York City in a one-year non-degree program and then applying their course work to be accepted for advanced standing in the MFA Filmmaking degree program.

Each student writes, shoots, directs, and edits 8 films and works on 28 more in the first year.

Two-Year Accelerated MFA Film Making Degree

The Academy's Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking Program is a two year accelerated course of study that gives students the all-around filmmaking experience necessary to make their own films.

MFA film student shoots with digital camera on set In the 69 credit program, students receive over 2,000 hours of hands-on instruction and actual production experience.

Students shoot projects on 16mm film, 35mm film, High-Def, Super 16mm, and the RED Dragon camera system. All projects are edited digitally.

The curriculum integrates intensive study in all the major filmmaking disciplines including directing, cinematography, screenwriting, producing, and editing. Our program is for people who have the passion to plunge into full-time filmmaking, and to commit themselves to a focused and demanding curriculum.

No previous filmmaking experience is required, however, participants must work with self-discipline, energy and mutual respect. Our program is for people who have the passion to plunge into full-time filmmaking, and to commit themselves to a focused and demanding curriculum.

As in all New York Film Academy programs, hands-on learning is emphasized.

MFA film student looks through lens while filming with digital camera Film directing classes are not theoretical explorations; they are practical classes designed to put students in the director's chair as quickly as possible. The New York Film Academy encourages students to take creative risks and find their own voices as visual artists.

Students complete two years with skills in all the filmmaking crafts, an enormous amount of production experience, ten films of their own and an expanded awareness of themselves and others.

Students' films are celebrated in school screenings open to cast, crew, friends, family, and invited guests.

OVERVIEW

Beginning on day one, students participate in an intensive sequence of classes in Film Directing, Screenwriting, Cinematography, Digital Editing, Directing Actors and Production Workshop. They extend and deepen their in-class learning by producing their own short 16mm films. Working in crews of three or four, each student writes, produces, directs and edits four films of increasing complexity.

In addition, each student fulfills the essential roles of Director of Photography, Assistant Camera Operator, and Gaffer (Lighting Technician) on the films of her/his crew members. Thus, everyone has the extensive hands-on experience of working on sixteen short films in the first two months. Students then progress to new digital video technology. With its ease of use, the digital video cameras allow the students to delve deeper into the director's craft.

MFA filmmaking student operates camera while another uses walkie talkie Each individual directs two digital projects. These projects and in-class production workshops challenge students to explore the dramatic mechanics of motion picture story- telling and the critical collaboration between actors and directors. The supporting classes include Screenwriting, Directing Actors, Directing, and Digital Production Workshop. The combination of these classes and projects prepare students for the second and third semester and production of their intermediate films.

In the second and third semester students move into more advanced topics of directing, cinematography, screenwriting and producing. Students learn the more advanced equipment including 16mm sync cameras, dollies, 35mm cameras and cinematography. Each student completes the semester by filming their own intermediate film, a project of up to fifteen minutes incorporating all of the skills learned thus far in the program.

PRODUCTION GOALS
  • Write, direct, and edit 10 films of increasing complexity and length including a master's thesis film.
    • Mise-en-scène In their first film, students are introduced to mise-en-scène, or directing a shot to visually tell a story. Once they create a dramatic moment, they concentrate on the dynamics of the shot that will best express it. This project teaches students how the visual relationship between the subject and the camera creates drama. Each student designs and shoots a scene that has a beginning, middle, and end. Students will learn to pay close attention to the choice of lenses, distances, and angles.

      Since the story will be told within one long shot, it must be staged to express as much as possible about the characters and their actions. Students should rehearse the shot for blocking of actors and camera until the scene works without needing to stop; only then should they roll film. Students each shoot one roll of black and white reversal film, then edit and screen their films for critique and discussion.

      • Allotted shooting time: 3 hours
      • Editing time: One 4-hour slot
      • Screening time: 30 seconds to 2 minutes
    • Continuity Continuity is one of the fundamental principles of modern filmmaking. By making a "continuity film," students learn the way cuts can advance the story while sustaining the reality of the scene. They learn the difference between "film time" and "real time." Students are challenged to make a film that maintains continuity in story, time, and space. The action in these films unfolds utilizing a variety of shots (10–15) in a continuous sequence (no jumps in time or action). In the continuity films, students must produce a clear, visual scene while maintaining the authenticity of the moment. It is essential that the audience believes in the reality of the scene. Students write, direct, shoot, edit, and screen a film of up to three minutes.

      Students must thoroughly pre-plan and complete the following pre-production elements:
      • Script
      • Location Scout
      • Script Breakdown
      • Floor Plan
      • Storyboard
      • Schedule of shots
      Students shoot two rolls of film then edit and screen their films for critique and discussion.

      • Allotted shooting time: 4 hours
      • Editing time: Two 4-hour slots
      • Screening time: 1-3 minutes
    • Music & Montage Film The third project introduces students to the relationship between sound and film, as well as to narrative tools like montage and jump cuts.

      In this project, students are encouraged to explore a more personal form of visual storytelling. For this film, students choose a piece of music. In the editing room, they cut their images to work in concert with, or in counterpoint to, the music. Students should experiment with rhythm and pacing. Each student writes, directs, shoots, edits, and screens a film of up to four minutes. In addition to storyboards, students may use a still camera to plan their films. This assists them in their choice of locations, angles, and lighting.

      • Allotted shooting time: 5 hours
      • Editing time: Three 4-hour slots
      • Screening time: 2-4 minutes
    • Quarter Film From the first week of the program, students begin developing their scripts in Writing class for their fourth film.

      Each student must complete a production book that includes the following:
      • Statement of Objective: idea of the film and stylistic approach in a concise statement.
      • Scenario, shooting script, storyboards and floor plan.
      • Analysis: Intention, realization, mistakes, crew work.
      This fourth film is more ambitious in scope than the previous exercises. It builds upon the foundation of skills and knowledge gained in the first part of the semester. There is a pre-production period during which students meet with faculty for consultation. There are two weeks of postproduction. Students may use sound effects, music, voice-over and ambient sound to help tell their stories. The final project may be from 3-10 minutes in length, keeping in mind, "less is more."

      Films may be of any genre, and can be narrative, documentary, or experimental. The fourth film project may be shot on 16mm film or digital video.

      • Allotted shooting time: two days
      • Editing time: 40-60 hours
      • Screening time: 3-10 minutes
    • POV Each shot in a film expresses a point of view, and in narrative film, the point of view changes often, sometimes with each new shot. For the most part, point of view-- which is often called narrative stance-- is largely invisible to the audience; though the accumulated effect of the changes profoundly affects the way the audience interprets any scene. Students will analyze different ways to create a point of view through visual means: POV Shot Construction, Camera Placement and the 180 Degree Rule, Shot Size, Shot Constructions such as Over the Shoulder Construction, In Depth and Linear Staging and Blocking, Lens choice, and Sound Design, etc.

      The POV project is designed for students to explore the various techniques directors use to create a character's point of view in a scene. Students create a short twominute scene containing minimal dialogue and no more than two characters with conflicting objectives. The Director will create two versions of the script and edit two distinct versions of the scene. Each should visually present the viewer with a clear and distinct point-of-view.

      • Allotted Shooting Time: 5 hours
      • Editing Time: One 4-hour slot
      • Screening Time: Up to 2 minutes
    • Semester One Film This Digital Dialogue Film is a narrative digital film project of up to ten minutes. This film should build on the lessons and techniques students have learned in their Acting for Directors classes, production workshops, and the POV film. It should be a performance driven film with no more than three characters and one or two locations. The "story time" of the film should be limited to minutes or hours not days, weeks, years. Students also have the option of producing a documentary film as a digital dialogue film.

      • Allotted shooting time: 2 days
      • Editing time: 40-80 hours
      • Screening time: Up to 10 minutes
    • Year One Film This project is the culmination of the year's work. Each student's goal is to produce a fully realized short film that demonstrates his or her own artistic vision and point of view. Student's work with larger crews and with more time allotted for pre-production, production and post-production than the previous projects. Students prepare for this project with the assistance of all classes in the second semester, including the producing class, which is specifically designed to guide students through the preproduction of this project. Students must prepare detailed production books and receive a "green light" from the faculty to check out for their shoots. Each student can choose to shoot this film in one of three formats - high definition digital video, 16mm film or 35mm film.

      • Allotted shooting time: 5 days
      • Editing time: Up to 4 weeks
      • Screening time: Up to 15 minutes
    • Advanced Directing Project Each student writes and directs a selfcontained short scene from their upcoming thesis film on digital video. Throughout the course of the semester, each student presents these scenes in class using professional actors from the community. Advanced scene work and performance techniques are refined in each class session with the directing instructor. This project allows the students to refine their integration of script analysis and directing actor's skills before embarking on their more ambitious thesis projects.

      • Allotted shooting time: 1 days
      • Editing time: Up to 1 week
      • Screening time: Up to 4 minutes
    • Advanced Cinematography Project As part of the class cinematography III, each student will conceive of a complex shot to be executed on a sound stage using the advanced equipment package that includes the Red Camera, HMI lights and industry standard dollies from Chapman or Fisher. This project challenges the student to incorporate the new equipment into their creative tool kit as they bring their command of lighting, composition, camera movement and blocking to a higher level. These advanced cinematography projects are conducted on a Universal Studios Sound Stage using complete sets and production design.

      • Allotted shooting time: Half a day
      • Editing time: Up to 1 week
      • Screening time: Up to 2 minutes
    • MFA Short Film Thesis Direct and edit a short up to 30 minutes in length, and fill essential crew positions on short form films directed by fellow students.

      The final capstone project of the MFA program, this film combines all of the skills learned thus far into a single project of up to thirty minutes in length. These thesis films function as the calling card project for MFA Filmmakers enabling them to demonstrate their creative vision and professional skills to the world of film festivals and the larger community of the entertainment industry. Filmed using the entire advanced equipment package that includes, Red cameras, HMI lighting and industry standard advanced dollies, these projects have the necessary equipment and longer production period to allow filmmakers to work on both a more detailed and nuanced level and with a larger scope.

      • Allotted shooting time: 10 days
      • Editing time: Up to 8 week
      • Screening time: Up to 30 minutes
    • MFA Feature Thesis Direct and edit a feature length film in a paid fifth semester of study at the end of Year Two, and fill essential crew positions on short form films directed by fellow students.

      Due to the extremely demanding nature of this thesis option, students must pass a rigorous review by faculty before being granted entrance into this track in semester 3. This option requires that students enroll for a fifth semester with an additional tuition payment.

      In semester four, students must achieve specific milestones in order to maintain active status in the feature film program. If these milestones are not met, students will revert back to Option A and make a short thesis in semester five.

      These milestones will include a clear template of delivery dates for script deadlines, casting calls, production meetings, budget breakdowns, location lockdowns and a demonstration of financial responsibility to obtain approval to shoot. Students must receive a "green light" before beginning production on their feature thesis films.
  • Perform key crew positions on your classmates' films including: cinematographer, gaffer, sound recordist, assistant director, and assistant camera.
  • Write a feature length script of 90-120 pages
LEARNING GOALS
  • Learn the art and technique of visual storytelling including directing, cinematography, editing, and postproduction sound design.
  • Learn the fundamentals of digital video production and digital editing.
  • Fundamental training in acting craft and directing actors.
  • Immersion in screenwriting craft.
  • Fundamental training in acting craft and directing actors.
  • Immersion in screenwriting craft.


Course Description

Semester One
Film Aesthetics I
Cinematography I
Editing I
Production Workshop
Screenwriting I
Acting for Directors
Cinema Studies
Semester Two
Film Aesthetics II
Cinematography II
Collaboration Workshop
Editing II
Screenwriting II
Producing I
Semester Three
Intermediate Film Production
Intermediate Film Post-Production
Elements of Feature Screenwriting
Sound Design
Master’s Thesis Development
Semester Four: Thesis Option A
Advanced Directing
Advanced Cinematography
Producing II
Feature Screenwriting I
Screenwriting Short Thesis I
Psychology of Film
Semester Five: Thesis Option A
Directing the Thesis Film
Producing the Thesis Film
Feature Screenwriting II
Screenwriting Short Thesis II
Designing the Thesis Film
Master’s Thesis Production I
Semester Six: Thesis Option A
Master’s Thesis Production II
Thesis Film Post-Production
Feature Screenwriting III
Master’s Professional Development:
Navigating the Industry

Semester Four: Thesis Option B
Advanced Directing
Feature Producing I
Writing the Feature Screenplay I
Feature Scheduling & Budgeting
Pitching, Business Plans &
Television Show Bibles

Business Affairs
Semester Five: Thesis Option B
Advanced Cinematography
Master’s Production Design
Feature Producing II
Writing the Feature Screenplay II
Financial Reporting
Marketing & Distribution Models
Semester Six: Thesis Option B
Directing the Feature
Feature Thesis Development
Feature Logistics & Workflow
Feature Thesis Prep
Semester Seven: Thesis Option B
Feature Thesis Production
Feature Thesis Post
Feature Delivery

SEMESTER ONE

Film Aesthetics 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.
back to top

Cinematography I

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.
back to top

Editing I

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.
back to top

Production Workshop

Production workshop is designed to demystify the craft of filmmaking. Working alongside directing and acting instructors, students apply the complex techniques from class as they articulate the objectives of a given scene. This applies to the use of lenses, lighting, and editing. 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.
back to top

Screenwriting I

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.
back to top

Acting for Directors

This course adheres to the philosophy that, in order to direct actors, one must understand and experience acting as art and methodology. Directing students will become actors. Students learn how to identify a screenplay’s emotional “beats” and “character objectives” in order to improve their actors’ performances. Students are prepared to not only communicate and collaborate with their actors, but to actualize the best emotional outcome of a scene.
back to top

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.
back to top
SEMESTER TWO

Film Aesthetics 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 actors and directors point of view. Students are asked to identify character goals and dramatic beats, and translate this into effective casting and directing choices. Students learn to adjust character objectives through rehearsal of their own scripts. A strong emphasis is put on establishing believable performances. Under the tutelage of their instructors, students submit detailed proposals for their Year One Intermediate films.
back to top

Cinematography II

This class immerses students in the more advanced technical and creative demands of 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 affects their shot design, framing, composition, staging, camera movement, lens choice, and lighting.
back to top

Collaboration Workshop

A course designed to further expand upon the etiquette of the film set, students explore the importance of the actor/director relationship required for a successful and professional film shoot. Filmmaking and Acting students come together for a series of audition technique, rehearsal, and screening classes, in addition to a series of full-fledged production exercises.

Students film these production exercise scenes on 16mm film and HD with the guidance and critique of their instructors. These practice scenes are fully pre-produced (storyboarded, cast, scouted, rehearsed and pre-lighted) and planned during elaborate crew meetings prior to the start of each production. Filling all of the necessary crew roles, students spend a full day shooting scenes with a more advanced grip and electric equipment package.
back to top

Editing II

Continuing where Editing 1 left off, 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 Intermediate Year One Film.
back to top

Screenwriting II

This class is an intensive workshop aimed at developing, writing, and polishing scripts for the students’ Year One Intermediate 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.
back to top

Producing I

Producing I leads students through the entire process of pre-production, including scouting and securing of locations, permits, and casting. 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 Year One Intermediate Film productions.
back to top
SEMESTER THREE

Intermediate 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 & 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 greenlight the next production. The greenlight process requires students to present a production notebook to their instructors, who will determine that the student is fully prepared creatively and logistically.
back to top

Intermediate Film Post-Production

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.
back to top

Elements of Feature Screenwriting

Utilizing lectures, in-class exercises, outside readings, classroom discussions, and film viewings, this course introduces students to the craft of feature screenwriting. Topics will expand upon the short film techniques discussed in Screenwriting I and II, including Classic Screenplay Structure, Developing the Feature Film Character, Character Arcs, Dialogue, Theme, Conflict, Text and Subtext, Tone and Genre, Visualization, Exposition, Resolutions, and Scene Beats. By the conclusion of this course, students will develop a feature film script idea that will be fully realized in the second year of the MFA program.
back to top

Sound Design

As students edit their own films, they learn that good sound improves the overall production value of their films. Receiving instruction in sophisticated sound design topics, students build Sound Effects, integrate Music and Orchestration, add Atmosphere, adding a polished sound mix to their Year One project.
back to top

Master’s Thesis Development

Through roundtable discussions with classmates, under the guidance of writing and directing instructors, students will begin to consider their second year Master’s Thesis projects. As they discuss the various Thesis Options available to MFA students, students will workshop their ideas. By the end of the semester, students will declare to a Thesis Committee which option they plan to pursue in second year: A) Directing a Short Film, B) Directing a Feature Film.
back to top
SEMESTER FOUR: THESIS OPTION A

Advanced Directing

This class is an exploration of art of film style and the process of directing performance. Students study the stylistic choices of great film masters, and then apply the same styles to an assigned scene. In the second half of the class, students are provided with a selection of pre-published texts, including plays, television scripts, and scenes from produced feature length screenplays. They workshop the scenes (both inside and outside of class) with actors from the MFA Acting for Film program and/or local industry professionals, and film them for a final class project.
back to top

Advanced Cinematography

This intensive course expands students' knowledge of cinematography and introduces them to the full capabilities of the Red Epic Camera and complex grip and lighting packages. Students learn sophisticated and mastery of contrast, composition and camera movement, using professional equipment and shooting on a studio soundstage. In class, students will revisit the mise-en-scène project from their first semester, examining their maturity as filmmakers as they once again produce a one-minute scene in one shot, this time using the more advanced knowledge, techniques, and equipment available to them.
back to top

Producing II

Students work on more advanced concepts of scheduling and budgeting, and learn about the nuances of legal contracts, deal memos, and working with guilds and unions. Instructors use case studies to help students hone group problem-solving skills, a film industry must-have. Most notably, as they develop their thesis ideas, they will learn the craft of pitching their project ideas. Students will also meet with a thesis committee twice throughout the semester in the context of this course.
back to top

Feature Screenwriting I

The goal of this workshop is to fully immerse each student in an intensive and focused course of study, providing a solid structure for writing a feature film treatment and first act. Students will learn the craft of writing by gaining an understanding of story, structure, character, conflict, and dialogue. With strict adherence to professional standards and self-discipline, students will draft a feature-length script that will be further developed throughout the second year of the program.
back to top

Screenwriting Short Thesis I

The focus of this class is for the master’s students to begin writing their short thesis scripts. Emphasis is placed on a more advanced understanding of character development and dramatic arcs as students prepare a story with greater depth and nuance.
back to top

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.
back to top
SEMESTER FIVE: THESIS OPTION A

Directing the Thesis Film

An intensive examination of the visual style of film, this class helps students assess their directorial approach to their thesis films. Students workshop scenes from their thesis scripts, and prepare a thorough and detailed presentation of their thesis films. Students use these presentations at a thesis committee meeting where their projects will be given a final review by a panel of faculty.
back to top

Producing the Thesis Film

As their thesis scripts are polished and completed, students will apply their knowledge of production management to their projects in an intensive environment. Under the guidance of their producing instructors, students will thoroughly prepare their scripts for production, and perform all of the necessary logistical measures: obtaining permits, securing location releases, hiring crew, and creating budgets and schedules.
back to top

Feature Screenwriting II

The ideas from Feature Screenplay I will be further developed into a full feature draft. Students work with instructors both in class and in consultation to complete the script, continuing to workshop ideas in class with their peers.
back to top

Screenwriting Short Thesis II

Under the guidance of screenwriting instructors, students continue to workshop and polish their scripts through table reads, using rehearsals and scene exercises from other classes to lock their scripts in the weeks leading up to production.
back to top

Designing the Thesis Film

Production design plays an important role in the success of any production, as it provides the audience with the visual clues that establish and enhance the production content. Through lectures and exercises, students use set design and construction, costume design, prop choices, advanced aesthetics of color and shape to create the visual language of their thesis films.
back to top

Master’s Thesis Production I

The final capstone project of the MFA program, the Thesis film combines all of the skills learned thus far into a single project of up to thirty minutes in length. These thesis films function as the calling card project for MFA Filmmakers, enabling them to demonstrate their creative vision and professional skills to the world of film festivals and the larger community of the entertainment industry. These projects have the necessary equipment and longer production period (13 shooting days) to allow filmmakers to work on both a more detailed and nuanced level and with a larger scope. Each project is greenlit by the students’ directing and producing instructors, who evaluate the students creative and business choices as they are presented in each student’s production notebook.

Prior to entering into thesis production, all candidates, regardless of thesis option, must pass a final evaluation by the Thesis Committee and faculty chair, ensuring that all academic requirements and standards for the previous semesters have been achieved.
back to top
SEMESTER SIX: THESIS OPTION A

Master’s Thesis Production II

Every two weeks during the production period, students reconvene with their directing and producing instructors to discuss each production, and prepare for the upcoming projects. Students are required to participate as crew on three thesis projects: one in the semester in which they shoot their own thesis, and two in the other semester.
back to top

Thesis Film Post-Production

It is often said that the edit is the final rewrite of the script and this class helps guide the student through that process. Extensive notes are received from classmates and the directing and editing instructors that must be analyzed and either incorporated, interpreted, or set aside. This process helps students to gain a more objective perspective on their material and edit that "final rewrite" more effectively.
back to top

Feature Screenwriting III

Using the drafts of their feature scripts, students lead table reads with actors and workshop scenes, further refining the idea as it develops into a more fully realized future project. The goal is for students to graduate with a feature script that will accompany their thesis films. Students also learn how to create marketing packages in order to create better fundraising opportunities for their feature.
back to top

Master’s Professional Development: Navigating the Industry

A broad cross-section of the film community is represented in this lecture series, exposing students to multiple avenues for pathways to break into the film industry. Mentors work individually with students to discuss the next step in their careers, and students are presented with a realistic yet hopeful vision of a future in the industry.
back to top
SEMESTER FOUR: THESIS OPTION B

Advanced Directing

This class is an exploration of art of film style and the process of directing performance. Students study the stylistic choices of great film masters, and then apply the same styles to an assigned scene. In the second half of the class, students are provided with a selection of pre-published texts, including plays, television scripts, and scenes from produced feature length screenplays. They workshop the scenes (both inside and outside of class) with actors from the MFA Acting for Film program and/or local industry professionals, and film them for a final class project.
back to top

Feature Producing

Students begin the process of organizing their feature film productions. Students will develop a timeline for putting together their teams, including producers, key crew and casting principal talent. Students will assess crew needs by department, minimum budget levels needed per department to executive the filmmaker’s vision, and will determine the impact of the SAG Agreement on their intended budget range. Students will meet with the Thesis Committee twice during this semester.
back to top

Writing the Feature Screenplay I

In a workshop setting, each student will develop and write the first draft of his or her feature screenplay. Students will learn the craft of screenplay writing by gaining understanding of and putting into practice the elements of structure, story, style, character development, conflict, and dialogue.

Through in-class examples, students are introduced to effective pitching styles and instructed on how pitching skill. Students will develop a brief and effective pitch of the material they choose to pitch at the Producers Pitch Fest. Each student will practice and gain critical and fundamental pitching skills. Through lectures and analysis of case studies, students will learn the critical skills to develop effective feature film business plans and television show bibles. The feature business plan or television-show bible developed in this course will be presented at the Producers Pitch Fest.
back to top

Feature Scheduling & Budgeting

Feature film scheduling and budgeting practices will be introduced and explored in this course. In a hand-on setting, students will be trained on the industry-standard software used by producers and filmmakers, Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting. Students will learn to assess scheduling and budgeting factors when reading and analyzing feature scripts.
back to top

Pitching, Business Plans & Television Show Bibles

Through in-class examples, students are introduced to effective pitching styles and instructed on the skill of how to pitch. Students will develop a brief and effective pitch of the material they choose to pitch at the Producers Pitch Fest. Each student will practice and gain critical and fundamental pitching skills. Through lectures and analysis of case studies, students will learn the critical skills to develop effective feature film business plans and television show bibles. The feature business plan or television shows bible developed in this course will be presented at the Producers Pitch Fest.
back to top

Business Affairs

Students analyze and discuss legal topics such as contract negotiations, marketing projects to financiers and distributors, and audience and research testing.
back to top
SEMESTER FIVE: THESIS OPTION B

Advanced Cinematography

This intensive course expands students’ knowledge of cinematography and introduces them to the full capabilities of the RED Epic Dragon Camera and complex grip and lighting packages. Students gain sophisticated mastery of contrast, composition, and camera movement, using professional equipment and shooting on a studio soundstage.
back to top

Master’s Production Design

Production design plays an important role in the success of any production, as it provides the audience with the visual clues that establish and enhance the production content. Through lectures and exercises, students use set design and construction, costume design, prop choices, advanced aesthetics of color and shape to create the visual language of their thesis films.
back to top

Feature Producing II

Students continue to organize their feature film productions and revise as necessary and execute the timeline for hiring their teams, including producers, key crew and cast. They research and explore payroll service options, the most suitable legal entity to form for their productions and insurance policies needed and their costs. Students continue to meet with the Thesis Committee twice during this semester and the remaining semesters.
back to top

Writing the Feature Screenplay II

Students undertake a substantial revision of their first draft screenplays and complete their second drafts. Throughout this course, students will delve deeper into their stories, critically assess their characters’ development and motivations, and identify and find solutions for characters and scenes that are not effective.
back to top

Financial Reporting

This course provides an overview of production budgeting and financial, cost and managerial accounting functions specific to the film industry, with application to other areas of media production, including television. Students analyze techniques and control procedures for accurate preparation and presentation of budgets and financial statements. Topics include budgeting, cost reporting and film accounting terminology.
back to top

Marketing & Distribution Models

In this course, students analyze successful financial, marketing, and distribution models for independent films, focusing on micro-budget models. Marketing strategies, including viral campaigns and other low to no cost methods to development awareness of films will be discussed. Other topics include current and emerging distribution models, film festival strategies, and deliverables to prepare.
back to top
SEMESTER SIX: THESIS OPTION B

Directing the Feature

Through in-class exercises and scene study of numerous classic, popular and obscure yet relevant films, students analyze a wide range of effective directing styles and techniques. Students will each workshop the construction and shot breakdown of one scene from his or her feature film.
back to top

Feature Thesis Development

In this course, students further advance their development and fundraising efforts. Topics include monitoring fundraising milestones and back-up contingency planning.
back to top

Feature Logistics & Workflow

Students finalize production workflow between departments, including handling all pertinent paperwork required or generated during production and cash flow spending, authorization, and reconciliation. On-set and production office protocol will be addressed. Students will schedule and hold a full cast and crew production meeting, including a timed table read, cast and crew introductions, completing final deal memos and general discussion of on-set protocol.
back to top

Feature Thesis Prep

In this course, students finalize their pre-production and green light preparation. Topics include contingency scenarios for last-minute location changes and handling crew or cast scheduling or personality conflicts.
back to top
SEMESTER SEVEN: THESIS OPTION B

Feature Thesis Production

With supervised set visits and daily review of production documents such as call sheets and production reports, students begin and complete principal photography of their feature films. Through weekly check ins during the production period, students debrief and troubleshoot the prior week’s shooting days and work through the upcoming week’s production demands.
back to top

Feature Thesis Post

With supervised editing and post lab visits and regularly scheduled reviews, students begin and complete the postproduction phase of their feature films. Picture editorial, ADR and sound editorial and music scoring sessions will be discussed and analyzed. Through weekly check ins during the post production period, students de-brief and troubleshoot the prior week’s editorial progress and work through the upcoming week’s demands and deadlines. Final picture lock, sound mix, color correction and main and end titles will be reviewed. Two rough cut screenings will be held for the purpose of critical and audience feedback.
back to top

Feature Delivery

Students will prepare the non-visual elements that are required of the producer/filmmaker in a distribution deal. Each student will learn the process of organizing a complete and detailed archive of his or her production for the purpose of delivery along with film to a distributor upon execution of a distribution deal. Topics include errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, final and prior cost reports, a detail of all expenditures including itemized petty cash tallies and receipts, pertinent production documents including all agreements, and the standard methods used to inventory these documents.
back to top

Film Projects

Mise-en-scène
Continuity
The Pursuit/Group Pacing Exercise
Montage
POV
MFA Production Workshops
Semester One Film
Collaboration Production Workshop
Year One Intermediate Film
Thesis Project Option A: Short Film
Thesis Project Option B: Feature Film

Mise-en-scène

Each student will make a short film of fifty seconds to one minute. This project emphasizes how the relationship of the subject to the camera creates drama. Students should tell a story that has a beginning, middle, and end.

Students should pay close attention to their choice of lenses, distances, and angles. Since students will tell their story in only one shot, they should be sure the shots they compose express as much as possible about the characters and their actions. It is also important for students to thoroughly rehearse their films for blocking in order to get the most out of their footage.
back to top

Continuity

Continuity is one of the fundamental principles of modern filmmaking. By making a “continuity film,” students learn the way cuts can advance the story while sustaining the reality of the scene, and the difference between “film time” and “real time.” Students are challenged to make a film that maintains continuity in story, time, and space. The action in these films unfolds utilizing a variety of shots (10–15) in a continuous sequence (no jumps in time or action). In the Continuity Films, students must produce a clear, visual scene while maintaining the authenticity of the moment. It is essential that the audience believe in the reality of the scene. Students write, direct, shoot, edit, and screen a film of up to three minutes.

Students should not shoot without thoroughly pre-planning the following elements: script, storyboard, script breakdown, production schedule, location scouting, and floor plans.
back to top

The Pursuit/Group Pacing Exercise

As a group, students shoot a “pursuit” story told in “real time.” Students use multiple shots to establish a constant flow of action and time out their shots during filming in order to achieve a dynamic sequence. Students should be sure to utilize the basic principles of screen direction, rhythm, time, and space.

This project will be created, designed, and produced as a group as a way to explore pacing through editing.
back to top

Montage

Students choose one short selection of music then plan and shoot this film of up to four minutes with the music in mind. Students use montage-style editing to move the story or idea forward. Students may not use multiple songs on this project or edit the selection of music that they choose.

Montage can be used to great effect in the compression of time and to create visual collisions or unexpected continuations between shots. In the editing room students should cut the images to work in concert with or in counterpoint to the music. Students should experiment with rhythm and pacing.

In addition to storyboards, students may use a still camera for pre-planning their coverage. It can help them in the choice of locations, distances and angles, lighting, and compositions.
back to top

POV

Each shot in a film expresses a point of view, and in narrative film, the point of view changes often, sometimes with each new shot. For the most part, point of view—which is often called narrative stance—is largely invisible to the audience; though the accumulated effect of the changes profoundly affects the way the audience interprets any scene. Students create a short scene with minimal dialogue and no more than three characters that have conflicting objectives, while presenting the viewer visually with a clear and distinct point of view.

Through experimenting with eyelines, framing, graphic control (composition and staging), and narrative control (often editing choices), the audience should have a clear understanding of which character’s story the filmmaker is telling. Each student will write, direct, and edit a short POV film of up to five minutes.
back to top

MFA Production Workshops

These instructor-supervised productions occur regularly throughout the program. They are designed to complement and reinforce lessons learned in class. Production workshops may be filmed in the classroom, on location, on a studio backlot, or sound-stage depending on when they occur in the program. In earlier semesters, these exercises help the students learn the basic techniques of visual storytelling that will allow them to effectively express their ideas. Aligned with the curriculum, Production Workshop provides students the opportunity to practice with the tools and techniques they will use on their own film projects.

As their program progresses into later semesters, these hands-on courses challenge students to interpret and apply the cinema theory and practice that they have learned in class to a series of sync-sound production exercises. Students shoot complex dramatic scene with the guidance and critique of the instructor. Students must determine what adjustments to make to their scripts and shooting plans before entering into production. These projects are expected to be fully pre-produced (storyboarded, cast, scouted, rehearsed, and pre-lit) and executed at a professional level.
back to top

Semester One Film

The Digital Dialogue Film will test a student’s abilities as a director to tell a clear and concise story in three acts, complete with an inciting incident, crisis and climax, and finally a resolution. Students write a script of up to ten pages in length and have up to 10 minutes of screen time to present their stories.
back to top

Collaboration Production Workshop

All students must choose one of the six SSPW Scenes, present a director’s proposal (to the class, as well as a written 1-2 page document), and pitch their approach of the scene to their Directing and Camera instructors. During the pitch, students create excitement for the project by clearly defining their purpose/message, look/style, and logistics (where, when, how). After the pitching is completed, the instructors will green light the best proposals, as well as come up with a production schedule, assign crew positions, and assign cast. All students will be required to either direct, DP, or AD.
back to top

Year One Intermediate Film

This project is the culmination of the filmmaker’s work from the prior three semesters. Each student’s goal is to produce a fully realized short film that demonstrates his or her own artistic vision and point of view. Students work with larger crews and with more time allotted for pre-production, production, and post-production than the previous projects. Students prepare for this project with the assistance of all classes in the third and fourth semesters, which are specifically designed to guide students through the preproduction of this project. Detailed production books are prepared and presented, then the students receive a “green light” from the faculty in order to check out for their productions. Each student can choose to shoot this film in one of three formats—high definition digital video, 16mm film, or 35mm film.
back to top

Thesis Project Option A: Short Film

Students direct and edit a short film of up to 30 minutes in length, and fill essential crew positions on short form films directed by fellow students.

The final capstone of the MFA program, this film combines all of the skills learned thus far into a single Thesis Project. These final films function as a calling card for the MFA Filmmakers, enabling them to demonstrate their creative vision and professional skills to the world of film festivals and the larger community of the entertainment industry. Filmed using the entire advanced equipment package that includes RED Epic Dragon cameras, HMI lighting, and industry standard dollies, these projects have the necessary equipment and longer production period to allow filmmakers to work on both a more detailed and nuanced level, and with a larger scope.
back to top

Thesis Project Option B: Feature Film

Students direct and edit a feature-length film in a seventh semester of study at the end of Year Two, and fill essential crew positions on short form films directed by fellow students.

Due to the extremely demanding nature of this thesis option, students must pass a rigorous review by faculty before being granted entrance into this track in semester three. This option requires that students enroll for a seventh semester with an additional tuition payment.

In semester six, students must achieve specific milestones in order to maintain active status in the feature film program. If these milestones are not met, students will revert back to Option A and make a short thesis film in semester six.

These milestones will include a clear template of delivery dates for script deadlines, casting calls, production meetings, budget breakdowns, location lockdowns, and a demonstration of financial responsibility to obtain approval to shoot. Students must receive a “green light” before beginning production on their feature film.
back to top

Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Semester

Tuition: $12,666 (USD) +
Equipment Fee: $1,334 (USD)


Students will also incur additional expenses on their own productions. This varies depending on how much film they shoot and scale of the projects.


Location & Available Dates

For Los Angeles:
September 2015 - September 2017
January 2016 - January 2018
May 2016 - May 2018
September 2016 - September 2018

For South Beach Florida:
September 2015 - September 2017

Faculty

  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Travis Hoffman Travis Hoffman
    Cinematography, Photography
    Growing up Travis found his love for photography while traveling the world and watching films with his father. Some years later he received his BS in Cinematography from Full Sail University. Wanting to further his education, Travis attended the MFA program in Photographic Theory at the Brooks Institute of Photography.

    Since then Travis has had the opportunity to lens such artist as Jennifer Lopez, Neyo, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, David Guetta, Bret Michaels, Ice Cube, Diana Krull, Katrina Bowden and Malcolm Goodwin. His client list includes NBC, NIKE, A&E, History Channel, EMI Music and Universal Music Group.

    His inspiration comes from all the beauty in the world that most people seem to miss. Travis draws upon his expertise in the fields of lighting, composition, art and design.This broad-based understanding of technique and visual storytelling contributes to his unique perspective and signature photography style.
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Gil McDonald Gil McDonald
    Feature Screenwriting
    MFA in Screenwriting, American Film Institute; BA in Radio/TV/Film Production, Minor in Psychology, Howard University. Award-winning writer, producer, and director on “Motel Paradise,” a short film selected and screened at the prestigious AFI Theatre.
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty David Newman David Newman
    Sync Sound Workshop, Director's Craft, Directing the Thesis Film
    BS, Broadcasting/Film, Boston University. Entertainment professional with over a decade of experience writing, producing, and directing television series. Over fifteen years of experience as assistant director. Feature film writer.
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Adam Nimoy Adam Nimoy
    Thesis Film Post Production, Advanced Approaches to Directing
    JD, Loyola Law School; BS, UC Berkeley. Director of one-hour single camera television, including "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "NYPD Blue," and "Gilmore Girls."
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Nick Ozeki Nick Ozeki
    Camera
    MFA in filmmaking, Chapman University; BA in English, Amherst College. Wrote and directed an award-winning feature film out of graduate school that was nominated for and Independent Spirit Award. He is also a part of the prestigious Fox Writer's Initiative, aimed at developing and writing original content for their networks.
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty James Rowe James Rowe
    Advanced Approaches to Directing, Feature Script Development
    MFA in Directing, American Film Institute; BA in Communications, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Writing and directing credits in television, feature and short films. Festival selections at LA Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, and many more.
  • Mark Sawicki Mark Sawicki
    Production Design & Special Visual Effects
    Mark is a veteran visual effects cameraman with a large body of work, including The Terminator, X-Men and The Dark Knight Rises. In addition to having taught for many years, Mark is the author of “Animating with Stop Motion Pro” and “Filming the Fantastic” first and second edition, both published by Focal Press.
  • Ryan Schwartz Ryan Schwartz
    Director's Craft, Sync Sound Workshop
    MFA in Film Production, USC; BA in International Relations, UC Berkeley. Production credits for Scott Free, MJZ, Bedford Falls, Tool, Propaganda. Co-founder of The Incite Group. Producer on "The Jenkins Orphanage Project," and "Making Love."
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Tony Schwartz Tony Schwartz
    Producing, Thesis Film Prep, Intermediate Film Prep
    Over 20 years of experience as an assistant director for television and feature films of varying budgets. His credits include “Land of the Lost,” “Firefly,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist,” and “CSI: New York.”
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Jack Daniel Stanley Jack Daniel Stanley
    Acting for Directors
    MFA in Directing, University of Washington; BFA in Acting, UT Austin. Extensive theater background directing world premieres and classics in New York, regionally, and abroad. Award-winning genre shorts screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Slamdance, Toronto After Dark, and on PBS’s “On Story,” Delta Airlines, and Sundance Channel online. Has written and produced content for the Syfy Channel and Chiller TV.
  • Igor Torgeson Igor Torgeson
    Digital Editing, Advanced Final Cut Pro, Advanced Post-Production
    MFA Film, Boston University; BA Journalism, George Washington University. Freelance editor and actor in Los Angeles. Has edited for clients including the Gameshow Network, National Lampoon, McGraw-Hill Publications, Southern California Gas Company, and Cessna Aircraft. Commercial credits include campaigns for Citibank and Brighthouse Networks.
  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Faculty Todd Walker Todd Walker
    Director's Craft, Sync Sound Production
    MFA in Film, Columbia University. Director/writer of prize-winning short film, "Passengers.” Screened at over 30 film festivals, including Sundance, Telluride, and AFI. His documentary short, "Oldertimes,” won the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival and aired on PBS. Recently adapted Kevin Canty's first novel, "Into the Great Wide Open," for Tiny Dancer Films, and Joey Pantoliano's best-selling memoir "Who's Sorry Now," for Holedigger Films.
QUICK FACTS
START DATES FOR:
NUMBER OF SEMESTERS: 6
Apply Online buttonOnline Brochure buttonDownload Center button
REQUEST FREE INFORMATION
First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country Code*
Phone Number*
Mailing Address*
City*
State
Zip Code
Country*
Preferred Start Date*

Program Type*
Program of Interest*

Location of Interest
How Did You Hear About Us?*
Please Specify:*
Highest Level of Education:
Have You Served in the U.S. Military?
Yes No
* Required Information
Gainful Employment Disclosure
New York Film Academy Disclaimer
 • HomePrivacy PolicySite Map

Copyright © 2015 New York Film Academy

All programs and workshops are solely owned and operated by the New York Film Academy and
are not affiliated with Universal Studios, Harvard University, or Walt Disney World® Resort.