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Changes to MA and MFA Film Programs

We've designed this new curriculum to strengthen skills in the basic building blocks of media production and enable you to get the majority of your coursework completed in the first year, giving you more time to focus on your thesis project in the final year or years of your program. Those students who have successfully completed the summer, fall and spring classes will have accumulated 30 credit hours toward their degree.

Classes start August 3, 2015

We’ll be offering two required* classes before the fall semester begins – Film and Video Boot Camp and Principles of Photography. One class will meet in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Both will end Aug. 21, giving you off the week of August 24 before the fall semester begins. These two courses will give you a great foundation for your fall classes. Students may apply for financial aid for these summer classes by submitting the FAFSA for the 2015-16 academic year.

Film and Media Arts Boot Camp 

Boot Camp is designed to ground students in basic production skills early in the program and we recommend all incoming students register for the course. Boot Camp will teach you the essential building blocks for production. Focusing on a digital skill set, students will work on practical exercises to get up to speed with equipment and orient those with experience to the expectations of the programs in SOC. Coursework will focus on Camera & Lighting, Location & Post Production Audio, and NLE Editing. The structure of the exercises will not replace the more intensive exploration of these concepts in film and video classes, but will give incoming students the chance to hit the ground running in those classes, and build a strong first year cohort. Even if you have production skills, we think it is important for you to take the class to enhance your knowledge, get to know faculty, and begin to build collaborations that will last your entire career.

Principles of Photography  

Photography is an essential skill for visual storytellers. If you haven’t had a basic photo course as an undergraduate, we want you to take this basic photography class, which will encompass both film and digital photography. 

*If you’ve had coursework, professional media production or photographic experience, you may request a waiver for one or both of the classes However, we strongly encourage all new admits to attend at least one of the summer sessions. Waiving these requirements does not reduce the number of credit hours needed to graduate. If a summer start date is problematic, please let us know.

Fall 2015

All graduate candidates will take a core of basic courses in the first fall semester and then begin to focus on courses that will help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Beginning in fall, all students will take four classes for a total of 12 credits: Story of Film, Directing and Production, Writing for Visual Media, and Digital Media Literacy and Skills

Spring 2016

Students will continue to take 12 credits in spring 2016. All students will take Web Development and Aesthetics of Editing; in addition, MFA students will take Theory and one requirement in their concentration, while MA students will take Producing and one elective. 

New Concentrations for MFA Students

As part of our new curriculum, Master of Fine Arts students* will concentrate in one of these three areas, starting in spring of their first year:

Art in Entertainment | FAQ
A work of art is something that makes an emotional and aesthetic impression. A film can be aesthetically bold, or deeply personal; it can push new boundaries, or explore old ideas in fresh ways. In this concentration, students will master the tools of the craft such as screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, and editing, while approaching stories as an art. They will gain an understanding of the business side of the motion picture industry and explore newer forms of storytelling through gaming and rapidly evolving Internet platforms. “Art in Entertainment” is for students who want to create popular media – whether it’s a fiction film, documentary, or television/web series -- that endures.

Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking | FAQ
The Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking concentration is based on the conviction that films and new media are essential educational and policy tools in the struggle to protect the environment and wildlife. Students produce media that focus attention on the need to conserve the environment in a way that is effective as well as ethically sound, educationally powerful, and entertaining. With the right combination of creativity, enthusiasm, knowledge, skills, and a love of the natural world, today’s students will become tomorrow’s environmental stewards. The Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking concentration trains filmmakers and multimedia producers to raise awareness and empower action through the innovative use of media, and to produce films, new media, and/or games that effectively strengthen the global constituency for conservation.

Political, Cultural, And Social Impact | FAQ
Human rights. Public health. Immigration. Forgotten history. Well-crafted media, by good storytellers, are essential to public knowledge and action. In this concentration, students learn not only how to create media for public knowledge and action, but also how to create a strategic design for impact. They learn how to develop interlocking media -- a webisode, an infographic, a fundraising campaign -- on a topic. Documentary, fiction, edutainment, and persuasive gaming are all tools for the social-impact filmmaking student.

*Master of Arts students may take courses within the three concentrations if they so choose.

For more information on American University's Film and Media Arts degree programs, contact Division Director Brigid Maher.