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Documentary and Fiction Tracks

MFA in Film

The M.F.A. program mentors a small, selective group of students to become the next generation of original voices in independent filmmaking. We foster the creation of compelling, daring, and visually stimulating short films in documentary or fiction. Ours is a hands-on program where students workshop their ideas in the field, directing their own short films and crewing on those of classmates. Students direct their thesis projects in the second year and also serve as Cinematographer, Editor or Producer on at least one other thesis production. Our students leave the program having completed professional, broadcast quality work. They are required to create a full distribution strategy for their thesis films that are launched into the festival circuit at Cityvisions, our annual film showcase held in June at The Director Guild of America Theater.

Documentary

MAKE FILMS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Our students are passionate about the documentary form and recognize it as a vehicle for creative, original storytelling and social change. The first year of our intensive program focuses on researching and developing a compelling story, while mastering the techniques of directing, camera, sound, editing and producing. Documentary students complete their first year with a detailed proposal that is production-ready. Over the summer and into the second year, students shoot their thesis films and also lend their talents in support of other thesis projects. The documentary track is supplemented by regular screenings and events of the Documentary Forum: CCNY Center for Film, Journalism and Interactive Media.

program City College of New York, MFA Film

Fiction

FREE YOUR IMAGINATION

We encourage our filmmakers to take creative risks and tell meaningful stories that reflect the human experience. The first year of our intensive program focuses on finding their story, and mastering techniques in screenwriting, directing, camera, editing and producing. Students enter the second “thesis” year with a short screenplay that is production-ready. They direct their thesis films and supervise all aspects of post-production, while also lending their talents in support of other thesis projects.

DEGREE BREAKDOWN

The MFA film program offers advanced courses in film production – learn more about the 2 year course sequences for either Documentary or Fiction.

Documentary Film Production

First Year – Fall Semester (15 Credits):
MCA B0100 – Ind. Media Arts – Idea, Structure and Realization (3/3)
MCA B2100 – Camera I (3/3)
MCA B2600 – Digital Production / Documentary (3/3)
MCA B2700 – Digital Production Techniques / Documentary (3/3)
MCA B2900 – Research and Writing for Documentary I (3/3)

First Year – Spring Semester (12 Credits):
MCA B2200 – Camera II (3/3)
MCA B3300 – Research and Writing for Documentary II (3/3)
MCA B5100 – Editing (3/3)
MCA B6300 – Producing and Directing The Documentary (3/3)

2nd Year – Fall Semester (12 Credits):
MCA B6100 – Producing (3/3)
MCA B7100 – Seminar in Independent Media Arts (3/3)
MCA B9400 – Advanced Documentary Workshop (6/6)

2nd Year – Spring Semester (12 Credits):
Required for All Students:
MCA B7200 – Media Distribution and Marketing (3/3)
MCA B9200 – Thesis Project Post-Production (6/6)

Electives for all Students (Select one course from the following list):
MCA B5300 – Sound Design (3/3)
MCA B9803 – Independent Study; Teaching Media Arts (3/3)
MCA B9303 – Graduate Internship (3/3)
MCA B9601 to B9699 – Selected Topics in Media Arts Production (3/3)

Total Credits: 51

Fiction Film Production

First Year – Fall Semester (15 Credits):
MCA B0100 – Ind. Media Arts – Idea, Structure and Realization (3/3)
MCA B2100 – Camera I (3/3)
MCA B3000 – Digital Production / Fiction (3/3)
MCA B2800 – Digital Production Techniques / Fiction (3/3)
MCA B3100 – Fiction Screenwriting I (3/3)

First Year – Spring Semester (12 Credits):
MCA B2200 – Camera II (3/3)
MCA B3200 – Fiction Screenwriting II (3/3)
MCA B5100 – Editing (3/3)
MCA B6200 – Directing Fiction (3/3)

2nd Year – Fall Semester (12 Credits):

MCA B6100 – Producing (3/3)
MCA B7100 – Seminar in Independent Media Arts (3/3)
MCA B9500 – Advanced Fiction Workshop (6/6)

2nd Year – Spring Semester (12 Credits):
Required for All Students:
MCA B7200 – Media Distribution and Marketing (3/3)
MCA B9200 – Thesis Project Post-Production (6/6)

Electives for all Students (Select one course from the following list):
MCA B5300 – Sound Design (3/3)
MCA B9803 – Independent Study; Teaching Media Arts (3/3)
MCA B9303 – Graduate Internship (3/3)
MCA B9601 to B9699 – Selected Topics in Media Arts Production (3/3)

B0100

B0100 – Independent Media Arts – Idea, Structure and Realization: Examines the major developments in the art, practice, and theory of independent narrative documentary and fiction in U.S. and global contexts since 1960. Particular attention is paid to the relations between dominant industry and alternative modes of storytelling. (3 Cr., 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. Status. Coreq: B2100, B2600 or B3000, B2700 or B2800, B2900 or B3100.

B2100 - B2200

B2100 – Camera I: The first of a two-semester sequence of workshops in image gathering for HD video and 16mm film. Through a series of lectures and production exercises, student will build a foundation in the art and craft of cinematography, and the technical camera and lighting skills needed to execute their fiction or documentary productions. Topics include visual composition and design principles, the 3-demensional field, and the perception of time and space through camera position and lenses. (3 Cr., 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. Status. Coreq: B0100, B2600 or B2700, B2900 or B3000.

B2200 – Camera II: The second course in a two-semester workshop sequence in image gathering for HD video and 16mm film.  Students build on the foundation of camera and lighting skills mastered in Camera I, executing increasingly more complex production exercises. Topics include 16mm films and camera, exposure and lighting control, lighting styles and aesthetics, and a comparison between film and HD video. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B0100, B2100, B2600 or B2800, B2700 or B3000. Coreq.  B2900 or B3100, B6100, B6200 or B6300.

B2600 - B2700

B2600 – Digital Production / Documentary: Workshop in the fundamentals of  creating short documentary films in digital formats. Through a series of production exercises, students master skills in rendering locations visually, interviewing, working with archival elements and capturing unfolding action. (3 Cr., 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. Status. Coreq: B0100, B2100, B2900, B2700.

B2700 – Digital Production Techniques / Documentary: Working in tandem with B2600 – Digital Production / Documentary — this course emphasizes technical aspects of sound and editing in documentary filmmaking through hands-on practical training.  Topics also include emerging formats, workflows and troubleshooting techniques in the digital age as well as the relevant theoretical aspects in sound and editing.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. MCA./MFA. Status. Coreq. B0100, B2100, B2600, B2900.

B2800 - B3000

B2800 – Digital Production Techniques / Fiction: Working in tandem with B3000 Digital Production / Fiction, this course emphasizes the technical aspects of sound and editing of narrative fiction filmmaking through hands-on practical training. Topics also include emerging formats, workflows and troubleshooting techniques in the digital age as well as the relevant theoretical aspects in sound and editing. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. Status. Coreq: B0100, B2100, B3000, B3100.

B3000 – Digital Production / Fiction: Using new technologies of cinema, digital video cameras and computer editing, students explore image gathering for and structuring of short fiction projects. This course operates in tandem with B2800 – Digital Production Techniques / Fiction.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. status. Coreq: B0100, B2100, B2800, B3100.

B2900 - B3100

B2900 – Research and Writing for Documentary I: The first of a two-course sequence, exploring the world of documentary film/video-making with a focus on what happens before a single frame is shot. Students will become familiar with the various kinds of research and writing involved in documentary production. Workshops focus on testing the viability of the initial impulse, research strategies, crafting the idea into a visual story, articulating points of view, and legal and ethical considerations. Classes are augmented by a rigorous screening schedule of seminal documentaries. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. status. Coreq: B0100, B2100, B2600, B2700.

B3100 – Fiction Screenwriting I: Focuses on developing meaningful stories into the first draft of a short screenplay. Through a series of written and oral exercises related to plot structure and character development, students pitch, explore, research and write the first draft of a short screenplay.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. status. Coreq: B0100, B2100, B3000.

B3200 - B3300

B3200 – Research and Writing for Documentary II: Students work on conceptualizing, researching, developing, and writing documentary thesis projects. Students will develop such elements as structure, style, point of view, and theme and incorporate them to a written treatment. The resulting project will be produced as a short thesis film the following semester year (maximum length 25 minutes). (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. status. B0100, B2100, B2600, B2700, B2900. Coreq. B2200, B6100, B6300.

B3300 –  Fiction Screenwriting II: Beginning with the first draft of a screenplay developed in B3100 – Screenwriting I, students work in teams through a series of workshops, refining their thesis projects in terms of the dramaturgical, directoral and production elements.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: B0100, B2100, B2800, B3000. Coreq: B2200, B6100, B6200.

B5100

B5100 – Editing: This course furthers students’ critical and practical understanding of editing in the filmmaking process. Through lectures, screenings, and discussions students are exposed to a variety of methods to organize and refine their work. Three main components will be addressed: Discussions in aesthetics and techniques, advanced technical workshops, and follow-through with all students’ thesis projects (Fiction and Documentary).  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: MCA./MFA. status, B2200, B6100, B3200 or B3300, B6200 or B6300. Coreq. B9100, B7100, B9400 or B9500.

B5300

B5300 – Sound Design (Elective): Exploration of the aesthetics and practice of audio as a creative element in media production. Through a series of exercises, students learn to shape the aural environment of voice, music and sound effects to support the dramatic intent of a particular piece.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B5100, B7100, B9100, B9400 or B9500. Coreq. B7200, B9200.

B6100

B6100 – Producing: Examines the production process from A to Z, from acquisition of literary rights to delivery of the finished product according to industry standards. Through a series of case studies, students analyze successful models for financing larger independent media projects as well as their thesis films.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B0100, B2100, B2600 or B2800, B2700, B2900, B3000 or B3100. Coreq. B2200, B3200, or B3300, B6200 or B6300.

B6200 - B6300

B6200 –  Directing Fiction: Toward the directing of their fiction thesis projects in the following semester, students focus on interpreting the screenplay, use of metaphor, rhythm, development of inner monologues, and shaping performance for camera. Students direct scenes from their thesis screenplays being developed in B3200 – Fiction Screenwriting II. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq: B0100, B2100, B2800, B3000. Coreq: B2200, B3200, B6100.

B6300 –  Producing and Directing The Documentary: Workshop examining the unique combination of skills required for the Director/Producer of documentary work. Students film exercises that hone skills in logistics and aesthetics of creative documentary that test the assumptions of the documentary proposals they create in B3300 – Research and Writing for Documentary II as they prepare for their thesis productions. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B0100, B2100, B2600, B2700, B2900. Coreq.  B2200, B3300, B6100.

B7100

B7100 – Seminar in Independent Media Arts: Students and faculty evaluate the current state of media arts production, and potential roles for our graduates in that domain. Sessions are augmented by guest seminars conducted by working media artists from all areas of the independent community, site visits and internet conferences.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Pereq. B2200, B6100, B3200 or B3300, B6200 or B6300. Coreq. B5100, B9100, B9400 or B9500.

B7200

B7200 – Media Distribution and Marketing: A practical approach to distribution with a concentration on short fiction and documentary films. Students develop strategies for how to get work seen by distributors, festivals and the public.  Exploration of different markets including Theatrical Educational, Specialty, Television, DVD,  Electronic and new models such as VOD.  (3 Cr. / 3 hr.) Prereq. B5100, B7100, B9100. Coreq. B9200, MFA2 Elective.

B9100 - B9200

B9100 – Thesis Project I – Production: The coordinating course for all logistics related to documentary and fiction thesis production. Thesis directors present production packages for critique, create schedules, review permitting, insurance and rights issues, as well as the auditioning process and location scouting. First cuts of thesis films are screened in the final sessions of the course.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq.  B2200, B6100, B3200 or B3300, B6200 or B6300. Coreq. B5100, B7100, B9400 or B9500.

B9200 – Thesis Project II – Post-Production: Culminating course required of all degree candidates in the major. Students complete their thesis production and present at Cityvisions,  the annual student media arts showcase. Productions are expected to be original and represent a contribution to the field of media arts.  (6 Cr. / 6 Hr.) Prereq. B5100, B7100, B9100. Coreq. B7200, MFA2 Elective.

B9303

B9303 – Graduate Internship (Elective): Students gain first-hand knowledge of specific professions in media arts by working  in the field under the supervision of a practitioner. (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B5100, B7100, B9100. Coreq. B7200, 9200.

B9400 - B9500

B9400 – Advanced Documentary Workshop: Building on the skills acquired in the first year of the MFA program, this course enables documentary students to practice and perfect their craft as they work toward the realization of their thesis projects.  The course is run as a workshop in that students prepare initial scenes from their film in which they find weaknesses as well as strengths. These scenes are presented for critique of structure, narrative intent, and technical viability in preparation for possible additional shooting and for first cut screenings for the entire MFA class in B9100 Thesis Project I.  (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq.  B2200, B6100, B3200 or B3300, B6200 or B6300. Coreq. B5100, B7100, B9400 or B9500. Coreq. B5100, B7100, B9100.

B9500 – Advanced Fiction Workshop: Building on the skills acquired in the first year of the MFA program, this course enables Writing/Directing Fiction students to practice and perfect their craft as they work toward the realization of their thesis projects. The three benchmarks of the course are, 1. Screenplay presentation and discussion, where each student is required to present the project orally in class to receive final feedback in class from faculty and peers, and 2. Workshop, based on a selected scene and 3. Analysis of dailies, prior to presentation to the entire class in B9100 – Thesis Production. (3 Cr. / 3. Hr.) Prereq: B2200, B6100, B3200 or B3300, B6200.  Coreq: B5100, B7100, B9100.

B9601 - B9699

B9601 – B9699 – Selected Topics in Media Arts Production  (Electives): A series of graduate-level elective courses exploring advanced topics in Media Arts  Production.  In the rapidly changing field of Media Arts Production these courses explore  areas in the field not covered in existing courses. Selected Topics courses will be announced prior to registration for the semester in which they will be offered. Prereq: Permission of Instructor and Program Director.

B9803

B9803 – Independent Study; Teaching Media Arts (Elective): Faculty assigned advanced research projects, which fall outside of the scope of existing MFA courses, but are relevant to a student’s specialization in the program. Registration is only permitted by the Department’s MFA Program Director, in consultation with a faculty advisor. Written proposal required. Interested students should consult their program advisors on guidelines for creating proposals (3 Cr. / 3 Hr.) Prereq. B5100, B7100, B9100. Coreq. B7200, B9200.

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