MFA in Film and Video
The Program in Film and Video is designed for students who use film and video as media for personal expression and exploration—those artists for whom independent film and video is a calling and not simply a mode of production. In the workshop environment cultivated by the program, each student develops and refines his or her practice as a respected member of a community of artists.
Individually and collectively, the program’s faculty is broad in its sympathies and interests. The program supports an unparalleled breadth of work—from personal essays and political documentaries to experiments in narrative, from lyrical and abstract films to installation and new media. Students acquire a full range of technical and practical skills, learn to think critically about their chosen media, and work to develop a precise language and aesthetic for personal articulation.
The faculty maintains that, as filmmaker Fernando Solanas once put it, “the possibility of making a new cinema completely outside the system depends on whether or not filmmakers can transform themselves from ‘directors’ into total filmmakers. And no one can become a total filmmaker without being a film technician, without being capable of handling the production.” To enable students to understand the fundamental processes of film and video production, the first year of both the undergraduate and graduate curricula is devoted to rigorous technical training, including core workshops in 16mm film production, video production, sound production and editing. These workshops also help students to acquire a valuable set of vocational skills—abilities that can serve as a future means of financial support as graduates of the program pursue their own personal work.
Importantly, the Program in Film and Video embraces the rapid technological changes that are broadening and democratizing access to the means of making films and videos. Students are encouraged to develop and utilize these new potentials in order to better control the means of production and thus assert themselves as truly independent artists.
Program faculty also believe that a division between “production” and “critical studies”—now prevalent in most American film schools—is detrimental to both areas of study. Critical studies classes are a vital part of the curriculum, especially during the first two years of the undergraduate program; and film and video artists are expected to know the histories and theoretical traditions of their chosen media, so that they can make fully informed artistic decisions during the development of their work.