MFA Courses

Program of Study

The M.F.A. program is a structured program.  Students complete two years of full time course work before they begin the thesis project in the third year, which consists of 6 hours per semester.

Students who began the program prior to Fall 2017 can find their curriculum here.

Blocks Fall Year 1 Spring Year 1 Fall Year 2 Spring Year 2 Fall Year 3 Spring Year 3
Skill-based Elective Skill-based elective Skill-based elective Skill-based elective Skill-based elective Thesis Thesis
Production Project Production project Production project Production project Production project
Storytelling Storytelling 1: Introduction to Visual Narrative Storytelling 2: Directing the Motion Picture Storytelling 3: Short Film Writing Storytelling 4: Screenwriting
Studies History of American Cinema/Film Theory History of International Cinema/ Cognitive Film Theory History of American Cinema/Film Theory History of International Cinema/Cognitive Film Theory
12 Hours 12 Hours 12 Hours 12 Hours 6 Hours 6 Hours

Skill-Based Electives
Each semester of the the first two years, students choose one skill-based elective from the electives being offered that semester. The complete list of electives is as follows:

5305 Production Design
5311 Cinematography
5320 Film Editing
5355 Visual Effects Compositing
5354 Animation for Visual Effects
5363 Audio Production and Design for Film
5373 Documentary Production
5392 Topics in Digital Production (may be repeated for credit)
5v90 Internship (may be repeated once for credit)
6390 Directed Study

Note: Students who take the 4000-level version of the course as undergraduates at UCA may not take the 5000-level version of the same course.

Production Project
Each semester of the first two years, students take FILM 6300 Production Project. The Production Project course allows students to work on practical, hands-on, team based productions, including crewing thesis projects, directing their own projects, and crewing other projects.

Storytelling
Each semester of the first two years, students take a course focusing on various aspects of storytelling.

Studies
Students take 6 hours of history and 6 hours of theory courses. Students who enroll in even-numbered years take history courses their first year and theory courses their second year. Students who enroll in odd-numbered years take theory courses their first year and history courses their second year.

Thesis
Students generally enroll in 6 hours of thesis each semester of their third year. The thesis project is a narrative short film written and directed by the student. Students normally shoot in the Fall and complete post-production in the spring.

Course Descriptions

FILM 5305 Production Design
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This is an advanced course in production design and art direction for filmmaking. Topics include the design process, visualization techniques, implementing scenery and costumes, the profession of designer, and the role of art director as head of a film production’s art department. Students develop projects that show the impact scenery, light, costumes and props have in a completely designed production. Lecture.

FILM 5311 Cinematography
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This advanced course expands students’ understanding of visual storytelling through cinematography. Topics include creative approaches to composition, lighting techniques, digital cinema workflows and color grading.

FILM 5320 Editing
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This is an advanced project-oriented lecture course in non-linear film editing, with an emphasis on classical continuity editing as a storytelling device. Topics include history, aesthetics, techniques, and technical aspects of editing. Emphasis will be placed on advanced short film development through editing.

FILM 5354 Animation for Visual Effects
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This is an advanced production class on the art and science of 3D computer animation for pre-rendered and real-time applications. Topics include planning, modeling, surfacing, lighting, animation, physical simulation, rendering, and compositing rendered footage for use in film visual effects.

FILM 5355 Visual Effects Compositing
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This is an advanced production class on the art and science of visual effects compositing for filmmaking. Topics include the visual effects workflow, compositing strategies, shot planning, and post-production quality control and management.

FILM 5363 Audio Production for Film
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This course focuses on the advanced use of audio to support filmmaking and storytelling. Students will study and implement the elements of sound design to create full soundtracks for advanced film projects. Students will also learn to record and mix production audio using different types of microphones and recording equipment. Lectures, discussion, practical exercises.

FILM 5373 Documentary Production
An elective course for Digital Filmmaking graduate students. This is an advanced production class on documentary films and documentary filmmaking. Students will be exposed to a variety of documentary films encompassing different subjects and styles and will learn the advanced production process used in the planning, execution, and construction of short-format documentary.

FILM 5392 Topics in Digital Production
Special topics in advanced issues of digital production, including but not limited to pre-production, digital cinematography, directing and editing.  May be repeated for credit.

FILM 5v90 Internship
(Variable credit: 1-3 credit hours.) The internship provides students an opportunity to integrate professional experience in the filmmaking industry with traditional academic study. Successful internships expose students directly to professional camera work, editing, writing, producing, and/or sound recording and design, as well as allowing students to develop potential career contacts. Internships require 40 work-experience hours per credit (120 work-experience hours for three credits) to be completed and verified. Internships must be approved by the instructor or graduate coordinator. May be repeated for credit (maximum six credit hours).

FILM 6300 Production Project
Graduate-level course required for the MFA program in digital filmmaking. This is a project-oriented course that provides students the opportunity to create practical, team-based production projects suitable for portfolio inclusion. Repeatable for credit

FILM 6316 Film Theory
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  An historical account of theoretical writings about cinema, including apparatus theories, feminist theories, post-structuralism, identity politics and postmodernist theories of cinema.

FILM 6317 Cognitive/Ecological Theories of Cinema
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  This course sets as its task the laying of a foundation for a theory of moving images which goes beyond traditional film theory and encompasses images that are currently being produced in the convergence of film, video and computer technologies, taking into account the development of human capacities for perceiving mediated images and sounds.

FILM 6326 Storytelling 2: Directing the Motion Picture
Graduate-level course required for the MFA program in digital filmmaking. Course will cover all aspects of directing. This includes including working with actors, blocking and staging, shot creation and composition, visual design, and working with a production crew

FILM 6327 Storytelling 1: Introduction to Visual Narrative
Graduate-level course required for the MFA program in digital filmmaking. The course introduces students to the fundamentals of visual and narrative storytelling for motion pictures, covering structure and construction of the motion picture treatment and screenplay as well as storyboarding and visual design.

FILM 6340 History of American Cinema
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  History of cinema in the United States from its beginnings around 1895 until present day.  Relevant events are considered in chronological order with screenings of representative films from each decade.  Topics discussed include changes in the national studio systems and the role of independent producers, as well as trends, movements, and influences.  Cinema as a commercial enterprise as well as an artistic enterprise will be considered.  The class will also address historiography—the way that historical information is gathered and organized.

FILM 6341 History of International Cinema
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  History of international cinema from its beginnings around 1895 until present day.  Relevant events are considered in chronological order with screenings of representative films from each decade.  Topics discussed include establishment and evolution of influential national cinemas as well as trends, movements, and influences. The class will also address historiography—the way that historical information is gathered and organized.

FILM 6360 Storytelling 4: Screenwriting
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  Students will write a feature-length screenplay, reinforcing skills in scene structure, act structure, character, conflict and other aspects of writing for the screen.  Creative writing theory will also be discussed.

FILM 6362 Storytelling 3: Writing the Short Film
Graduate level course required for MFA program in digital filmmaking.  Addresses the unique structural and character demands of writing the short script (less than 60 pages).

FILM 6390 Directed Study in Digital Filmmaking
Graduate-level course. Involves in-depth study of a topic or topics to be determined by individual student need. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

FILM 7v80 Thesis Project
An advanced culminating course in the MFA program in Digital Filmmaking.  Each student will be responsible for producing, directing  and editing a complex sync sound narrative film production to completion. Because there are no scheduled class meetings, students will work independently while periodically seeking the assistance and approval of his or her thesis committee. The committee must approve the script, and breakdown and budget. The committee must approve the picture cut and sound cut as the student progresses through the project. Failure to seek the approval of the committee may result in a no-pass mark.  Enrollment contingent upon the successful completion of 48 credits of course work, and the approval of the student’s thesis committee. May be repeated for credit.