College of Motion Picture Arts
Dean: Reb Braddock; Associate Dean: Dr. Andrew Syder; Assistant Dean: Tony Ciarlariello; Associate Professors: Baggott; Filmmakers in Residence: Cawood, Cohen, Gómez-Mouakad, Hoffman, Honn, Kaleko, Kashani, Marcks, Maurer, Mendez, Meyer, Mikota, Nunez, Patterson, Robkin, Scoon, Slade, E. Stone, J. Stone, Tripp, Vargo, Williams, Winter
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate program in narrative motion picture production that prepares students for careers in producing, directing, screenwriting, production design, cinematography, sound design, and editing. Emphases in screenwriting and production are offered, with curricula designed to furnish the conceptual framework, the professional training, and the working environment for eventual participation in a profession that is a powerful influence in our culture. The goals of the College of Motion Picture Arts are to fully educate students, help them become integrated members of the academic community of Florida State University, become responsible members of the entertainment profession, and participate in a creative and artistic process.
The College of Motion Picture Arts has a strong commitment to hiring experienced, working professionals who have both teaching skills and professional goals. The College’s full-time faculty comprises working filmmakers with various specializations as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, audio designers, production designers, and editors in both the theatrical and non-theatrical film and television industries, many of whom have won national and international awards and honors for their work. Some of the faculty also have strong records as research scholars and fiction writers, including visiting professors in the fields of motion picture law, business distribution, exhibition, and promotion.
The College of Motion Picture Arts operates extensive production facilities for its graduate and undergraduate programs in University Center A on Florida State University’s campus in Tallahassee, and in an off-campus site in Midway, Florida, known as the Torchlight Center.
Considered one of the finest facilities in the world devoted exclusively to film education, it includes: professional sound stages, a green-screen/motion capture stage, a cinematography and set operations teaching stage, grip and electric trucks fully equipped with industry standard G&E equipment, an ADR and Foley recording studio, re-recording stages, QC and dailies screening rooms, digital animation/VFX production labs, color correction suites, a 120-seat screening room, digital animation/VFX production suites, seminar rooms, writer rooms, interactive classrooms, individual post production suites, teaching labs, and student production planning rooms.
The College is equipped for and supports industry-standard acquisition in HD, 2k, 4k, 8k digital formats, and digital sound recording formats.
The goals of this professional degree are:
- To ground students in the history, theory, and practice of narrative motion picture production
- To provide the creative and technical environment for professional specialization to take place
- To help graduates begin careers in screenwriting, producing, directing, camera, sound, editing, and production design
- To provide interaction with a wide range of film and television industry professionals in order to provide information on the most recent trends and processes in the film/television business
To these ends the college’s approach emphasizes three kinds of learning experiences: 1) coursework in history, theory, style, technology, and techniques; 2) seminars in specific skill areas conducted by active professionals; and 3) independent production projects. Production students work in teams on narrative projects. These projects are written, produced, directed, shot, recorded, and edited by Motion Picture Arts students. In addition, the students engage in the financial, legal, distribution, and exhibition aspects of the film/television business.
The program is designed and scheduled to provide training of the highest quality. It is meant to create a practicum setting in which individuals can work with accomplished professionals to hone their talents, develop a body of work, and sharpen their capacities to work in teams.
After required coursework, students are encouraged to complete their program of study by enrolling in the program’s apprenticeship class to apply their learning in a real-world setting in the industry. This capstone experience will position students for greater chances of success in their careers.
Financing and Ownership of Student Films
The College of Motion Picture Arts pays for all student laboratory, workshop, and thesis project production expenses, on both graduate and undergraduate levels. So far as is known, it is the only film school in the United States to do so.
The College has an agreement with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) of America whereby SAG performers may work on graduate student projects on a deferred-salary basis. Should such films be distributed commercially, SAG actors involved will be the first to be paid their appropriate salaries from the gross revenues.
Under State of Florida law, regulations, and rules, all films and videos produced by Motion Picture Arts students become the property of Florida State University and are copyrighted in the name of Florida State University. The same regulations and rules provide that in the event of the commercial exploitation of these films, any net revenues derived from a particular film will be split in a proportion to be determined by Florida State University (currently 50/50) between the College of Motion Picture Arts and all of the graduating student workers on the film including, but not limited to, the writer, director, producer/production manager, sound designer, editor, cinematographer, art director, and musical score composer.
State law provides that any stand-alone screenplays created by students will remain the student’s property and may be exploited commercially by them; however, screenplays, scripts, and story ideas that are proposed and incorporated by students into their workshop courses or thesis films become the property of Florida State University and will be copyrighted in the University’s name.
State law requires that all entering students be provided with a copy of the relevant regulatory rule and that applicants for admission to Motion Picture Arts sign a statement acknowledging their receipt and understanding of the rule prior to official admission and enrollment.
Admission to the College of Motion Picture Arts graduate program is limited access with twenty-four production and six to eight writing students admitted each year, making admission selective and competitive. Prospective students must submit an application to and meet the requirements of the Florida State University Graduate Admissions Office, and also must submit supporting application materials as described online at: https://film.fsu.edu/admissions. Required supporting materials for production applicants include: a 500–1000-word statement of purpose describing their artistic work, creative influences, relevant background, and career goals; three letters of recommendation; a professional/creative résumé; a writing sample adhering to the given prompt; a creative portfolio; a video pitch; and transcripts. Screenwriting applicants must submit three samples of their written work as specified supporting materials, as well as a résumé and statement of purpose. Detailed information is available online at https://film.fsu.edu/admissions.
Because of the integrated and intensive nature of the program, all students will be required to enroll as full-time students; while enrolled in the program, students are not permitted to hold outside employment. Students who must withdraw for any reason will be reevaluated by a faculty committee for future readmission. Students may enter the program only in the Fall semester.
The MFA degree requires completion of a minimum of 90 semester hours for production students, or 61 semester hours for screenwriting students and must be completed in six consecutive full-time semesters.
To fulfill the requirements of the MFA Program in the College of Motion Picture Arts, a student must:
- Possess sufficient mobility, strength, and dexterity in both hands and legs to lift, carry, and operate filmmaking equipment
- Possess sufficient visual capacity to perform the functions of a film crew member without the assistance of visual aids other than contact lenses or eyeglasses
- Possess sufficient aural capacity to hear and understand spoken instructions without assistance other than a hearing aid
- Be able to comprehend oral and written instructions, policies, and procedures related to the College of Motion Picture Arts, filmmaking protocols, and the operation of equipment
- Possess the ability to adequately communicate orally, in English, with others
Probation and Dismissal
Motion Picture Arts majors will adhere to the University Academic Honor System, Student Conduct Code, Summons to Responsible Freedom, and the College of Motion Picture Arts Professional Code of Conduct.
Each semester, the faculty will meet to discuss the work, behavior, grades, and progress of students in the major. At any point in the semester, if the faculty determines that a student’s behavior fails to adhere to the College’s Professional Code of Conduct, the student may be issued a verbal warning or a written remediation plan. Failing to satisfy the terms of a remediation plan may result in dismissal from the program.
Behavior so negative, disruptive, or destructive as to compromise the work of fellow students or the effectiveness of the faculty may constitute grounds for immediate dismissal without any prior period of warning or remediation. Peer evaluations may be considered in this evaluation process.
Any unauthorized use, possession, or willful destruction of College of Motion Picture Arts equipment, facilities, media, or finished film will result in immediate notification to the proper authorities. The outcome of their decisions will determine the actions of the College of Motion Picture Arts with respect to the student(s) involved.
If the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, it will result in academic probation. Students will be reinstated in good standing if the cumulative major GPA rises to 3.0 by the end of the following semester. Failure to raise the GPA may result in dismissal from the program.
A limited number of graduate assistantships are awarded by the College of Motion Picture Arts each year. Highly qualified students are nominated by the College for university-wide fellowships and minority fellowships. For more information regarding the availability of other sources of financial aid and potential scholarships, please visit the Financial Aid Website at https://www.financialaid.fsu.edu/.
Students seeking degrees in certain majors, including film, assume any exposure to the particular hazards associated with that major. As protection for our students, the College of Motion Picture Arts requires that majors present proof of health and accident insurance (name of insurer and policy number) prior to registration in the Fall semester each year. Students are expected to maintain this insurance throughout their enrollment in the program and keep the insurance information updated with the Associate Dean’s office.
Definition of Prefix
FIL 5147. Writing the Dramatic Series Pilot (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA Admission. This course instructs students on how to create and write a professional-quality pilot script for an original dramatic series. Special focus is given to world-building, idea sustainability, creating unique, dimensional, and believable characters, and cultivating compelling drama. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5148r. Writing the Dramatic Series Spec (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course introduces students on how to create and write a professional-quality spec script for an episodic series. Special focus is given to series formats, characters, and conventions. Students apply course concepts by developing and writing original spec scripts for existing series. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5155Lr. Screenwriting: Short Format (1–12). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This workshop-style course examines basic narrative elements in the context of writing a short form script. Through developing, writing, developing, and then rewriting a script, students learn script language and process. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours in the same term.
FIL 5156Lr. Screenwriting: Feature Format (1–12). Prerequisite: MFA Admission. This workshop-style course examines how to create dimensional characters and a well-structured story in the context of writing a feature film script. Students pitch, outline, and write a screenplay with a strong focus on believable characters and situations that draw the reader/audience into the world they have created and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours in the same term.
FIL 5157L. Screenwriting 3: Advanced Workshop (2–6). Prerequisite: FIL 5156L. Offers an advanced approach to writing a fifteen-page script. Will analyze narrative problems in preparation for a rewrite. Through workshops, redeveloping, and then rewriting a fifteen-page thesis script, the student will gain a better understanding as to how to make a story idea more compelling through rewriting.
FIL 5159r. Screenwriting: Motion Picture Workshop (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course focuses on writing screenplays that apply dramatic storytelling concepts. Through regular writing workshops, students examine and practice story development techniques as well as industry-standard practices involved in creating motion picture scripts. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5408r. Preproduction and Production Planning (3–12). Preproduction of MFA thesis projects. Provides student with advanced instruction related to their chosen field of specialization while requiring them to coordinate their efforts with those of their crew counterparts, up to the beginning of the thesis project production phase. Credit hours determined by workload assigned, according to student’s area of emphasis. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours. May be repeated during the same semester.
FIL 5459. Practicum in Technical Support (1–12). Miscellaneous requirement: MFA Admission. This course is comprehensive practical training for first-year students in below-the-line production and post-production skills, including the work of the camera assistant, grip, gaffer, sound mixer, boom operator, sound engineer, assistant editor, and various others. Training is concurrent with students’ crew work on multiple film productions. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5484Lr. Directing Actors (2). Basic introduction to the direction of actors and scene work in film. Students will learn techniques for creating dramatic choices that serve the needs of both actors and writers while maintaining a strong directorial vision and will gain insight into the directing process as it relates to four specific concepts: conflict, actions, point-of-view and objectives.
FIL 5496r. Motion Picture Acting (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This is a performance-based course designed to teach the basic tenants of acting. Students are introduced to the language of acting, do a variety of acting exercises, and participate in a performance project crafted with the actor’s process in mind. Through this process, students learn skills that can be used to enhance on-camera performances and directing actors.
FIL 5498L. Advanced Directing (2). Prerequisite: FIL 5595. Through lectures, discussions, and practical exercises students will analyze various visual techniques employed by directors in motion picture production.
FIL 5519Lr. Camera and Light Mechanics (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides theoretical and practical instruction in cinematography including cameras, lenses, framing, composition, and lighting. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours. May be repeated within the same term.
FIL 5546. Advanced Sound (2–6). Prerequisite: FIL 5593L. Advanced knowledge of production and post-production sound recording through the recording, sound editing and re-recording of Directing 3 film projects.
FIL 5555Lr. Motion Picture Editing (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides instruction in principles, aesthetics, and theory of motion picture editing through a combination of lecture and practical exercises. Students apply course concepts in editing motion picture shorts. May be repeated within the same term. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.
FIL 5568L. Advanced Editing (2–6). Prerequisite: FIL 5555L. Teaches advanced theories in film editing by experiencing the step-by-step evolution of motion picture editing involving dailies, rough-cut, fine-cut, critique, and addressing story, emotion, structure, transition, pace, rhythm, point-of-interest, stage-line and the smooth cut.
FIL 5590L. Lighting Workshop (2–6). Prerequisite: FIL 5519L. Explores the more complex aspects of cinematography beyond the basics; provides support, guidance and criticism for cinematography performed on Directing 3 film projects.
FIL 5591r. Production Design Workshop (1–12). This course provides instruction in production design principles and practices used in the Art Department for motion pictures, including the use of settings, set dressings, props, wardrobe, hairstyling, make-up, and special effects to inform character and story. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours. May be repeated within the same term.
FIL 5592L. Sound Workshop (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides instruction in theoretical concepts and technical skills employed in sound recording and re-recording throughout the various stages of motion picture production and post-production. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours. May be repeated within the same term.
FIL 5593L. Post-production Sound Workshop (2). Prerequisites: FIL 5592L. This course will provide an understanding of digital sound recording, sound mixing, and the various stages of sound post-production.
FIL 5595Lr. Directing: Single-Camera Workshop (2). A study and practice in the visual illustration of essential dramatic elements as they relate to the direction of motion pictures. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.
FIL 5635r. Motion Picture Marketing and Exhibition (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides an introduction to the marketing and exhibition of motion pictures, with an emphasis on current methods and practical techniques for promoting, publicizing, and distributing short films. Throughout the course, students develop original marketing materials to be used primarily for film festival submissions. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5636Lr. Advanced Workshop in Area of Specialization (2–12). Advanced, specialized production training in the student’s primary area of production. May be repeated to a maximum of fifteen semester hours.
FIL 5642L. Producing 1 (2). Provides an overview of film production management, with emphasis on the breakdown, scheduling, budgeting and preparation of short films.
FIL 5646L. Producing 2 (2). Prerequisite: FIL 5642L. Training and practice in the development of business structure for the purpose of producing motion pictures.
FIL 5648Lr. Production Management (2). Prerequisite: MFA admission. Introductory course to the production management process as it relates to both short film and feature film production. Through lecture, text and simulated practical application, students will acquire a working understanding of film producing from development to exhibition. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.
FIL 5715Lr. Pre-Visualization (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course instructs students in pre-visualization techniques by using industry-standard, 3D tools to model simple structures and objects, animate basic character rigs for staging, and work with virtual cameras to block out shots and narrative sequences. Students apply course concepts in a variety of practical exercises. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5795Lr. Visual Effects (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course instructs students in how to make effective choices with practical and digital visual effects. By means of classroom lecture and lab exercises, students practice techniques for creating visual effects that are common within the motion picture industry. Students also practice using industry workflows for planning, communicating, and executing visual effects. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5807. Critical Methods of Film Analysis (3). Film study course providing students with an advanced understanding of the construction of the motion picture narrative language, stressing the students need to develop fluency in visual storytelling through a conscious building of a film literacy.
FIL 5875r. Film Aesthetics (1). Teaches the potential filmmaker to have their own aesthetics of filmmaking and to articulate that style by viewing various films with unique styles and aesthetics. Class discussion is also used to achieve this goal. Allows students to become more aware and conscious filmmakers through their ability to articulate their aesthetic. May be repeated to a maximum of four semester hours.
FIL 5906r. Directed Individual Study (3–12). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours. May be repeated during the same semester.
FIL 5912r. Supervised Research or Creative Activity (3). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of five semester hours.
FIL 5921r. Colloquium in Motion Picture Arts (1–6). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides specialized study in narrative motion picture history, criticism, theory, genres, movements, and filmmakers. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours. May be repeated within the same term.
FIL 5930r. Proseminar in Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts (1). Interaction with professional film/video makers in screenings and discussions of each other’s work. May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.
FIL 5931r. Special Topics in Motion Picture Arts (1–12). Prerequisite: MFA admission. This course provides focused instruction in a special topic within the field of motion picture arts. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours. May be repeated during the same semester.
FIL 5955r. Apprenticeship (1–12). (S/U grade only). Professional on-the-job training in an area of specialization. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5962r. MFA Qualifying Project (3–15). Postproduction of MFA thesis projects. Provides students with advanced instruction related to their chosen field of specialization while requiring them to coordinate their efforts with those of their crew counterparts, up to thesis project completion. Credit hours determined by workload assigned, according to student’s area of emphasis. May be repeated to a maximum of fifteen semester hours.
FIL 5964. MFA Qualifying Exam (0). (P/F grade only.) Corequisite: FIL 5962r. Evaluation of first-year progress including public screening of MFA qualifying project and oral examination.
FIL 5966r. Comprehensive Exam (0). (P/F grade only.)
FIL 5975r. Thesis (3–12). (S/U grade only). Opportunity to design, execute, and report a major creative effort. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.
FIL 5976. Master’s Thesis Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)
FIL 5977r. MFA Thesis Production (3–15). (S/U grade only). Production of MFA thesis projects. Provides students with advanced instruction related to their chosen field of specialization while requiring them to coordinate their efforts with those of their crew counterparts, up to the thesis project postproduction phase. Credit hours determined by workload assigned, according to student’s area of emphasis. May be repeated one time to a maximum of fifteen semester hours. May be repeated during the same semester.
FIL 5978. Defense of MFA Project (0). (P/F grade only.)