16 Essential College Courses for Aspiring Film Makers


By Marat Gaziev

The art of filmmaking is a multilayered process which presents many challenges for aspiring filmmakers. From the initial conceptualization of the story, scriptwriting, shooting, editing, and directing, a filmmaker has to be well versed in all of these processes in order to master the art of film making. Currently The New School’s bachelor degree program offers several courses to help students learn the fundamentals of filmmaking as well as acquire advanced skills to master the art.

1. Introduction to Cinema Studies:

This course introduces students to the cinematic language of narrative, characterization, and symbolism. Students will learn various techniques filmmakers use to communicate their story to the viewers. What is the relation of one shot to others in a sequence? How does the composition of shots communicate symbolic meaning? How does camera movement, editing, sound, and light help the filmmaker better tell the story?

2. Directing Actors for Film and Television:

This workshop explores the process of directing actors. Students work with professional actors trained in a variety of ways and will learn the general techniques of directing actors from the inception to final editing.

3. Acting for Filmmakers:

In order to better direct an actor a filmmaker must gain insight into the craft of the actor. This course teaches aspiring film directors the essentials of acting. Students are introduced to Stanislavsky-based techniques and are given an opportunity to rehearse and fine-tune them onstage.

4. The Art of Film:

This course will allow students to study some of the world’s greatest filmmakers such as Atom Egoyan, Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, Abbas Kiarostami, Orson Welles, and Kar Wai Wong.

5. Film and Ritual:

How do filmmakers record and portray various cultures around the world? Are the images sympathetic or sensational? This course explores documentary film as a powerful medium, and stresses both the methodology of filming in foreign environments and the responsibility to portray cultures accurately.

6. The Anatomy of Horror Films:

How do filmmakers manipulate and shape a culture’s collective fears? This course will allow students to examine several classics including, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, and Frankenstein.

7. The Business of Screenwriting:

This class will teach students about the realities which they will have to face when dealing with the movie industry and the business of screenwriting. Students will hear from guest speakers including representatives from major agencies such as William Morris and Fox.

8. The Producer’s Role:

What is the essential role of a film producer? The responsibilities are plentiful. They range from organizing human and material resources, to implementing the creative team’s artistic vision; film producers provide a support system once the film is in preproduction.

9. The Business of Hollywood:

This course introduces students to the real-world of Hollywood back-room deal-making. Students participate in hypothetical business scenarios which teach them the necessary skills in order to navigate the often complex and treacherous waters of Hollywood film industry.

10. Developing Ideas for Film:

This course introduces students to the three primary concepts of short-film production.

  • The subject matter of the film
  • Turning an idea into a film
  • Different strategies for structuring the material

11. Sync-Sound Preproduction: Writing and Planning:

Students taking this course will learn the fundamentals of how best work on sync-sound narrative projects. You will create a short five- to ten-minute project and work on various exercises designed to help you choose the best scripts.

12. The Art of Film Editing:

This course emphasizes the concepts of film editing and the importance of imagery and sound in the creation of a compelling story.

13. Digital Cinematography: Documentary Camerawork:

A skilled videomaker armed with only a digital camera can create engaging and artful documentary footage. This class, taught by an experienced director, will teach students the basics of digital cinematography.

14. Cinematography and Lighting:

During this workshop students will study the theoretical and practical uses of lighting in cinematography. The theoretical topics include exposure, color theory, and filters.

15. The Innovative Camera: Experiments in 16mm Filmmaking:

Students taking this course will have an opportunity to explore the various techniques associated with the 16mm Bolex camera. Students will learn various tricks that date back to the beginning of cinema and those of Georges Melies.

16. 16mm Filmmaking Studio:

By taking this course students have an opportunity to learn the very fundamentals of filmmaking such as the basics of cinematography, lighting, scriptwriting, directing, and editing.

Author Information

Marat Gaziev writes for the New School which offers bachelor’s degree and undergraduate degree programs to students in media studies.


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Categories: Academics