Film installation by Christina C. Nguyen
Film installation by Christina C. Nguyen
The BFA and MFA tracks in Film and Video are 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, 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 expanded cinema. 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 years of both the undergraduate and graduate curricula are devoted to rigorous technical training, including core workshops in film and video production, editing workflows, sound production and design. 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 while continuing to teach and support the use of technologies such as 16mm film. Students are encouraged to develop and utilize this wide array of potentials in order to better control the means of production and thus assert themselves as truly independent artists.

Program Gallery

Student Story

Vashti Harrison
Vashti Harrison Film and Video MFA 14

My graduate thesis film was about folklore and ghost stories as told through the voices of members of my mother’s family in Trinidad. There’s an element of narrative in my work, but it’s not purely narrative; there are no scripts or actors. It’s most easily referred to as "experimental" because, depending upon the story that I want to tell, it may take the form of a documentary on 16mm film or on video, or it may be a photo series, or take another form.

I applied to a lot of film schools and I got into a couple, but honestly, it was the moment I walked into CalArts that sealed the deal for me. CalArts is like its own little ecosystem and you feel that when you walk into the building. I came for a visit and tour on the admitted students weekend. Instantly, the atmosphere was inspiring. But the moment I felt it was a no-brainer, was when I saw the students’ work. I thought, "They have a great faculty here and if I have the opportunity to learn from them, and become part of a personal community with these people, my work will certainly expand and flow and change. It’s really impressive."

The Program in Film/Video was most supportive of me and I grow a lot as an artist here. Having a mentor like Betzy Bromberg—the queen of experimental work in the program, and someone who knew my work and chose to be my mentor—was an invaluable experience. It was so important that I was in this Program because I’m a filmmaker, but I’m also an artist, trying to make those two things work together.

Student Interview

Interview with Christina Nguyen, an MFA filmmaker in the School of Film/Video

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