Grounded in the history of narrative cinema, the FDP curriculum provides a rich understanding of the fundamental aesthetic and technical components of narrative filmmaking, including staging and visual design, scriptwriting, acting and working with actors, narrative theory, cinematography, sound and editing, and a broad variety of graduate-level seminars in contemporary and historical cinemas and practices.
The program embraces a diverse range of aesthetics and traditions, encouraging students to find their voice within a constant questioning and expansion of the definition of narrative cinema itself. The work our students make is aesthetically diverse, exploring a variety of methodologies from independent dramatic filmmaking to hybrid and experimental narrative practices.
Students in the FIlm Directing Program are intensely diverse in identity and perspective; over 70% of our community comes from outside the United States, from such countries as Iran, Iceland, China, Taiwan, Colombia, South Korea, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil (among many others).
This multiplicity of perspectives deepens our conversations and awareness of the multitude of experiences, realities and voices that surround us. It is an essential part of the experience of the program and central to our understanding of the practice of creating images, constructing stories and questioning representation.
During their time at CalArts FDP students work closely with the faculty, guided principally by their mentor, who helps guide their course of study as they create a body of work that best illustrates their vision and voice.
Students are required to create a deep portfolio of work. In the immersive first-year curriculum, they make several short films while investigating a diverse range of filmmaking techniques and strategies. Throughout the program, students’ projects are accompanied by a rich slate of classes and workshops, independent studies, and rigorous mentorship for the students to continue developing and making films that hone an original approach. The program culminates with a thesis film that demonstrates a distinct point of view.