'Se Shin Sa' by Eunhye Hong Kim
'Se Shin Sa' by Eunhye Hong Kim
The graduate Film Directing Program for independent dramatic filmmaking enables students to develop innovative approaches to storytelling based on examining the broad spectrum of narrative cinema.
Coursework covers the fundamental aesthetic and technical components of film directing, with additional emphasis placed on screenwriting, acting, and dramaturgical scene study. In the process, students learn to work with actors, develop visual strategies and hone methods for shaping stories—both invented and adapted—that are emotionally true and dramatically credible.

Every FDP student works closely with their mentor, a faculty member who guides that student’s artistic journey through the three-year program. Mentors help design the slate of courses best suited to advance each filmmaker’s individual development, provide practical advice and serve as collaborators in the making of the MFA thesis film.

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Student Story

Tariq Tapa
Tariq Tapa Film Directing MFA 08

When I came to CalArts I had limiting preconceptions about how to achieve the kinds of dramatic effects I wanted in my films. The faculty helped by pointing out precisely where I had missed opportunities in editing a scene, or possible moves for the characters that I hadn’t considered—always pushing me to look deeper at the mechanics of a story, at the consequences of my casting choices, and to think 10 moves in advance when staging action for the camera.

Most other schools teach skills, which are important, and are, of course, taught at CalArts, but these are only a means to an end. You can learn technical skills almost anywhere, but I think only CalArts seeks out students with something to say and helps them find ways to say it. You’re not just encouraged to take risks here—you’re expected to. And the Program helps you find the courage.

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